New Orleans
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Top attractions in New Orleans

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Top 10 things to do in New Orleans

A slow-brewed Gumbo of cultures with a seemingly immortal music scene, New Orleans still drips with the Southern charm chronicled by Tennessee Williams and other famous sons. Here are the best things to see and do in one of the US' most characteristic cities!

S.S. Natchez

There's no better way to cruise the Mississippi than by steamboat! The original Natchez was destroyed in a fire, but the current S.S. Natchez offers dinner and live Jazz tours of Old Man River.

French Quarter

Mit den elegantesten Gebäuden und Denkmälern der Stadt wie dem "1850 House“ oder dem Jackson Square ist das symbolträchtige French Quarter ist ein Muss für jeden Besucher.

Lake Pontchartrain

Having once suffered from careless overdevelopment, the Lake Pontchartrain are now a great place to swim and picnic, particularly by the Mardi Gras fountain.

Garden District

New Orlean's rich and famous still gravitate towards this district's 19th-century mansions. Book a Garden District tour to see the best bits, but it's also a great area just to wander and ponder!

Bourbon Street

Though it's now known primarily for its bars and clubs, by day, Bourbon Street remains one of the best places to tour New Orleans' colonial past.

The Cabildo

The governing-offices-turned-courthouse called Cabildo at Jackson Square is where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. Its blend of Spanish and French colonial architecture is now a museum.

Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium

The Audubon Institute runs a zoo and aquarium too, but as family attractions go, this is one of the best in the US. There's even a creepy-crawly snack bar – Bug Appétit!

Mardi Gras World

Discover what goes into making Mardi Gras' most breathtaking carnival floats at the giant Mardi Gras World warehouse. It's open 7 days a week, closing only for major holidays. Oh, and Mardi Gras!

Louisiana State Museum

Louisiana may have a short history but it's one that warrants 9 state museum buildings! The Cabildo is one, but their flagship is just across Jackson Square at The Presbytère.

The Old US Mint

Here's another branch of the Louisiana State Museum worth visiting. No longer used to mint coins, the Old US Mint is now a huge Jazz museum, exhibiting old recordings, photos, and live music!

Planning Your New Orleans Visit

When to go?

The height of summer (June-August) can get intolerably hot, but it's worth checking what events are happening the rest of the year before settling on dates. The famous Mardi Gras carnival takes place the day before Ash Wednesday (in February or March). If you want to sample some traditional street food though, arrive for November's Oak Street Po-Boy Festival to try the best Po-Boy sandwiches in town!

How long to stay?

For sightseeing, four days should be enough time to cover the French Quarter and Garden District, however, New Orleans is a city full of life and culture that penetrates deep beneath its surface. Book a few extra days if you can, keep your itinerary loose, and be prepared to get drawn into a few pleasant surprises!

How to get around?

Walking is by far the best way to see New Orleans, but when it's raining you can easily hail one of the city's many reasonably priced taxis. (Bear in mind though, that most cabs are more expensive and harder to come by on special event days.) There is also a well-connected bus network, but why not opt for the streetcars for which the city is famous? The St. Charles Avenue route, between downtown and Uptown, is a National Historic Landmark!

Good to know

  • Language
    English
  • Currency
    American Dollar ($)
  • Time Zone
    UTC (-06:00)
  • Country Code
    +1
  • Best time to visit
    Spring, fall and winter tend to be more pleasant times to visit the city, not only to avoid the heat, but also to experience Mardi Gras, or one of the city's famous festivals. Check event calendars while planning your trip!

Things to Do in New Orleans

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What people are saying about New Orleans

saw gators, beautiful scenery, guide very knowledgeable

This was a very enjoyable swamp tour. Our guide was very knowledgeable and we enjoyed his information very much. He always let us know when there was something special to see and gave us plenty of time to see it and take photos. The boat was easy to walk around on to get views from every side. There was a small restroom on board. We saw alligators, raccoons, big turtles and a crane. He tossed marshmallows to the racoons so we could see them scamper to pick it up. The scenery was beautiful, and he told us about the indigenous trees and rooting systems. He told us how weather and temperature play a big role in what animals we might see. He brought along 3 different sizes of crawfish, and a baby alligator with a rubber band around its mouth, for us to hold. He demonstrated how to hold it gently, and supervised closely. I remember him telling us the baby alligator was in his cooler with a warm water bottle, and it was obvious he cares for his creatures. I highly recommend this tour.

Louisiana Bayous 2-Hour Swamp Tour Reviewed by Carol, 11/29/2018

Knowledgeable guide and a good overall tour

DJ was our guide for 2 and a half hours and he really knew his information. Not just on the local sights but on history and art too. There was a lot of information passed and being a small group of four of us, we were really able to benefit from getting in and out of various sites. Since we were not in the French Quarter, the tour operator did not pick us up from our hotel but this was not a major problem.

New Orleans City Tour Reviewed by Sarah, 11/20/2018

Amazing boats , Rocky was a great captain.

We had a great tour, Rocky have us lots of information, I want to come back on a personal tour to shoot water rats. I suggest they put recovery ropes on the boats for the rookie drivers that get their boat stuck. Haha.

I celebrated my birthday on this Brunch Cruise was a great event

Was great cruise my entire group enjoyed the Brunch Cruise food was great and the atmosphere was great. I would recommend this cruise to all.

New Orleans: Sunday Brunch Steamboat Jazz Cruise Reviewed by Angela, 11/16/2018

Spooky experience with real ghost hunters!

John and Nicola were great! Very knowledgable and passionate about what they do; educators as well as ghost hunters. St. Vincent’s is a perfect place for this experience. Lots of spirits and supernatural energy. Highly recommend!