In a city with so many things to see and do, where do you even start? Here are our top ten ideas for what to do while you’re here. Bienvenue!
Eat a po-boy for dinner
Po-boys are one of the iconic New Orleans dishes. They’re no-frills and insanely delicious, with toppings like barbecue shrimp, fried oysters, roast beef, and more. Try Guy’s Po-Boys, Gene’s, Parasol’s, or Parkway for starters. We love having one for dinner because it’s filling and affordable. But save room, because next on your list:
…and eat beignets for dessert
New Orleans’ signature treat – the beignet – is that kind of food that truly works any time of day (that’s why the world-famous Café du Monde is open 24 hours a day). While you could eat ‘em for breakfast or simply as a decadent snack, they also make a great dessert. They’re not overly sweet (depending on how much powdered sugar you add) and are perfect with café au lait.
Drink a Sazerac
The Sazerac was created right here in New Orleans, and it’s a standard you’ll find in several bars across the city. Strong and whiskey- or cognac-based, the Sazerac also features bitters, sugar, a lemon peel, and absinthe. Need a few ideas on where to get one? Try these bars:
21st Amendment at La Louisiane: This French Quarter bar uses honey syrup instead of a sugar cube for a unique and delicious Sazerac upgrade.
Bourbon “O”: You know a bar on Bourbon Street knows how to whip up a good Sazerac. They keep theirs classic and use locally produced rye whiskey.
May Baily’s Place: Located inside the Dauphine Orleans hotel, this spot was once part of Storyville, the city’s red light district. The atmosphere is just as important as the cocktail.
Vive!: Vive! features its own specialty cocktails, but order a Sazerac as the perfect counterpoint to the bar’s ultra-modern vibe.
Listen to jazz
Chances are, you’ll pass an impromptu jazz performance, particularly on the streets of the French Quarter. But if you’d rather not leave it up to fate, check out jazz venues like Preservation Hall, which offers nightly shows at 8, 9, and 10 p.m. You can also go to Frenchmen Street, a street in the Marigny just past the French Quarter lined with live music venues.
See Mardi Gras floats
Fact: it doesn’t have to be Mardi Gras for you to enjoy Mardi Gras! Mardi Gras World offers tours that give an unparalleled glimpse into making Mardi Gras the greatest free show on earth year after year. Take one of the tours to see the huge, handmade floats up close. You’ll definitely want to bring a camera – there are so many photo opps – and your appetite: each tour comes with a free slice of king cake.
Admire the Mississippi
The Mississippi River bends around the entire city, giving New Orleans its nickname, the Crescent City. Make sure to enjoy the Mighty Mississippi, perhaps on a steamboat or ferry, or simply by viewing it from the French Quarter.
Check out a festival
Mardi Gras might be one of the city’s largest events, but in New Orleans, nearly every weekend brings a new festival. Peak festival season is in Spring, but the summer months bring fests like Louisiana Seafood Festival and Satchmo Summer Fest, and fall hosts Crescent City Blues and BBQ Festival, Voodoo Music + Arts Experience, and more.
Flip for the French Quarter
The French Quarter is the historic center of the city, and it’s a neighborhood you definitely won’t want to miss during your trip. Walk around at dusk to see why it’s so magical – you’ll hear live music, see street performers, and can drop into boutiques, world-class restaurants, and so much more.
Get a go-cup (bars)
Did you know you can get your drink to-go in New Orleans and just keep on walking? Just ask for a “go-cup” at the bar, and you’re on your way.
Stay in Style
Where you stay can be one of the best parts of your trip. The right hotel lets you relax in style, with signature hospitality and an in-the-heart-of-it-all location. There are countless hotels in New Orleans, but we’ve done the hard work for you. Check out some of our favorite hotels in the city, located just steps away from incredible restaurants, cultural attractions, music, and more.