New Orleans is a hub for all things fun. I think it might be impossible to go to New Orleans and not have a good time. There’s delicious cajun-style food, you can walk down the street with a drink in your hand, and the weather is nearly always perfect.
We made our first trip down to New Orleans recently and had an incredible time. There was no shortage of things to do, and the vibe of the city is unlike anywhere else that we have ever been.
Here are some of our favorite things that we did during our time in New Orleans:
1. Walk down Canal Street
There’s nothing like a stroll down Canal Street when it’s all lit up at night. One of the main streets in New Orleans’ French Quarter, there’s always something fun going on along Canal Street. Expect lots of street music and bustling restaurants.
2. Visit a Cemetery
You can’t go to New Orleans without visiting one of their spooky cemeteries with above ground gravestones. Many of the cemeteries are supposedly haunted, so don’t go at night–especially since you can get mugged. Also, many cemeteries require you to book a private tour ahead of time so make sure you check online.
3. Try Gumbo
Gumbo is New Orleans’ signature dish and there’s no escaping it–it’s on nearly every menu at restaurants across the city. Try this delicious comfort food for an authentic taste of New Orleans cajun-style cuisine. You won’t regret it. Bonus points if it comes with a fresh biscuit!
4. Take a Riverboat Cruise
Since New Orleans is located right along the Mississippi River, you can take a Riverboat cruise down the river. They offer everything from dinner and Sunday brunch to special events, so there’s a large selection of times that you can go. Check out the Steamboat Natchez website to learn more.
5. Walk down Bourbon Street
It’s always a party on Bourbon Street–especially if the Saints are playing! We ventured down New Orleans’ famed street just before a Saints game and had the time of our lives people watching. You don’t even have to drink to have a good time on Bourbon Street; just put on a pair of good walking shoes and enjoy the show.
6. Visit Jackson Square
Jackson Square is a bustling park located in New Orleans’ French Quarter. The park itself is very beautiful, surrounded on all sides by beautiful historical buildings. There’s also usually live jazz music playing nearby, so leave yourself plenty of time to explore this happening park.
7. Check out Jackson Square’s Street Art
While you’re there, make sure you check out the art that’s for sale around the perimeters of Jackson Square. The art style in New Orleans is very bright and vibrant, and we loved checking out all the paintings made by local artists.
8. Take advantage of no open container laws
We were shocked when we went to New Orleans and saw “alcohol to go” advertisements on the windows of local restaurants. No open container laws?? We took advantage of this rarity by ordering two girly yet delicious drinks and strolling around with them in hand.
9. Ride the StreetCar (with your drink in hand!)
The New Orleans StreetCar is one of the coolest ways to get around in New Orleans while also supporting the local public transit system. We recommend riding the picturesque Canal Street Line since you’ll get great views of the city as you cruise along. Plus, it’s only $1.25 for a standard one-way ticket!
10. Gamble at Harrah’s Casino
New Orleans is no Vegas, but they do have a big beautiful casino located in the center of the French Quarter. Stop by to try your hand at some black jack, or play it safe on the slot machines. There’s also lots of places to eat and drink inside the casino, as well as a nice hotel.
11. Visit the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Who doesn’t love seeing sea-life in action, and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is one of the best places to do it. Whether you spend half a day here or only a few hours, you’ll love being able to see these critters in action. The aquarium is also right next to the Mississippi River, so it’s definitely in a picturesque and convenient spot.
12. Have a candlelit drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop & Bar
Looking for a way to enjoy relaxing drink while soaking in New Orleans’ history of voodoo and hauntings? Lafitte’s Blacksmith & Bar is the perfect place to do just that. This bar is one of the oldest in the country, and you can enjoy your beer in the back room that is lit solely by candles. Spooooky.
13. Try Beignets
Don’t leave New Orleans without trying one of these warm, powdery pieces of goodness. A beignet is similar to a donut: it has a warm doughy center, and it’s sprinkled with powdered sugar on top. It doesn’t sound like anything fancy, but somehow a fresh beignet will lighten up your whole day. They sell 3 for $3.99 at Cafe Beignet, and they have half the wait times of Cafe de Monde.
14. Stroll down the Riverwalk
The Riverwalk is a great way to be outside and active while still taking in the beauty of New Orleans. We recommend planning a walk along this beautiful walkway after a big meal to eat so you can burn off some of those calories.
15. Go Shopping at the Outlet Collection at Riverwalk
There’s nothing like some good bargain shopping, especially when that shopping center is right next to a scenic riverwalk. Stop by the Outlet Collection if you’re looking for a good deal on clothes, accessories, sweets, and more. I loved that there was a Nordstrom Rack and a Neiman Marcus Last Call–two of my favorite discount stores.
New Orleans is a fun and happening city to be in, and you don’t have to spend a ton of money to have a good time. There’s plenty of budget-friendly options, as well as ways to splurge if you feel like making the trip extra special.
And if you’re planning a visit to New Orleans, you might also enjoy our post on 9 Must Eat Places in the New Orleans French Quarter.
Have you been to New Orleans? What are some of your favorite things to do? Let us know in the comments since we’ll definitely be back!
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