Top 16 Things To Do In New Orleans

New Orleans is a vibrant city full of history, culture – and food!. We recently spent a long weekend there taking in the Southern charm (and a couple of hurricanes.) Here are my favorite things to do in New Orleans!

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Garden District | New Orleans, LA (USA)

Top 16 Things To Do In New Orleans

1. Visit the art galleries on Royal St

There are so many streets in New Orleans and they all have their own vibe.  We loved checking out the cool art galleries on Royal Street in the French Quarter.  My favorite was Sutton Galleries. I fell in love with the work of one of their featured artists, Isabelle Dupuy.  I have always been a fan of the impasto style of painting, which thickly layers paint on the canvas so it gains dimension, and she does it like nothing I have ever seen.  The photos do not do her justice!

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Sutton Galleries | Isabelle Dupuy| | New Orleans, LA (USA)
Photo courtesy of Sutton Galleries

2. Eat a beignet at Cafe du Monde

It’s actually illegal to visit New Orleans and not stop by Cafe du Monde for some beignets.  So we were good tourists and made it there on day 1.  The menu is small and to the point, beignets and some beverages – that’s it.  True, they are delicious and I think  you should try them, but I just don’t get the hype!  They reminded me of a really good elephant ear or funnel cake from a fair.  Word of warning – wear light colored clothes or be prepared to be covered in powdered sugar!  It’s no joke.

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Cafe Du Monde | French Quarter| New Orleans, LA (USA)

3. Eat breakfast at Ruby Slipper Cafe

We had a great breakfast at the Canal Street location which was right around the corner from our hotel.  It has a diner vibe and offers a traditional breakfast with some New Orleans flair.  It’s usually crowded, so be prepared to wait if you go at a peak time.

4. Visit Katie’s for a Po Boy

We stopped by my namesake restaurant because we heard they had great Po Boys.  They did not disappoint!  We also had some amazing blue cheese/bacon/scallion fries that were perfectly crispy and delicious.  If you can, sit out on one of the sidewalk tables.  This area experienced terrible flooding from Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  There is a plaque by the front door marking the water line after the storm.  I was shocked at how high the water level was.

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Katie's Restaurant

5. Take A Ghost Tour*

New Orleans is a city with a haunted past.  We decided to check it all out with Ghost City Tours.  We took the nighttime Killers and Thrillers tour through the French Quarter.  While this adults only tour wasn’t scary it did offer a bit of New Orleans history as well as tales of murders and and voodoo in the city.  Ghost City Tours offers other tours including an all ages tour and even a haunted bar crawl!

6. Walk through Bourbon St. (extra credit for doing this sober!)

So, Bourbon Street is kind of a dump.  If you are under the age of 25 and enjoy being able to carry your drink from bar to bar, you will love it.  Otherwise, take a stroll for some interesting people watching – and smells – then move on.

7. Take a ride on a street car

The street cars in New Orleans are a great way to access different parts of the city.  We took one out to the Garden District from the French Quarter.

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Street Car | New Orleans, LA (USA)

8. Tour a cemetery

We strolled through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District and I think it was one of my favorite things that we did in New Orleans.  Since the water table is so low here, they can’t bury bodies underground in the traditional way.  So, instead they use above ground mausoleums, and they are fascinating.   Each tomb held numerous bodies at one time.  We learned that they end up being naturally cremated in the New Orleans heat which makes room for more bodies (interesting and a tad creepy, huh?).

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Lafayette Cemetery | Garden District | New Orleans, LA (USA)

9. Take walking tour through the Garden District

The Garden District is a great place to spend a morning or afternoon.  After you tour the cemetery you can take a walk around to look at all of the mansions in the area.  It’s easily accessible from the street cars.

10. Stroll through the antique shops along Magazine street

Magazine Street is located in the Garden District.  This street is home to lots of antique shops as well as some galleries and gift shops.  It’s a highly walkable area with lots to look at.

Sightseeing, Tours, Attractions and Things to do in New-Orleans

11. Drink a Hurricane at Pat O’Brian’s

This famous cocktail is synonymous with New Orleans and Pat O’Brian’s claims to be the originator.  They came up with the drink in the 1940’s when they experienced a shortage of traditional liquors like whisky and bourbon but had an influx of rum.  They are easy going down but surprisingly strong!  Consider yourself warned.

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Pat O'Brian's Hurricane | French Quarter | New Orleans, LA (USA)


12. Check out the live music on Frenchmen St

We were told that Frenchmen Street is “Bourbon Street for older people…with live music”.  While I don’t consider myself old, I was looking for something a little more my style than Bourbon St.  Frechmen Street fit the bill!  You will find great live music in all the bars and even on the street without the urine/vomit smell that permeates Bourbon St.  We ended up at a place called Vaso where we stumbled on to an incredible live performance by the Jason Neville Band.  We were mesmerized and ended up staying for their whole show.  They had such a unique way of mixing up different styles of music.  I just loved them.  If you find yourself in New Orleans see where they are playing and go check them out!  (yes, I realize the video quality is terrible…iPhones and dark clubs don’t mix well)

13. Take a music tour

We took the Music of New Orleans: Listen and Learn tour with French Quarter Phantom’s Ghost Tours.  This is a guided walking tour accompanied by music from a portable speaker.  We were expecting live music so it was slightly underwhelming, but it was still interesting.  Check Groupon for deals if you decide to check it out!

14. Eat dinner in the courtyard of Orleans Wine Bar

This small restaurant has a charming courtyard in the back that’s a great place to stop for dinner or drinks.  The food was great and the atmosphere is wonderful.  If you like goat cheese, get the warm goat cheese salad – it’s to die for!

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Orleans Wine Bar | Garden District | New Orleans, LA (USA)


15. Stop by Golden Chips for the french fries

Golden Chips on Toulouse St. serves Belgian style fries in a cone with a choice of dipping sauces.  They were delicious and make up part of a balanced lunch when paired with a couple of hurricanes!

16.  Visit Jackson Square

This is a pretty little square with the coolest palm trees across the street from Cafe du Monde.  Here you can also find the famous St. Louis Cathedral and 2 Louisiana State Museums, Presbytere and Cabildo.  That’s all well and good,  but I really liked the palm trees!

Top 16 Things To Do in New Orleans | Jackson Square | Garden District | New Orleans, LA (USA)

17.  Bonus:  What Not To Do!

So, I debated including this because I hate dogging something that someone else might like.  But I decided to include it so I can save you from wasting your money.  We took a ride on the Steamboat Natchez and it was the most boring 2 hours of the whole trip.  It rained which I am sure didn’t help, but there just wasn’t much to look at!  They serve an optional lunch which looked awful in my opinion.  I think we paid about $30 each for the ride without lunch.  Unless you like crappy food with no views, skip this one.

There you have it.  My top 16 things to do in New Orleans (and one thing to skip!)  We packed all of this into a 3 night trip so this is a great destination for those looking for an easy weekend trip.  What’s your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?

For more New Orleans activity ideas check out City Discovery for some great tours!

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*My husband and I enjoyed this tour as guests of Ghost City Tours, but as always all opinions are my own.  Thanks to Ghost City Tours for hosting us!

**This post contains affiliate links.  If you choose to make a purchase through one of these links I will receive a small compensation at no additional cost to you.  It’s a win-win.  Thanks for your support!



New Orelans is a vibrant city! I'll show you my top 16 things to do including where to eat. I'll also tell you about one thing I don't recommend. Top 16 Things To Do In New Orleans, LA (USA) | NOLA

19 thoughts on “Top 16 Things To Do In New Orleans

  1. I enjoy dogging things that suck, and the Steamboat Natchez definitely sucked. For $30 you can buy a whole bunch of Hurricanes instead and have a much better time.

  2. I loved my first trip to NOLA. It was the day after NOLA hosted the Super Bowl a few years ago and I remember making a point to get my picture taken in front of the Super Dome. I’ve done about half of the things on your list and totally agree with them! Although my friends and I took the steamboat cruise, it sounds like we might have had more ideal conditions than you did. We took it at night with dinner and it was so beautiful to sit out and see the lights all up and down the river. I hope you give it another chance!

  3. You clearly did not take the Steamboat Natchez cruise with Gina Darden. My daughters and I had a blast with her as our hostess. We even hung out with her after the cruise ended!

  4. I am really starting to think that this post and other posts I have read on New Orleans, it turns out that the city is becoming a foodie capital in that area. The street cars looks so European and old fashioned, I would love to take a ride on one.

  5. I am not sure I would love beignets but I too would have to try one. Sounds like Frenchmen Street would be right up my alley too. I am a bit past carrying my drinks from bar to bar lol

    1. Yep, I am past the carrying drinks from bar to bar phase too! Although I did bring a hurricane with me on the music tour! : )

  6. This hit home for me because New Orleans is my favorite! I love the culture and history of the city! And I must say Cafe du Monde is amazing and definitely a must do! Love this!!

  7. So much to see and experience, Indeed the promise of great times. I would love the art gallery and would also love to take the ghost tour, it sounds so intriguing.

  8. I loved New Orleans when I visited and did a lot of the same things as you. I went to Café du monde 5 or 6 times, I loved the beignet’s!! Also spent a lot of time in Spotted Cat, was a great bar and the music was amazing. I did quite a few free walking tours. The ghost one was great and I also really enjoyed the cemetery one too.

  9. I’ve had so many people tell me New Orleans is a must visit city.. maybe I’ll get to go next year 🙂 This list was perfect for me; especially any mention of foods to eat in a new city haha!

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