Things to do in New Orleans

Things to do in  New Orleans

Eat, drink, sleep, repeat

Known equally for its gorgeous Gallic-inspired architecture and its festive nightlife scene, New Orleans is a fun, friendly place that appeals equally to history buffs and partiers. Just strolling around this southern US city is enough for many travelers, particularly if you base yourself in the aptly named French Quarter or the elegant Garden District. While you’re unlikely to run out of things to do in New Orleans, there are plenty of interesting spots for a day trip, from historic plantation estates to wild swaths of marshy bayou.

Top 15 attractions in New Orleans

French Quarter

The French Quarter, with its vibrant atmosphere and unique blend of architectural styles, is easily New Orleans’ most famous and popular area to visit. It's also the city's oldest neighborhood, and its elegant streets are lined with an appealing mix of lively bars—especially along the legendary Bourbon Street—historic monuments, delicious restaurants, and inviting jazz clubs.More

LaLaurie Mansion

LaLaurie Mansion is not your regular tourist attraction. Also known as LaLaurie House, this French Quarter spot has a gruesome past involving torture, murder, and acts of brutality. The house is a regular stop on ghost tours of New Orleans and attracts visitors who want to learn more about the property’s spine-chilling history.More

Mississippi River

A central character in Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, the mighty Mississippi River has long captured the American imagination. Originating in Minnesota and sweeping across 95 river miles (153 kilometers) south to New Orleans, where it flows into the Gulf of Mexico, the Mississippi is the largest river system in North America and has gained an almost mythical place in American history.More

Garden District

New Orleans' Garden District is the epitome of Southern charm. The mansions, which are among the most impressive in the city, feature wraparound porches, verandas, and manicured gardens where there’s always something blooming. Streets are separated by stretches of green parks, and the historic cable car line runs along St. Charles Avenue.More

St. Louis Cathedral

A prominent landmark on Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral (officially the Cathedral-Basilica of Saint Louis King of France) stands tall and proud, beckoning French Quarter visitors to take a little time out from drinking and dancing to admire the oldest continuously used cathedral in the United States. The seat of the city's Roman Catholic Archdiocese, the cathedral was built in 1789 and rebuilt in 1850, and today, its all-white, Spanish Colonial façade with three black spires is one of the most instantly recognizable landmarks in the South. The inside is just as beautiful.More

Jackson Square

In the heart of the French Quarter lies Jackson Square, one of New Orleans’ most famous locations. A National Historic Landmark, it is home to St. Louis Cathedral and is often filled with locals and tourists who come to stroll the paths, catch the buskers and street performers in action, or just sit in the shade and watch the world go by.More

French Market

Located in the heart of New Orleans’ vibrant French Quarter, the French Market is a grand bazaar that serves as much as a cultural meeting place as it does a market space. In addition to hosting stall after stall of vendors hawking handmade goods and artisanal foods, the market doubles as a venue for a daily flea market and a twice-weekly farmers market. The French Market boasts the superlative as the oldest continuously operating open-air market in the United States, making it a part of living Louisiana history.More

Bourbon Street

The infamous Bourbon Street, also known as Rue Bourbon, conjures up images of endless partying, drinks of all shapes and sizes, bachelorette parties, and of course, Mardi Gras. Outside of Mardi Gras season, visitors flock to this playground of the South for its Creole restaurants, live music venues, souvenir shops, and well-known drinking establishments.More

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest cemetery in New Orleans. Built in 1833 and ripe with ghost stories and the graves of notable New Orleans residents, this Garden District graveyard serves as the final resting place for more than 7,000 people. The cemetery gets its name from the old city of Lafayette, now part of New Orleans.More

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Named for a legendary 19th-century pirate, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve includes six sites scattered throughout Louisiana that offer outdoor activities, history lessons, swamp tours, and more. See them on an airboat tour of Barataria Preserve in Marrero—a 26,000-acre (10,521-hectare) wetland rich in wildlife.More

Oak Alley Plantation

Famed for the 300-year-old allée of live oak trees dripping with Spanish moss that flank its main entrance, Oak Alley Plantation has more to offer visitors than a quintessential view of a Southern plantation. Highlights include numerous exhibitions exploring the complexities of Southern and Louisiana history, 1,300 acres (526 hectares) of grounds, and the historic house itself—all within easy driving distance of New Orleans.More

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

This vintage apothecary in the French Quarter is a national historic landmark and the site of the first licensed pharmacist in the US. Shelves of potions, perfumes, surgical devices, and other questionable curiosities are on display behind the old-time soda fountain for a fascinating look into medical practices of the past. More

National WWII Museum

With interactive exhibits, plus an extensive selection of memorabilia and machines used in the D-Day landings, the National WWII Museum offers a fascinating insight into the USA’s role in the Second World War. Learn all about the planning that went into the landings and see what life was like for the men and women involved in the war.More

Louis Armstrong Park

On the northeastern edge of the French Quarter, Louis Armstrong Park honors the most beloved and influential figure in New Orleans jazz history. With its trees, fountain, sculptures, and winding lagoon, the park offers a lovely respite from the bustle of Bourbon Street.More

Lake Pontchartrain

At 630 square miles (1,632 square kilometers), Lake Pontchartrain is one of the largest bodies of water in the US. It’s beloved by locals as a place to fish, sail, and swim, and its shores and waters shelter a huge variety of wildlife and marine life—look out for blue crabs, Atlantic stingrays, pelicans, ospreys, and even bull sharks.More

Trip ideas

Best Weekend Getaways from New Orleans

Best Weekend Getaways from New Orleans

Top activities in New Orleans

Swamp Boat Ride and Oak Alley Plantation Tour from New Orleans
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New Orleans Sightseeing City Tour
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New Orleans Sightseeing City Tour

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St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 Official Walking Tour - Enters the Cemetery
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New Orleans Airboat Ride
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New Orleans Airboat Ride

New Orleans City and Cemetery 2- 2 1/2 Hour Bus Tour
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Whitney Plantation Tour

Whitney Plantation Tour

Haunted Pub Crawl in New Orleans
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Haunted Pub Crawl in New Orleans

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All about New Orleans

When to visit

If you’re looking to party, you can’t go wrong with planning your visit around Mardi Gras, which usually falls in February or March; the colorful and frenzied celebrations will give you a taste of the city’s vibrant culture. The spring also sees pleasant weather, with an average high of 77°F (25°C) in April and 85°F (29°C) in May. Once the heat of summer comes, prices drop and the streets go quiet, making it a budget-friendly time to visit. Otherwise, winters are relatively moderate, and temps rarely drop below 46°F (8°C).

Getting around

The neighborhoods of New Orleans are quite compact, making it ideal for walking. Areas like Bourbon Street, which have plenty of bars and cafés to rest weary feet, are easily explored on foot. Otherwise, jump on one of the city’s iconic streetcars or regular buses; running throughout the city, they can get you to most of the main sights for a cost-effective price. At night, taxis and ride-hailing services are the most convenient and safest options when traveling from point A to B.

Traveler tips

New Orleans is known for its Creole cuisine, a fusion of French, Spanish, West African, and Native American culinary influences. Must-try dishes include stews like gumbo and jambalaya at Gumbo Shop or New Orleans Creole Cookery. Deep-fried beignets from Café du Monde are also world-renowned; pair one with a café au lait for an excellent pick-me-up. Don’t be alarmed if you see people drinking in the streets, especially on Bourbon Street: It’s legal in New Orleans, so long as your beverage is in a plastic cup.

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A local’s pocket guide to New Orleans

Maggie Bennett

Maggie is both Viator's New Orleans account manager and a New Orleans enthusiast. Countless visits to the region, including three trips for Mardi Gras, make her a go-to gal for things to do there.

The first thing you should do in New Orleans is...

hit Bourbon Street to people-watch, grab a fried shrimp Po’ Boy sandwich or fried oysters, and enjoy a famous Hurricane cocktail.

A perfect Saturday in New Orleans...

includes venturing outside the city for a high-speed airboat and plantation combo tour, or heading to the Garden District for jazz brunch at Commander’s Palace. Save room for bananas Foster for dessert!

One touristy thing that lives up to the hype is...

Mardi Gras, of course. The parades, parties, and elaborate costumes are not to be missed.

To discover the "real" New Orleans...

head to Frenchman Street to check out jazz clubs frequented by locals, or take a bike tour to easily explore neighborhoods outside the French Quarter.

For the best view of the city...

hop aboard the Steamboat Natchez to experience the New Orleans skyline from a unique vantage point. Alternatively, stay on dry land at the Pontchartrain Hotel’s Hot Tin rooftop bar.

One thing people get wrong...

thinking New Orleans is just a place to party. It’s packed with history, culture, and outdoor activities as well.


People Also Ask

What is New Orleans famous for?

New Orleans is famous for its food, festivals, nightlife, and architecture. It’s a great place to try Cajun and Creole dishes, listen to live jazz or drink the night away on Bourbon Street, or check out the architecture in the French Quarter and the Garden District. Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest are the best-known celebrations.

What should first time visitors do in New Orleans?

First-time visitors to New Orleans will want to check out the two prime touristy areas: the French Quarter and the Garden District, which are linked by the city’s St. Charles Streetcar, a destination unto itself. First-timers should also stop by the Café du Monde for its famous beignets and chicory coffee.

Is 3 days enough for New Orleans?

Three days is enough for New Orleans, though you could easily spend much longer in the city without getting bored. Still, three days will give you enough time to visit the French Quarter and the Garden District, check out one of the famous cemeteries, and take a cruise on the Mississippi.

What is the most famous part of New Orleans?

New Orleans' most famous area is the French Quarter. This is where many of the city’s main attractions and dining options are located, and it’s where you’ll find Bourbon Street, the main nightlife drag. The Garden District is also well known, offering gorgeous mansions just a short streetcar ride away.

What is there to do in New Orleans besides party?

New Orleans offers so much more than just partying. It’s a great place to sample local dishes such as crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, and beignets, or check out architecture in the French Quarter and Garden District. Other popular attractions include the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and the Mississippi River.

What do locals do in New Orleans?

New Orleans locals often avoid the touristy throngs of the French Quarter in favor of lower-key neighborhoods, such as the nearby Bywater/Marigny and Treme areas. The Warehouse Arts District is also a great place to dine and drink among locals, without straying far from the French Quarter.

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