Five Must-Dos in New Orleans

New Orleans is my favorite city in the United States and would be my favorite worldwide if it wasn’t for pesky old Glasgow. Since it’s only a five hour drive away from us, and you can literally find a festival or fun event for every weekend of the year, it’s no wonder that it has become our go-to vacation spot. Over the last few years, Peter and I have visited the Big Easy over half a dozen times and have plans to go at least twice in 2019. 

New Orleans is my favorite city in the United States and would be my favorite worldwide if it wasn’t for pesky old Glasgow. Since it’s only a five hour drive away from us, and you can literally find a festival or fun event for every weekend of the year, it’s no wonder that it has become our go-to vacation spot. Over the last few years, Peter and I have visited the Big Easy over half a dozen times and have plans to go at least twice in 2019. 

Even with the ever changing schedule of parades and happenings, there are some constant attractions in New Orleans that guarantee a good time. I’ve created my list of the top five things to do in the city, all of which can be easily accomplished over a long weekend. Keep in mind that I specifically chose activities in or near the French Quarter since that’s where most first-time visitors choose to stay. If you’re looking for more adventure or just want to explore different avenues of New Orleans’ districts, we also really like activities and restaurants in the Lower Garden District and Bywater neighborhoods.

Read on to learn the five fun activities you should include in your next trip to NOLA:

Ghost Tour

Since New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in America, there are approximately a million and one tour companies vying for your business when it comes to ghost tours. Our favorite is French Quarter Phantoms. Their tours are always well-run, not overpriced, and leave you knowing a lot more about the city. The best part? Their tour guides are all told to research their own lore about New Orleans instead of following a script, so no two tours are the same. If ghosts aren’t of interest to you, they also offer some great day-time options like the Saints + Sinners Tour and Garden District Tour.

woman riding ferry in new orleans

Algiers Point

Take a moment away from the hustle and bustle of the city and cross the river to visit Algiers Point. Ride the ferry, which lasts about five minutes and costs $2 cash, across the Mississippi River to the little neighborhood. Walk through the streets to find adorable homes with well-tended gardens, locals lounging on their porches, and plenty of friendly cats that aren’t opposed to getting petted. Or walk along the levee for a gorgeous view of the French Quarter. If you’re looking for a drink or snack while you’re on this side of the river, visit One Stone. They have vegan pastries, coffees, and teas all served in a modern cafe filled with local art. 

sign reading "irish cultural museum"

Museums

New Orleans holds a wealth of exciting museums. For history buffs, I can’t recommend the National World War II Museum enough. It’s humongous, full of fascinating displays, and portrays individual soldiers in a very moving way. On a lighter note, culinary buffs will have fun visiting the Southern Food and Beverage Museum. It’s a wacky attraction full of interactive sections covering everything from the history of absinthe to the rise and fall of the Piggly Wiggly grocery store chain. If you’re looking for more of a short and sweet stop, I’d recommend the Irish Cultural Museum. It’s a free one-room museum that briefly covers the history and contributions of the Irish population in New Orleans. 

pancakes with fruit on top

French Market

While bordering on being a tourist trap, the French Market is still a fun stop on any New Orleans vacation. The outdoor market is jam packed with food stalls, local vendors, artists, and craftspeople. If you’re looking to buy souvenirs for friends back home, you can often find small handmade goods inbetween the flashier (and occasionally trashier) offerings that some vendors offer. When it comes to food, our favorite is the Meals from the Heart Cafe. The little stand is a health conscious cafe serving up vegan-friendly dishes like gumbo, blueberry pancakes (see above), and plant-based crab cakes. 

above ground tomb

Cemetery Sightseeing

It might seem odd to some that I’m recommending looking at graves for fun, but there’s no place where that’s more acceptable than New Orleans. Since the city is below sea level, all of their dead have to be buried above ground, which results in elaborate (and often creepy) burial tombs. Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 is definitely the most popular graveyard to visit, with famous inhabitants such as Marie Laveau, NOLA’s first mayor, and even a preemptively purchased plot for Nicolas Cage. You can only visit the cemetery if you’re on a tour, so I recommend going with French Quarter Phantom’s option.  

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