I love a city with personality. I want the people, the food, and the buildings to be unique and like nothing I can find anywhere else. That is 100% what New Orleans, Louisiana is like. Now that I’ve visited this city, I’m a little sad it took me 24 years to do so. The good news is my trip to New Orleans was awesome, and I fit a lot of awesome activities into one long weekend. Learn from my mistake and make time to visit this city, you won’t regret it! I can’t wait to share with you my 12 best touristy things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana.
12 Touristy Things to do in New Orleans
Beignets. Oh. My. Goodness. How do I even begin to describe how amazing the deep-fried, pillowy goodness that is Beignets. I knew they were iconic to New Orleans, but I didn’t realize how amazing they were until I finally tasted them and learned for myself. The most well-known place to get Beignets is in the French Market at Cafe Du Monde. This place is open 24 hours a day, and there is always (I mean always) a line! There are some equally wonderful places to get some authentic beignets. Check out the post below to find out about my favorite place to get Beignets!
Related: Eating Beignets at Morning Call
Visit Jackson Square
Today, Jackson Square is known for the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral and the large bronze statue of former US President, Andrew Jackson. In 1803, the Square was known as the location where Louisiana was officially made a US territory via the Louisiana Purchase. For this reason, Jackson Square is known as the historical center of the city, and plays a huge roll in the history of New Orleans. The square is approximately the size of a city block and is surrounded by a mixture of commercial and residential properties. The Square is also home to an open-air artist colony, where artists can display their work on the outside of the iron fence in hopes of selling it.
Barhop on Bourbon Street
Bourbon street is like no other street in America I’ve ever seen. It closely resembles Bangkok’s famous Khao San Road. Like most highly touristy destinations, Bourbon Street can be crowded, dirty, and extremely overwhelming, and that’s just during the day time! Make a visit at night and add in massive amounts of alcohol and everything is elevated even more. During the day, Bourbon is a fully functioning street open to cars and all traffic. By night, the street is closed-off to all motorized traffic and is a huge walk way for party-goers.
City Park is a huge public park in the middle of New Orleans. Just how huge is it? It spans 1,300 acres (50% larger than New York City’s famous Central Park). The park was found in 1854, making it one of the country’s oldest public parks. It contains a slew of amenities including a small amusement park, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, an 18-hole golf course, horse stables, and the world’s largest collection of mature live oak trees, some older than 600 years in age.
Discover the French Quarter
The French Quarter is oldest neighborhood in all of New Orleans. It contains all of the best parts part of the city. You can find stunning historical architecture, amazing food, live music at all hours of the day, art galleries and museums all nestled throughout the French Quarter. This area was one of my favorite parts of the entire city. Read more about my experience in the post below!
Related: Exploring the French Quarter
There are markets all over New Orleans, but the two most popular are the St. Roch Market and the French Market. The St. Roch Market is a food lover’s paradise. This southern food hall features some amazing food, shopping, and a craft cocktail bar. The French Market is an open-air market featuring 6 blocks of food, shopping, and everything in between.
Take a Cemetery Tour
I’ll be the first to admit, the idea of a cemetery tour seemed really weird to me at first. After learning about the important historical role the cemeteries play in the city I was totally turned into a believer of cemeteries as a tourist attraction.
The city of New Orleans actually sits below sea level. Because of this, it’s prone to major flooding and hurricanes (Katrina, remember?). Tombs in New Orleans are built above ground so that when flooding occurs the deceased do not rise to the top of the soil. There are tons of cemeteries in New Orleans, but the most well-known are St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, and Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. I visited and took a tour of the latter. Check out the post below to hear about how to get a tour for only $5!
Related: Cemetery Tour in New Orleans
Visit a Southern Plantation
One hour west of New Orleans lies one of the most magical areas of the South. Stunning plantations featuring beautiful antebellum homes and hundred year old live oak trees. These plantations are not only gorgeous, they’re a huge part of our nation’s history. There are plenty of plantations to tour, but one of the famous and most well-known is the Oak Alley Plantation. The driveway of this beautiful three story home is lined with Live Oak trees perfectly framing the huge front porch being held up by large white columns. If you’re thinking this looks like it’s straight out of a movie, you’d be correct! This plantation has been featured in many films.
Stroll through the Garden District
The Garden District is one of my favorite neighborhood’s in all of the US. Known for its gorgeous Victorian style homes with large porches and stunning architecture, the Garden District is New Orleans at its best. One of my favorite things about this neighborhood is the beautiful Magnolia trees that line each street. The neighborhood has become very popular over time, and is home to many celebrities including Sandra Bullock, Nicholas Cage, and Brad Pitt. It has also been used as the back drop for many Hollywood blockbuster movies like The Curious Case of Benjamin Button and Interview with the Vampire.
Related: Discovering the Garden District
Take a Swamp Tour
South Florida is typically the area that is most well-known for swampy waters and spotting huge alligators, BUT in 2010 the History Channel premiered a reality TV show called Swamp People. The show features the day-to-day activities of Louisiana natives living in the swampy areas of the state who hunt American alligators for a living. Suddenly tourists visiting New Orleans were making time to get out of the city and visit the Louisiana bayou. If spotting big alligators in their natural habitat is high on your list, book a swamp tour!
These tasty sandwiches seem so simple, but man oh man are they something special. Po’boy’s are known and served around the country, but they originated in the south during the great depression. They typically contain meat of some sort (usually roast beef or fried shrimp), and are topped with lettuce, tomato, pickles and mayo. You can get Po’boys all over the city, but Parkway Bakery and Tavern is known as being thee place to go for the real deal.
Listen to Live Jazz on Frenchman Street
If you get sick of all the crowds and the drunk people on Bourbon Street head to Frenchman Street. It’s best known for a three block section which is home to some of the best live-music venues in the entire city. Frenchman is known as the classier more laid back version of Bourbon Street. If taking in a dinner show isn’t something your up for you can still listen to some awesome jazz by just walking up and down the street. There are groups that set up shop in the street and on the sidewalks playing music for hours. They get bystanders dancing and have everyone clapping along with the music. It’s quite the sight.