The Best Things to Do in New Orleans
Collected by Wayne Curtis , AFAR Local Expert
New Orleans is a little different than everywhere else. Culture here comes in the form of sequined and feathered Mardi Gras capes and brass bands in a second line parade, as well as stately historic houses, and live music nearly everywhere you turn. Y’all come.
533 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Anyone interested in the city’s complex and vivid past—and if you’re still breathing, that should include you—would do well to make a stop at the Historic New Orleans Collection. This is a private entity with a public purpose: It was founded to...
French Quarter, New Orleans, LA, USA
You don't need to work hard to explore New Orleans' diverse architecture. Take a walk around the French Quarter and you'll see Creole cottages and pre-Civil War townhouses with wrought-iron balconies. Hop on a street car and take in the antebellum...
Julia St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Contemporary art sometimes seems to take a back seat in a city enamored of its ornate and storied past. Scratch the surface, though, and you’ll find a strong and growing creative scene in New Orleans, teeming with makers as well as...
3819, 923 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
The architecture of New Orleans attracts visitors who marvel at the pleasing cacophony of the local streetscape. The 18th- and 19th-century homes, storehouses, and shops—which, thankfully, still exist in considerable abundance—are as distinctive...
3016 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Rock ’n’ Bowl is where to go to find sharps, flats, spares, and strikes all hanging out together. It’s a bit unclear whether this is a nightclub hiding out in a full-size bowling alley, or a bowling alley out enjoying a secret nightlife. Either...
622 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
New Orleans doesn’t have the national renown of Minneapolis or Portland when it comes to bike culture. But its reputation is growing. Structurally, it's already a great city to explore on two wheels: It’s dead flat (highway overpasses are really...
615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
As the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States, St. Louis Cathedral is something you won't want to miss on your trip through the Big Easy. Enjoy the spiritual splendor of the interior, then meander the laid-back streets...
City Park, New Orleans, LA, USA
New Orleans' green spaces run the gamut from City Park, which spans 1,300 acres and is the 6th largest urban park in the United States, to the city block-sized Jackson Square, a French Quarter gathering point for artists, musicians, and street...
945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Plan on spending the better part of a day at the National World War II Museum, even if you profess limited interest in history. This fine, sprawling museum—formerly the D-Day Museum—is affiliated with the Smithsonian Institution, and...
1113 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
The Beauregard-Keyes House stands out in a neighborhood—the French Quarter—already filled with standout buildings. Built in 1826, it’s a superb example of the then-newly-popular Greek Revival style, with its bossy pediment and...
1332 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
The Garden District was developed in the middle 19th century, and is where the mercantile elite built their in-town estates. Unlike the narrow parcels of the French Quarter or surrounding neighborhoods, house lots here were divided up with just...
1 Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124, USA
This is the oldest and grandest art institute in a city that’s long captivated artists. The Neoclassical building sits amid the greenery of massive City Park (conveniently at the end of the Canal Streetcar Line). It’s an especially good...
6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70118, USA
Audubon Park sits on the site of a former sugar plantation—the only plantation in the city that wasn’t subsequently developed for homes or businesses. It’s about 25 minutes via streetcar from downtown, but feels a world apart,...
Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA, USA
Some find this narrow, neon-lit French Quarter street appealing, others appalling. But it’s worth a stroll either way. It’s as if all the sins of mankind and then some were rounded up and corralled here—tawdry strip shows, cheap and potent drinks,...
1116 Henriette Delille St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
The Mardi Gras American Indian culture is one of the lesser-known elements of New Orleans life, but it’s been part of the African American experience in the city for well over a century. How it began remains the subject of debate. ("Masking" as an...
726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
Preservation Hall occupies a worn Creole town house that was originally built as a home in the early 19th century, and that had evolved into an art gallery and performance space by 1961. (It was founded by a man of philanthropic bent who fretted...
Crescent Park Trail, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
New Orleans’s newest public park lies along about a mile and a half of the Mississippi River—a lovely retreat reclaimed from industrial squalor. The main entrance is near the foot of Esplanade Avenue, marked by a boxy footbridge (with...
New Orleans, LA, USA
Frenchmen Street is, more or less, the local-music version of Bourbon Street. It also has its share of tourists trundling about with go-cups in hand, but they’re drawn more by the music than the drink. Plan to spend an evening (things start...
2438 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70117, USA
Royal Street is to antiques and fine art what Bourbon Street is to booze. This elegant urban thoroughfare is not only home to some of the best examples of the city's early-19th-century Creole town houses, but is also loaded with high-end antiques...
514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Little-known fact: New Orleans was the first place in North America to license pharmacists (starting in 1769, when the city was still under Spanish rule). After Louisiana became a territory, the U.S. governor extended the requirement, also...
1400 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
New Orleans' cemeteries are part of the city's culture as well as its landscape—and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest and most famous. Opened in 1789 on the edge of the French Quarter, the cemetery is home to the tomb of Marie Laveau, a...
701 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA
A National Historic Landmark that has also been named one of America’s Great Public Spaces, Jackson Square is the historic heart of New Orleans. Under the French, it went by the name the Place d’Armes and it wasn’t until the first half of the 19th...
925 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
The three floors of art on display at the Ogden, one of a handful of museums in the city's off-the-radar museum district near Lee Circle, run the gamut from Clementine Hunter's paintings of plantation life to Shelby Lee Adam's photographs of...
900 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA
Art enthusiasts visiting New Orleans should consider a stop at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) in the Warehouse Arts District, just a short walk from the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and "Gallery Row" on Julia Street. Started in 1976 as an...
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