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Things to do in
New Orleans

Be sure not to miss the spectacular jazz, cajun-tastic cuisine, and bustling French Quarter in the Big Easy.

Our most recommended things to do in New Orleans

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

1. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Journey back in time aboard the newly renovated Riverboat City of New Orleans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the New Orleans atmosphere as the smooth jazz of the Dukes Trio fills your ears on this two-hour cruise on the mighty Mississippi, enjoying craft cocktails, and the sites. Depart from the heart of the French Quarter and experience breathtaking views of New Orleans as the city skyline slips away. Seating is available indoors and on the outdoor decks for the very best views of the Mississippi River and New Orleans. Make sure you check out all four decks as the top deck view is a sight to see.  Choose the dinner buffet option for a dinner menu including: Tossed salad, chicken and sausage gumbo, baked chicken with a mushroom ragout, Bayou seafood pasta, Creole vegetarian jambalaya, herb-garlic fingerling potatoes, pasta primavera, green beans, white chocolate bread pudding, Bananas Foster dessert, and garlic rolls. 

New Orleans: Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise with Lunch Option

2. New Orleans: Steamboat Natchez Jazz Cruise with Lunch Option

Savor the beauty and romance of New Orleans on a cruise aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Cruise along the Mississippi River, listen to live jazz music, and enjoy an optional lunch of local fare. Your cruise from the heart of the French Quarter and takes you back to a time when life was as slow and graceful as the current on the Mississippi. Set out to see New Orleans from the Mississippi River, one of the world's most active ports. While on board, visit the museum-quality engine room to learn how steam powers this magnificent boat through the "Mighty Mississippi." Add an optional Creole lunch to your cruise, prepared fresh on board and served with your choice of coffee and iced tea. Savor the tastes of New Orleans before docking back where you started the tour. Sample Menu Lunch (subject to season and availability) • Southern fried fish• Red beans and rice• Jambalaya• Salad du jour

New Orleans: French Quarter Haunted Walking Tour

3. New Orleans: French Quarter Haunted Walking Tour

Listen to stories of witchcraft and keep watch for spirits on a guided city walking tour of New Orleans. Explore the historical French Quarter, as you indulge in stories of magic, ghosts, vampires, and voodoo practitioners from your expert guide. Travel to several of the city's venerated neighborhoods, soaking up stories about the witches, ghosts, vampires, and Voodoo practitioners who have contributed to the city's colorful past. Meet your local guide and set off on a journey through New Orleans’ haunted history. Pass outside well-known sites such as Muriel’s Restaurant and the Old Ursuline Convent. See the exterior of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, where bloodletting and leeching took place in the 19th century. From the outside, see the house where Jacques Saint Germain — who was rumored to be a vampire — once lived. Plus, hear chilling tales of LaLaurie House and its mistress, Madame LaLaurie. Let your guide entertain you with local folklore as you continue past the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The final stop of your activity is outside Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, where your spooky experience will end.

New Orleans: Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark with Exclusive Access

4. New Orleans: Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark with Exclusive Access

Experience the spooky side of New Orleans on a tour of the city and one of its most haunted cemeteries. Listen to chilling tales from your local guide and learn about the darker parts of the city's history. See how an EMF reader is used in real life. First, grab a cocktail or beer at your meeting location before the tour. Then your tour guide will lead the way with an EMF Reader and explain how to use them to search for paranormal activity and to help locate any spirits or paranormal phenomena.  Travel to several New Orleans Cemeteries and enter into Odd Fellows Rest Cemetery, and the Charity Hospital Cemetery and the Hurricane Katrina Memorial Cemetery to explore haunted cemeteries at night. Stop by the The Buckner Mansion which was featured in American Horror Story as the Coven House.  Finally, see the videos of documented ghosts and spirits that haunt several locations from your tour. Conclude your tour by following your guide to a burial ground of spirits who met their unfortunate fate in a tragic pandemic event.

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

5. New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

Embark on a high-speed adventure through the swamps and marshes just 35 minutes from New Orleans and experience the amazing scenery by airboat. Slow down or stop to take pictures and get a personal tour from your local captain. Avail of airboats with stadium-style seating so that the person in front does not obstruct your view. Be amazed as alligators come so close to the boat that you can stare into their reptilian eyes! Encounter magnificent birdlife, including bald eagles, pelicans, ospreys and owls. Every tour is unique and you never know what will be around the next corner! Reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, propelled by a huge fan that blows air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles per hour. Ride in shallow water and access areas where traditional boats cannot go.

New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

6. New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

Sit back and enjoy the views or a drink at the bar while journeying down the Mississippi river. Learn about New Orleans' complex, but interesting story, focusing on the critical Battle of New Orleans. Join a cruise narrated by a local guide and embark on a journey into the past as you head downriver to the Chalmette Battlefield at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. As you travel to the battlefield, learn about the settlement of New Orleans, its river, and the historical landmarks that line the banks of the Mississippi River. As you cruise, treat yourself to a traditional lunch on board. (If relevant option selected.) Stop at the battlefield and hear about the legacy of the area on a 1-hour guided tour along the shore with a talk by National Park Rangers. After, return to the starting point where your tour will end. SAMPLE MENU LUNCH: • New Orleans Style Shrimp Pasta • 10” Roast Beef Po-Boy • Creole Jambalaya • Crawfish Bread • Caesar Salad • Red Beans & Rice • Fresh Baked Cookies • Zapps Potato Chips (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: Walking Tour Inside St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

7. New Orleans: Walking Tour Inside St. Louis Cemetery No. 1

Uncover the history of one of America's oldest and most famous cemeteries that is not open to the general public on this walking tour of the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 cemetery. View interesting burial customs and stroll past facinating above ground tombs.  Check in and meet your guide at the Basin St. Station Visitor Center where you can find an array of exhibits about New Orleans, an interactive map of the Hurricane Katrina floodwaters, a café, restrooms, and a gift shop. Get your tour stickers and depart on time for your adventure into the macabre. Head to the the front gates of the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and listen as you guide takes you back in time with the story of the cemetery. Make your way through New Orleans' most famous tombs and hear about the city's unique burial customs. Get up close to the elaborate above-ground crypts and below-ground sites. Meander among the and find out about the storied pasts of those residing here, including Voodoo Queen Mariel Laveau, the former mayor Homer Plessy and other notable figures from the city's history.

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

8. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

Step back into the glamour and romance of the riverboat era with a cruise on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen boat. Tuck into a delicious dinner or simply sit back and relax with a cocktail in your hand, marveling at the views and enjoying the live jazz music. On this river cruise, experience the vibrant and lively jazz notes of the amazing Sullivan Dabney Jr. and the Muzik Jazz Band while enjoying a Creole-style dinner (if the option is selected). There will be some time to dance to the music after dinner in the gorgeous dining hall.  After dinner, enjoy a classic New Orleans cocktail on the promenade deck looking out over the Mississippi River as the city slips past. On the way back to dock where you began your tour, pass by Jackson Square and see the city lights under a starry sky.  SAMPLE DINNER MENU: • Cajun Caesar Salad • Chicken & Andouille Sausage Gumbo • Louisiana Creole Jambalaya • Cajun Baked Chicken • Roast Beef Debris • Garlic Mashed Potatoes • Cajun Seafood Pasta • Red Beans & Rice • Corn Mac Choux • Fresh Roasted Vegetables • Paddlewheeler White Chocolate Bread Pudding with Whiskey Sauce (best in New Orleans!) • French Bread Rolls & Cornbread (Menu items are subject to change by season and availability)

New Orleans: French Quarter Ghost and Murder Tour

9. New Orleans: French Quarter Ghost and Murder Tour

Learn about the ghostly history of New Orleans on this tour of the French Quarter. Visit famous landmarks, hear fascinating stories, and immerse yourself in the haunted world of this atmospheric district. Make your way to the French Quarter to meet your historian guide. Visit places like the infamous Lalaurie Mansion (as seen on 'American Horror Story Coven'), May Bailey's Brothel (as seen on Travel Channels 'Ghost Adventures'), and many other sites. Embark on the only ghost tour in New Orleans with access inside a haunted building. Enjoy a tour that is kid and alcohol friendly. Take a leisurely stroll through the haunted history of New Orleans´ French Quarter with frequent stops and restroom breaks.

New Orleans: Manchac Bayou Swamp Cruise with Optional Pickup

10. New Orleans: Manchac Bayou Swamp Cruise with Optional Pickup

Join this tour in the Manchac Swamp on a real life adventure for the whole family. Your local captains will take you on an exciting journey to explore Louisiana's abundant wildlife in the bayous of Cajun Country. Journey by boat, Cajun-style, for a tour through the heart of Southern Louisiana's swamplands. Your swamp boat will take you into the meandering bayous where you'll see moss-draped cypress trees, fascinating plant life, and the creatures who make their homes here. Listen to informative commentary as you sail into the bayou. Swamp creatures are used to seeing the tour boats, so you'll likely catch a glimpse of various birds, snakes, deer, and fish, and possibly even an alligator. As your boat drifts through the waterways, you will learn about the Louisiana Wetlands, the inhabitants of the swamp–particularly the life and habits of the American Alligator–as well as the unique history of the local Cajun town of Frenier.

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Planning your trip to New Orleans

Frequently asked questions about New Orleans

What top attractions are a must-see in New Orleans?

The must-see attractions in New Orleans are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from New Orleans?

The best day trips and excursions from New Orleans are:

Whitney Plantation

Insider tips: Planning a trip to New Orleans

There are so many reasons to visit New Orleans, this is one of the most unique cities in the world with cultural influences from African Americans, French, and Spanish throughout their world-class cuisine, music, traditions, and architecture. This is a destination full of energy any time of year but also the highly anticipated and attended Mardi Gras celebrations annually. Megan Indoe is a Brooklyn based travel enthusiast who shares her adventures with her husband and photographer Scott Herder across their travel channels on social media and their blog, Bobo & Chichi.

What should I do on my first trip to New Orleans?

There are so many wonderful things to do in New Orleans, but for any first time visitor you can’t miss strolling through the lush and beautiful mansion-lined streets in the Garden District and explore the French Quarter by day and by night head to all the jazz clubs on Frenchmen Street by night.

What are some hidden gems to see in New Orleans?

One of the best hidden gems is the Faubourg Marigny & Bywater area of NOLA. Be sure to explore this vibrant neighborhood on foot and enjoy the colorful, shotgun style homes. When you need a drink or a meal check out St. Roch Market and Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits for live music and drinks in the evenings.

How much time should I spend in New Orleans?

You need at least a weekend if not longer in New Orleans. But, not matter how much time you spend you’ll likely want to come back for more because like most destinations, you can’t possibly see everything in one visit.

What food is New Orleans known for? 

The beauty of New Orleans is that there’s no place in the world like it. There are influences from various cultures including Caribbean, French, Spanish, West African, and Native Americans to name a few. You’ll want to explore the Cajun and Creole dining scene here. Don’t miss trying powdered sugar covered beignets, Gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, and local seafood like crawdads and shrimp to name a few of the local specialties.

What is the best way to get around New Orleans?

Much of New Orleans is walkable, but there are a few places that might be a little too far to reach by foot. Try taking a fide on the old fashioned street cars from the French Quarter to the Garden District for a unique experience or use a ride share app to get around when the walk is just a little too far.

What are the best months to visit New Orleans?

Avoid New Orleans in the month of June and perhaps through early fall, this is the rainiest time of year and hurricane season. The best time to visit would be February through May when it is much less humid and temperatures are more comfortable. Keep in mind if you’re hoping to visit during Mardi Gras, always around the Easter holiday, you’ll need to make your reservations well in advance.

What is neighborhood French Quarter known for?

The French Quarter is the most famous neighborhood in New Orleans famous for its gorgeous, historic buildings with gas lanterns. The neighborhood is famous for being home to the rowdy crowds on Bourbon Street, tons of shops, restaurants, bars, and hotels as the heartbeat of tourism in the city.

What are the best neighborhoods for food?

The French Quarter has plenty of incredible dining options including some of the city’s most well-known and historic dining establishments like Galatoire’s as well as where you can find the famous Cafe du Monde for their beignets 24/7. The Garden District is also full of great restaurants, be sure to hit up Commander’s Palace for their famous 25 cent martinis at lunch and if you’re looking for a great po’boy and dive spot, head to Parasol’s.

What are the best neighborhoods for shopping? 

One of the best spots for shopping in New Orleans, besides all the stores and shops in the French Quarter, can be found all along Magazine Street. You can find everything from vintage shops to home goods and quirky boutiques plus there are plenty of cafes and eateries to take a shopping break along the way.

What neighborhood should I stay in when I visit New Orleans?

If its your first time to New Orleans you should stay as close to the French Quarter as possible. Don’t worry about the noise, even the hotels that are near Bourbon Street somehow manage to remain quiet and have one of the best locations for exploring during your stay

What is the best family-friendly thing to do in New Orleans?

Take a half day tour or trip to a nearby swamp to get up close and personal to the famous Louisiana bayous and swamps while having wildlife encounters along the way.

What are the best annual events in New Orleans?

The most famous annual event are the Mardi Gras celebrations each year! Expect the two weeks celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans to be full of daily parades, floats, music, end loads of energy! Another great annual event to check out is Jazz Fest which celebrates the famous music scene here typically taking place at the end of April through early May.

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What people are saying about New Orleans

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 19,050 reviews

John was the best tour guide ever, I loved the stories and I could hear him, which is hard in the streets during Marti Graw. He gave us the perfect amount of time in each bar to get a drink, chat and use the facilities. His personality was perfect for this and you need to hold onto him because he really makes the tour what it is! My 3 adult girls who were with me who don't want to "be with mom" had a fabulous time and thought this was the best tour ever! Also because of John. Thank you John for making my trip with the girls a success!

The only thing I would change is giving people time to take pictures of the grave without the tour guide in the picture. Zelda our tour guide was amazing. We loved the stories she told and learned a lot. She was animated and funny and filled with knowledge. She made the tour a success and I'm glad we did it! Keep her, she's a gem!

Excellent tour from the minute we were picked up to the very end . Trey our guide on the swamp was brilliant and we saw so much . Thank you for a good trip

We had a great time with Bubby. Super knowledgable and fun! Would recommend.

Guide was great fun and had so much knowledge about New Orleans