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The 23 Best Things to Do in New Orleans

New Orleans Museum of Art

The Big Easy, of course, has its must-see sights—the New Orleans Museum of Art is as impressive a slice of culture as you’ll find in the South, and the National World War II Museum is a world-class facility that draws hundreds of thousands of visitors a year. Another of the absolute best things to do in New Orleans, of course, is experience the live music that is the heartbeat of the city—but NOLA offers so much more than those well-known headlines. Find time to discover the less obvious spaces; City Park , local-led cooking classes, and the region’s natural treasures with a local swamp tour . We've gathered our picks for what to do in New Orleans, covering the classics, the off-beat, and everything in between, so you're covered when you get there. Laissez les bons temps rouler , indeed.

Read our complete New Orleans travel guide here .

This story has been updated with new information since its original publish date.

A observatory.

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Previously a rotating nightclub known as Top of the Mart, the upper levels of what is the new Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans have been transformed into a major new city attraction–Vue Orleans Observatory, “a 360-degree observation deck and interactive experience" on floors 33 and 34. Having been built on a swamp, New Orleans is mostly low-rise, and so this observation deck, though not that high in relative terms, still delivers memorable views of the surrounding city. Upon entry, follow a bevy of interactive maps to the elevator, where further video traces the history of New Orleans. Narrated by local singing legend Irma Thomas and rendered in beautiful rotoscope animation, you’re surrounded on three sides by ever-shifting scenery while climbing  to the first observation deck. There’s one more level to explore, where you can stroll outside around the perimeter of the tower, and take in the views—the vista looking straight up Poydras Street is particularly dramatic.

Studio Be Gallery art Performance New Orleans

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This studio—in a huge warehouse space in the Bywater neighborhood— showcases the work of local artist Brandon Odums (aka BMike). He specializes in large-scale murals and paintings illustrating scenes from black culture in the city, black leaders and icons; the exhibits show off the whole range of Odum’s talent, with mixed media pieces including sculpture and video. The real stars of the show—and the works for which he is most famous—are the floor-to-ceiling portraits.

Crescent Park New Orleans

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Until 2014, the banks of the Mississippi River bordering the city's downtown Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods were essentially unwalkable. The city invested in a large renovation program that's transformed unsightly, post-industrial wasteland into a lovely riverside park. Crescent Park is a mile-and-a-half long and feels very much like a local spot; you're unlikely to find Mardi Gras-beaded tourists here. Grab a bottle of wine and a cheese plate from nearby Bacchanal Wines , and find yourself a grassy riverside spot for an afternoon picnic.

A cooking class.

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The gastronomic scene is important in most cities. In New Orleans, it’s a way of life, a celebration of history and a cultural symbol of huge importance. It regulates dietary calendars—red beans on Mondays, King Cake during Carnival, Crawfish Monica at Jazz Fest. Through teaching the basics of arguably the only indigenous cuisine in the whole of the United States, the instructors here peel back layers of the city’s history and people. The classes are engaging and entertaining, of course, but you come away with an understanding of what food means to the culture here, an education that will help you appreciate the city on a whole new level. There are two styles of class to choose from—open demonstrations and hands-on cookery lessons. The hands-on class (which I took) will typically feature dishes such as seafood gumbo, crawfish pie and bananas foster crêpes, and lasts around three hours in the morning or afternoon. Preparing food all morning definitely whets your appetite for lunch. The instruction couldn’t be friendlier, with patience for beginners as well as expert tips for the more advanced. If you simply watch, rest assured that you can still sample the goods.

City Park New Orleans

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Almost all of New Orleans life is contained within this park—museums, golf courses, cafes and high-end restaurants, a stadium, waterways, and all that green space. The New Orleans Museum of Art and the accompanying sculpture garden are definite highlights, as is the Couterie Forest with its eight distinct ecosystems (and the city’s highest point, Laborde Mountain). Children will love the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park with its retro fairground rides—as well as the Louisiana Children's Museum —while adults can work up an appetite walking the great lawns before for dinner at the highly respected Ralph’s on the Park .

New Orleans Museum of Art

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A must-see on most visitors’ New Orleans itineraries, and deservedly so. The building itself, set back in City Park , is imposing and grand with its alabaster walls and Greco-Roman columns. There's also a beautiful five-acre sculpture garden, with artwork beneath magnolias and Spanish moss-laden live oaks. Inside, the collection is equally impressive, with French and American art and traveling exhibits that feature everything from fashion to digital media. It remains one the South’s most impressive fine art collections.

Steamboat Natchez New Orleans

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The Steamboat Natchez is a well-loved and well-established tour with two daily harbor cruises, as well as dinner and Sunday brunch cruises. Though they may differ slightly, all of the cruises take in the sights and history of New Orleans and the Mississippi River. With the calliope organ playing as the boat docks, this is a rare chance to learn a lot in a short period of time. Buy tickets at the walk-up booth along the river (reservations are recommended during high season).

United States Louisiana New Orleans Park Louis Armstrong Park

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There aren’t a ton of green spaces in downtown New Orleans, so Louis Armstrong Park, just outside the French Quarter, is a welcome option. Given its proximity to the city’s culture, the park has also become a hub for festivals and seasonal events. It’s a well-designed, landscaped spot that packs a lot into 32 acres. Don't miss Congo Square, which began as an open space for slaves and free people of color to celebrate their African heritage with music and drumming circles—the precursor to the development of jazz.

Mardi Gras Indians

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The Treme neighborhood is one of the oldest African American neighborhoods in the country, and inside what looks like an otherwise residential home is the new location for the Backstreet Cultural Museum, which houses one of the most comprehensive archives of the traditions and community movements that sprung from these streets. The most colorful aspect of the museum is its collection of elaborately sequined and beaded Mardi Gras masks and costumes, which have African and Native American influences. The collection also has information and artifacts relating to jazz funerals, second lines, and social aid and pleasure clubs. The exhibits are mainly permanent, although it’s a constantly growing archive of costumes, artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and films. The museum also hosts special events (including live music performances by local musicians and parties) throughout the year.

French Quarter Phantom Tour New Orleans

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Some people just love cemetery tours , but this is also great for visitors who want to feel spooked while learning local history. To kick things off, everyone meets at the "office"—which is actually the back of a bar on Rampart Street, which is the most New Orleans start to a guided tour imaginable. Everyone seemed pumped to see the cemetery. (Guided tours are now compulsory—it’s the only way to really explore them.) Keep an eye out for the tombs of local legends like Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, as well as the decoration on the stonework, which will really stick with you.

Spotted Cat New Orleans club music bar venue

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If Frenchman Street is home to the city’s best jazz , the Spotted Cat is its epicenter—a small, kind of rundown bar that comes alive each night as old-school jazz plays on. Expect to hear brassy quartets and quintets; clarinet solos and big voices; and swing when the Cotton Mouth Kings come by. (A dance floor will open up for the local swing crew to show off its moves.) Cram in and stay for more than one set.

The National WWII Museum New Orleans

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The National WWII Museum is a world-class history museum—a sprawling complex of modern buildings in the Warehouse District that receives thousands of visitors every day who want to hear "the story of the war that changed the world." Doing so is no easy task, but through large narrative exhibits that include detailed, personal accounts from eyewitnesses, the museum manages to do just that. Every conceivable medium is used: film, immersive exhibits, large-scale reconstructions, and first-person oral histories among them. Expect to walk—a lot—given how spread out exhibits are, but the museum is sensitive to the relatively mature age of its visitors and rest stops and benches are plentiful. A short visit isn't ideal given the scale of the topic at hand, but if you’re really pushed, you could tailor your visit to just see a specific interest, or go straight for the movie presentation.

United States Louisiana New Orleans Theater Saenger Theatre

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You can still feel the glamour that must have accompanied the opening of Saenger Theatre in 1927. Although the capacity has been cut from 4,000 to 2,600, the grand venue is still one of the biggest theaters in town, with a performance hall modeled on an Italian baroque courtyard and overhead lighting that resembles a starry constellation. The space hosts big events that still need a more intimate setting than a sports arena: touring Broadway shows , big-name comedians, and the occasional concert.

Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden New Orleans

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This five-acre sculpture garden is a park within City Park , and acts as an open-air annex to the wonderful New Orleans Museum of Art ( NOMA ). 90 sculptures—mostly modern and abstract—are set among magnolias and live oaks, framed by bridges and reflecting pools, with world-renowned artists Henry Moore, Antoine Bourdelle, and Ossip Zadkine represented. The lake-set Virlane Tower by Kenneth Snelson is a favorite, as is the familiar Love, Red Blue sign by Robert Indiana, but it’s best to come without a map. Surprise and delight are over every bridge.

Tipitina's New Orleans Jazz Venue

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The unassuming Uptown building with no seats may be over 100 years old, but Tips, as it’s affectionately known, only became a music venue in the 1970s. It quickly cemented its place as a New Orleans music institution: Local brass bands are a particular thing to see here. There are no seats, but you'll likely want to be up on your feet for whatever local talent is about to take the stage by storm. If there are any big music festivals in town, such as Jazz Fest or Voodoo , it’s likely that some of the bands booked will also add a show at Tip’s to their visit to NOLA, or maybe they'll just drop in unexpectedly, you never know.

Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans

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The Contemporary Arts Center, housed in a large redbrick building that stands out in the relatively muted Central Business District, is one of the city’s most prestigious spaces for the full gamut of contemporary arts, including painting, film, theater, and music. Exhibits, which rotate every four to eight weeks, can include any visual art form, from photography to sculpture and painting. The featured works are well-curated—sometimes around themes, sometimes around individual contemporary artists. Pieces are often installed in a creative way that makes use of the interior architecture.

Mardi Gras World New Orleans

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You might walk right by this anonymous warehouse by the Port of New Orleans, but inside is a behind-the-scenes look at what goes into the country's biggest free party—Mardi Gras. The huge floats take months to build and decorate, and this is where a large part of that happens. Painters and sculptors are actually working on pieces as you take this 90-minute walking tour, so it feels like you’re being let in on a secret.

Swamp Tour New Orleans

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Cajun Encounters takes you 45 minutes from French Quarter beignets and Bourbon Street, but the bayou feels a world away. Your tour “captain”—a total pro who knows caimans from alligators—takes you out on a flat-bottomed boat for two hours in search of gators in the wild. You might even get to feed them. (Don’t worry, everyone from the tour makes it back.) Conservation plays a part of the conversation, as the guide offers a funny-serious take on the swamp, including how the environment was affected by Hurricane Katrina and how it continues to evolve.

United States Louisiana New Orleans Museum Ogden Museum of Southern Art

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The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is Smithsonian -affiliated and, as its name suggests, celebrates the culture and aesthetic of Southern artists. The permanent collection showcases more than 4,000 pieces from 15 states; in fact, with works dating back to 1733, the institution boasts the most comprehensive collection of Southern art in the world. Exhibits feature paintings, photography, sculpture, and handicrafts, and place historical works alongside contemporary artists working in the South.

Sazerac House

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You may think that a museum dedicated to just one cocktail is excessive and couldn’t be done with enough depth to keep things interesting. To that, New Orleans says: hold my Sazerac. Opened in October 2019, The Sazerac House is a multi-floor, multi-media, interactive dive into the intoxicating world of a whiskey brand. In a beautifully renovated building on the corner of Magazine and Canal, it manages to house a museum, a bar, and a distillery, all in one. Visitors are guided to the third floor to begin their tour. The floor traces the cultural influence of booze in New Orleans. Spoiler alert: it figures heavily in the city’s past. Exhibits are sleek, technologically impressive, and in some cases, interactive, detailing the start of cocktail culture in the Crescent City and the evolution of the Sazerac. The second floor delves into the brand, looking at the production of the spirit, including a hands-on look at ingredients, and a chance to sample the wares if you’re old enough. The ground floor exposes the inner workings of the on-site distillery, and the parts blend to form a cohesive whole, like a well-made cocktail.

Southern Food and Beverage Museum New Orleans

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Sometimes it feels like most, if not all, of the festivities in and around New Orleans are simply vehicles for making and consuming local dishes and cocktails . It makes sense, then, that this museum opened in 2014 to celebrate the food and drinks that are so beloved in this region. This large, open-plan warehouse has a bohemian ambience. It’s filled with antique memorabilia and packs in an impressive number of ingredients, with exhibits representing all of the southern states, not just Louisiana. The museum is very active socially, and in any given week there’s likely to be a few live events, from demonstrations and lectures to nights where you can sample specific foods or cocktails. Local and regional chefs and bartenders are invited to interpret their skills, and there’s a cute outdoor space, the Gumbo Garden. There’s also a demonstration kitchen that hosts regular cookery demos and classes.

Music Box Village New Orleans

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This venue, in the far reaches of the residential Bywater neighborhood, is an aesthetic delight. It looks something like a post-apocalyptic wooden fortress, impenetrable except to those in the know (the public entrance is set in the back). Inside is part acoustic playground, part rural music venue, part museum. There are several small "houses"—built with wood and metal and plastic, in different styles—and each has its own musical "instruments," be it percussion or wind or some more elaborate electronic devices hooked into windows and floors. It’s built for you to run around, explore, and make lots of noise. The shows here are one-of-a-kind—nything from rock to opera, the common thread being that artists are encouraged to make use of the unique sounds and setup available to them. Performances are true one-offs, with even the most polished songs being deconstructed and put together again using the wooden blocks or bells available. The venue encourages a particular kind of collaboration and invention, and most artists rise to the challenge.

Preservation Hall Music New Orleans

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Come the early evening, or Sunday afternoon, people start to line up outside the crumbling exterior of a building on St. Peters Street in the historic French Quarter. Through the iron gate lies one of the world’s most respected music venues and the spiritual home of New Orleans jazz, Preservation Hall. It’s not much to look at—just a small, square room with some seating and a small stage area—but a little local magic happens four or five times a day. The house band is, unsurprisingly, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band. They're dedicated to preserving the traditions of New Orleans jazz as it was in its heyday a hundred years ago, and they play four or five white-hot, hour-long sets each night to the 100 or so people who pack the benches. You're guaranteed an amazing show no matter what time you come, and there’s always that chance that famous musicians will drop by unannounced, especially when large music festivals (such as Jazz Fest in the spring) are in town.

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Best Time to Visit

Weather & Climate

Neighborhoods to Know

Public Transportation

48 Hours in New Orleans

Day Trips From NOLA

Top Things to Do

Free Things to Do

Things to Do With Kids

NOLA's Best Museums

Guide to Audubon Park

Best Jazz Clubs

Complete Guide to Mardi Gras

Must-Try Food in NOLA

Best Restaurants

Top Bars to Visit

NOLA's Craft Beer

Your Trip to New Orleans: The Complete Guide

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new orleans tourist info

Even to those already familiar with the lore that surrounds New Orleans —the music, the food, the revelers—this small city is full of unexpected delights. Creole and Cajun culture make it different than any other city in the United States, and those that are only expecting the mania of Bourbon Street will find joy and respite in the city’s unique history lessons, opulent Garden District mansions, Royal Street art galleries, and Bywater cafes and shops.

As the birthplace of jazz ,   there is fantastic live music to be found pretty much any time of day in the Big Easy , and plentiful, unique food and drink to leave you full and happy. With the nation’s official World War II Museum, swamps full of alligators, and city parks of 100-year-old live oaks, there’s something for everyone in this crescent-shaped city of wonder.

Watch Now: Planning Your Visit to New Orleans

Planning your trip.

Best Time to Visit : With Jazz Fest, Mardi Gras, and other local festivals taking place February through May, spring is definitely the most popular time to visit New Orleans—but fun events and temperate weather begin as early as October. Most avoid the summer for its imposing heat and humidity.

Language: English (with sprinklings of French)

Getting Around: The historic New Orleans streetcar is a fun way to get around to most popular destinations and neighborhoods. Rideshare services like Uber and Lyft, organized tours, and public buses are also easy, and there’s no need to rent a car in New Orleans unless you plan to make side trips out of town .

Travel Tip: Those who just stick to the French Quarter and main attractions are missing out on all New Orleans has to offer. Some of the best music, food, art, and scenic strolls take place in areas like the Bywater, Irish Channel, and Bayou St. John around City Park. Explore the best neighborhoods in New Orleans before you plan a visit. 

Things to Do

Plan to spend a good portion of your time in New Orleans eating and drinking plentifully. When you’re ready to walk off all the beignets and po boys, enjoy Spanish moss and floral-framed avenues like St. Charles, the above-ground cemeteries, and the cobblestone streets full of home gardens and old French and Spanish architecture in the French Quarter and elsewhere. New Orleans is truly a nightlife-lovers city (though there are plenty of kid and family-friendly options ), and live music , from jazz and brass bands to contemporary rock there to entertain until the wee hours of the morning. 

The French Quarter : The oldest neighborhood in New Orleans also has the most historic sites, shops, and restaurants per capita of any other area in the city. The architecture in itself—the wrought-iron balconies and Creole cottages of the Spanish colonial era, and a few remaining remnants of the city’s French founding—make it worth just strolling its streets, visiting the St. Louis Cathedral, Cabildo and Pontalba buildings, and Jackson Square, and absorbing all the wonderful sights and sounds. Make at least one jaunt through rowdy Bourbon Street , the art galleries on Royal Street, and the French Market (with a stop for beignets at Cafe Du Monde, of course). When you're done in the French Quarter take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar. The line was built in 1835 and each car is a National Historic Landmark.  

New Orleans Cemeteries: Above-ground graves are a hallmark of New Orleans. Because of Spanish and French burial traditions, and lack of space, and the city's below-sea-level status, New Orleans cemeteries are filled with tombs and mausoleums.   These ornate structures are surrounded by lush greenery, spooky lore, and famous interred legends. Most neighborhoods you visit include a nearby famous cemetery to tour : St. Louis No. and No. 2 in the French Quarter, Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District, and Metairie Cemetery and the Katrina Memorial in Mid City.

Swamp Tours : The waterways, flora, and fauna of Southeast Louisiana add to the area’s urban appeals, making New Orleans an even more fascinating and unique place to visit. There are a variety of options for touring nearby swamps, all filled with the likes of mangroves, cypress, alligators, and birds: enjoy a walk through the Barataria Preserve on the Mississippi’s West Bank, a canoe or kayak adventure on the North Shore or in Bayou St. John, or an airboat tour in further swamps.

What to Eat and Drink

New Orleans is known for its Creole and Cajun dishes, overlapping cuisines influenced mostly by Spanish, French, and West African cultures, and including must-try dishes like gumbo , etouffee, jambalaya, seafood, and crawfish, all usually flavored with the holy trinity (pepper, onion, celery) and plenty of spice. Many visitors like to indulge in at least one high-end creole meal at  opulent old school restaurants like Galatoire’s and Commander’s Palace, but low budget favorites like po boys and beignets should not be missed. In the decade following Hurricane Katrina and an influx of change and rebuild, a new type of dining has entered the scene, with young, hip restaurants like Turkey and the Wolf, Compere Lapin, and Saba featuring a modern fusion of flavors.

Like the food, good drinking options in New Orleans also range from high brow (expertly crafted cocktails and craft brews) to low brow (frozen daiquiris and big go-beers). There are lax open container laws for the French Quarter   but that is only partially responsible for its reputation as a drinker’s city. Feel free to enjoy a beer or cocktail while strolling the river or walking from club to club on the musical Frenchmen Street in the Marigny. Abita Beer has long been the best known Louisiana beer, but other options from newer craft breweries like Urban South, Gnarly Barley, and NOLA Brewery, are taking over the scene. If you like cocktails, you must have at least one of each of the following specialties: a Sazerac, a Ramos Gin Fizz, frozen daiquiri, and Hurricane. 

Where to Stay

Hotels in the French Quarter and Central Business District provide convenient access to main sites, and range from charmingly historical to reliable corporate chains. A few luxury options, like the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel, The Ritz Carlton, and the Windsor Hotel provide relaxing oases amidst the chaos. Stay in smaller inns and Airbnbs in Mid City, the Bywater, and Garden District for a quieter, locals’ glimpse of the city. Chic new boutique hotels like the Ace Hotel, The Catahoula, Pontchartrain Hotel and Peter and Paul are ideal for those wishing to be immersed in art and culture throughout their stay.

Pick your ideal neighborhood stay in New Orleans and explore the best New Orleans hotels of 2020.  

Getting There

With a massive new airport terminal opened in 2019, New Orleans is easier (and more comfortable) to reach than ever before. The regional bus and Amtrak train station is conveniently located in the Central Business District, with a few train routes connecting New Orleans to the rest of the country. 

Culture and Customs

Music club guide and etiquette: Most clubs require a minimum drink purchase or small door fee to enter. The WWOZ (local radio station) livewire is a reliable way to track music goings-on daily around the city. Most clubs at night, like those on Frenchmen Street, require visitors to be over 21; afternoon sets and outdoor festival shows are the best bet for catching live jazz with kids in tow.

Safety: With some of the highest murder rates in the country, New Orleans gets a bad rap for crime that isn’t totally undeserved. Still, tourists need not be deterred from spending time in this desirable location. Most crimes around busy tourist areas like the French Quarter come in the forms of pickpockets and petty scammers—and especially target clearly inebriated tourists, out late at night in less populated (or more dangerous) neighborhoods. Abide to basic common sense: travel in groups and by taxi or rideshare late at night (foot and public transportation is safe at other times), keep your wits about you and travel smart, as you would in any city. 

Money Saving Tips

Visiting New Orleans during a big festival like Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest is a once-in-a-lifetime experience, but will no doubt cost you the most on a trip to the city, in terms of flights, hotel rates, and the whole package. There is plenty to do other times of year, with smaller local festivals and enough live music and culture to fill your days. If you’re especially immune to high temperatures and sticky weather, summer is a great time to find cheap flights, hotel discounts, and other special rates.

New Orleans prides itself on offering free or affordable entertainment and music, and there are many ways to access great thrills of the city on a budget. Follow this guide for more tips.

New Orleans & Company. "The Birthplace of Jazz."

New Orleans Regional Transit Authority. "Our Streetcars."

Ned Hémard, New Orleans Bar Association. "New Orleans Nostalgia: Above Ground." 2014.

New Orleans City Council. "Sec. 54-404. - Carrying of opened glass containers prohibited in certain areas."

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The 11 best things to do in New Orleans

Apr 4, 2023 • 11 min read

Zulu Crewe brass marching band in the New Orleans Mardi Gras parade.

The Zulu Crewe perform as part of the Mardi Gras Parade in New Orleans Bob Sacha/Getty Images

The New Orleans menu is long and storied. And yes, we mean the food, but also the… everything . As the city that commands access to the Mississippi River, it’s perhaps appropriate that New Orleans rewards immersion. The city's best experiences require visitors to dunk themselves in.

In New Orleans , the rainbow palette of the houses is a feast for your eyes. The music breathes pure sonic fire into your ears. The roots of the live oaks shred the sidewalk beneath your feet. The flavors of the food delight the tongue. The scent of angel’s trumpet flowers fills residential side streets. Every corner of the city treats visitors to a new sensation, and from there, a new way of seeing and appreciating the world, especially this particular world, built on Caribbean folkways, the African diaspora, French and Iberian culture, and a specifically Southern American embrace of exuberance and community.

These are the 11 best things to do in New Orleans.

An unidentified  local jazz band performs  in the New Orleans French Quarter, to the delight of visitors and music lovers  in town.

1. Catch some music on Frenchmen Street

New Orleans produces a plethora of art, but none of the creative output has left such a palpable imprint on the world as music. Jazz was born here. The granddaddy of modern pop music was a synthesis of African rhythms kept alive by slaves and free people of color, European harmonies, and brass instruments introduced by marching bands.

Jazz is often thought of as prestige music, but it largely grew out of Storyville, the city's infamous Red Light District, which was destroyed in 1917. This was the music of New Orleans' seedy underbelly, and while the music has evolved, the city has never lost touch with its muddy roots.

Although New Orleans is getting more expensive, working musicians still live by their gigs here, and the most accessible way to see them is on Frenchmen Street, in Faubourg Marigny. There are several clubs here, each within a few city blocks of one another. These include the Spotted Cat and d.b.a ., where shows kick off regularly, usually around 6pm and 9pm.

And jazz isn’t the only game in town. On St Claude Avenue, you might catch a DJ spinning bounce music – The Big Easy’s native twerking dance genre – or burlesque at the Hi Ho Lounge . The Saturn Bar is the place to go for an R&B dance party.

Planning tip: There’s a lot of music on tap in New Orleans. To find it, WWOZ’s Livewire puts together an exhaustive list of local live gigs which is painstakingly updated daily.

Musicians at the Mardi Gras parade march through the streets of New Orleans

2. Experience a Mardi Gras parade

It may be celebrated in other cities, but there is no Mardi Gras like New Orleans Mardi Gras. This is a party where the city’s penchant for hedonism is cranked up to the highest possible setting, then unleashed on her citizens in a riot of intensely creative costuming and joyful parades.

It’s worth noting that there is no one way to Mardi Gras – the holiday has as many ways of being enjoyed as there are New Orleanians – and Fat Tuesday itself is the culmination of roughly two and a half weeks of gradually intensifying partying otherwise known as Carnival season.

Planning tip: During Mardi Gras, it’s easy to watch parades if you join the crowds along St Charles Avenue who throng the floats for trinkets (“throws”) tossed to the masses. Smaller walking parades are another big part of the Mardi Gras experience, and anyone who wants to join one is usually can. The caveat is: you need to wear a costume, and you need to know where the walking parades are. On Mardi Gras day, the biggest walking parade is the Society of St Anne procession, which can be caught around 9am anywhere around Burgundy and Louisa Streets in the Bywater.

A pot of Creole-style shrimp and sausage gumbo with white rice and French bread served in New Orleans

3. Stuff your face at a local restaurant

The sensory pleasure most people immediately think of when they hear “New Orleans” is food. This city has been doing locavore and slow eating and seasonal menus for (literal) centuries before those words became the buzzy marketing nomenclature attached to restaurants all over the US. Chefs here realized they were in a different place, and adapted the ingredients of Louisiana’s seas and swamps and woods into one of North America’s great hyper-regional cuisines. Maybe that’s why this city so dominates lists like the James Beard awards , despite its relatively diminutive size.

But New Orleans food isn’t the only food you can find here. Waves of immigrants have brought their own dishes , and even the city’s grande dame old-line restaurants increasingly incorporate international influences. And yet, the food culture here remains kind of old-school. People here value eating and put great stock into, well, stock – and whatever else goes into the gumbo pot.

So eat. Eat. Eat some more. Don’t worry about the calories. They’re the evidence of time well spent. There are as many New Orleans food experiences as there are local cooks, but crawfish boils, which occur in spring, with their mix of communal good times, cold beer, and messy mastication, are a quintessential experience.

Local tip: You’ll hear the word “lagniappe’” (lan-yap) come up a lot on the New Orleans dining scene. It’s Louisiana French for “a little extra,” and is usually some kind of small dessert or amuse-bouche, likely off-menu, that is offered to diners on the house.

David Roe, a pianist, performs on his colorful piano along with fellow street musicians in Royal Street in New Orleans.

4. Walk down Royal Street

The French Quarter is undoubtedly the most iconic New Orleans neighborhood, which is kind of ironic because the Quarter has few actual permanent residents. This is largely a tourist area, but this doesn’t make it any less engaging. While Bourbon St grabs a lot of the headlines, parallel Royal Street is where you can find a lot of what makes the Quarter still so very special.

Here you’ll find antique shops, art galleries, cafes and a pedestrian-only area where street performers bring the music of the city to life with a backdrop of elegant Caribbean townhouses framed by wrought iron balconies on their upper floors.

Detour: Royal Street runs past the back end of Jackson Square , perhaps the most recognizable public space in the city. Head here to listen to street musicians (please tip) or get your palm read by a tarot reader.

An old streetcar in New Orleans, which has the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world

5. House Hunt on St Charles Avenue

The city’s most beautiful avenue follows the curve of the Mississippi, running through neighborhoods like Uptown and the Garden District . St Charles Avenue is blessed with shade from enormous live oaks, which grow through sidewalks that run by some of the largest mansions in the city.

Whatever else you may think of these giant homes, they are beautiful, and on a pleasant afternoon or evening, strolling past them is a dreamy prospect. If you want to see similar homes on a less-trafficked throughway, try parallel Prytania Street.

Planning Tip: If you’re going to be on St Charles Avenue, hop on the St Charles Avenue streetcar , which ferries passengers on its iconic green rail cars throughout the day.

6. Immerse yourself in artsy Bywater

The candy-colored homes of Bywater have been attracting transplants to New Orleans for decades – this district is relatively close to the French Quarter while still feeling a world away. Once a largely African American neighborhood, it is now majority white and full of the sort of artisanal goods stores and vintage shops and restaurants and bars (including one with a lovely hidden pool in the back ) that are the telltale signs of hipness.

The debate over whether the Bywater has been gentrified or revitalized is ongoing, but what cannot be denied is that this is the center of gravity for tourists seeking a New Orleans that blends contemporary bohemian culture with the rainbow palette of homes that is very much the architectural fabric of the 19th century.

Detour: If you want to see the Mississippi (or jog by it), head to Crescent Park , a waterfront park that extends from here all the way to Faubourg Marigny, at the edge of the French Quarter.

7. Relax along Bayou St John

Firmly off of the tourist radar, Bayou St John is a quiet inland urban waterway surrounded by a small strip of green grass, crossed by a few bridges, including the pedestrian Cabrini Bridge, and framed by houses that run the gamut from mansions to pretty cottages (as well as the Creole style home of the city’s first mayor).

Come out here to people-watch, to see the sun dip behind the homes and the oak trees, and to enjoy a scene of surprising zen and serenity in a city otherwise known for loud good times. Even locals – especially locals, really – like to take a break from this town's penchant for excess. When they need to just relax, breathe and enjoy some gentle beauty, they often head to Bayou St John, and it makes sense for you to join them.

Detour: It makes the most sense to drive or bicycle up Esplanade Avenue , another one of those beautiful New Orleans streets lined with gorgeous old homes. You can walk along Esplanade, but if you do so, the safest area is from Broad Street up to City Park.

Bayou trees dotted around a lake in City Park, New Orleans

8. Get enjoyable lost in City Park

To be fair, the name City Park is a slight misnomer. The park isn’t technically owned or operated by the city of New Orleans but this is semantics. City Park is a wonderful green space in the heart of town that houses the New Orleans Museum of Art , forest trails, waterways, enormous live oak trees, playgrounds, the gorgeous Louisiana Children’s Museum , a sculpture garden , and a singing tree , among many other attractions.

The trails through Couturie Forest, off of Harrison Avenue, give visitors a taste of the bottomland forests that once carpeted so much of South Louisiana.

9. Ramble in the shade in Audubon Park

Located smack in the middle of Uptown New Orleans, just off of patrician St Charles Avenue, Audubon Park is another impossibly green space dappled with Spanish moss and edged with huge mansions cut through by a walking and biking trail.

It’s much beloved by locals and students at nearby Tulane and Loyola universities, and an easy spot for parents to bring kids, especially given that part of the park is given over to the exceptionally fine Audubon Zoo . Make sure to walk the dirt paths that run along the perimeter of the park along the yards of the aforesaid mansions; the gardens, landscaping, and occasional rope swings attached to trees all make for a lovely tableau.

Detour: Running along the Mississippi River just south of Audubon Park, the Fly is a green space largely given over to sports fields, although there are also lawns on the waterfront that are perfect for a picnic.

Portrait of a smiling barman at Cure bar in New Orleans with bottles lining the wood-panelled space

10. Have a drink at a neighborhood bar

New Orleanians swear by their local gin joints. But locals aren’t all about the alcohol-pocalypse of Bourbon Street. This is the city that (arguably) invented the cocktail, drinks generally made for sipping and taking the edge off, not getting smashed. There’s no shortage of variety when it comes to bars here, from some of the best dive bars in the country to fancy hotel bars. In the latter category, the bar at the historic Hotel Monteleone, which literally rotates (slowly), is always a favorite.

The city’s neighborhood bars are something special, though, and as varied as the neighborhoods themselves. On Magazine Street, you’ll find classy cocktail lounges and Tulane graduates; in the Marigny, a mix of LGBTQ+ friendly spots and hip drinking holes; near Tulane and Loyola, student bars abound. Yet everywhere, people are happy to chat with strangers and strike up a conversation. Don’t leave town without trying a sazerac, the native blend of rye whiskey, bitters and absinthe that is the Platonic ideal of the New Orleans drink; Bar Tonique , at the edge of the French Quarter, makes a legendary version.

11. Pay your respects at a cemetery

Sure, New Orleans is lively, but some of its most fascinating urban geographies house the dead. The cemeteries of New Orleans drip with Southern gothic grandeur and vibe. Best known for their above-ground tombs and mausoleums, each one of the city’s many cemeteries is a window into the past, cast in stone. In some “blocks” of these cities of the dead, you’ll see the communal vaults of families or even professional associations; and because there simply wasn’t much space for cemeteries, mixed faiths can often be found sharing the same acres of land.

The above-ground tombs of New Orleans supposedly owe their existence to the city’s high water table, but these days, historians seem to acknowledge the real reason for the raised vaults is cultural; the original colonists in New Orleans came from France and Iberia, where there is a long tradition of above-ground cemeteries.

The city maintains an extensive website on local cemeteries and when they’re open to visitors. If you want to find a cemetery that mixed above-ground tombs with “regular” burial plots that are rarely visited by tourists, check out Carrollton Cemetery No. 1 , also known as the Green Street Cemetery, a few blocks off Carrollton Avenue in Uptown New Orleans.

This article was first published Jul 5, 2021 and updated Apr 4, 2023.

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New Orleans   Travel Guide

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Why Go To New Orleans

New Orleans is known for its European-style architecture, mouthwatering Creole cuisine and all-around good-time vibes. Considered the birthplace of jazz, the city oozes music from every crevice, whether it's blues, rock 'n' roll or zydeco. Music plays a key role in the backbone and spirit of New Orleans. While most people travel to the Southern city for Mardi Gras, a Carnival-type event that features masks, music, floats and merriment, that's not the only party New Orleans hosts. Travelers will find plenty of events and festivals to attend year-round. 

Post-Hurricane Katrina, the city has had its share of environmental disasters, such as the BP oil spill and Hurricane Isaac, which made the rebuilding of New Orleans challenging, but the city has persevered. Over the past several years, major efforts have been made to restore the distinct districts. Today, Crescent City looks almost as good as new. Start your visit with a  walking tour through the  French Quarter , where colonial heritage and ghost lore  still survive. From here, you can explore the major architectural sites before enjoying a hearty plate of jambalaya and a rowdy evening out. When it's time to turn in for the night, bed down at one of the city's charming bed-and-breakfasts .

The city is also home to a bustling port. In fact, New Orleans is the sixth-largest cruise port in the U.S. Cruisers can travel to Mexico, the Caribbean or along the Mississppi River to Memphis, Tennessee , on a river cruise. ( Carnival , Norweigan , Disney and Viking all offer sailings from New Orleans.)

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Popular Tours

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New Orleans Travel Tips

Best months to visit.

The best time to visit New Orleans is from February to May when the weather is comfortably cool and the celebrations are in full swing. If you're not interested in Mardi Gras mania, plan to visit in December or January, when the city is calm and you don't have to worry about making hotel reservations a year in advance. To save on room rates, travel in the summer or fall. Just note that these seasons are known for their stifling heat and humidity, not to mention the threat of hurricanes – making travel insurance  a worthy investment for those traveling to New Orleans during this time.

Weather in New Orleans

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

Avoid Bourbon Street hotels Because this is the epicenter of New Orleans nightlife, there's really no escaping the late-night noise. Unless you're planning to join the party, find a different location to hang your hat.

Be careful at night Residents are known for their Southern hospitality, but the city itself has a high crime rate. Like in any city, avoid walking alone at night, especially if you're unfamiliar with your surroundings.

Watch what you eat New Orleans is famous for its rich cuisine, but that combined with hot, humid weather can cause you to feel nauseated. When it comes to dining and snacking, pace yourself.

Consider a tour For a local's perspective of the city, book a tour . Whether you're looking for a food tour, a swamp tour , a cemetery tour , a ghost tour  or a plantation tour , you'll find a variety of experiences to choose from. New Orleans is also a good jumping off point for some the best Louisiana swamp tours .

How to Save Money in New Orleans

Don't stay in the French Quarter  As charming as they may be, these  hotels  are expensive. If you don't want to sacrifice location for price, stay in one of the many bed-and-breakfast accommodations in Faubourg Marigny.

Check the calendar  Hotel rates tend to skyrocket during major events. If you want to save money, reserve a room several months early to ensure the best price, or visit during a break in the festivities.

Get ready to sweat  You will find excellent deals on rooms and airfare if you plan a summer trip. Just be prepared for soaring temperatures.

Culture & Customs

Like those who live in other Southern cities, New Orleanians are very friendly. You most likely won't leave this city without having been called "baby" at least once in the slow, melodic accent only found here. Likewise, don't be afraid to ask for directions.

However, many people from New Orleans do not associate themselves with the South, but rather with an identity unlike any other found in the United States. Influenced by numerous cultures – including French, African and Cuban – New Orleans displays a wide variety of tastes and habits. From spicy jambalaya to feisty beats, Voodoo traditions to one of the most renowned Carnivals in the world, New Orleans has a very strong and unique sense of self.

This city especially exudes the essence of both Cajun and Creole customs. And although they are often referred to interchangeably, the two cultures shouldn't be confused with one another. Today's Cajuns are descendants of the people from the French settlement of Acadia, which was established in the 17th century in Nova Scotia, Canada. Almost 100 years after Acadia was established, it became a British territory and many of its citizens were forced to either renounce Catholicism or swear loyalty to the British Crown or leave. Some inhabitants returned to France, but others headed south to the Caribbean before settling in the French colony of New Orleans. They brought with them traditions from Acadia and the Caribbean, as well as spices, music and their own language known as Cajun French. Cajun French is not a dialect of the French language, but rather a verbal organism of its own.

The term "Creole," however, refers to people who were born within a Caribbean New World colony, not in Spain or France. Like Cajuns, many Creoles were not originally from New Orleans, but rather from French territories, the West Indies, Central and South America, and the Gulf States region. Creole culture is also heavily influenced by Caribbean traditions, often making it difficult for outsiders to distinguish between Cajun and Creole customs. Creoles also speak their own version of French, which is a combination of French and African dialects, known as Creole French.

Music is a major part of life in New Orleans, just as it is in the Caribbean. Jazz – which originated in New Orleans around the turn of the 20th century – was the first Creole music style to become nationally renowned. Its far-reaching history is celebrated every year during the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Satchmo Summerfest. Zydeco music also originated in the area within the Cajun communities and is now performed widely today in English, Cajun and Creole French (catch a wide range of performances during the annual Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival). Music has infiltrated many different parts of life in this city, including funerals. A New Orleans jazz funeral represents the fact that music is as much a part of death as it is of life.

Live music can be heard all over the city, but if you're looking to escape the tourist crowds and enjoy a more authentic experience, stray from Bourbon Street and head to one of the many cafes or bars in the Faubourg Marigny district. Speaking of bars, many in New Orleans have no set closing time, and open container laws are lax at best – staying true to the city motto "Laissez les bon temps rouler" or "Let the good times roll." But just because this is a city that promotes celebration does not mean that you should be disrespectful.

What to Eat

New Orleans is the place to forget about your diet and enjoy the rich trifecta of butter, cream and oil. While traditional Southern flavors abound here, New Orleans is most famous for its unique Creole and Cajun cuisines, which feature a combination of French, Spanish, Italian and African cooking elements. Restaurants featuring traditional New Orleans dishes, such as red beans and rice and po'boys – a sub usually filled with meat or fried seafood – can be found throughout the city. Both Cajun and Creole jambalaya (a rice dish made with meat, vegetables and Creole spices) and gumbo (a hearty stew consisting of meat or seafood and vegetables) are also staple entrees on many New Orleans menus. When you're craving something sweet, you'll find that the Big Easy has you covered there, too. Beignets – square pieces of fried dough smothered in powdered sugar – can be found at the one of the city's most famous coffee shops (and a tourist attraction in its own right), Cafe du Monde .

Many famous chefs – including Emeril Lagasse, Leah Chase and Susan Spicer – own and operate restaurants in the city. The French Quarter is home to numerous Creole restaurants (Li'l Dizzy's Cafe is a perennial favorite), as well as several authentic (but somewhat pricey) French restaurants. According to recent travelers,   Commander's Palace ,  Bayona , Galatoire's  and  August  are all eateries worth splurging on. Other popular eateries are clustered in the Central Business and Warehouse districts. If you want to mingle with New Orleans residents, dine at the budget-friendly restaurants in Mid-city or Uptown. For a comprehensive sampling of all of the city's mouth-watering cuisine, consider booking a food tour or visiting during one of the Big Easy's food festivals, such as the New Orleans Wine & Food Experience, the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, the Louisiana Crawfish Festival or COOLinary New Orleans.

Although New Orleans has come a long way since Hurricane Katrina, several of the city's less central neighborhoods have not yet received the attention they need. Streets farther away from the more tourist-friendly areas suffer from poor lighting and may be unsuitable to visit on foot after dark. When returning to your hotel later in the evening, rely on cabs to avoid getting lost in a strange area. As in any big city, use common sense.

If you're joining in on the Mardi Gras festivities, make sure to keep a close eye on your valuables, since the streets are generally very crowded. Or better yet, leave your wallets and purses at your accommodation. Instead, just grab some cash and a form of ID and carry them in your front pocket.

Getting Around New Orleans

The best ways to get around New Orleans are on foot and by public transportation. The city's neighborhoods are very compact, making them perfect for strolling sightseers. If you don't feel like walking, hop on one of the famous streetcars. Another option is cycling. Since New Orleans is flat, it's easy to get around by bike. You can rent a bike from several companies. Taxis are also available, but you can expect to pay $36 to get from the airport into the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Uber and Lyft are also widely available.

To get into the city from the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) – located about 15 miles west of downtown New Orleans – you can take the Airport Shuttle for $24 per person one way or $44 per person round trip. The shuttle services the downtown and uptown districts as well as the French Quarter . Taxis are also available, but you can expect to pay at least $36 to get from the airport into the Central Business District and the French Quarter. Uber and Lyft are also widely available.

Don't be surprised if you come across an impromptu performance while strolling through the French Quarter .

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25 Best Things to Do in New Orleans, From Streetcar Rides to Bar Crawls

Adventure awaits around every corner in the Big Easy.

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Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

With it storied history, traditions, culture, and energy, New Orleans is wildly exciting U.S. destination to visit. If you're heading to this Southern city, you want to be sure to experience its bold flavors (this one of the best food cities around ), memorable sights, and spirited sounds through various events and itinerary stops.

Mardi Gras is certainly one of the most famous events on the New Orleans calendar, but the Big Easy offers more than the nearly month-long celebration. For Nathalie Jordi, co-owner of Hotel Peter & Paul , the perfect weekend in New Orleans involves the following: “Walking around the Marigny [and] Bywater [neighborhoods], a tour with Know NOLA , vintage shopping on Magazine Street, dancing behind a second-line, sitting under live oak trees at City Park, catching a jazz set at Snug Harbor, and enjoying drinks and music in the garden at Bacchanal.” 

And, like the rest of the South, food is a crucial aspect of New Orleans' identity. Iconic culinary creations range from hearty gumbo to sweet, fluffy snoballs, but there are at least two menu items Jordi says you can’t leave without trying: “a muffuletta from Central Grocery and a French 75 from Chris Hannah at Jewel of the South .” 

While you could spend weeks in the dynamic city and only scratch its surface, Jordi says a three-day weekend can still give first-time visitors a feel for the city. Whether you’re headed to the here for a quick trip or a leisurely extended vacation, you’ll want to check off at least a few of the 25 best things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Paddle on Bayou Saint John.

Christopher Larson/Travel + Leisure

If you want to give your legs a rest while still sightseeing, make your way to Bayou Paddlesports on one of the city’s most famous waterways, Bayou Saint John. If you’re wary of the hot Louisiana sun, opt for an evening paddle, then find a live music show and a cold drink nearby afterwards.

Cycle in the Garden District.

Brandon Rosenblum/Getty Images

History and architecture are prominent throughout New Orleans, but especially in the highly walkable and photogenic Garden District. Cover more ground by renting a bike , and be sure to pause a few times in order to admire the sights, including the striped awnings of Commander’s Palace , Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (although it’s temporarily closed for repairs), and all of the colorful, grand homes that are here.

Have a po’ boy.

Whether you prefer yours filled with shrimp, fried oysters, or roast beef, a po’ boy is the perfect post-walking tour, pre-cocktail hour meal. All New Orleans residents have a favorite po’ boy spot, but Parkway and Domilise's are two of the best (and most authentic).

Stroll along Magazine Street.

Running parallel to the Mississippi River, Magazine Street has six miles of shops, restaurants, cafes, and bars, and it plays host to various legs of Mardi Gras parades. If you’re looking for souvenirs, peruse the vintage finds at Funky Monkey or paper products at the Lionheart Prints flagship.

Ride the St. Charles Streetcar.

Sean Pavone/Getty Images

The St. Charles Streetcar has been running the same route for more than 150 years, making its way from the French Quarter to the Garden District. It takes about 45 minutes each way, but it’s the best way — and one of the cheapest, with single rides costing $1.25 — to see New Orleans architecture and some of the city’s more famous sites, including Audubon Park, Tulane, and Loyola Universities.

Have beignets at Café du Monde.

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Yes, it’s touristy, but getting beignets and a café au lait from Café du Monde is a non-negotiable New Orleans experience. If you want to avoid crowds, skip the French Quarter location and instead visit the Café du Monde at Riverwalk Mall — it has the same menu and not the crazy lines.

Zip line across a swamp.

You’ll get a wholly unique experience and views of the skyline when you sign up for a zip line tour through the Maurepas Swamp. If you look down, you’ll likely spot alligators, snakes, turtles, and other Louisiana wildlife.

Make perfume at Tijon.

Why not commemorate your trip with a completely custom fragrance at Tijon ? They say scent is one of the most powerful senses, so this souvenir will immediately transport you back to the Crescent City whenever you wear it.

Meander through a museum.

There’s a museum for every traveler and interest in New Orleans, from the National WWII Museum and the New Orleans Museum of Art to the New Orleans Jazz Museum and the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience . If you want something a bit more unusual, book a ticket for the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum or the Museum of Death .

Curate your own bar crawl.

The lack of an open container law is one of New Orleans’ most famous features, though you’ll need to be in the French Quarter to take advantage of the freedom (while being responsible, of course). Historic Royal Street is filled with cute stores, restaurants, art galleries, and bars, and grabbing a refreshing beverage as you meander up and down the street is another quintessential New Orleans experience.

Catch a show at the Spotted Cat Music Club.

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Music is part of the heart and soul of New Orleans, so sit back and relax as you take in the sounds of the city. If you’ve already been to the Spotted Cat on Frenchman Street and want to try something new, try Tipitina’s , Maple Leaf Bar , Gasa Gasa , or Preservation Hall .

Visit City Park.

City Park is one of the oldest and largest urban parks in the United States, and it's home to the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the largest grove of live oak trees in the world. At more than 1,300 acres, this outdoor attraction has something for every type of traveler, from gondola rides and putt-putt golf to kid-friendly activities.

Enjoy a frozen drink.

The Louisiana humidity can be unbearable, especially if you’re walking around for hours on end in July. A cool drink is the trick to bearing the heat. Try a frozen daiquiri from Bevi Seafood Co . or a frozen Irish coffee from Molly’s at the Market .

Attend a festival.

This includes Mardi Gras, of course, but you can also experience New Orleans culture and entertainment by attending Jazz Fest , French Quarter Fest , or Bayou Boogaloo . With over 130 festivals and celebrations each year, your trip is bound to overlap with at least one of them.

Try a Snoball.

Don’t confuse a snoball (also spelled as snowball or sno-ball) with a snowcone or shaved ice. The ice of a New Orleans snoball is fluffier, and the syrups and other toppings are more evenly distributed throughout the treat. You can find snoballs across the city, but you’ll want to go to Hansen's Sno-Bliz , which opened in 1939, for a true classic.

Go on an airboat tour.

Both a change of scenery and an unforgettable experience are in store when you book a swamp tour on an airboat . Look for local wildlife, including alligators, egrets, snakes, and turtles, while you speed across bayou country.

Visit Mardi Gras World.

Can't make it to New Orleans during Mardi Gras? Not to worry, since you can get a taste of the celebration at Mardi Gras World. This attraction offers tours seven days a week and gives visitors a behind-the-scenes look at what it takes to design and build the incredible floats that roll down the city streets during the parades.

Explore Bourbon Street.

It’s almost always a party on Bourbon Street, the famed road in the heart of the French Quarter. After you get your fill of merriment, stop in at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar for the Voodoo Daiquiri (or the “Purple Drink”), or opt for a fine-dining experience at the famed Galatoire’s Restaurant .

Take a ghost tour.

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You can find a variety of history tours in the city, but a cemetery tour is a fun way to experience the darker, more ghostly side of New Orleans. You'll likely visit above-ground tombs as you learn about burial customs, procedures, and famous New Orleans hauntings.

Enjoy the New Orleans art scene.

In a city as creative and lively as New Orleans, it should come as no surprise that the art scene is truly one of a kind. Visit JAMNOLA or Studio Be to appreciate work from a variety of local artists via immersive, rotating exhibitions.

Hang out at a great New Orleans hotel.

This city has incredible hotel options. For an elevated version of Southern hospitality, book your accommodations at iconic properties like Hotel Saint Vincent , Pontchartrain Hotel , the Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans , or Hotel Peter and Paul . Even if you’re not spending the night, don your best outfit and head to the bar for an aperitif or digestif.

Have a Muffuletta.

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The famous sandwich with ham, salami, provolone cheese, and olive dressing was developed at Central Grocery in the French Quarter. You can find the muffuletta at other restaurants, of course, but this is the original.

Visit the Cabildo Building.

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Built under Spanish rule between 1795 and 1799, the Cabildo was the site of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase transfer. It’s served different purposes over the years, but since 1908, it’s been used to promote the education of Louisiana history. Today, there are a variety of exhibitions open to the public.

Eat chargrilled oysters.

You can’t leave New Orleans without trying chargrilled oysters, a menu staple in the Big Easy. Enjoy a dozen of these delicious bites at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar , a New Orleans institution with several locations throughout the city.

Sip on a Sazerac.

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Considered by many to be the world’s first cocktail, the Sazerac was created in the mid-1800s by Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud, and it is the official cocktail of New Orleans. Opened in 2019, the Sazerac House is a museum completely dedicated to the famous cocktail — guests learn about its origins and the city’s cocktail culture, and they can try the concoction while there.

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My New Orleans Trip Was A Nightmare...


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  • The journey from Charlotte to New Orleans encountered unexpected delays and challenges.
  • The trip provided a unique opportunity to see the rural sights of Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana.
  • New Orleans' French Quarter was a highlight, offering a mix of festive atmosphere, historical landmarks, and diverse architecture.

Having traveled extensively throughout the US for many years by road, train, and air, it's ironic that New Orleans had never featured on my itinerary. Unsurprisingly, it had been on my bucket list for a while. Over the years, stories about the "Big Easy" and its round-the-clock nightlife, strong association with jazz music, Creole architecture, and unique cuisine had their impact on me, and I was all set to experience it all myself. Finally, the opportunity presented itself.

My journey started in Charlotte, North Carolina, a city that truly lives up to its title of the Queen City . It's a treasure of experiences waiting to be discovered. But the true charm and hospitality of North Carolina lay beyond the city limits. It's in the thrill of venturing out on quick day trips , exploring the hidden gems that surround Charlotte. After a few days of such exploration, I was ready for my 5-day adventure in New Orleans.

From strolling through the vibrant French Quarter to indulging in the city's famous beignets, and as a compulsive street photographer eager to capture the city's free-spirited character, every moment in New Orleans was going to be a unique and carefree experience. Or was it?

Underrated, But Scenic: 10 Charming North Carolina Towns That Are Great Alternatives To Charlotte

Discover hidden gems! Explore 10 quaint North Carolina towns offering charm beyond Charlotte. Uncover scenic beauty in underrated destinations.

Charlotte To New Orleans Via Atlanta On A Bus

The 14-hour journey took almost 24 hours with some epic interactions.

Against solid advice, I traveled by Greyhound from Charlotte to New Orleans via Atlanta, Ga, and Mobile, Al. The reason was simple. As a foreigner and having never traveled in America's most famous bus company, I had the allure of an American brand association that one must experience as part of experiencing America, or so I had thought. It was also cheaper than flying.

About 25 of us waited almost 90 minutes from 6 pm at the Charlotte downtown depot for the bus driver, who was missing. Finally, we reached Atlanta almost on time, as all rest stops became 5-minute breaks rather than the scheduled 15-minute breaks.

In Atlanta, the drama was about to have its main act unfold. At the Atlanta Bus Station (and it's a massive terminal), about 1,000 passengers found themselves without their ride as multiple buses were indefinitely delayed; ours was one of them. Eventually, my bus came in at 8 am, after a 10-hour delay, with the whole night spent standing (there was no place left to sit on the floor, and it was raining outside).

The most memorable moment of the ride was when our driver got on board and said on the radio that she was in charge and that anyone with a question should feel free to ask her.

So I asked, "What was the delay?"

Her reply was, "Don't ask me. I just came to work!"

No one else asked her anything more throughout the trip.

I lived in Atlanta a few years earlier, and the Georgia capital radiates with culture and attractions , just not its bus depots, and, indeed, not its drivers.

Charlotte was about to repeat itself in Mobile. When we arrived, there was to be a scheduled driver change for the bus, but again, the driver was untraceable. It was another 90 minutes before an impeccably dressed gentleman arrived in a fancy car and hopped onto our bus as our new driver. Thankfully, the ordeal ended as we pulled into Union Passenger Terminal in New Orleans at 5 pm, almost 9 hours late.

What should have been a harrowing experience turned out to be a rural sightseeing one, even if exhausting. If my journey had been as scheduled, I'd have missed the various small villages and countryside of Georgia, Alabama, and Louisiana that I saw during the never-ending drive.

I wouldn't advise anyone to spend any more time than is absolutely necessary in the Atlanta Bus Station area, as it seems to be in a pretty rough neighborhood.

A Safe Hotel In An Unsafe Neighborhood

Online hotel bookings only tell you a little about the neighborhood's reputation, even if you read all the reviews.

Getting a cab in New Orleans was a calming experience. A friendly cab driver was only too happy to see me as probably one of the few visitors to New Orleans by bus that day. His pleasant demeanor immediately turned into one of caution once he knew where he was taking me.

"My hotel is on Chef Menteur Highway," I said.

He replied with a slight startle and more concern, "Okay, sir. I will take you there since you're a foreigner, but I will warn you that you must be very careful in that neighborhood. Also, I will take the car into the hotel premises and not wait on the road."

On my questioning, he told me that the area around the hotel was not the safest one, with a lot of drugs, prostitution, and regular police interactions in the neighborhood.

Putting up a bold front, and with a renewed sense of anxiety, we now proceeded to my hotel, the Super 8 by Wyndham . It was a good hotel, with amiable staff and all the amenities I could've needed as a solo traveler.

The check-in agent also told me to be careful while entering and exiting the hotel, so I knew the concern was genuine, not imaginative or exaggerated. It was also a very well-secured building that eased my fears about what our friendly cab driver had warned.

Over the next four days, I could peer into the street and understand why my friend said what he did. My post-dinner stroll in the hotel parking lot one night gave me a chance to witness an untoward incident that involved a gun, some police, a woman, and a few men.

I stayed alert and on a vigil throughout my stay, but with every passing day, the hotel staff and everything they did made me increasingly comfortable, at least while I was inside the gates.

The French Quarter - A Lovely Introduction

For a street photographer, nothing compares with the excitement of being in the french quarter and the magnificent buildings that adorn every street.

A festive atmosphere amid historical landmarks and many other attractions best describes this magical New Orleans neighborhood. It's almost like the district is hosting a 24-hour-a-day party, with live music, street performers, street food, and so much to see.

I vividly remember arriving at Jackson Square, a historic park in the French Quarter , at 9 am. I had no reservations or pre-set agenda, just a sense of adventure and a desire to explore and set my itinerary for the next four days in New Orleans.

In May, New Orleans transitions into summer with warm and humid weather, and walking for 6–8 hours during this time can take its toll on the fittest of us — and I'm far from fit. However, the unique buildings in the French Quarter, which combine Spanish, French, and Creole architecture with cast iron balconies and hidden courtyards, were such a captivating sight that they became strong motivators to keep going.

I used the legendary Hop-On Hop-Off tour Bus to spend the day exploring every corner of the French Quarter and would recommend anyone visiting to use it, at least on day one of your trip, as it is the most convenient and best way to get a 360 degree introduction to the district.

By the end of the first day, I was sure of one thing. I am coming back here tomorrow before going anywhere else. And tomorrow will be Saturday, with many more festivities than today. I didn't know it then, but tomorrow is the reason why I will write this story.

Why Is New Orleans Often Called The 'Crescent City' and 'The Big Easy?'

The city has a couple of unique names, but they perfectly describe everything New Orleans was, is, and will always be.

Gumbo, A Truly Unique Dish In Comparison To Anything In The US

Coming from the land of spices, i wasn't expecting this.

My bucket list for New Orleans featured two prime topics - architecture for my camera and food for me. Gumbo has a strong Louisiana history, but the dish itself came from Africa. Today, the world recognizes it as a classic and beloved New Orleans Dish. It shouldn't come as a surprise that I wanted to get my hands on one, but I didn't anticipate the reaction when I ordered one in a restaurant.

On one of the many corners of Decatur Street, a small but vibrant restaurant had ' GUMBO ' signs everywhere, and that was good enough for me.

I asked the very friendly-looking server, "Are you serving Gumbo?"

Slightly amused, he said, "Yeah, all the time."

"Great," I said, "Can I have a vegetarian Gumbo?"

Almost instantly, the ten or so people sitting there turned to look at me with a half-surprised and half-amused look.

My friend, the server, wasn't sure if he heard me correctly and said, "Sorry?"

It took me a second time before he explained that removing all the meat from the Gumbo would be hard. I asked him to do it anyway, since I am vegetarian.

When it finally arrived, I can say without a doubt that it was one of the most delicious things I've ever had. It almost made me want to eat the meaty version too.

The fatigue from all the walking was a thing of the past as I sat on the roadside curb, enjoying my Gumbo with the party in the French Quarter continuing in front of me.

French Quarter - A Re-Introduction

Among all the happy, harmless and friendly people in new orleans, some do swing in the opposite direction.

My second day in New Orleans was the most adventurous, for lack of a better word. I was walking around the French Quarter all day on Saturday, taking pictures of exciting characters, murals, buildings and scenes.

After lunch and a short break, it was time to explore more fun things about this fascinating New Orleans neighborhood . As I walked past one of the unnamed alleys on Bourbon Street, bright and colorful graffiti caught my attention from inside one of the unnamed alleys.

With my camera tightly strapped to my wrist, I entered to admire and shoot the stunning artwork on the walls, going past a young man in white who appeared to be just standing there. He tapped me on the shoulder as I passed him, and when I turned to face him, another rushed past me from behind and snatched at my camera.

Thankfully, except for the lens cap, nothing left my hand. He stopped, turned around, and came towards me, gesturing to hand over the camera.

I looked at his partner to my left, who had drawn my attention, and he said, "Go on, hand it over, [expletive]."

Regrettably, my instinctive response was, "Come and get it!"

Bourbon Street & Other Tourist Traps In New Orleans, Plus Alternatives

The Crescent City offers great culinary and musical experiences, but when it gets too crowded and pricey, other options are also possible.

A little taken aback, they both looked at each other, and the snatcher pulled out a knife. Just as I was about to stretch my hand out, I heard a loud police siren and turned behind to see two police officers on motorcycles at the alley entrance.

In a fraction of a second, both the boys were gone. I walked up to the police officers about ten steps away, and they stood there shaking their heads. One of them said, "They'd shoot you for a dollar here. Why the hell didn't you give them the camera?"

As I finished my day, I returned to my hotel, and narrated the incident to the lady at the front desk. She couldn't help but step outside her box, hug me, and say thank God. I knew I would write about this someday.

Despite a few rough and even harrowing interactions, the rest of my days in New Orleans were incident-free. Though I encountered some frustrations and dangers, the trip was worthwhile for all its experiences and learning.

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American Airlines flight evacuated due to smoke in the cabin in San Francisco

( KRON ) — Passengers were evacuated from an American Airlines flight at San Francisco Airport on Friday afternoon, Nexstar’s has confirmed. The passengers evacuated from flight 2045 were destined for Miami.

SFO Public Information Officer Doug Yakel said that the Miami-bound flight was backing from the gate when the crew reported smoke in the cabin at around noon.

The aircraft was evacuated using emergency slides and via jetbridge, and the San Francisco Fire Department responded by extinguishing the smoke, the Federal Aviation Administration and American Airlines said.

Yakel said three passengers were injured. The San Francisco Fire Department said one person required medical transportation. The cause of injuries was not mentioned. Yakel said the passengers were being transported back to the terminal as of 1 p.m.

An American Airlines spokesperson said that smoke was initiated from a laptop inside a passenger’s bag. “The bag was quickly removed by our crew members and all customers exited the aircraft. We thank our crew members for their professionalism and apologize to our customers for the inconvenience,” they said in a statement.

Videos posted on social media show several fire trucks, two emergency escape chutes, and paramedics surrounding the Miami-bound flight.

“It was desperate until someone opened the middle door and we were able to escape as we were all blocked in the hallway. Some people were slightly injured,” a passenger said.

According to the American Airlines website, the Miami-bound flight had just landed at SFO from Miami an hour before its initial planned departure at noon. The aircraft was an Airbus A321.

For the latest news, weather, sports, and streaming video, head to WGNO.

American Airlines flight evacuated due to smoke in the cabin in San Francisco

Watch CBS News

Beryl maps show path and landfall forecast of storm as it reaches Texas

By Cara Tabachnick , Emily Mae Czachor

Updated on: July 8, 2024 / 11:07 PM EDT / CBS News

After hitting Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula, Beryl  churned across the Gulf of Mexico and made landfall over the middle Texas Gulf Coast as a Category 1 hurricane early Monday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center said. Beryl began weakening after making landfall and was downgraded to a tropical depression later Monday.

The storm blew past the Cayman Islands and Jamaica last week, initially making landfall over the island of Carriacou in Grenada while tearing through the Caribbean , strengthening at times to a Category 5 hurricane — the  strongest rating .


What is Beryl's projected path?

The hurricane center issued an update Monday evening saying Beryl was bringing flooding and the risk of tornadoes across portions of eastern Texas, western Louisiana and Arkansas.

As of 8 p.m. EDT, all  tropical storm warnings  and storm surge warnings for Texas had been lifted.

Map of Hurricane Beryl's path after making landfall in Texas

Beryl's eye "will move over eastern Texas today, then move through the Lower Mississippi Valley into the Ohio Valley on Tuesday and Wednesday," the hurricane center said. "Steady weakening is forecast, and Beryl is expected to become a post-tropical cyclone on Tuesday."


"An additional 4 to 8 inches of rainfall with localized amounts of 12 inches is expected across portions of eastern Texas through tonight," the hurricane center said Monday evening. "Considerable flash and urban flooding as well as minor to isolated major river flooding is expected. Heavy rainfall of 3 to 5 inches, with locally higher amounts, is expected across portions of far southeastern Oklahoma, Arkansas, and southern Missouri through Tuesday."

Before reaching the U.S., Beryl made landfall in Mexico's Yucatan Peninsula on Friday as a Category 2 hurricane, just northeast of the resort town of Tulum, before weakening to a tropical storm and moving back into the Gulf.

Beryl became the  first hurricane  of the 2024  Atlantic hurricane season  at the end of June and rapidly strengthened. It was the first major hurricane east of the Lesser Antilles on record for June, according to Philip Klotzbach, Colorado State University hurricane researcher.

Brian McNoldy, a tropical meteorology researcher for the University of Miami, told the AP that warm waters fueled Beryl, with ocean heat content in the deep Atlantic the highest on record for this time of year.

Beryl also set records  as the first June hurricane ever to hit Category 4, the farthest east a storm has ever hit Category 4, and the first storm before September to go from tropical depression to major hurricane in under 48 hours, CBS News weather producer David Parkinson reported.

Beryl was also the earliest Category 5 hurricane ever recorded in the Atlantic basin and was only the second Category 5 storm recorded in July since 2005, according to the hurricane center.

Brian Dakss, Alex Sundby and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Cara Tabachnick is a news editor at Cara began her career on the crime beat at Newsday. She has written for Marie Claire, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. She reports on justice and human rights issues. Contact her at [email protected]

More from CBS News

Watch: Satellite video tracks Beryl's deadly 2-week journey

Heavy rains leave 200 crocodiles lurking in cities in northern Mexico

2 killed in Vermont flooding brought on by Beryl's remnants

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    Visit the New Orleans Museum of Art from March 18- July 17, 2022 to see a one-of-a-kind exhibit from ancient Egypt. Read More. New Orleans Music A-Z. Explore everything you need to know about music in New Orleans with our ultimate guide. Read More. New Orleans LIVE Music Calendar ...

  25. Beryl maps show path and landfall forecast of storm as it reaches Texas

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    The Neural Information Processing Systems Foundation is a non-profit corporation whose purpose is to foster the exchange of research advances in Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning, principally by hosting an annual interdisciplinary academic conference with the highest ethical standards for a diverse and inclusive community.

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  29. Hurricane Beryl: Damaging winds and storm surge expected to hit ...

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