Want some inside tips on what to see and do in New Orleans? Like things a bit unusual? Here is a list (not all inclusive) of the places and things that we often suggest to our guests when they come to the Big Easy. Many are rather offbeat. All are real and true.
A full list of activities can be found at NewOrleans.com, but these are some of our favorites – some of which they don’t even list!
- Take the Cocktail History Tour and visit the bars and restaurants that made New Orleans famous. Better yet, enjoy one beverage at each venue (not required). It will be the best tour you ever took, its just that you may not remember much about it!
- Visit the Mardi Gras and Easter costume museum inside Arnaud’s Restaurant. Flamboyant and eccentric Germaine Cazenave Wells reigned as queen of more than 20 Mardi Gras balls. As heiress to renowned Arnaud’s Restaurant in the historic French Quarter, Wells also served as the unofficial queen of the neighborhood. Her annual Easter Parade brought out the glitziest, showiest hats in town, followed by an extravagant brunch at Arnaud’s.
- Drive the 26 mile bridge across Lake Pontchartrain to visit the Abita brewery on the North Shore and enjoy a Turbo Dog dark lager.
- Ride the Carousel at City Park Built in 1906, City Park’s pride and joy is one of only a handful of authentic antique carousels left in the U.S. (City Park pictured left.)
- Learn about the area’s Native Americans at the Backstreet Cultural Museum.
- View one of the country’s most unique interactive movies on a 100+ foot wide screen at the National World War II Museum.
- Ride the Steamboat Natchez christened in 1975, and sing along with the Steam Calliope which is an exact copy of the original instruments built 100 years ago.
- See the splendor of Mardi Gras firsthand at Mardi Gras World: seethe floats, learn how they’re made, and visit a actual size replica of a Plantation home inside the parade works.
- Swamp Tours let you learn about the wetlands and wildlife that live there. Watch as Cajun guides lure alligators boat side for photo opts using marshmallows as bait!
- Freely explore the city on our public-transportation alternative: the historic public streetcars! At $1.25 for and all-day ride ticket, this is the best and cheapest tour in town.
- Visit the Audubon Zoo to see rare species and a beautiful park.
Mimic the local custom of blowing powdered sugar on your sweetheart for good luck while trying the fabulous beignets and cafe au lait at the city’s historic landmark: Café du Monde.
- Eat one of the outrageous hamburgers at Port O Call, then walk down to Snug Harbor on Frenchman Street for some great jazz. Someone from the talented Marsalis family is usually on stage.
- Finish your entire shopping list at the great shops on Magazine Street.
- Head across the river on the Algiers Ferry and visit the Old Algiers Courthouse, then cruise back across. Have your camera ready for an awesome view of the city skyline (a ride on the ferry is free!).
- Relax at “The Fly:” a stretch of grass, picnic areas and sports fields located at the back of Audubon Park along the Mississippi River. In good weather,The Fly is bombarded with college students and locals looking to catch some sun. There’s something about watching the barges gently float across the water that gives the illusion of being at a beach, even though The Fly is anything but.
- View the changing colors of the Mardi Gras Fountain.
- Stroll along St. Charles Avenue in Uptown and admire the mansions. Guess how many are still single family homes.
- Walk through the Garden District after a classic creole lunch at Commanders Palace (restaurant pictured to left.)
- Learn what a Romeo catcher was used for back in the day during a French Quarter carriage ride.
- Run/walk past the aviary island inhabited by thousands of Egrets found along the almost 2-mile track at Audubon Park.
- Find your perfect treasure at the French Quarter Flea Market or a shrunken skeleton at Reverend Zombie’s Voo Doo shop.
- Eat at Brennan’s restaurant and delight in the showmanship and presentation of Bananas Foster at the very location of its creation.
- Visit Royal Street and window shop for an antique. Expect some pricy but authentic items from the 1700’s & 1800’s.
- Learn the real reason New Orleanians bury dead above the ground at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. While you’re there, stop and say hello to Voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
- Meander through the voodoo shops in the French Quarter and have your tarot cards read.
- Buy a piece of art or have a ink sketch drawn by the street artists at Jackson Square.
- Take a cooking class at the New Orleans Cooking Experience and take home the taste of NOLA.
- Find out why locals have driven 40 miles outside of the city for the last 75 years to gorge on thinly sliced, crispy fried catfish and hush puppies at Middendorf”s restaurant in the middle of nowhere.
- Spook yourself out during a French Quarter ghost tour.
- Take a stroll on the Moonwalk promenade.
- Eat a snowball stuffed with ice cream at Hansen’s or Plum Street Snowballs.
- Learn about the “mystery” of the Mystery Room at Antoine’s.
- Taste “Godzilla meets Fried Green Tomatoes or Crawfish and Alligator cheesecake at Jacques-Immo restaurant in Riverbend on Oak Street.
And, most importantly:
- Stay at the 11,000 square foot 17 room Grand Mansion, the Avenue Inn Bed and Breakfast. Ask for the Nanny’s Quarters and don’t be surprised if she stops by for a visit.
Are you coming to New Orleans, or have you stayed in New Orleans in the past? Do you have an unusual favorite in New Orleans? Please share your tips and feel free to ask questions in the comments section below.