Top 20 (Plus) Things to Do in the Big Easy: New Orleans

Ways to explore the easy-going spirit of the city including taking a spin on the Carousel Bar, the city’s first and only rotating bar

From the LifeMinute.TV Team

June 7, 2023

From iconic dishes and melodious music to world-class festivals and distinctive architecture, it’s easy to see why New Orleans should be on your bucket list. With the following ideas of things to do in the city, “Laissez les bons temps rouler” — let the good times roll.

Vieux Carré 
In downtown New Orleans is the French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré. It is the oldest neighborhood in the city and is influenced by Spanish, French, and Creole architectural styles. While you can detour Bourbon Street in the area, visit St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the United States. Originally built in 1727, the cathedral was dedicated to King Louis IX of France. Opening up to a pedestrians-only plaza, sit for a portrait under the oak trees, buy local artwork, or take in the sights and sounds of street performers. Next to the cathedral and overlooking the Mississippi River is Jackson Square. Situated on 2.5 acres, this historic and beautiful landmark is also known as the Place d'Armes. The Cabildo is in Jackson Square and a wonder of Spanish colonial architecture built in the late 1700s under Spanish rule. It originally housed the administrative and legislative council that ruled Spanish Louisiana. And it was here that the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803, deeding the territory to the United States from France. The Cabildo became a museum in 1908, and hundreds of artifacts and original works of art lay inside, highlighting the history of war, culture, and prominent Louisiana figures. Go on a voodoo tour, including a visit to the Marie Laveau House of Voodoo in the heart of the Quarter. Learn about the historical and spiritual significance of the religion and how Marie Laveau, considered the most famous voodoo queen, helped revive it in the city. Stroll along Royal Street, which runs parallel to Bourbon Street. It's lined with fine antique stores, art galleries, high-end jewelers, and souvenir shops.

Enchanted Garden
Upriver from the French Quarter lies the Garden District, part of Uptown New Orleans — meaning upriver from the Mississippi River. Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar and appreciate some of the grand columned mansions, Loyola and Tulane universities, and the splendid 350-acre Audubon Park in the neighborhood on Saint Charles Avenue. Or admire some of the most beautiful homes and gardens by foot, including the Brevard-Clapp-Rice House. The two-story Greek Revival-style mansion on First Street once belonged to Anne Rice and served as the setting for her 1990 novel The Witching Hour. Situated primarily in the Garden District but also stretching through the Lower Garden District and into downtown is the six-mile stretch of Magazine Street. Stroll up the street and make your way into one of many mixes of vintage and clothing stores, houseware shops, and novelty stores. There are restaurants, bars, and bakeries to enjoy too. In the afternoon, head to Audubon Zoo, one of the top zoos in the country and located behind Audubon Park.

Culture Club
The city offers a plethora of historic and cultural attractions to visit. Set within stunning City Park, a 1,300 green space filled with moss-drenched oaks, walking paths, and native birds, is the New Orleans Museum of Art. The permanent collection has a variety of contemporary and modern artworks. In the Marigny, a French Quarter neighbor, experience joy, art, and music at the interactive installation, JAMNOLA. The 5,500-square-foot warehouse features 17 exhibits designed by more than 30 local artists, celebrating local art, music, and culture. Exhibits have included jumping into a life-sized crawfish pot and virtual reality booths that put guests in artistic control of the art being created. Located in the Warehouse District, also known as the Arts District, is The National WWII Museum featuring award-winning immersive exhibits, artifacts, jeeps and planes, first-person oral histories, and more, spotlighting stories of those who served in WWII and on the Homefront. Check out BB’s Stage Door Canteen to experience live WWII-era musical performances. Also situated in the downtown Warehouse District is the Ogden Museum of Southern Art. It holds the largest and most diverse collection of Southern art. Experience a different side of the South at the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (MSJE), one of the city’s newest museums in the Central Business District (CBD) on Howard Avenue. It tells the remarkable history of Southern Jews in 13 Southern states from Colonial times to the present. The museum encourages new understanding and appreciation for identity, diversity, and acceptance.

Sound Machine
Frenchmen Street, located in the Marigny, is a top spot for live music venues, offering jazz, blues, reggae, and rock. Take in the sounds and then enjoy a meal in one of the restaurants in the neighborhood. Experience pure joy listening to traditional New Orleans Jazz at Preservation Hall. Situated on Saint Peter Street in the French Quarter, Preservation Hall offers an intimate live jazz concert experience. With more than 360 nights of concerts a year with 50+ acts on the roster, there’s nothing like the sound of traditional New Orleans Jazz. Fill your funk tank at Tipitina’s, the uptown live music joint on Napoleon Avenue. The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is one of the biggest annual festivals in the city, occurring the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May at the Fair Grounds Race Course in the Gentilly neighborhood. The lineup of musical artists spans a wide range – from jazz and zydeco to hip-hop, funk, rock, and gospel—on more than 12 stages. And there are food vendors galore serving unforgettable delicacies. The Essence Festival of Culture runs annually every 4th of July weekend at Caesars Superdome and throughout downtown New Orleans. It promotes, celebrates, and explores the culture, food, entertainment, entrepreneurship, and more within the African American community.

Foodies & the Bibulous
In the middle of the tree-lined Garden District on Washington Avenue is Commander’s Palace. A New Orleans establishment, this restaurant offers Creole dishes such as turtle soup, gumbo, and lacquered quail. Make reservations for their jazz brunch on Saturday or Sunday so you can soak in sweet-sounding live New Orleans Jazz while you enjoy your meal. Save room for a dessert (or two) like bread pudding soufflé or the seasonal, Ponchatoula strawberry shortcake. A James Beard award-winning chef, the late Leah Chase (who died at age 96 in 2019), introduced one of the first African American fine dining restaurants in the United States with Dooky Chase. Located in the Tremé-Lafitte neighborhood, this dining institution is known for delicious dishes such as their Shrimp Clemenceau, fried chicken, and Chicken Creole, thanks to Chase, known as the “Queen of Creole Cuisine.” In the 1980s, Frank Brigtsen, who had trained with legendary chef Paul Prudhomme, opened his namesake restaurant Brigtsen’s with his wife Marna in a cottage setting in the Uptown neighborhood. Creole and Acadian cuisine, as well as modern dishes, are offered. Their New Orleans BBQ Shrimp is not to be overlooked. One of the most identifiable sandwiches associated with New Orleans is the po'boy. It typically consists of meat or fried seafood on French bread and is generally topped (or “dressed” as locals call it) with lettuce, tomato, pickles, and mayo. It’s impossible to commit to any one po'boy shop, but Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar on the corner of Annunciation Street in Uptown and Parkway Bakery & Tavern on the corner of Hagan Avenue in Mid-City should thrill your tastebuds. A chill way to beat the New Orleans heat is with a sno-ball. This sweet treat is made of finely shaved ice and flavored sugar syrup. Try Hansen’s Sno-Bliz on Tchoupitoulas Street or Williams Plum Street near Tulane. Each of their stands offers traditional flavors like spearmint, blueberry, and bubblegum, but you can also branch out with more creative flavors like wedding cake and cream of nectar, or top your sno-ball with sweetened condensed milk. If a whiskey-based libation is more to your cooling, visit the Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel, a block from the Quarter, and imbibe a Sazerac Cocktail, the official cocktail of New Orleans. Or take a spin on New Orleans’ first and only rotating bar, the famed Carousel Bar, and order the city’s signature cocktail, or a Pimm’s Cup, Fleur de Lis, Peychaud’s Aperitivo Spritz, or other libation. Opened in 1949, the bar is part of Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter and overlooks Royal Street. Its carousel theme offers guests a pleasant rotation around a world-class cocktail bar every 15 minutes. Speaking of an ambassador of New Orleans cuisine, we cannot forget to mention the beignet, the square French-style doughnut, served, well, buried with powdered sugar. Several Café Du Monde coffee stands are sprinkled throughout New Orleans, none more than the original, established in 1862 in the French Market. Treat yourself in the morning, noon, or night with beignets and chicory coffee. The coffee is traditionally served au lait, mixed half and half with hot milk.

Before your stay in The Big Easy winds down, experience a historic riverboat cruise along the Mississippi River or a memorable dinner jazz cruise on the Steamboat Natchez or the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen.

320 480 600 768 800 1024 1500 1920 Facebook Twitter Feed Instagram Email