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.

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Our most recommended things to do in New Orleans

New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

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

Savor the beauty and romance of New Orleans and take a journey back in time aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Cruise along the Mississippi River, enjoying an optional delicious lunch, a brunch, or simply listening to the incredible live jazz band onboard. Your two-hour cruise from the heart of the French Quarter takes you back to a time when life was as slow and graceful as the current on the Mississippi. The tour will take guests to see New Orleans from the river, one of the world's most active ports. Visit our museum quality Engine Room to learn how steam powers this magnificent boat through the “Mighty Mississippi.” Add an optional Creole lunch, prepared fresh on board, and savor the tastes of New Orleans as you relax on your 2-hour cruise, before docking back where you started the tour. Sample Menu Lunch Monday - Saturday on 11:30 AM - 2:30 PM cruises Southern Fried Fish Red Beans and Rice Jambalaya Salad Du Jour Community Coffee and Iced Tea included Menu items are subject to change by season and availability.

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

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

Journey back in time aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez – the only surviving authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Sit back, relax and enjoy the New Orleans atmosphere as the smooth jazz of the Dukes Trio fills your ears. This 2-hour cruise from the heart of the French Quarter will take you along the graceful Mississippi River. Seating is available indoors and on deck for the very best views of the river and the City of New Orleans. The indoor areas are climate-controlled and the outdoor space allows for tours of all levels of the boat. There is nothing more charming than an evening on the Steamboat Natchez. Ending back where you started, leave your cruise feeling invigorated by the Mississippi's fresh air. Sample Dinner Menu Natchez Tossed Salad: Mixed greens, tomato, cucumber, red onions and croutons with a sugar cane vinaigrette and served family style Chicken and Sausage Gumbo: Made with a traditional Louisiana roux and served with rice Baked Chicken: Served with a mushroom ragout Bayou Seafood Pasta: Crawfish tails and shrimp tossed in a white wine and garlic Parmesan cream sauce with penne Herb-Garlic Fingerling Potatoes: Fingerling potatoes roasted with fresh rosemary, thyme, garlic and ground pepper Pasta Primavera: Fusilli pasta, zucchini, squash, mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, in a zesty basil pesto Green Beans Almondine: Southern style green beans topped with toasted almond slivers White Chocolate Bread Pudding: A soufflé of local Leidenheimer French bread in a rich custard with a decadent white chocolate sauce Bananas Foster: A New Orleans original. Fresh sliced bananas sautéed in butter, brown sugar, vanilla, cinnamon and rum. Served warm atop vanilla ice cream Garlic Rolls Community Coffee and Iced Tea included Menu items are subject to change by season and availability.

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Boat Cruise with Optional Dinner

3. 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: 2-Hour Haunted Cemetery and City Tour at Night

4. New Orleans: 2-Hour Haunted Cemetery and City Tour at Night

Explore the spooky side of New Orleans on a 2-hour 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 bus to head to the tour's first location. Along the way learn some fascinating New Orleans Voodoo history. Arrive at the first stop, an above-ground cemetery. Learn about some of its most notorious residents including those who still walk among us today. Next, follow your guide to a burial ground containing 1000s of spirits who met their unfortunate fate in a tragic event. Finish off the tour by stopping at a haunted mansion, the Coven House from "American Horror Story". Here you will have the opportunity to take a picture before going back to the French Quarter.

New Orleans: Creole Queen History Cruise with Optional Lunch

5. 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

6. 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

7. 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

8. 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: Night Cemetery and Ghost BYOB Bus Tour

9. New Orleans: Night Cemetery and Ghost BYOB Bus Tour

A visit to New Orleans famous “Cities of the Dead” is a must-do for anyone visiting this city. Hauntingly beautiful and elaborately ornate, these cemeteries also hold stories of ghosts, past and present, which will chill you to the core. This cemetery tour is offered under the cover of night. You'll leave the French Quarter behind as your bus creeps along Esplanade Avenue to what used to be the edge of town, but is now the bustling neighborhoods of Mid-City and City Park. There are 42 cemeteries in the New Orleans area, and throughout this experience you will visit several of them. Your guides will discuss the unique burial rituals and practices during the stroll, as you are offered an up-close and personal look at some of the most popular cemeteries.

New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Airboat Swamp Combo Tour

10. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Airboat Swamp Combo Tour

Discover Louisiana on a guided day trip from New Orleans to the historical Oak Alley Plantation, with entry tickets included, and a bayou airboat ride. Benefit from round-trip transportation from your New Orleans hotel. Start your experience with hotel pickup, and relax on the drive to Oak Alley Plantation. Enjoy a guided tour of the plantation home by guides in period dress while you hear and learn about the times of slavery.  Take in the house's Greek Revival architecture, the antique farm equipment exhibits, and walk around the grounds where 28 evenly spaced, huge oak trees grow. Browse the blacksmith shop and souvenir shop, or stop for a snack (at your own expense) in the restaurant. Continue onto Barataria Basin for an airboat tour of the bayou swamplands, where your local captain will guide you through the swamps, marshes, and lakes. Travel at high speeds for an exciting ride, then slow down to spot local wildlife on this exciting airboat experience. Look out for alligators, birds, and other animals. Every airboat tour is unique, so you never know what you’ll see. Even in winter — when alligators hibernate — you’ll have a good chance of spotting these reptiles.  Back on dry land, return to the bus for the drive back to New Orleans, where you’ll finish off your trip with a convenient drop-off back at your hotel.

Frequently asked questions about New Orleans

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

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.

Planning Your Visit

  • When to go?

    The height of summer (June-August) can get intolerably hot, but it's worth checking what events are happening the rest of the year before settling on dates. The famous Mardi Gras carnival takes place the day before Ash Wednesday (in February or March). If you want to sample some traditional street food though, arrive for November's Oak Street Po-Boy Festival to try the best Po-Boy sandwiches in town!

  • How long to stay?

    For sightseeing, four days should be enough time to cover the French Quarter and Garden District, however, New Orleans is a city full of life and culture that penetrates deep beneath its surface. Book a few extra days if you can, keep your itinerary loose, and be prepared to get drawn into a few pleasant surprises!

  • How to get around?

    Walking is by far the best way to see New Orleans, but when it's raining you can easily hail one of the city's many reasonably priced taxis. (Bear in mind though, that most cabs are more expensive and harder to come by on special event days.) There is also a well-connected bus network, but why not opt for the streetcars for which the city is famous? The St. Charles Avenue route, between downtown and Uptown, is a National Historic Landmark!

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    American Dollar ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-06:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Spring, fall and winter tend to be more pleasant times to visit the city, not only to avoid the heat, but also to experience Mardi Gras, or one of the city's famous festivals. Check event calendars while planning your trip!

Other Sightseeing Options in New Orleans

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What people are saying about New Orleans

Overall rating

4.6 / 5

based on 13,865 reviews

We had an amazing time. It was just myself and the hubby on a private zip. Our guides were amazing. I would definitely recommend this company. They even showed us a couple tricks to try as we ziplined Brenda

Super friendly staff, very fun experience. Love that there’s a bar in the waiting area and the shuttle was very convenient.

Got lots of historical, architectural information which if we just walked ourselves didn’t get. Good walking tour!!

My wife and I were fortunate to have a tour to ourselves. Our guide Thorn was excellent.

Our guide was very knowledgeable and funny ! Would recommend this tour to anyone.