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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 Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

1. 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: Cemetery Bus Tour At Dark with Exclusive Access

2. 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. Begin your tour in the heart of the French Quarter. Meet your guide and board the air-conditioned bus. Along the way learn about Voodoo and hear some ghost stories before entering a private, above-ground, exclusive cemetery. Next, follow your guide to a burial ground of spirits who met their unfortunate fate in a tragic pandemic event. Finish off the tour by stopping by a haunted mansion, the Coven House from "American Horror Story" to take a quick picture before completing your tour.

New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

3. 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: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

4. New Orleans: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter 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: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

5. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

Experience 2 typical Louisiana features—plantation homes and bayous—on a guided day trip from New Orleans with hotel pickup. Tour Oak Alley Plantation, with entry tickets, included, and look out for wildlife on a boat trip through the swamplands. Start with a pickup from your French Quarter hotel. Head out of New Orleans and travel to Oak Alley Plantation, one of the best-known in the area. Built in 1837-39, the plantation is famous for its alley of 28 evenly spaced live oak trees. Take a guided tour of the historical plantation and gain an educational insight into the times of slavery. Afterward, enjoy a fully narrated boat tour of the swamps. Keep a lookout for alligators, turtles, water birds, and other local wildlife. Listen as your captain tells stories of local Cajun and Creole history, and the people who live in the Bayou area. Finish your tour with the return journey to New Orleans, where you’ll be dropped off at your French Quarter hotel.

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

6. 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: High Speed 6-9 Passenger Airboat Tour

7. New Orleans: High Speed 6-9 Passenger Airboat Tour

Experience the best of both a swamp tour and an airboat ride. Travel at high speeds in the airboat then slow down and stop for pictures. Along the way, enjoy a personal tour by your local captain. The airboats have stadium seating so every airboat seat is great for experiencing the tour and viewing wildlife. Yes, gators will get close, real close. So close that you will be able to look into those reptilian eyes. Alligators do hibernate in the colder months, but your experienced captains know where to look for them. On average, during the winter, you have better than a 50/50 chance of seeing a gator. In the warmer months, you will see a gator. Every New Orleans Airboat Tour is unique and you never know what could be around the next corner. Tour an area that is a combination of swamp, marsh, and lake, spotting anything from a Bald Eagle to a Pelican, from an Osprey to an Owl. The airboats are driven by a 454 Chevy engine that will produce speeds of up to 35 miles an hour. They are propelled by a huge fan that will blow air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles an hour. These tours are truly a blast. They ride in inches of water and go where traditional boats can't. The boats were designed to take you to inaccessible areas of the swamp, places that you cannot reach by foot or car, ensuring a unique experience.

New Orleans: Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

8. New Orleans: Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Discover Mardi Gras magic on a self-guided tour of Mardi Gras World, where artists and craftsmen have designed and built the oldest and biggest parade floats and attractions for each Mardi Gras season in New Orleans since 1947. Begin your tour by receiving your ticket in form of a bead necklace and watch a film which gives an overview of the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the role Mardi Gras World plays in it to this day. Then, enjoy a slice of the traditional Mardi Gras cake, King Cake, before your self-guided tour leads you through the float den. Explore where Mardi Gras World artists work year-round to build spectacular, one-of-a-kind floats and props, with over 500 floats built and decorated each year. See how the various themed elements are created from scratch or are adapted from elements created for previous themes — from sculpting the elements, to finishing and painting them. There is even an electronic robot that can carve 3-D sculptures. Take photos with some of the finished pieces from various themes over the years, then tour the floats themselves. Get up closer to the floats than is possible during Mardi Gras parades, and find out how these amazing pieces come to life each year. See floats in various stages of completion as they prepare for the upcoming Mardi Gras as much as a whole year before. At the end of the tour, stay and take more pictures with any of the floats if you like. For your convenience, a complimentary shuttle service is provided from stops in Downtown; just call the number provided on your voucher for your nearest stop and to arrange pickup.

New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation Half-Day Tour

9. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation Half-Day Tour

Embark on a half-day tour to the Oak Alley Plantation from New Orleans. Pass under the alley of 250-year-old Oak trees and uncover the history of the Old South on a guided tour of the plantation. Oak Alley is one of the most photographed plantations; it has been the setting for motion pictures such as “Interview with a Vampire" and “Primary Colors.” This visit is a fantastic educational tour to experience with friends or family. After exploring the plantation, treat yourself to a refreshing snack at the on-site café and ice cream parlor. End your tour whilst enjoying the views of live oak trees stretching from the mansion to the gently flowing Mississippi River.

New Orleans: Swamp Zipline Tour with Transfer Option

10. New Orleans: Swamp Zipline Tour with Transfer Option

Travel to the banks of Lake Ponchartrain, in the quaint historic town of Frenier, to see the Maurepas swamp from a unique perspective. Suspended above it on this zipline tour, admire the animals of the swamp and the panoramic views. Start the day with a transfer from your hotel in New Orleans, if the option is selected. Upon arrival, meet your host who will provide safety equipment and instructions for the day’s activities. Use the lockers provided to store loose items. Begin the adventure from atop a 60-foot start platform. Marvel at the views of the magnificent Maurepas Swamp and Lake Ponchartrain. View the historic town of Frenier and the New Orleans skyline. As you traverse the course, take on five separate zip lines, two suspension bridges, and a one-of-a-kind spiral cypress tree staircase. The swamp zipline course is roughly a half-mile long, and it takes approximately 1.5 hours to complete. Become immersed in nature. As you soar through the course, you may see alligators, turtles, snakes, whitetail deer, wild boar, raccoons, opossums, armadillos, egrets, herons, and much more from the comfort and safety of the treetops.

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.

Other Sightseeing Options in New Orleans

Want to discover all there is to do in New Orleans? Click here for a full list.

What people are saying about New Orleans

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 15,331 reviews

The tour was great, we saw at least 15 alligators and also different birds. Our tour guide was a cool guy and he told us a lot of interesting things about the swamps and animals.

Enjoyed our site seeing tour repeatedly. Each guide offered a few different tidbits about the areas we passed. The guides and drivers were all very friendly and helpful.

Great and convenient day trip from New Orleans to have the full NOLA experience.

Very informative! D'artagna was a great story-teller.

We really enjoyed our boat ride. Highly recommended