Updated: Jun 11, 2019
New Orleans or The Big Easy as it’s called is famous for music, food, nightlife, culture, architecture and fun times. Being only a drive or short plane ride away, New Orleans is very accessible to travelers in America. For those who have never been to New Orleans, this blog will guide you on what to do in the city, and I will share with you some of my top places to visit in The Big Easy. A weekend trip to this beautiful city is very possible, and I encourage you to adventure there.
If money is stopping you from seeing this unique city, keep in mind there are flights through Allegiant and other budget airlines for as low as $110 round way. Also, there are a few non-stop international flights making their way over to New Orleans. Hotels are a bit expensive but there are reasonable Airbnb’s for less than $60 just follow our guide on the book now page.
I’ve been to New Orleans twice now and it’s on my list of top places I have visited. Keep reading to find out what to do in New Orleans.
Experience the Culture
The first time I went to New Orleans I felt so much culture surrounding me. New Orleans has many influences from the Spanish, French, Caribbean and Africa. The city has superstitions, a great history and many different traditions.
African American's have made New Orleans the unique and authentic city that it is. Check out Mardi Gras Indians, the Krewe of Zulu, Second Lines, Voodoo and Congo Square.
While in New Orleans, you will hear the term Cajun and Creole. There is a huge Cajun and Creole influence in the city. Make sure to try Cajun and Creole dishes when you check out the restaurants.
Throughout the city you will also see German, Irish and Italian influences.
Make sure that you immerse yourself in the culture, even though it's hard not to! As I’ve said, this city is something special. Eat the local foods, listen to the traditional music. Also, venture outside the ‘normal’ tourist areas. You will find plenty of opportunities to become exposed to the culture of New Orleans.
Grab a Bite to Eat
Are you a food lover? New Orleans has all the cuisines you could possibly want to satisfy those cravings.
When you travel to New Orleans you will come across Creole and Cajun as the main cuisines. Of course, both are tasty but very different. You will also discover soul food and sea food in some areas.
When your traveling around the city, if you want to try a local dish, try one of the below:
· Red Beans and Rice
· All things Seafood (Crawfish, Oysters)
· Muffuletta Sandwiches
· Po- Boys
· Banana Foster
My Top 5 Restaurants in New Orleans
“Low-key neighborhood seafood joint with fresh Gulf fish plus po' boys & a raw-oyster bar.”
“American & Latin breakfast/lunch fare plus fresh-squeezed juices draw crowds at this quaint cafe.”
“No-frills joint for soul-food breakfasts & lunches plus a buffet option & dinners some nights.”
“Notable spot for refined Creole fare & an elegant jazz brunch in a chandelier-hung space since 1880.”
“Quirky, mural-lined hot spot luring locals & tourists with Creole soul food; just expect a wait.”
Try the Famous Hurricane Cocktail
New Orleans has some of the most interesting cocktails that I have come across while traveling. I’d say the most famous is the Hurricane.
This drink is sweet and made with rum, lemon juice and passion fruit syrup. Also, it comes in a fancy, tall, curvy glass. Aside from the flavor, this drink was created back in the 1940's!
If you want to try this drink, you will have to to start your night off at Pat O’briens. It boasts lovely outside ambiance and for $11 you can buy the famous hurricane cocktail and keep the glass. If you return the glass, you get a $3 refund.
My Top 5 Quirky Bar's in New Orleans
“Muffalettas, po' boys & other Creole staples in a circa-1914 house with a palm-filled courtyard.”
“Landmark saloon serving unique absinthe cocktails in historic building with quirky atmosphere.”
“Dark & gritty dive bar revered for its late night hours & classic rock 'n' roll tunes since 1969.”
“This classic haunt at the Hotel Monteleone has a circular bar that revolves like a carousel.”
“Potions Lounge offers a refined, mystical atmosphere, where guests temporarily leave reality and step into a magical environment that affords excitement and relaxation.”
Hear the Music
New Orleans is rich with music from different cultures and traditions, and one of the best things to do in New Orleans is to go to listen to live music. Although you can find just about any music genre, you’ll be in for a real treat if you want to listen to jazz. I highly recommend exploring Frenchmen Street to escape the more touristy spots of Bourbon Street.
My Top 4 New Orleans Jazz Locations
“Live jazz & upscale Creole fare in an intimate, brick-walled space that dates back to the 1800s.”
“Weathered bar & intimate jazz venue hosting live acts on a tiny stage for a standing-room crowd.”
“A range of acts from funk & blues to brass bands takes the stage at this longtime live music bar.”
“Upbeat music club hosts a diverse, jazz-oriented lineup on 3 stages & offers eats, drinks & dancing.”
Scare Yourself on a New Orleans Ghost Tour
New Orleans is famous for its scary past and dark history which is filled with voodoo, ghosts and witches. There are many famous walking tours that fill people with history and hauntings. So whether you enjoy history, ghosts, or just walking in general, I can recommend taking one of these tours.
Some stops on the many tours include:
Fort St. Charles Haunting
Saint Louis Cemetery Number One
Lalaurie Mansion Calle de Hospital
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Walk Bourbon Street
It goes without saying that this one of the top things to do in New Orleans.
Bourbon street is where you will find the parties. It’s at no surprise when walking down the street you will find quirky bars, popping clubs, great food, culture, and great music.
I will say, this is the most tourist dense part of the city, but it is the most famous and lively place to visit. It can be quiet during the day but comes alive at night. On the street, open container is allowed – so you will see a lot of drunk people giving their best impression of Louis Armstrong.
If you go, try and visit the bars, restaurants and shops. Some popular spots include Pat O'Brien's, Johnny White's, the Famous Door, Spirits on Bourbon, Channing Tatum's Saints and Sinners, Razzoo, The Cat's Meow, and Marie Laveau's House Of Voodoo.
If you want to have a party, sing, dance, and embrace some culture, then visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras.
During the two-week celebration, you can see parades, which are some of the biggest and most elaborate.
Mardi Gras 2020 will begin two weeks before Shrove Tuesday, which is on February 25th and it will be the “Greatest Free Show on Earth” you will see.
This street diverts away from the tourist hot-spots and surrounds you with more locals. It is still busy, but the vibe and atmosphere is completely different than Bourbon Street. The street is just outside of the French Quarter, and it’s known for its music, food and culture.
Top 3 Places to Visit on Frenchmen Street
“Smooth offshoot of an NYC pub pours craft beer & hosts an eclectic lineup of nightly live music.”
“Tiny bar below Adolfo's presents nightly live music in a funky space decorated with dollar bills.”
“Colorful local counter-serve chain featuring hot dogs, veggie dogs & sausages, plus fries & shakes.”
Just Have Fun
Remember, just have fun. This is the one place to be you and let loose. Don't be afraid to have a drink...or two.
There is so much to see and do in New Orleans, and whether you're traveling on a budget or have enough money to get the rounds in, there is plenty to do.
Another great thing about The Big Easy is that you can easily make this a weekend trip.
If you've been to the city and have any recommendations reach out and let me know!
Share this blog with anyone that wants ideas on things to do in New Orleans.