New Orleans is a city always buzzing with excitement, energy and vigor. Whether your travels bring you here for Mardi Gras or just to have a blast in the Crescent City, you are in for quite a treat!
The eclectic mix of locals, the Creole and Cajun Louisiana food, and boundless music only add life and enthusiasm to the streets of New Orleans where history is embedded in the walls of every building and the cracks of every sidewalk.
There is a lot to take in when visiting this eccentric city, but here are a few places and activities to get you started!
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the city’s oldest sector, enjoyed by tourists and locals alike.
In the Quarter, you will get lost in the history and architecture as you walk along the ancient pavements. Entertainment is plentiful as the sounds of jazz, blues and classic rock and roll fill the streets. Stroll down Decatur Street for tourist shops and restaurants, Royal Street for chic antique shops, or venture down Bourbon Street for wild bars and extravagant music clubs!
The Quarter is always alive with excitement, romance and fun! You won’t be disappointed in your visit here!
At the heart of the French Quarter is Jackson Square, a beautiful park lined with street performers, artists and architectural wonders.
A statue of Andrew Jackson, the leader of the Battle of New Orleans in the War of 1812, stands at the center of the square. Landscaped like a sun, walkways stream from the center like rays of light. In the square you will find notable, historical buildings such as the St. Louis Cathedral, Faulkner House, Presbytère, and Cabildo.
New Orleans City Park
New Orleans City Park stretches 1,300 acres from Bayou St. John to Lake Pontchartrain, making it the 6th largest urban park in America.
The park is absolutely breathtaking, dotted with centuries-old live oaks and a botanical garden. After Hurricane Katrina hit, the city came together to repair the damages and restore the beautiful City Park. Now you can enjoy new bike and walkways and a magnificent, green lawn where concerts are frequently held.
You can also bring your children to the restored Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and Storyland that has been in City Park since 1906!
New Orleans Museum of Art
At the main entrance of City Park stands the New Orleans Museum of Art.
NOMA has 46 galleries and over 40,000 works of art, including Picasso, Pollock and Monet. Not only will you find classic paintings, but sculptures, photography, glasswork and ceramics. NOMA is a great place to visit for not only art enthusiasts but for the casual, curious visitor as well.
The Audubon Insectarium is a bizarre, but fun, museum dedicated to insects and their relatives.
As the largest museum of its kind in North America, it is a popular destination for those traveling with children. Visitors will explore termite galleries, learn about insect myths, venture around a Louisiana swamp, and enjoy a beautiful butterfly garden.
If you aren’t too squeamish, stop by Bug Appétit and taste test Cajun fried crickets, queen-ant-topped hor d’oeuvres, and other delicious insect snacks!
Interested in more weird, maybe spooky things to do in the Crescent City?
Take a Haunted Tour through the French Quarter or the cemeteries. New Orleans has a reputation of being the “most haunted city in America,” so if you believe in the supernatural, there are many tours you can take that will guide you through this paranormal experience!
A great way to take a tour of the Big Easy is on the city’s historic Streetcars!
For only $1.25, you can hop aboard a car and take one of the three major streetcar lines. All of the streetcars start downtown, but each ventures to different parts of the city.
The Canal Street line will take you along the French Quarter, where you can then go on to explore historic cemeteries or the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, while the Riverfront line travels to the charming shops and restaurants of the French Market as well as the Aquarium of the Americas and Woldenberg Park. Lastly, the St. Charles line, the oldest continuously functioning streetcar in the world, leads you uptown where you can see old mansions and stop by the Garden District.
A trip to New Orleans is not complete without indulging in a Po-Boy, or a few! Po-Boys are unique to New Orleans, the first being made when a streetcar strike occurred during the Great Depression. Former streetcar workers opened a sandwich shop selling roast beef, gravy, and potatoes on French bread, creating the original “poor boy” sandwich.
Since then, many Po-Boy shops have popped up and created their own variation of the renowned sandwich.
Which shop has the best though? That’s debatable!
Locals will squabble over who has the greatest Po-Boy, so to decide for yourself you may want to stop by in November for the annual Oak Street Po-Boy Festival where 30 sandwich makers come and make their famous sandwiches for over 40,000 festival goers!