New Orleans makes for a great escape if you're craving something different. The culture is rich and vibrant and very different from the rest of the United States. Fortune tellers in Jackson Square, jazzy Sunday brunches, chicory coffee and beignets, street art, historic trolleys, art galleries, gaudy beads, and colorful french colonial style architecture are some things that come to mind when it comes to "The Big Easy". NOLA offers enough to keep tourists busy visit after visit. Are you a first time visitor looking for advice to make sure you don't miss any of the essentials? Or are you a return visitor and want to ensure you've hit all the musts? Read on to discover the 10 best things to do in New Orleans including which attractions in New Orleans to visit, where to eat, & more!
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Top 10 Attractions in New Orleans
1. Visit Jackson Square
Jackson Square is the one of the most popular attractions in New Orleans. The park has the Mississippi river on one side and the iconic (and much photographed) St. Louis Cathedral on the other. Surrounding the square are fortune tellers and tarot card readers, local artists displaying their craft, and musicians. This is a wonderful place to start your visit in NOLA, feel the energy, and snap some pictures. Jackson Square just happens to be right across the steet from the extremely popular Cafe du Monde.
2. Have beignets and café au lait at Cafe du Monde
No visit to "The Big Easy" is complete without at least one stop for beignets and a café au lait. This should be at the top of your list of the best things to do in New Orleans. Cafe du Monde has been serving some of the best beignets in New Orleans alongside its iconic chicory café au laits since 1862! There is rarely a time when the line isn't out the door, but don't worry, it usually moves pretty quick. If you absolutely hate lines, come in the evening since Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours day.
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3. Browse the art galleries along Royal Street and Julia Street
Whether you are looking to buy or just enjoy the experience of gallery hopping, New Orleans has plenty to offer. Two of the most popular streets to browse art are Royal Street and Julia Street.
Royal street - located in the French Quarter and runs parallel to Bourbon Street.
Julia Street - known as "Gallery Row" and located in the warehouse district. Extended hours with music and tastings take place at 6:00pm the first Saturday of every month.
4. Take a Ghost TOur
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the United States and that means a ghost tour is absolutely one of the best things to in New Orleans. Between two great fires that destroyed the city and countless lives in 1788 and 1794, the yellow fever epidemics in the 1800's, countless individuals being buriend alive after going into a coma from yellow fever, and indivuiduals claiming to be Voodoo queens, vampires, and wiccans, there is plenty to keep any ghost tour entertaining for ghost believers and non-believers alike.
This is one of the best attractions in New Orleans for a mix of history and entertainment. You can find a ghost tour to match pretty much any interest. Pick from family friendly, pubcrawl ghost tours, and history focused tours.
5. Experience a Sunday Jazz brunch
6. Visit Marie Lavou's tomb and other famous cemetaries
Marie Lavou, the Queen of Voodoo, is buried at St. Louis No. 1 cemetery. This is the city's oldest burial ground and one of the most popular attractions in New Orleans. Is it just me or does it feel odd to say a burial ground is a "popular attraction"? Anyway...New Orleans has many haunted cemeteries. The most famous are St. Louis No. 1 and Lafayette Cemetery. Be sure to take a tour of at least one to hear the stories behind the graves, see the ornate above ground tombs, and learn some of NOLA's spookiest history.
7. Ride the historic St. Charles Streetcar
Hop on the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world! The St. Charles streetcar will take you all the way to the Garden District. This is a great way to see the city and it's cheap at $3 for a day pass. Bring exact change to purchase your ticket onboard.
8. Shop the boutiques on Magazine street in the Garden district
Once you've arrived in the Garden District via the St. Charles streetcar, wander along Magazine street to shop the boutiques and art galleries. This is the area to see some gorgeous Victorian mansions home to famous celebrities including Sandra Bullock and John Goodman. The Garden District is also home to some of the best restaurants in NOLA and Lafayette Cemetery.
9. Drink a hand grenade on Bourbon Street
Bourbon street is an obvious must for top attractions in New Orleans, so do it right and try a hand grenade while experiencing some of the best people watching.
Looking for a less rowdy cocktail option? Check out the Carousal Bar at Hotel Monteleone.
10. Stroll the French Market
The French Market is 6 blocks of open air shopping. Take your pick from fresh produce, local crafts, souvenirs, art, and food stalls. You can try everything here from softshell crab, to crepes and oysters. This is one of the busiest attractions in New Orleans so try to go when they open at 10:00am.
Now that you've discovered the top attractions in New Orleans start planning your tours and side trips!
What are some of your favorite attractions in New Orleans? Let me know if there's anything you would add to my list of best things to do in New Orleans!
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