If you’re trying to find the best places to visit in New Orleans, then we can certainly help you! New Orleans is a vibrant city in the south full of history. As part of Lousiana, it was originally a French settlement city before it the area became an American territory. That French influence can still be felt all throughout the city. So many of the best activities in New Orleans are part of that French cultural history.
Planning your trip to New Orleans last minute?
Make sure to book your hotels and tours in New Orleans in advance to ensure availability! Here are our top picks for your trip!
Top Experiences And Tours In New Orleans:
- Evening Jazz Cruise On Steamboat (Likely to sell out!)
- Ghosts, Vampires + Voodoo Tour (Unique French Quarter tour!)
- High-Speed Airboat Ride (Super fun for the whole group)
- Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark (Very popular tour with 4.5/5 stars)
Top recommendations for accommodation In New Orleans:
- Sonesta New Orleans ES Suites (Downtown with views)
- Four Points By Sheraton French Quarter (Chic Bourbon Street location)
- The Brandywine Sextant (Rooftop pool!)
- NOPSI Hotel New Orleans (5-star luxury hotel!)
Along with that French history, there is a beautiful blending of cultures. It’s a city where you can listen to jazz, enjoy French pastries, browse antique stores, and admire stunning architecture all in one day. Because it’s deep within the south near the Gulf of Mexico, there are some times during the year when it’s best to avoid the city.
If you aren’t a big fan of the heat and humidity, you’re going to want to skip visiting in the summer months. To avoid a majority of the crowds, you also don’t want to go around Mardis Gras, which is typically in January or February. However, we still think any time spent in New Orleans can be fun, no matter the weather or the crowds.
When you’re planning your New Orleans trip, you’ll want to add these New Orleans vacation spots to your itinerary. We guarantee they’ll make for a trip you won’t forget. So let’s take a look at the best places to visit in New Orleans!
17 Best Places To Visit In New Orleans (+ Unique Vacation Spots)
Walk Around Jackson Square
One of the best places to visit in New Orleans is Jackson Square. Jackson Square is one of the central parts of the French Quarter. It’s where you’ll find some of the best views in the city. Especially if you’re looking to see some of the more interesting street performers. All throughout the day, there are street performers set up along Jackson Square.
You’ll find anything from musicians with a single instrument or whole live bands. Along with the musicians you’ll see cool buskers. Buskers are street performers who dress up as characters, statues, and other various things. Some of the buskers in Jackson Square are world-famous and draw crowds throughout the day. Typically, if you tip them, they’ll let you take their photo or take your photo with them. Jackson Square is one of the best places to see in the French Quarter.
French Quarter Walking Tour: GetYourGuide.com
Grab A Bite To Eat From A Black-Owned Restaurant
While you’re walking around the city, we suggest grabbing a bite to eat at one of the many Black-Owned restaurants. New Orleans has a large Black community, with a variety of different cultural backgrounds. So you’ll be able to sample foods from almost every Black cultural group across the world. One of the best parts about these restaurants is that you’ll be supporting a local business owner while getting to try some amazing food.
There are several Black-Owned restaurants in New Orleans that we love to go to. Whether you’re looking for delicious Creole dishes, French-inspired fusion food, or Haitian Street Food, New Orleans has it. A few of our favorites are Compere Lapin, Cafe Sbisa, and Frita. Many of the restaurants even have vegetarian and gluten-free options. If you’re looking for places to visit in New Orleans with amazing food, head to one of the many Black-Owned restaurants.
Book Here: Food and History Tasting Tour
Admire The View At A Rooftop Bar
NOLA has plenty of rooftop bars scattered throughout the city. They are some of the best places to go in New Orleans at night. For a taste of that classic New Orleans nightlife, we suggest grabbing drinks at one of the cool rooftop bars. It’s a great New Orleans activity if you’re going to the city for an epic bachelorette party! Many of these bars also have some absolutely gorgeous panoramic views of New Orleans.
You can find most of them on the rooftops of hotels. Because they are part of the hotel, some of them are only open to the public on certain days. So if you’re planning on getting drinks at one, make sure it’s actually open to the public. Some are also only open if you book space, so keep that in mind. Any of the rooftop bars are great places to go in New Orleans at night.
This is one of our favorite things to and you should add it to your Weekend In New Orleans Itinerary.
Ride The St. Charles Streetcar
The St. Charles Streetcar is one of the best New Orleans tourist attractions. The dark green historic streetcar is actually the oldest running streetcar in the world! It is a super cool part of NOLA history and it’s also very cheap to ride. It is only $3 one way! You’ll want to get on it on St. Charles Avenue and it’ll take you through some of the best parts of the city. When you need a break from walking and want to see the city still, this is one of the best activities in New Orleans.
There are several stops that the streetcar makes. Many of them are at pretty iconic New Orleans vacation spots. The cost of the ride covers one way, so if you want to take it back to St. Charles Avenue, you’ll need to pay $6. However, it’s such a cheap way to get around the city and it’s a really unique experience. We highly suggest taking the St. Charles Streetcar at least once while you’re touring New Orleans.
New Orleans Museum Of Art
The New Orleans Museum of Art is one of the coolest places to visit in New Orleans. It’s the oldest art museum in the city and was founded in 1911. You can find it within the City Park district of NOLA, near the terminal for Canal Street of the streetcar line. The museum has an extensive collection of stunning fine art. With over 40,000 items in the collection, spanning over 5,000 years, you can easily spend a few hours touring the museum.
You’ll be able to gaze at pieces from the Italian Renaissance all the way up to the Modern Era. The NOLA Museum of Art also has a large collection of furniture on display. The furniture collection includes important and beautiful pieces from 18th and 19th century America and France. Inside the collection, there are also pieces by famed artists like Degas, Picasso, and Renoir. If you are an art lover, the NOLA Museum of Art is one of the best places to see in New Orleans.
National WWII Museum
New Orleans is home to the National WWII Museum. It’s one of the best things to do in New Orleans. The museum opened in 1991 and has been attracting visitors from all over the country ever since. It was eventually designated by congress as the country’s official WWII museum. The museum is full of immersive experiences, an extensive collection of artifacts, and even records of first-person oral history stories.
Since becoming the designated official WWII museum, it has also become the authority in the United State’s WWII history. The museum is huge and it actually sits on a large campus as well. The campus has galleries and a canteen. At the BBs Stage Door Canteen, you can see period-authentic entertainment. You can also grab a bite to eat there if you’re hungry from touring the extensive museum. The National WWII Museum is one of the most interesting places to see in New Orleans.
Book Here: National WWII Museum Entry
While you’re in the French Quarter, you’re going to want to do some antique shopping. NOLA is full of antique stores, but most of them can be found on Royal Street. Royal Street is actually known for being one of the best places for antique shopping in the country. The antique stores on Royal Street are full of unique and timeless antique pieces. New Orleans has a history of being one of the top places where quality furniture is made. These antique stores continue that tradition.
New Orleans is actually the second largest port of antiques in the US. In fact, many of them have been owned and operated by the same families for decades. Inside most of the antique stores, you’ll find pieces that are probably outside of your price range. The finest antiques come with a high price tag. But even if they are a little too pricey for your budget, they’re really cool to look at. Strolling through one of the many antique stores is one of the coolest activities in New Orleans.
Go Balcony Hunting
While you’re on Royal Street, we suggest going balcony hunting. The balconies of the French Quarter are one of the most iconic places to see in the French Quarter. If you want, you can even find Airbnbs and VRBOs in the French Quarter. These unique rentals often include access to the iconic French Quarter balconies.
If you’re in the French Quarter at night, enjoy dinner at one of the terrace restaurants that have seating on the balconies. They are often some of the best places to go in New Orleans at night. The restaurants offer you amazing views of the city at night and are great for people watching. Many of the restaurants in this area are also world-class, so you’ll truly get a NOLA dining experience.
Book Here: NOLA French Quarter Strolling Tour
Taste Test Beignets
Beignets are one of the most iconic foods in New Orleans. No trip to NOLA would be complete without sampling the different beignets offered at the many New Orleans tourist attractions that sell them. There are quite a few places where you can try these delicious pastries. Most people head to Cafe Du Monde to sample theirs. Cafe Du Monde is known for its beignets and people come from all over the country to try them. Because of that reputation, you often have to wait in line to get them.
If you want to skip the line and taste arguably better beignets, then we suggest Cafe Beignet. Both cafes make absolutely delicious beignets. However, each cafe offers a different experience. Cafe Du Monde has a limited menu that is primarily focused on the pastry.
Cafe Beignet, as the name suggests, has delicious beignets on the menu. The cafe also has a more extensive menu, so you can grab something else to eat and finish your meal with a beignet. It just depends on what kind of beignet experience you’re looking for. Cafe Beignet is also one of the best places for breakfast in New Orleans!
Take A Steamboat Natchez Cruise
One of the oldest running steamboats in New Orleans is the Steamboat Natchez. The steamboat takes cruises on the Mississippi River. The Mississippi River is one of the best places to visit near New Orleans and taking a cruise is a great New Orleans activity. Steamboat Natchez offers several different types of cruises. So there is something for everyone.
If you want a break from walking but still want to see the city, we suggest the Day Cruise. You’ll cruise along the Mississippi River and pass the city skyline. The steamboat also has dinner cruises and a jazz and brunch cruise. They’re all great options if you’re looking for activities in New Orleans.
Book Here: Steamboat Jazz and Dinner Cruise
Go On A Ghost Tour
Another classic NOLA activity is a ghost tour! New Orleans is rumored to be an extremely haunted city. The city has a dark history, much of it revolving around the Transatlantic Slave Trade. Along with that history, many cultures brought their own religious practices.
Many of these religious practices deal with magic and the spirit world. Because of this intense combination of factors, New Orleans is supposedly incredibly haunted. Don’t forget to check out some of the most Haunted Hotels in New Orleans!
The city takes pride in its haunted history. So you’ll be able to very easily find a ghost tour that perfectly fits your needs and desires. Whether you want to learn about the haunted vampire history of NOLA or a theatrical tour of New Orlean’s most haunted places.
All of the tours are walking tours, so keep that in mind when you plan one. It’s a really cool experience, and one of the best places to go in New Orleans at night.
Book Here: French Quarter Ghost Tour
Explore Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is one of the prettiest streets in New Orleans. It’s in the French Quarter, so it’s a pretty popular place to go in New Orleans. Bourbon Street, like many of the streets in the French Quarter, is a historic street. It is mostly known for its bars and nightclubs.
So if you’re looking for one of the best places to go in New Orleans at night, Bourbon Street is it. This is truly one of the Best Places To Stay In New Orleans!
Depending on what you’re interested in doing is when you’ll want to try to tour the street. If nightclubs and bars aren’t your thing, then you’ll probably want to tour the street during the day. You’ll still find several places that are open during the day that you go in for a drink. However, nighttime is when Bourbon Street really comes alive. If you can handle the crowds, you’ll want to experience a night on Bourbon Street at least once.
Book Here: Haunted Pub Crawl
Go To A Jazz Club
While you’re in Louisiana, especially New Orleans, you absolutely have to go to a Jazz Club. Jazz music was born in New Orleans. It is a combination of different Black cultural music heritage and is a distinctly American music genre. You can’t stroll the streets of New Orleans without hearing jazz floating out onto the streets. It comes from the street performers, the bars, and the restaurants all throughout the city.
Since you’re in New Orleans, take the opportunity to spend some time listening to the cities music at one of the famed jazz clubs. You’ll find them scattered throughout the city and they are easy to spot. Some are also restaurants or pubs, while others are just for relaxing and listening to music. Most of them are open primarily at night. However, you can be sure to find one open at just about any time of day.
Book Here: Total Food, Cocktail, and Jazz Tour
Shop In The Historic French Market
Another one of the fun places to go in New Orleans is the Historic French Market. The French Market sits on the site of what was once a Native American trading post. It was placed along the Mississippi River and eventually became a prominent cultural hub for French and Spanish colonists in the area. Today, the French Market continues the tradition of selling goods along the Mississippi River in NOLA.
Thanks to three centuries of European, African, and Caribbean influence, the market has an extremely diverse collection of goods. That’s one of the things that makes it one of the best places to visit in New Orleans. It is a collection of fresh produce, flea market goods, and more. The French Market is also housed in a beautiful historic building. Its location right off of Jackson Square makes it convenient to get to and its wares make it a fun New Orleans tourist attraction. You’ll also be able to sample some of the best foods in the French Quarter while you’re there.
Book Here: French Quarter Food Tour
Grab A Drink At The Carousel Bar
NOLA is full of some unique bars and restaurants. One of our favorites to visit is the Carousel Bar. The Carousel Bar can be found in the upscale Hotel Monteleone. If you’re staying in the hotel, you’ll have easy access to the bar. But you don’t have to be staying at the hotel to visit this cool bar. It’s one of the best places to visit in New Orleans because it’s free for all to go to and enjoy.
If you want to get some good pictures at the unique bar, we suggest going very early. It’s a popular New Orleans tourist attraction because it’s so unique. That also means that it gets pretty crowded, pretty quick. We’ve often gone right when it opens and found that there are little to no crowds. You’ll get to sit at the unique carousel bar and enjoy a drink before too many people start to come to do the same thing.
Go On An Airboat Ride
One of the coolest places to visit near New Orleans is the Bayou. The Bayou is famous swampland that surrounds much of the city. In fact, there are lots of areas throughout Lousiana that are swampland. If you’ve never experienced the beauty that is the Bayou, we suggest you go on an airboat ride.
Airboats are wind-propelled boats that skate across the water in the Bayou. There are areas of south New Orleans that are partially Bayou swamp. So it’s one of the more popular places to visit near New Orleans if you’re looking to tour the Bayou. You’ll be able to easily find a tour that is near New Orleans. While on the tour, you may get to see Bayou wildlife like alligators, native birds, and turtles!
Book Here: Bayou Swamp Airboat Ride
Go On A Voodoo Tour
NOLA has a unique cultural history that includes religious practices from several different ethnic groups. Many of those religious practices actually involve using Voodoo. Voodoo is a practice that is often considered sacred. The city and its people don’t shy away from the history of Voodo practices in NOLA.
This Voodoo history is very unique to New Orleans. There aren’t many cities where you’ll find such an eclectic blend of religious practices, especially Voodoo. That’s why we think one of the best activities in New Orleans is a Voodoo tour. There are several different kinds offered. You can take a tour that involves ghost stories, one that takes you through the history of Voodoo in NOLA, or one that combines both. It’s a really interesting New Orleans tourist attraction.
Book Here: Voodoo Tour
There are so many cool places to see in New Orleans and things to do. Whether you’re looking to soak in the culture, eat some amazing food, or try to do a little bit of everything. New Orleans vacation spots are as unique as the city itself and it’s easy to see why so many people visit New Orleans every year.