We visited NOLA mid-November and couldn’t believe how much we loved it! We learned so many quirky facts about New Orleans that we had never known before and that made us appreciate the culture and vibes even more. New Orleans is truly one-of-a-kind. It has everything from pretty buildings to delicious southern food to a charm that could only be found in the heart of the French Quarter. I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 things to do in New Orleans for you starting with a few of my absolute favorites!
*We stayed at the AC Hotel and were able to explore the area extensively because of its location and easy access to Canal Street.
Things you can’t miss in New Orleans
1. WANDER AROUND UNTIL YOU RUN INTO A BAND…then sit on the sidewalk and let them whisk you away to a different era. The live music in New Orleans was probably my favorite thing about this charming city. I wish I had more time just to sit and enjoy all the talented people that play. Ironically, never had a taste for jazz. That is, until I visited NOLA.
2. STROLL THROUGH ROYAL STREET – If you have the time, you should stroll through Royal Street at each time of day (morning, noon, night) because each portion of the day offers a different perspective of this famous street. In the morning the street is quiet; shop owners are setting up their displays and opening their doors, and the tone of the street is peaceful. This is the perfect time for snapping photos of those buildings without pesky tourists in them. Daytime is perfect for capturing the essence of Royal Street: live music at every block, the smell of food, sunlight streaming in between the buildings to create a pretty flare, bicycles flying by and people milling about enjoying all that New Orleans has to offer. Nightime offers yet another view of the city: bars open their doors wide, people mill about, a little chattier (and louder) than earlier in the day and the city feels alive.
3. ENJOY BEIGNETS AT CAFE DU MONDE – Once you try an authentic beignet, you’ll realize that no other beignet (outside of NOLA) will ever live up to this fried, sugary goodness. Cafe du Monde is perfect for 1) cheap eats 2) delicious beignets 3) people watching. GO HERE.
4. EXPERIENCE THE NIGHTLIFE ON FRENCHMEN STREET – This should be on everyone’s bucket list even if you’re not a huge music lover or one who likes to party. Frenchman Street is a [very] small stretch of street that is lined with music clubs and bars. Most have live music playing and all you have to do is pick one and enter. The Spotted Cat Music Club had beautiful live music playing the night we were there and the place was PACKED. On certain days you’ll run into the Frenchmen Art Market which hosts various artists and their unique goods. It’s a fun place to wander if you want a break from the music clubs or if you want a special souvenir to take home.
5. WALKING HISTORY TOUR – If you love history (and NOLA is rich in it), I’d recommend a historical tour. Sheila Ferran with Welcome to NOLA Tours offers a wide array of walking tours in New Orleans. IMO the Fabourg Marigny tour was excellent as it allows you to explore the Marigny neighborhood all while learning about New Orlean’s architecture, history and the neighborhood itself.
6. COCKTAIL TOUR – Can you really visit New Orleans without trying at least one cocktail? If you love sipping on cocktails and listening to entertaining tales of the past, Doctor Gumbo offers a great late evening cocktail tour that will not only give you plenty of cocktail samples but also a fun history lesson on various alcoholic drinks. Many have deep roots in New Orleans and are fascinating to learn about. If you *really* love to drink but you’re wondering if $56 is worth the tour ticket, let me put your mind to rest and say YES. You will get 4 drinks total and you can even grab them to go if you don’t finish them before the guide is ready to leave for the next venue.
7. VISIT THE KREWE STORE – This is the city where KREWE was established. Interestingly enough, krewe is also the name of an organization that runs a parade during Mardi Gras. The inside of the store is adorably decorated with lots of plants and of course, sunglasses. There are so many options and the gals running the store are great at helping you pick out the best frames for your face. And I will promise you that you will find a frame to perfectly complement your face. They all look so good when modeled!
8. STROLL THROUGH CITY PARK – You can grab an UBER or take the the streetcar over to City Park, home to the oldest grove of mature live oaks in the world. While it appears small when you first pull up to it, this park is overflowing with things to do and is huge. You can walk through the Besthoff Sculpture Garden to see their cool sculptures, have some food at Morning Call, visit the museum and wander around the park trails. Keep your eyes open because you’ll probably see the cutest little train chugging along (behind the museum).
9. SHOP ON MAGAZINE STREET – Magazine Street is a 6 mile stretch of shopping goodness. Each shop has a unique charm about it and they’re all decked out in classic NOLA flair: vibrant and colorful. This is also a great area to find top rated restaurants so if you want to spend a few hours here, it’s easy. Stuff yourself with a delicious lunch and then set off on foot to lighten your wallet.
10. EAT A PO-BOY AT THE PARK – You can’t visit New Orleans without trying a po-boy. Johnny’s Po-Boy has a great selection of po-boys from the traditional roast beef to seafood varieties. Instead of eating your po-boy inside the shop, I’d recommend taking it to go. Make sure you grab A LOT of napkins – these things are MESSY. Head over to the park across the street (take a left out of the restaurant and walk straight across the railroad tracks), take a seat at a bench and enjoy a peaceful meal overlooking the water.
*Post written in partnership with the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureaus *