The best things to do in New Orleans are legendary—events like Mardi Gras, famous scenes like Bourbon Street, and world-class attractions like the National WWII Museum alone (not to mention the city’s iconic foods) are just a few of the bucket list reasons to visit every year. Whether you’re looking for an unforgettable party or a deep dive into history and art, there’s truly something for every type of traveler. Here are the top things you can do in New Orleans.
While Bourbon Street can be avoided (unless it’s your first visit to New Orleans – you have to experience it), the French Quarter is always a must-do, any time of year. As the city’s oldest neighborhood, the Vieux Carre is packed with gorgeous architecture, loads of history, a wealth of food and music, and a cast of characters including long-time residents, chatty tour guides, and talented street performers. Don’t skip out on historic attractions like the Historic New Orleans Collection, and be sure to take in the views of the Mississippi from the edge of the Quarter.
Marigny, the neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter, is one of the city’s top spots for music. Here you’ll find a string of live music venues like Spotted Cat and dba offering jazz, blues, reggae, and rock. There’s often a brass band performing on a corner. Restaurants offering pub grub, Egyptian fare, pizza, and more will fuel you up for an energetic, music-filled stroll around the neighborhood.
National WWII Museum
The National WWII Museum is a world-class complex with award-winning exhibits showcasing the stories of those who served in WWII and on the homefront. Highlights include actual planes, jeeps, and Higgins Boats, a theater with WWII-era musical performances, a restaurant, and a fantastic gift shop with 1940s-inspired gifts and clothing.
This six-mile stretch has it all: shopping, dining, art galleries, unique architecture, an award-winning zoo, and friendly local business owners. Get your steps in as you shop local boutiques, then reward yourself with a meal at one of the many restaurants that offer sidewalk dining or patios overlooking the hustle and bustle of the street.
City Park is a beautifully-landscaped, 1,300-acre green space filled with moss-drenched oaks, peaceful walking paths, and native birds. Head to the Big Lake and rent a swan boat, take the kids (or embrace your inner child) at Storyland and the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park. Don’t miss the Couturie Forest, a diverse nature trail that features New Orleans’ highest point: Laborde Mountain, at a whopping 43 feet above sea level.
Museum of Art
Within City Park, at the edge of the Big Lake, sits the city’s preeminent art museum. NOMA houses more than 40,000 pieces featuring pieces from the Italian Renaissance to modern works. Browse works from Monet, Degas, Rodin and O’Keefe as well as glass, ceramics, pre-Columbian art, and an extensive photography collection. Save time for the adjacent Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, a beautifully-landscaped showcase of the Museum’s sculpture collection.