New Orleans Attractions: The Ultimate Guide to the Best Things to See and Do in the Big Easy
New Orleans is a city that offers a rich and diverse cultural experience for visitors. Whether you are interested in music, art, nature, or sports, you will find something to enjoy in this vibrant and historic city. In this article, we will explore some of the top exciting attractions in New Orleans that you should not miss on your next trip.
Top Exciting Attractions in New Orleans
1. New Orleans Music Attractions
New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and a mecca for music lovers. No matter what genre or style you prefer, you’ll find it in New Orleans. Here are some of the music attractions you can’t miss on your trip to New Orleans:
1.1. Frenchmen Street
This is the heart of New Orleans’ music scene, where you can find live jazz, blues, funk, and more every night of the week. It’s located just outside the French Quarter and offers a more authentic and local vibe than Bourbon Street.
Here are some reasons why you should visit Frenchmen Street:
- You can enjoy a variety of music genres and styles at different venues along the street, such as The Spotted Cat, Snug Harbor, Blue Nile, and more.
- You can also explore the art market, where you can find local artists selling their paintings, jewelry, crafts, and more.
- There are the best food and drinks in New Orleans at the restaurants and bars along the street. For example, Three Muses, Dat Dog, Marigny Brasserie, and more.
- You can join the street party and dance with the locals and tourists alike at any time of the night.
1.2. Preservation Hall
This is a historic venue that preserves and promotes traditional New Orleans jazz. It’s located in the French Quarter and hosts nightly concerts by some of the best jazz musicians in the city.
Here are some reasons why you should visit Preservation Hall:
- You can experience the authentic and intimate atmosphere of a classic jazz club. Yes, there is no amplification, no air conditioning, and no frills.
- You can listen to some of the legends and masters of New Orleans jazz, such as the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, who have been playing there since 1961.
- Also, you can participate in the music by clapping, singing along, or even joining the band on stage if you’re lucky.
1.3. New Orleans Jazz Museum
This museum celebrates the history and culture of jazz in New Orleans and beyond. It’s located in the Old U.S. Mint building in the French Quarter and features interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and live performances.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the New Orleans Jazz Museum:
- You can learn about the origins, evolution, and impact of jazz on American music and society through multimedia displays and audiovisual stations.
- You can see some of the priceless instruments and memorabilia of jazz icons. To illustrate, Louis Armstrong’s first cornet, Fats Domino’s piano, and Dizzy Gillespie’s trumpet.
- You can also enjoy live jazz concerts and events at the museum’s state-of-the-art performance venue, which hosts local and national artists.
2. New Orleans Art Attractions
New Orleans is a city of art and creativity, where you can find a diverse and vibrant artistic scene. From museums and galleries to street art and festivals, there’s something for every art lover in New Orleans. Here are some of the art attractions you can’t miss on your trip to New Orleans:
2.1. New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA)
This is the oldest and largest fine arts museum in New Orleans, located in the beautiful City Park. It houses a collection of over 40,000 artworks, spanning from ancient to contemporary times.
Here are some reasons why you should visit NOMA:
- You can admire the works of some of the most renowned artists in history, such as Monet, Picasso, Degas, Renoir, and more.
- Furthermore, you can explore the diverse and dynamic exhibitions that showcase the art and culture of various regions and periods, such as Africa, Asia, Europe, and America.
- You can also enjoy the stunning sculpture garden, which features over 90 sculptures by modern and contemporary artists, set among the lush landscape of live oaks, magnolias, and lagoons.
2.2. Ogden Museum of Southern Art
This is a museum that celebrates the art and culture of the American South. It’s located in the Warehouse District. Ogden Museum features a collection of over 4,000 artworks, ranging from paintings and sculptures to photography and folk art.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the Ogden Museum:
- You can discover the unique and diverse artistic expressions of the Southern region, from the colonial era to the present day.
- Also, you can appreciate the works of some of the most influential and acclaimed Southern artists, such as William Eggleston, Clementine Hunter, Benny Andrews, and more.
- You can also participate in the museum’s educational and cultural programs, such as lectures, workshops, concerts, and film screenings.
2.3. French Quarter Art Galleries
This is a collection of art galleries that line the streets of the historic French Quarter. Indeed, they offer a variety of artworks for sale or display, from traditional to contemporary styles.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the French Quarter Art Galleries:
- You can browse through the artworks of local and international artists, featuring different mediums and genres, such as oil paintings, watercolors, prints, ceramics, glass, jewelry, and more.
- You can also interact with the artists and gallery owners often present at their shops and studios. Interestingly, you can learn about their inspirations, techniques, and stories behind their creations.
- Additionally, you can join the monthly art walk that takes place on the first Saturday of every month.
- You can also enjoy free wine and cheese while admiring the artwork and meeting other art enthusiasts.
3. New Orleans Nature Attractions
New Orleans is a city of nature and beauty. It’s where you can find a variety of natural attractions and outdoor activities. From parks and gardens to swamps and bayous, there’s something for every nature lover in New Orleans. Here are some of the nature attractions you can’t miss on your trip to New Orleans:
3.1. City Park
In fact, this is one of the largest and oldest urban parks in the United States, located in the heart of New Orleans. It covers over 1,300 acres of land and offers a range of amenities and attractions for visitors of all ages.
Here are some reasons why you should visit City Park:
- You can enjoy the scenic views of the park’s lakes, lagoons, bridges, and fountains. Also, you can rent a boat or a bike to explore the park’s waterways and trails.
- You can visit some of the park’s attractions. For example, the New Orleans Botanical Garden, the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and more.
- In addition, you can join some of the park’s events and activities, such as yoga classes, golf tournaments, concerts, and festivals.
3.2. Audubon Nature Institute
This is a family of nature-themed attractions that aim to educate and entertain visitors about the natural world. It includes the Audubon Zoo, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, and more.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the Audubon Nature Institute:
- You can see and learn about hundreds of animals and plants from different habitats and regions. Those animals include lions, giraffes, penguins, sharks, butterflies, and more.
- You can also experience some of the interactive exhibits and shows that the attractions offer, such as feeding the animals, touching the stingrays, watching 4D movies, and more.
- Moreover, you can support the conservation efforts that the attractions undertake to protect and preserve the wildlife and environment.
3.3. Honey Island Swamp Tour
This is a guided boat tour that takes you through one of the most pristine swamps in Louisiana. It’s located about 40 minutes away from New Orleans and offers a unique and thrilling adventure.
Here are some reasons why you should take the Honey Island Swamp Tour:
- You can explore the natural beauty and diversity of the swamp’s ecosystem. You can see cypress trees, Spanish moss, water lilies, and more.
- Particularly, you can encounter some of the swamp’s wildlife, such as alligators, turtles, raccoons, birds, and more. Your tour guide will tell you the stories and legends about the swamp.
- You can also enjoy the fun and excitement of riding a fast and comfortable boat through the swamp’s narrow channels and open waters.
4. New Orleans Sports Attractions
New Orleans is a city of sports and passion. Indeed, you can find a variety of sports attractions and events. From professional teams and stadiums to recreational activities and venues, New Orleans has something for every sports fan. Here are some of the sports attractions you can’t miss in New Orleans:
4.1. Mercedes-Benz Superdome
This is the iconic stadium that hosts the home games of the New Orleans Saints, the city’s NFL team. It’s located in the Central Business District and has a capacity of over 70,000 seats.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome:
- You can watch the Saints play and cheer them on with the loyal and enthusiastic fans. You will also experience the atmosphere and excitement of a live NFL game.
- Also, you can see some of the other events and shows that the stadium hosts, such as concerts, festivals, conventions, and more.
- One of the best parts, you will learn about the history and significance of the stadium. It has been a symbol of resilience and recovery for New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
4.2. Smoothie King Center
This is the arena that hosts the home games of the New Orleans Pelicans, the city’s NBA team. It’s located next to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Smoothie King Center has a capacity of over 18,000 seats.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the Smoothie King Center:
- You can watch the Pelicans play and support them with passionate and energetic fans. You can also enjoy the action and entertainment of a live NBA game.
- Besides that, you can see some of the other events and shows that the arena hosts, such as concerts, ice shows, circus shows, and more.
- The architecture and design of the arena are impressive. It features a modern and sleek exterior and a spacious and comfortable interior.
4.3. City Park Golf Courses
This is a complex of four golf courses that offer a variety of challenges and experiences for golfers of all levels. It’s located within City Park and covers over 1,000 acres of land.
Here are some reasons why you should visit the City Park Golf Courses:
- You can play golf on one of the courses that suit your skill and preference. To elaborate, your selections are the North Course, which is an 18-hole championship course; the South Course, which is a 9-hole executive course; the Bayou Oaks Course, which is a new 18-hole course; or the Driving Range, which is a practice facility.
- You can also enjoy the scenic views and natural surroundings of the courses. Yes, you will see lakes, ponds, trees, flowers, and wildlife along the way.
- You can also take advantage of the amenities and services that the courses offer, such as club rentals, carts, lessons, pro shops, restaurants, and more.
Best Time to Visit New Orleans
The best time to visit New Orleans depends on your personal preferences and priorities. The weather, the festivals, the crowds, and the prices all vary throughout the year. Therefore, you need to consider what matters most to you when planning your trip. Here are some factors to help you decide:
- If you want to enjoy the mild and pleasant weather, the best time to visit New Orleans is from March to June or from October to November. These months have average high temperatures ranging from the low 70s to the mid-80s, making it comfortable for walking and sightseeing. However, these are also the peak seasons for tourism, so you can expect higher hotel rates and more crowds.
- If you want to experience the famous festivals and celebrations, the best time to visit New Orleans is from February to May. This is when most of the major events take place, such as Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, and more. These festivals are full of music, food, culture, and fun. Nevertheless, they attract thousands of visitors. Thus, you need to book your accommodation and transportation well in advance.
- If you want to save money and avoid crowds, the best time to visit New Orleans is from June to September or from December to January. These are the off-seasons for tourism, so you can find lower hotel rates and more availability. However, these are also the least favorable seasons for weather, as summer is hot and humid (with average highs in the low 90s) and winter is cold and rainy (with average lows in the high 40s). You also need to be aware of the hurricane season (from June to November) and pack accordingly.
New Orleans Best Restaurants
New Orleans is a food lover’s paradise, with a cuisine that reflects its diverse and rich cultural heritage. Honestly, I would consider food to be one of the top New Orleans attractions. From Creole and Cajun classics to French and Spanish influences, from seafood and meat dishes to vegetarian and vegan options, and from fine dining and casual eateries to street food and markets, there’s something for every taste and budget in New Orleans.
Here are some of the best restaurants you can’t miss on your trip:
Best Creole Restaurants
Creole cuisine is a fusion of French, Spanish, African, Native American, and Caribbean influences, characterized by rich sauces, spices, and seafood. Some of the best Creole restaurants in New Orleans are:
- Commander’s Palace: This is one of the most iconic and acclaimed restaurants in New Orleans, located in a historic mansion in the Garden District. It serves elegant and innovative Creole cuisine, such as turtle soup, pecan-crusted gulf fish, shrimp and tasso henican, and bread pudding soufflé. It also offers a popular jazz brunch on weekends, featuring live music and bottomless champagne.
- Dooky Chase’s Restaurant: This is one of the oldest and most beloved restaurants in New Orleans, located in a historic building in Treme. It serves traditional Creole food with African American influences, such as gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, fried chicken, and peach cobbler. It also has a rich history of hosting civil rights activists, musicians, politicians, and celebrities.
- Galatoire’s Restaurant: This is one of the most traditional and elegant restaurants in New Orleans, located in a grand building in the French Quarter. It serves refined Creole cuisine, such as shrimp remoulade, crabmeat maison, trout meuniere, and bread pudding. It also has a strict dress code, a loyal clientele, and a festive atmosphere.
Best Cajun Restaurants
Cajun cuisine is a rustic and hearty style of cooking that originated from the French-speaking Acadians who settled in Louisiana. It features spicy seasonings, smoked meats, and seafood. Some of the best Cajun restaurants in New Orleans are:
- Cochon: This is one of the best places to sample authentic Cajun food in New Orleans, located in a rustic warehouse in the Warehouse District. It specializes in pork dishes, such as cochon (slow-roasted pork), boudin (sausage), cracklins (fried pork rinds), and hog’s head cheese (meat jelly). It also serves other Southern favorites, such as fried alligator, rabbit and dumplings, and oyster roast.
- Mother’s Restaurant: This is one of the best places to try po’boys (sandwiches) in New Orleans, located in a casual diner in the Central Business District. It serves hearty and delicious po’boys with various fillings, such as roast beef, ham, turkey, shrimp, oyster, and more. It also serves other Cajun and Creole specialties, such as jambalaya, red beans, and rice, gumbo, and étouffée.
- Parkway Bakery & Tavern: This is another great place to try po’boys in New Orleans, located in a historic bakery and tavern in Mid-City. It serves fresh and tasty po’boys with various fillings, such as roast beef, fried shrimp, fried oyster, fried catfish, and more. It also serves other local favorites, such as alligator sausage, sweet potato fries, and bread pudding.
Best French Restaurants
French cuisine is one of the main influences on New Orleans cuisine, as the city was founded by French colonists and later ruled by France for a period. It features sophisticated and elegant dishes with butter, cream, wine, and cheese. Some of the best French restaurants in New Orleans are:
- Antoine’s Restaurant: This is the oldest and most famous French restaurant in New Orleans, located in a historic building in the French Quarter. It serves classic French-Creole cuisine, such as oysters Rockefeller, crawfish cardinal, pompano Pontchartrain, and baked Alaska. It also has 14 dining rooms, each with its own history and decor.
Best Israeli Restaurants
Israeli cuisine is a modern and diverse style of cooking that reflects the multicultural and multiethnic nature of Israel. It features fresh and flavorful dishes with Mediterranean, Middle Eastern, and North African influences. Some of the best Israeli restaurants in New Orleans are:
- Shaya: This is one of the most popular and innovative restaurants in New Orleans, located in a chic space in Uptown. It serves modern Israeli food with Mediterranean flavors, such as hummus, falafel, shakshuka, lamb kebab, and roasted cauliflower. It also makes its own fresh pita bread in a wood-fired oven.
Best Southern Restaurants
Southern cuisine is a regional and traditional style of cooking that originated from the Southern states of the United States. It features comfort food with soulful flavors and ingredients such as cornbread, collard greens, fried chicken, and pecan pie. Some of the best Southern restaurants in New Orleans are:
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House: This is one of the best places to try fried chicken in New Orleans (and possibly in America), located in a modest house in Treme. It serves crispy and juicy fried chicken with a secret batter recipe that has been passed down for generations.
- Emeril’s New Orleans: This is one of the flagship restaurants of celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse, located in a renovated warehouse in the Warehouse District. It serves contemporary Creole cuisine with a twist. For example, barbecue shrimp, andouille-crusted drum, duck and sausage gumbo, and banana cream pie. It also has an open kitchen, a wine cellar, and a lively bar.
Best Hotels in New Orleans
New Orleans has a wide range of hotels to suit every traveler’s needs and preferences. From historic and luxurious to modern and trendy, from French Quarter and Central Business District to Garden District and Marigny, you can surely find the most suitable hotel in New Orleans.
Here are some of the best hotels you can stay at on your trip to explore New Orleans attractions:
This is one of the best hotels in the French Quarter in New Orleans, located in a historic and family-owned building on Royal Street. It offers elegant and comfortable rooms and suites, equipped with marble bathrooms, flat-screen TVs, Keurig coffee makers, and Wi-Fi access. It also features a heated rooftop pool with city views, a fitness center, a spa and salon, a business center, and several dining options, including the Carousel Bar & Lounge, which is a revolving bar with live music.
The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans
This is one of the best hotels for business travelers in New Orleans, located in a former department store building in the Central Business District. It offers elegant and spacious rooms and suites, equipped with marble bathrooms, plush bedding, flat-screen TVs, Nespresso machines, and Wi-Fi access. It also features a full-service spa, a fitness center, a business center, a club lounge, and several dining options, including The Grill Room, which serves contemporary American cuisine.
Hotel Saint Vincent
This is one of the best hotels with the best scene in New Orleans, located in a restored 19th-century orphanage building in the Lower Garden District. It offers chic and eclectic rooms and suites, decorated with vintage furniture, colorful fabrics, local artwork, and quirky details. It also features a lush courtyard with a pool and cabanas, a cozy library with a fireplace, a stylish bar with live music, and a restaurant that serves Italian-inspired dishes.
This is one of the chicest uptown hotels in New Orleans, located in a renovated Victorian mansion in the St. Charles Avenue Historic District. It offers stylish and cozy rooms and suites, adorned with antique mirrors, floral wallpapers, brass fixtures, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Wi-Fi access. It also features a tropical pool with cabanas and daybeds, a fitness room with Peloton bikes, a library with books and games, and a restaurant that serves Southern-inspired cuisine.
This is one of the best hotels near Bourbon Street in New Orleans, located in a historic landmark building in the Central Business District. It offers luxurious and classic rooms and suites, furnished with mahogany furniture, velvet drapes, crystal chandeliers, flat-screen TVs, minibars, and Wi-Fi access. It also features a rooftop pool with city views, a spa and salon, a fitness center, a business center, and several dining options, including The Sazerac Bar, which is famous for its signature cocktail.
Conclusion: Why You Should Visit New Orleans Attractions
New Orleans is a city that has something for everyone. From the lively French Quarter to the artistic NOMA, from the musical Preservation Hall to the scenic City Park, you will never run out of things to do and see in this amazing city. If you are looking for a place to eat, you can try some of the best Creole restaurants in town, or sample other cuisines from around the world. And if you need a place to stay, you can choose from a range of hotels that suit your budget and preferences. New Orleans is a city that will make you fall in love with its charm and spirit. Don’t wait any longer and book your trip today!
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