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Things to do in New Orleans

Be sure not to miss the spectacular jazz, cajun-tastic cuisine, and bustling French Quarter in the Big Easy.

Our most recommended things to do in New Orleans

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

1. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Journey back in time aboard the newly renovated Riverboat City of New Orleans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the New Orleans atmosphere as the smooth jazz of the Dukes Trio fills your ears on this two-hour cruise on the mighty Mississippi, enjoying craft cocktails, and the sites. Depart from the heart of the French Quarter and experience breathtaking views of New Orleans as the city skyline slips away. Seating is available indoors and on the outdoor decks for the very best views of the Mississippi River and New Orleans. Make sure you check out all four decks as the top deck view is a sight to see.  Choose the dinner buffet option for a dinner menu including: Tossed salad, chicken and sausage gumbo, baked chicken with a mushroom ragout, Bayou seafood pasta, Creole vegetarian jambalaya, herb-garlic fingerling potatoes, pasta primavera, green beans, white chocolate bread pudding, Bananas Foster dessert, and garlic rolls. 

New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

2. New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

Sit back and enjoy the views or a drink at the bar while journeying down the Mississippi river. Learn about New Orleans' complex, but interesting story, focusing on the critical Battle of New Orleans. Join a cruise narrated by a local guide and embark on a journey into the past as you head downriver to the Chalmette Battlefield at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. As you travel to the battlefield, learn about the settlement of New Orleans, its river, and the historical landmarks that line the banks of the Mississippi River. As you cruise, treat yourself to a traditional lunch on board. (If relevant option selected.) Stop at the battlefield and hear about the legacy of the area on a 1-hour guided tour along the shore with a talk by National Park Rangers. After, return to the starting point where your tour will end. SAMPLE MENU LUNCH: • New Orleans Style Shrimp Pasta • 10” Roast Beef Po-Boy • Creole Jambalaya • Crawfish Bread • Caesar Salad • Red Beans & Rice • Fresh Baked Cookies • Zapps Potato Chips (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark with Exclusive Access

3. New Orleans: Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark with Exclusive Access

Experience the spooky side of New Orleans on a tour of the city and one of its most haunted cemeteries. Listen to chilling tales from your local guide and learn about the darker parts of the city's history. See how an EMF reader is used in real life. First, grab a cocktail or beer at your meeting location before the tour. Then your tour guide will lead the way with an EMF Reader and explain how to use them to search for paranormal activity and to help locate any spirits or paranormal phenomena.  Travel to the St. Patrick Cemetery No. 1, Odd Fellows Rest, and the Charity Hospital Cemetery to explore haunted cemeteries at night. Pass by the The Buckner Mansion and the Hurricane Katrina Memorial along the way.  Finally, see the videos of documented ghosts and spirits that haunt several locations from your tour. Conclude your tour by following your guide to a burial ground of spirits who met their unfortunate fate in a tragic pandemic event.

New Orleans: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

4. New Orleans: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

Listen to stories of witchcraft and keep watch for spirits on a guided city walking tour of New Orleans. Explore the historical French Quarter, as you indulge in stories of magic, ghosts, vampires, and voodoo practitioners from your expert guide. Travel to several of the city's venerated neighborhoods, soaking up stories about the witches, ghosts, vampires, and Voodoo practitioners who have contributed to the city's colorful past. Meet your local guide and set off on a journey through New Orleans’ haunted history. Pass outside well-known sites such as Muriel’s Restaurant and the Old Ursuline Convent. See the exterior of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, where bloodletting and leeching took place in the 19th century. From the outside, see the house where Jacques Saint Germain — who was rumored to be a vampire — once lived. Plus, hear chilling tales of LaLaurie House and its mistress, Madame LaLaurie. Let your guide entertain you with local folklore as you continue past the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The final stop of your activity is outside Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, where your spooky experience will end.

New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

5. New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Savor the beauty and romance of New Orleans on a cruise aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Cruise along the Mississippi River, listen to live jazz music, and enjoy an optional lunch of local fare. Your cruise from the heart of the French Quarter and takes you back to a time when life was as slow and graceful as the current on the Mississippi. Set out to see New Orleans from the Mississippi River, one of the world's most active ports. While on board, visit the museum-quality engine room to learn how steam powers this magnificent boat through the "Mighty Mississippi." Add an optional Creole lunch to your cruise, prepared fresh on board and served with your choice of coffee and iced tea. Savor the tastes of New Orleans before docking back where you started the tour. Sample Menu Lunch (subject to season and availability) • Southern fried fish• Red beans and rice• Jambalaya• Salad du jour

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

6. New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

Embark on a high-speed adventure through the swamps and marshes just 35 minutes from New Orleans and experience the amazing scenery by airboat. Slow down or stop to take pictures and get a personal tour from your local captain. Avail of airboats with stadium-style seating so that the person in front does not obstruct your view. Be amazed as alligators come so close to the boat that you can stare into their reptilian eyes! Encounter magnificent birdlife, including bald eagles, pelicans, ospreys and owls. Every tour is unique and you never know what will be around the next corner! Reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, propelled by a huge fan that blows air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles per hour. Ride in shallow water and access areas where traditional boats cannot go.

From New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation Tour

7. From New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation Tour

Explore New Orlean's history on a guided tour of Oak Alley Plantation, named for the double row of southern live oak trees that date back to the 18th century. Learn all about plantation life from your traditionally-dressed tour guide and see antique farm machinery up close.  Benefit from pickup at your accommodation in New Orleans, and then make your way to the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie for your guided walking tour of its grounds.  Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, Oak Alley was named after the 28 huge oak trees that line the road leading up to – and pre-dating – the plantation house.  Admire the Greek Revival architecture of the main plantation house, built in the 19th century for one of the wealthiest families of the South. See original features, including antique farm machinery, and avail of amenities such as a restaurant and souvenir shop. Throughout your tour, be led by a guide wearing authentic plantation-style clothes and hear about the first example of Antebellum restoration along the legendary River Road.

New Orleans: The National WWII Museum Ticket

8. New Orleans: The National WWII Museum Ticket

Designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States, the National WWII Museum is located in downtown New Orleans, where 5 soaring pavilions house historical exhibits, on-site restoration work, a period dinner theater, and restaurants. Purchase your timed tickets in advance to secure your desired entry or movie time. Housed in 5 buildings, the museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion features the “D-Day Invasion of Normandy” exhibit and an exhibit telling the story of the war experienced on the Home Front.  The "Campaigns of Courage" area features the “Road to Tokyo” exhibit, which retraces the grueling trail from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo. It also houses the “Road to Berlin” exhibit, recreating actual battle settings and villages as America campaigned to defeat the Axis powers. A two-hour guided tour of these two exhibits, led by an expert docent, is also available to book as an option. The U.S. Freedom Pavilion features actual WW2 airplanes restored to their wartime glory, including the B-17E Flying Fortress, as well as wartime tanks and trucks. Liberation Pavilion, which opens in 2022, will explore the closing months of the war and immediate postwar years, concluding with an explanation of links to our lives today.  In the Solomon Victory Theatre, you will be able to see, hear and feel the epic story of World War II in the exclusive 4D experience “Beyond All Boundaries”, narrated by Tom Hanks. This movie experience requires the purchase of the option which includes the 4-D film.

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

9. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

Step back into the glamour and romance of the riverboat era with a cruise on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen boat. Tuck into a delicious dinner or simply sit back and relax with a cocktail in your hand, marveling at the views and enjoying the live jazz music. On this river cruise, experience the vibrant and lively jazz notes of the amazing Sullivan Dabney Jr. and the Muzik Jazz Band while enjoying a Creole-style dinner (if the option is selected). There will be some time to dance to the music after dinner in the gorgeous dining hall.  After dinner, enjoy a classic New Orleans cocktail on the promenade deck looking out over the Mississippi River as the city slips past. On the way back to dock where you began your tour, pass by Jackson Square and see the city lights under a starry sky.  SAMPLE DINNER MENU: • Cajun Caesar Salad • Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo • Louisiana Creole Jambalaya • Cajun Baked Chicken • Roast Beef Debris • Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Cajun Seafood Pasta • Red Beans & Rice • Corn Mac Choux • Fresh Roasted Vegetables • Paddlewheeler White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (best in New Orleans!) • French Bread Rolls & Cornbread (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: Swamp Boat Ride and Oak Alley Plantation Tour

10. New Orleans: Swamp Boat Ride and Oak Alley Plantation Tour

Meet your guide in New Orleans, then leave the city behind as you travel back in time to the Oak Alley Plantation. Passing by the impressive Lake Pontchartrain. See the plantation's quarter-mile-long alley of oak trees, each over 250 years old, and the cypress trees which border the Mississippi River. Explore the plantation with your guide, and listen to stories of its history dating back to 1839. Learn about the site's former uses and residents, and visit the plantation's on-site exhibitions, Slavery at Oak Alley, Blacksmith Shop, and Sugarcane Theater, to learn more about its past.  Afterwards, travel past several of the area’s plantations as you head to the Manchac Swamp. Explore this privately-owned wildlife refuge, and hear about the legend of the Rougarou werewolf. Take a boat ride across the swamp, and get up close to alligators and other wildlife.

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Frequently asked questions about New Orleans

What top attractions are a must-see in New Orleans?

The must-see attractions in New Orleans are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from New Orleans?

The best day trips and excursions from New Orleans are:

Mississippi River

Insider tips: Planning a trip to New Orleans

There are so many reasons to visit New Orleans, this is one of the most unique cities in the world with cultural influences from African Americans, French, and Spanish throughout their world-class cuisine, music, traditions, and architecture. This is a destination full of energy any time of year but also the highly anticipated and attended Mardi Gras celebrations annually. Megan Indoe is a Brooklyn based travel enthusiast who shares her adventures with her husband and photographer Scott Herder across their travel channels on social media and their blog, Bobo & Chichi.

What should I do on my first trip to New Orleans?

There are so many wonderful things to do in New Orleans, but for any first time visitor you can’t miss strolling through the lush and beautiful mansion-lined streets in the Garden District and explore the French Quarter by day and by night head to all the jazz clubs on Frenchmen Street by night.

What are some hidden gems to see in New Orleans?

One of the best hidden gems is the Faubourg Marigny & Bywater area of NOLA. Be sure to explore this vibrant neighborhood on foot and enjoy the colorful, shotgun style homes. When you need a drink or a meal check out St. Roch Market and Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits for live music and drinks in the evenings.

How much time should I spend in New Orleans?

You need at least a weekend if not longer in New Orleans. But, not matter how much time you spend you’ll likely want to come back for more because like most destinations, you can’t possibly see everything in one visit.

What food is New Orleans known for? 

The beauty of New Orleans is that there’s no place in the world like it. There are influences from various cultures including Caribbean, French, Spanish, West African, and Native Americans to name a few. You’ll want to explore the Cajun and Creole dining scene here. Don’t miss trying powdered sugar covered beignets, Gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, and local seafood like crawdads and shrimp to name a few of the local specialties.

What is the best way to get around New Orleans?

Much of New Orleans is walkable, but there are a few places that might be a little too far to reach by foot. Try taking a fide on the old fashioned street cars from the French Quarter to the Garden District for a unique experience or use a ride share app to get around when the walk is just a little too far.

What are the best months to visit New Orleans?

Avoid New Orleans in the month of June and perhaps through early fall, this is the rainiest time of year and hurricane season. The best time to visit would be February through May when it is much less humid and temperatures are more comfortable. Keep in mind if you’re hoping to visit during Mardi Gras, always around the Easter holiday, you’ll need to make your reservations well in advance.

What is neighborhood French Quarter known for?

The French Quarter is the most famous neighborhood in New Orleans famous for its gorgeous, historic buildings with gas lanterns. The neighborhood is famous for being home to the rowdy crowds on Bourbon Street, tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels as the heartbeat of tourism in the city.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

The French Quarter has plenty of incredible dining options including some of the city’s most well-known and historic dining establishments like Galatoire’s as well as where you can find the famous Cafe du Monde for their beignets 24/7. The Garden District is also full of great restaurants, be sure to hit up Commander’s Palace for their famous 25 cent martinis at lunch and if you’re looking for a great po’boy and dive spot, head to Parasol’s.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

One of the best spots for shopping in New Orleans, besides all the stores and shops in the French Quarter, can be found all along Magazine Street. You can find everything from vintage shops to home goods and quirky boutiques plus there are plenty of cafes and eateries to take a shopping break along the way.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit New Orleans?

If its your first time to New Orleans you should stay as close to the French Quarter as possible. Don’t worry about the noise, even the hotels that are near Bourbon Street somehow manage to remain quiet and have one of the best locations for exploring during your stay

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in New Orleans?

Take a half day tour or trip to a nearby swamp to get up close and personal to the famous Louisiana bayous and swamps while having wildlife encounters along the way.

What are the best annual events in New Orleans?

The most famous annual event are the Mardi Gras celebrations each year! Expect the two weeks celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans to be full of daily parades, floats, music, end loads of energy! Another great annual event to check out is Jazz Fest which celebrates the famous music scene here typically taking place at the end of April through early May.

Other Sightseeing Options in New Orleans

Want to discover all there is to do in New Orleans? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about New Orleans

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 19,050 reviews

The music was fantastic and however the barman did not know about our vip tickets, we were served a cocktail of our choice. Seating was not a problem at all. At the given time though musician went on a break. Fortunately, we arrived earlier so we knew it was worth waiting. Excellent afternoon programme.

It was very informative and exciting. The history is amazing and the guide was very personable and informative. I will be recommending this tour to any one that will head your way.

Very informative. Learned so much about the history of the region. Tour guy was very knowledgeable and answered all questions. As a bonus, he looked like younger Nicolas Cage ;-)

There was plenty of time at the swamp and the plantation to do some exploring on our own as well as the guided portion of the tour. The guides were knowledgeable and engaging.

It was very nice. Kindness and high vibrations all around. Amazziinnng food. Would love to come back as soon as possible <3