This post is longgg overdue. I’ve been to New Orleans at least four times now (twice for work and two other times to visit my boyfriend’s family) and have racked up quite the list of things to do in New Orleans. Plus, traveling with my boyfriend, who grew up there, I get more of a local’s perspective. So here’s my list of top things to do in New Orleans by district – some I did on this last trip in September and some in my previous trips!
The French Quarter is the heart of New Orleans and there are so many places to see and eat. You definitely can’t leave NOLA without visiting here (some even spend their entire time here)!
Streets to Explore
- **Bourbon Street: The ultimate party street lined with bars and strips clubs. Grab a hand grenade and drink it while walking down the street. You can even ride a mechanical bull at the Bourbon Cowbow or get a tarot or palm reading. Whatever you choose, Bourbon can’t be missed and is perfect for partying and people watching.
- **Canal Street: A main street filled with restaurants, luxury hotels, and shops. While you’re strolling through, don’t forget to check out Harrah’s Casino, the aquarium, and the Riverfront.
Things to Do
- Audubon Aquarium: I loved this aquarium and it’s perfect for family and kids!
- Harrah’s Casino: Casino within walking distance of the French Quarter and Riverfront. Stay here, gamble, grab some drinks, and/or go clubbing (yes, there’s a “popping” club inside)!
- **Pat O’Brien’s: Awesome place to enjoy dueling pianos and grab a drink (get the Hurricane)!
- Riverfront: If you have some spare time, explore the Riverfront via the Riverfront Streetcar or the Steamboat Natchez Cruise!
- **St. Louis Cathedral: This is the oldest active cathedral in North America and is located in Jackson Square. Regardless of your religious belief, peek in to admire the impressive architecture or just view it from the outside – it’s a historic and iconic landmark that you can’t miss!
- **St. Louis Cemetery No. 1: NOLA is known for its unique above ground graves. I personally haven’t done this (although I plan to next time), but I hear it’s very interesting to see. Tour this specific cemetery (paid tour required) if you want to see Nicolas Cage’s pyramid cage (built for himself)!
- **Street music and art: One of my favorite parts of the trip was watching jazz street performances and seeing local artists do their thang! You can find them on popular streets throughout the French Quarter.
Where to Eat & Drink
- **Cafe Du Monde is hands down the best place to get beignets. Enjoy them with their famous cafe au lait and be sure to not wear black that day (powdered sugar for daysss). Did I also mention it’s open 24/7?
- Carousel Bar: A beautiful and classy bar and lounge inside high end Hotel Monteleone. Grab a seat at the revolving Merry-Go-Round while you sip on a tasty cocktail (or two).
- **Cochon Butcher: One of my favorite restaurants in NOLA! Get the Cubana, Muffuletta, and Mac & Cheese!
- Commander’s Palace: I hear this place is top notch if you’re looking for fine dining.
- **Willie Mae’s: Named as America’s best fried chicken, and I couldn’t agree more. Portions are huge, the fried chicken is super juicy, and the mac & cheese is out of this world. Worth the cab trip here, just expect lines.
- **Charbroiled oysters: Indulge in charbroiled oysters at ACME or Drago’s or both! Don’t ask, just go.
- **Gumbo: Try it at the Gumbo Shop. The name says it all.
- **Po-boys: I’m not a huge po-boy fan in general, but if you want the real thang, Mother’s is where it’s at. Expect lines.
The Garden District is an affluent neighborhood that is filled with gorgeous traditional homes and is bordered by St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street.
Take the St. Charles Streetcar to here from the French Quarter and wander around the area. **Magazine Street boasts a variety of unique shops and boutiques as well as quaint restaurants. Surrey’s is a great place to start with breakfast (get their heavenly banana foster French toast) and don’t forget to stop by **District Donuts for unique and awesome donuts. I hear they have good sliders and beer too! If you’re craving for dessert, Sucre is known for their delicious chocolates, macarons, gelatos, and cupcakes!
After exploring Magazine Street, return back to St. Charles Avenue to gaze at incredible historic mansions that New Orleans is known for. Check out at least a few because they’re serious #housegoals. Down the street is also Audubon Park – I haven’t been here yet but some say it’s considered as the Central Park of New Orleans.
Note: Photo below is from the Carousel Bar in the French Quarter. We forgot to bring our camera when we were in the Garden District! 🙁
Bywater & Faubourg Marigny Districts
These two districts are New Orleans’ best kept secrets – so good that my boyfriend and his family didn’t even know about them! It might be considered more “rough”, but totally make it out here if you can. You’ll find the most vibrant, colorful and unique homes and it’s a very up and coming area so there are several restaurants to dine at.
One street you have to stop by in the Faubourg Marigny district is **Frenchment Street. It’s walking distance from the French Quarter and where the locals hang. Lots of music and bars but without the craziness of Bourbon Street. I want to try Dat Dog next time!
We didn’t spend too much time in the Bywater District, but the below photo was captured here. We stopped by The Joint for a BBQ lunch (it was only OK) and Crescent Park offers beautiful views of the city.
Other Must Things To Do In New Orleans
None of the below things to do in New Orleans fit in a district but these were some of my most memorable activities in New Orleans!
- **Airboat Swamp Tour: I highly recommend doing an airboat swamp tour (the regular ones aren’t as fun). You get to ride in a fan-propelled boat that cruises through the swamps at fast speeds while checking out alligators a couple of feet away from you. You even get to pet a baby one! It’s thrilling, adventurous, so much fun, and I can’t recommend it enough! I don’t remember the name of the tour we went on, but Airboat Adventures looks like it has good reviews.
- **Sno-balls: I can’t believe it took until my fourth trip to try New Orleans’ awesome sno-balls – their version of shaved ice. Hansen’s Sno-Bliz is where it’s at and I loved the Cream of Nectar flavor with condensed milk and strawberry topping. Expect a wait.
- Planation Tour: Another item to do on my next trip! These ones look popular with great reviews (here, here)
I know I listed so many things to do in New Orleans and this can be overwhelming. If you’re only there for a short time, search within this post for anything I marked with **. Those are definitely the absolute musts of things to do in New Orleans! I’m certainly not an expert so if you have any other suggestions please let me know! Hope this guide was helpful and have an amazing time!