New Orleans is the beloved focal center of the American South, and this charming city welcomes over 18.5 million visitors every year. Tourists come to New Orleans for the jazz and festivity, but they stay for the fantastic museums, large parkland, intricate history, and swamplands full of gators.
Whether it’s your first time or tenth visit to this absorbing city, there is always something new to do and experience. Here are nine amazing things to do in New Orleans.
1. Take a swamp tour
The southern part of Louisiana is almost entirely swampland. A guided swamp trip is the perfect way to get up personal and close to a gator or other marshland life. Experience the charming Louisiana wetlands filled with fauna, flora, and wildlife. You are guaranteed to see gators and other amazing wildlife animals like ospreys, turtles, herons, bears, minks, and even a bald eagle.
From your tour guide, you will also learn about the local Cajun culture and the New Orleans history of the Bayous. Most tours take about two hours and are certainly one of the best things to do in New Orleans.
2. Visit the garden district
Ride on a streetcar and head down wooded streets to the garden district. Here you will admire some of the city’s most attractive homes, column-like mansions, and definitely, gardens.
New Orleans Walking Tours will give you a break from the heaving touristy spots of the city and offer you a chance to assess a more residential area. Like hundreds of residents, you can also jog across the neutral ground (median) that separates the street and houses the streetcar trails. Whether you prefer to explore on wheels or foot, there is a tour right for you.
3. Take a Mississippi River jazz cruise
Immerse yourself in the Old World glamor with a lovely sail aboard the famous Steamboat Natchez. This historical steamboat is a true Nola icon and has been a tourist attraction since 1975.
As you sail along the Mississippi River on your two-hour ride, you will be served with a delicious buffet selection, awed with live toe-tappin’ music, and of course, learn about the great history of the region. There is also a dinner cruise if you want to keep the party up to the evening. You can party in style as the sun sets over the mighty river.
4. Tour the World War II museum
The National World War II Museum is a world-class complex with outstanding exhibits advertising the stories of people who served in WWII and on the home front. These unique highlights include real jeeps, planes, Higgins Boats, a restaurant, a theater with World War II-era music performances, and a terrific store with 1940s-inspired clothing and gifts.
This museum is easily accessible as it’s located in the French Quarter. It’s also super easy to get tickets for the museum. However, you might need to block off a whole day to tour the museum since it’s on 6-acre land.
5. Take your entire family to Audubon Park
Audubon Park in Uptown, New Orleans, is an ideal spot to get in work out while on vacation or have a picnic with your family. This small oasis has a jogging trail, exercise equipment, soccer field, golf club, and tennis court.
You can also visit the Audubon Zoo or the American Aquarium while you are at the park. These are perfect attractions for parents traveling with kids or when you feel like connecting with your inner baby. Pay a visit to the new Shark Discovery spot, a 13,000-gallon shark and ray pool where you can touch and greet animals like giraffes.
6. Enjoy some basketball at the Smoothie King Center
Home ground for the New Orleans Pelicans NBA team, previously known as the Hornets, the Smoothie King Center is the best place to watch professionals battle it out on the court. The basketball season usually runs from October through to April. Out of the season, you will be able to watch concerts of music legends such as Luke Combs and Elton John.
7. Learn about the haunting ghost stories of New Orleans
New Orleans City has a mysterious connection with stories involving witches, vampires, and ghosts. If you want to find out about New Orleans’s haunting ghost stories and have the courage, consider participating in a night tour of the city. You will walk through the city for about two hours, listening to the scary stories that haunt the residents.
Besides the legends and mysteries that were never resolved, you will hear about the real crimes that still scare residents. For those who like a great horror story, it’s easy to find these nighttime tours of terror in New Orleans.
8. Order beignets at Café du Monde
You cannot visit New Orleans and fail to eat at Café du Monde. This has been a French Quarter fixture since 1862 and has been known as one of the best places to eat crisp beignets and café au lait.
Beignets are square doughnuts soaked in caster sugar and complement well with a steaming hot mug of chicory coffee. Make sure to order it with chocolate milk. The restaurant is open 24/7 and only closes for government regulations or emergencies like Hurricane Katrina. This makes it a perfect place for breakfast and a midnight snack.
9. Unwind at the New Orleans City Park
New Orleans City Park is one of the biggest urban parks in the US and sits on 1,300-acre land with beautifully maintained green space. The park is home to the biggest grove of mature live oak trees, native birds, and tranquil strolling trails.
You can rent a swan boat at the Big Lake, take your children to Storyland, or let your inner baby loose at Carousel Amusement Park. Be sure to pay a visit to the Couturie, a diverse nature walk that consists of Laborde Mountain. This mountain rises approximately 43 feet above sea level and is the highest point in New Orleans. You can also take some time to explore the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, which has more than 90 whimsical and creative works spread across 11 scenic acres.
From exploring the mysterious worlds of the occult to absorbing centuries of multicultural history, there’s always something fun to do in New Orleans. After you have experienced all these fantastic things to do in New Orleans, you will understand exactly why it’s called “The Big Easy.” Visit the city during your next vacation to discover its charms.