67 Best Things to Do in New Orleans
When looking for fun things to do in New Orleans, strolling down Bourbon Street, snacking on po’ boys and sampling beignets are all on the list. But what if you want to get beyond the usual tourist attractions? With a place so familiar and frequently visited, is there anything new for you to discover?
The answer is a resounding yes. In a city so rich with history, culture and creativity, you can easily find New Orleans sightseeing opportunities that show you the full character of this American gem.
This list of the top things to do in New Orleans will open your eyes to some terrific possibilities. Whether you’re hoping for a glimpse into the heritage that built the city or searching for something with a more contemporary spirit, you’ll find something special and memorable to experience.
Jump to Section
- Foodie Things to Do in New Orleans
- Musical Things to Do in New Orleans
- Artistic Things to Do in New Orleans
- Magical Things to Do in New Orleans
- Historical Things to Do in New Orleans
- Outdoors Things to Do in New Orleans
Foodie Things to Do in New Orleans
1. Take a Cooking Class
Learn to create authentic Louisiana cuisine with cooking classes in New Orleans. You’ll learn from top-tier chefs with a love of Southern cooking. There are cooking classes near you that explore Cajun, bayou seafood and other delicious dishes. You can even take online cooking classes from the comfort of home.
2. Private Chef Experiences
Booking a private chef in New Orleans brings the culinary magic straight to you. You choose a delicious menu and a world-class chef shops and cooks right in your home, complete with kitchen cleanup provided at the end. Check out the private chefs near you to transform your dining room into a gourmet restaurant for the evening.
3. Food Tours
There’s no better way to explore the local foodie scene than with food tours in New Orleans. With help from an expert guide, you’ll discover all the historical haunts and hidden gems the city has to offer (like the best fried chicken in New Orleans). There are more food tours near you for when you’re home again, too!
4. Virtual Food Experiences
A New Orleans evening in can brighten your spirits with virtual beverage experiences. There are online mixology classes for cocktail lovers and gourmet virtual wine tastings that bring things to do in New Orleans home via the magic of the internet.
5. Brewery Tours and Tastings
When fun things to do in New Orleans includes exploring local breweries, you know you’re in for a good time! Local guides with the inside track will lead you to exciting microbreweries for learning and tasting.
6. Winery Tours and Tastings
Wine connoisseurs can expand their palates by adding winery tours and tastings to their lists of things to do in New Orleans. With professional sommeliers on hand to help, you’ll discover a whole new world of varietals and vintages.
7. Sample Fine French Cuisine
Treat yourself to a fine meal in the French Quarter and experience the New Orleans version of French dining. Try a Sunday jazz brunch at Antoine’s or an upscale dinner at Justine for a tasty thing to do in New Orleans.
8. Dine on Cajun, Creole and Soul Food
Sampling these three signature Southern cuisines are a must when it comes to things to do in New Orleans. Stroll Bourbon Street for an array of restaurants offering some of the best foods in New Orleans.
9. Try All the Desserts
You can’t pass up dessert when choosing things to do in New Orleans! From pralines and king cakes to fine French pastries and sumptuous bread puddings, you’ll taste the true sweetness of the South.
10. Visit Sazerac House
This classic New Orlean drink originated in the 1850s and is the subject of an entire distillery dedicated to Sazerac Rye and Peychaud’s Bitters. Beverage lovers should put this one at the top of their list of best things to do in New Orleans.
11. Taste the Pralines
Whether you buy them from a street vendor or in a candy shop, be sure to try authentic pralines. In fact, having a taste test of several types may be one of the sweetest things to do in New Orleans!
Musical Things to Do in New Orleans
12. Book a Jazz Cruise
A musical riverboat in the birthplace of jazz is the pinnacle of things to do in New Orleans. Take a dinner cruise and you have the makings of a magical Louisiana experience.
13. Experience a Brass Band
Nothing beats a joyful New Orleans brass band. You’ll find them playing joyfully at clubs in the French Quarter, and if you’re lucky you might catch one marching right down the middle of the road!
14. Visit the Theater
New Orleans is home to some of the most historic theaters in America. Catch a performance at the Saenger or the Orpheum or simply take in the stunning architecture and magnificent heritage.
15. See Some Street Musicians
Check out Frenchman Street to hear local New Orleans musicians plying their trade. You’ll hear a blend of blues, rock, reggae and, of course, jazz. It’s New Orleans spirit with the volume turned up!
16. Find a Zydeco Club
Hunker down in a club like Tropical Isle Bayou Club or d.b.a New Orleans for some high-energy zydeco music. Wear your dancing shoes, just in case the infectious rhythms take control.
17. See an Opera
Opera has been a part of the New Orleans culture since the 1700s. The New Orleans Opera continues the fine tradition of connecting this classical musical form with audiences old and new.
18. Visit the Jazz Museum
When finding things to do in New Orleans, include a trip to the New Orleans Jazz Museum. It’s a visual and audio journey through the history of jazz that no other museum can offer.
19. Play at Music Box Village
Your selection of fun things to do in New Orleans should include Music Box Village! This community art project is an outdoor garden of chiming instruments where visitors make their own music.
20. Do Some Cajun Danicng
For things to do in Nola that get your pulse racing, nothing beats Cajun dancing. There are dance halls all throughout New Orleans, celebrating this quick-stepping bayou dance.
21. Listen to Some Gospel
Add some divine sounds to your list of things to do in New Orleans with a gospel concert. You can learn about the history of plantation spirituals sung by slaves that transitioned into contemporary gospel music, too.
22. See an R&B Band
New Orleans R&B is a sound all its own, one that led to the invention of rock and roll. For music lovers, seeing a live R&B band in a vibrant nightclub or dive bar is a truly authentic thing to do in New Orleans.
Artistic Things to Do in New Orleans
23. Walk Through NOMA
New Orleans Museum of Art is an art fan’s must-do in New Orleans. Unique exhibitions in all mediums appear year-round and their breathtaking permanent collection spans cultures and centuries.
24. Spy Some Street Art
Some of the best things to do in New Orleans are free, like soaking up the street art. You’ll find incredible murals, painted streetcars and open air sculptures created by some of the most talented artists in the world, including a Banksy or two!
25. See the Historic New Orleans Collection
This museum, research center and publishing house was created to preserve New Orleans culture. The city’s rich history is displayed through the art, writing, maps and other items produced through the centuries.
26. Experience JAMNOLA
The acronym stands for Joy Art Music New Orleans Louisiana, and the name says it all. This vibrant pop-up art experience brings together the best local creators described as an “immersive, artistic funhouse.” It’s one of the newest fun things to do in New Orleans!
27. Visit the Ogden
The most comprehensive collection of Southern art anywhere, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art is a kaleidoscope of painting, sculpture and photography by artists from New Orleans and beyond. For a contemporary cultural art experience, this is one thing to do in New Orleans you won’t want to miss.
28. Explore Mardi Gras Art
The Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture will bring you into the New Orleans scene with blasts of color and music. Discover the vital history of this indelible tradition through art exhibits and live performance.
29. New Orleans City Park
There are always fun things to do in New Orleans City Park, including botanical gardens, an arboretum and the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Check out the never-ending schedule of events and appearances, too.
30. See Studio Be
This warehouse art space houses murals and exhibits from more than 40 artists. The works explore activism, resistance and the history of Black Americans and are powerfully political and joyful at the same time. It’s a bold and informative thing to do in New Orleans.
31. Walk Through Besthoff Sculpture Garden
Located at NOMA, this world-class collection of 97 colossal works is scattered about a lush landscape. It’s an art lover’s wonderland with classical and contemporary pieces nesting amidst pastoral greenery.
32. Dance Down Royal Street
Among the most artful places to visit in New Orleans is this boulevard of art galleries and antique shops. Lively buskers and street performers electrify a historic neighborhood filled with New Orleans soul.
33. Hang Out in Jackson Square
This section of the French Quarter is a haven for artists to present their creations. You’ll find photographers, painters, sculptors and more in one of the best free things to do in New Orleans for folks who love to witness the works of up-and-coming artists.
Magical Things to Do in New Orleans
34. Visit LaLaurie House
The ghosts of former slaves are said to haunt the house of Delphine LaLaurie, among the most haunted places in New Orleans. Walk through the preserved historical site and find out for yourself.
35. Get a Tarot Reading
Let the mischievous spiritual side of the city lead you to one of the many psychic readers for an old-fashioned tarot reading. Once the cards tell you what’s in store, you’ll see that not all the top things to do in New Orleans have earthly explanations!
36. Learn About Voodoo
Voodoo Authentica Nola Cultural Center is a resource in the French Quarter that celebrates this fascinating Louisiana spiritual practice. Shop and learn or have a reading to see what the spirit world has to say about you!
37. Take a Spirit Tour
Experience the mystical side of French Quarter and beyond with an unbeatable assortment of New Orleans ghost tours. You’ll see the local architecture in a new light as you learn about the infamous happenings in one of America’s oldest cities.
38. Discover the Marie Laveau Shop
While doing your New Orleans sightseeing, pick up some trinkets from this historic site, originally home to the second Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. It’s a gift shop and cultural lesson in one.
39. Walk Through Saint Louis Cemetery #1
Traipse through the tightly-packed and crumbling above-ground crypts on this solemn square of hallowed ground. It’s a great trip back through time to put on your list of things to do in Nola.
40. Sit Under the Singing Oak
Visit this sprawling tree in the center of City Park and you’ll hear a symphony of chimes creating divine harmony in the breeze. It’s a magical must-do in New Orleans that’s absolutely free.
41. Do a Ghostly Pub Crawl
Your choice of things to do in New Orleans should always include haunted pubs. Sign up for a haunted pub crawl to visit the spirits of Louisiana in all forms!
42. Visit "The Mortuary"
This famous attraction was named one of the best haunted attractions in America. It’s a real mortuary that’s now become a ghostly fun thing to do in New Orleans for believers and non-believers alike.
43. Attend a Seance
Commune with the spirits in a live Victorian-style seance for an eerily exciting thing to do in New Orleans! There are tour companies offering these one-of-a-kind experiences for those brave enough to cross through the veil.
44. Shop With Vampires
The legacy of vampire romance in New Orleans comes back to life with Boutique du Vampyre. You’ll find fun collectibles and handmade curiosities that celebrate the sinister mystery of these literary monsters.
Historic Things to Do in New Orleans
45. Take a Carriage Ride
For a unique date idea in New Orleans, journey into the past with a carriage ride along the streets of the French Quarter. Horse hooves create an enchanting soundtrack to your carriage driver’s full historical narration of the sights.
46. Visit Oak Alley Plantation
Tour this converted sugar cane farm and walk among the majestic oak-lined paths for a glance at the old South. You can stop for lunch or stay overnight in one of their luxurious cottages.
47. See Mardi Gras World
Historic Mardi Gras is one of the top things to do in New Orleans. If you can’t make it to the real one, visit the workshop where the floats are created for a behind-the-scenes view of these beautiful works.
48. Toast Jean La Fitte at his Blacksmith Shop Bar
New Orleans’ unofficial ghost king history hangs out in the oldest structure to be used as a bar in the U.S.! You can experience the legacy and have a drink or two in this New Orleans sightseeing essential.
49. Tour Longue Vue House and Gardens
This destination site was opened in 1921 and has been used for weddings, conventions and other events. Take a tour through the stunning gardens for a must-see option when deciding what to do in New Orleans.
50. Trek through Bywater
This vibrant neighborhood was spared the damage of Hurricane Katrina due to its higher elevation. You can explore the cottages and heritage homes and see the eclectic creative spirit that runs through it in its current incarnation.
51. See St. Louis Cathedral
Step into the oldest cathedral in continual use in America and feel its noble history swirling all around you. This striking structure is open throughout the week, offering masses for the faithful and visits for the curious.
52. Walk Through the Cabildo
This Spanish Colonial palace was the center of New Orleans government before the state Supreme Court convened there. Now, it’s a state museum dedicated to Louisiana’s history and one of the most stunning places to visit in New Orleans.
53. Experience the National WWII Museum
Experience the second world war in a whole new way. With immersive multimedia exhibits, artifacts and first-person oral accounts, the era comes to life all around you.
54. Visit Congo Square
This corner of Armstrong Park was the gathering site for slaves and freemen in the 19th century. Its celebratory spirit remains in the shops, restaurants and exuberant outdoor performances, making it one of the best things to do in New Orleans, bar none.
55. See Chalmette National Historical Park
Chalmette National Historical Park is the site of the Andrew Jackson-led Battle of New Orleans, which ended the war of 1812. For history buffs, it’s one of the most solemn and moving historic things to do in New Orleans.
Outdoorsy Things to Do in New Orleans
56. Visit Caesar’s Superdome
The home of the New Orleans Saints is a must-do in New Orleans! If you can’t catch a game, visit for the atmosphere and take a few photos in front of this grand arena.
57. Tour the Swamps
Some of the best New Orleans tours go beyond the city streets. Aside from enjoying delicious food and great drinks, an alligator swamp tour sounds like the most New Orleans thing to do in New Orleans! You’ll speed along on the surface as the menacing critters drift around you, perfect for thrilling wildlife photo opportunities.
58. Visit New Orleans Musical Legends Park
Stroll through a space dedicated to the deep musical history of New Orleans and hear live musicians play throughout. There are commemorative displays and statues honoring the greatest figures to emerge from the scene.
59. See the Garden District
Explore historic streets lined with Southern-style mansions and heritage architecture of one of the top things to do in New Orleans. You’ll even see familiar locations that have been featured in film and television.
60. Visit Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Experience landscape, water features and a wildlife preserve in an expansive park named for the famed pirate. With six sites dedicated to the environmental beauty of Louisiana, it’s one of best outdoor things to do in New Orleans.
61. Ride on a Streetcar
It may not be named “Desire,” but a ride on a streetcar is a definite must-do when you’re in New Orleans! Fares are reasonable and you’ll see a swath of the city while traveling in classic style.
62. Take a Gondola Ride
City Park is home to Nola Gondola, a traditional Venetian gondola ride that hearkens back to the days of yore. When it comes to fun things to do in New Orleans, this one brings out the city’s romance like few others.
63. Walk Through Audubon Zoo
The world-class Audubon Zoo is home to endangered whooping cranes as well as exotic tigers, rare leopards and more. For animal lovers and those with small children, it’s one of the most fun family-oriented things to do in New Orleans.
64. Pedal a Barge
Take a fun booze cruise on a bayou river where you help propel the boat! Join a group of happy pedalers as you sip and chug your way among the sights and sounds of the southland.
65. New Orleans Botanical Garden
City Park is home to this manicured paradise, open for daytime visits and nighttime events throughout the year. It’s among the best places to visit in New Orleans.
66. Hit the Water
Charter a boat for a day of fishing in the Gulf of Mexico or take a sailboat around Lake Pontchartrain. With lush scenery and serene waters, you’ll find that the best things to do in New Orleans sometimes take you offshore!
67. Walk Crescent Park
Exploring this expansive outdoor oasis is a great thing to do in New Orleans to work off the amazing food and drink you’ll be enjoying on your visit. There’s a 10K circuit that will take you over a steel bridge into the Bywater area for a self-guided open-air tour.
Once you step off the beaten track, you find out just how many fascinating places there are to visit in New Orleans. There’s no doubt you’re going to shop, find great food and enjoy the magical atmosphere the city offers. When you add in some new additions to your personal list of the best things to do in New Orleans, you discover history and culture awaiting you around every corner!
For even more incredible things to do in New Orleans, check out other experiences happening on Cozymeal.