New Orleans is a place of so many sites, sounds, tastes and flavors. Whether you’re there for the music, the food, exploring its history or even just some good old fun there are some things you can’t miss in New Orleans.
New Orleans has often been described as the most foreign place you can find within the United States. They bring together a wide variety of cultures and histories and make their own. Make sure you add at least a few of these tours and places to eat to your itinerary on your next visit to New Orleans.
Featured image by Jeff Turner. Find more by him here.
6 Activities You Can’t Miss In New Orleans
There are many ghost tour companies but this New Orleans Streetwalkers the best. Tour groups are always small, no more than 12 people, as compared to some companies where you may be trying to listen to your guide from 25 people back. Brian, our guide was a great storyteller taking you inside the actual buildings instead of just standing outside. Brian is fantastic and it’s his own company, he is the only tour guide so you know you will get quality. The tour starts 7pm every night but call ahead and reserve a spot and then you pay him in cash at the meeting spot and enjoy the tour and a couple drinks.
A great way to explore Jackson Square. There are often artists displaying their work on the fences, especially on the weekends. At the far end of the square, there are horse-drawn carriages that take can you for either a 30min ride around the French Quarter or 1 hour around the Quarter and a walking tour of the famous cemetery (which you need a guide to get into anyhow). I enjoyed the hour long tour and getting to know the history of the place. Tours typically run $18 for 30 minutes or $36 for an hour.
It was fun to get out on the water and experience the city from a different vantage point. The tour is 2 hours filled with some history and jazz. It was very relaxing to sit in the sun and enjoy the ride. There was a lunch that was optional, but I wouldn’t recommend the buffet when there is so much better food around.
Who doesn’t enjoy wandering through a city’s public market? Close to Jackson Square, you’ll find the French Market where there is a mix of restaurants and stands of sellers pawning off New Orleans trinkets. It’s fun to walk the isles and see what they have to offer. Stop by Alberto’s Bistro close to the entrance. Everything is fresh. The salads are fantastic with homemade dressings and the Muffuletta (traditional NO sandwich) is amazing. Also don’t skip their olive tamponade.
You can’t make a trip to New Orleans and miss this famous street. Lined with bars, restaurants and strip joints, Bourbon street usually bustles all night long. Grab a drink at one of the bars and wander the street (with your drink in hand, legally). This is great people watching and despite the occasional smell, you cannot deny the energy is amazing. One of my favorite spots was Pat O’Briens Piano Bar who doesn’t love dueling pianos.
One of these tours will take up a large chunk of your day but one of the things you can’t miss in New Orleans is seeing the swamps and even giving an alligator a kiss. We took the airboat instead of the slower nature tour, I felt like we made the right decision. It was a perfect combination since you have a chance to slow down and see a ton of nature but we also got to fly across the bayou too.
6 RESTAURANTS You Can’t Miss In New Orleans
This place was my favorite restaurant during my visit. All the food was amazing and it’s a large place with a good atmosphere. We sat at the bar and listened to the New Orleans food knowledge that Sandy the bartender was happy to share. My favorite oysters with the best Minette sauce (you must ask for this)!
One block off Bourbon on Royal Street (where all the musicians play) another spot you can’t miss in New Orleans is this cute restaurant with a thin balcony on the second-floor the street. The balcony can only accommodate pairs and I recommend sitting on the Royal Street side since you can watch the musicians and enjoy the ambiance. You might need to arrive early for lunch or dinner to get a table on the balcony but if you have to wait, its definitely worth it. Order the crab claws as an appetizer; I am still dreaming about them, my mouth is literally watering as I write this. If you check in on yelp, they also give you a free appetizer (if the deal is still going on).
This is an obvious can’t miss in New Orleans. Order the beignets and a café au late. The line is often around the block to wait but this place is open 24hrs a day so if you come back late in the evening, you won’t have to wait. The service may not be fantastic since they know it won’t matter. The place is cash only and located on an end of Jackson Square.
This is the hotel bar in the Hotel Monteleone. I wouldn’t say come here for a whole meal, but it is too fun to miss so just walk over for a drink (only one block off Bourbon St). The bar is true to its name since you can snag a seat at the bar, which is a carousel! It makes a revolution every 14 minutes. A fun spot to grab a pre-dinner drink.
If you love oysters you’ll want to stop by for a street at Desire Oyster Bar. If you have a large group they can also make a perfect place as they easily accommodate large tables. This place isn’t a must but if you have time, they easily accommodated a large table and the food was really good.
If you’re still craving a Beignet but don’t necessarily what to stand in line at Cafe du Monde again this is the perfect place to enjoy a quality beignet. They are close to Bourbon Street and have a great selection that makes for a fast and easy breakfast whether you’re on the road or want to sit down and stay.
Enjoy A Little Bit Of Everything in New Orleans
Get a taste of cajun, eat a few (or a ton) of Beignets, ride around the swamp, taking in some history and enjoy some jazz music. New Orleans has some of the most diverse offerings you can find in any city around the country and even the world.
There are so many things you can’t miss in New Orleans that you just might need to visit the city more than once.
I’ll be planning another trip in the spring so let me know what I should add to the list! Leave a comment below.