View of a red old streetcar on Canal Street, one of the Best Things to Do in New Orleans

56 Things to Do in New Orleans in 2023 (By a Local)

👉 Jump to: Best Things to Do in New Orleans | Kid & Family Activities | Live Music & Entertainment | Outdoor | Museums & Education | Historic Houses | Fun Things | FAQ

If you’re looking for awesome things to do in New Orleans, you’ve come to the right place – I’m a local with a keen sense of adventure, and I’m ready to steer you in the right direction.

New Orleans is a cultural hub of the South, and there are endless ways to spend your time. It’s known as the “Big Easy” due to the city’s embrace of relaxation and easy living. Of course, it’s easy to be a bon vivant as a visitor, too. There are so many ways to kick back and enjoy life in New Orleans, from immersive museums to unique nature and nightlife. 

Read on to find your calling, whether your interests lie in history, spooky stories, or just a great mint julep in the French Quarter. And don’t miss my guide on where to stay in New Orleans to help with your trip planning!

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Best Things to Do in New Orleans

The National WWII Museum

Visit a world-class, immersive history museum.

View of the sculpture of Anne Frank outside the National World War II Museum
A sculpture of Anne Frank outside the National World War II Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 528-1944 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $32.50, adults, $20 for kids, students, military

You’ll begin your day at the WWII Museum by receiving a dog tag and boarding a “train.” For the rest of your visit, you’ll get updates on your soldier’s story and eventually learn if they survived the war. 

The museum takes you through two highly immersive exhibits: The Road to Tokyo (about the Pacific theater) and The Road to Berlin (about the European theater). You can also catch a 4D movie and exhibits about the homefront and Normandy. The museum can’t be missed by history buffs or families with older kids.

St. Louis Cathedral

Get a taste of a European cathedral right in New Orleans.

Façade of the St. Louis Cathedral in the French Quarter
Famous New Orleans landmark, St. Louis Cathedral, in the French Quarter

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 525-9585 | Website | Hours: 8:30 am – 4 pm Monday – Friday, 5 pm – 6 pm Saturday, 9 am – 12 pm Sunday | Entrance: Free ($1 donation for a tour pamphlet) | 👉 Browse tours of the French Quarter

St. Louis Cathedral is one of the defining landmarks of New Orleans. It is an impressive 18th-century church bounding Jackson Square in the French Quarter. 

Brochures are available at the cathedral’s entrance for a self-guided tour, or you can hop on a French Quarter guided tour to get a better understanding of the area as a whole.

Bourbon Street

Catch a buzz or some beads on the French Quarter’s main nightlife thoroughfare.

View of the crowd wandering the Bourbon Street with shops and street vendors around

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Tours of Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street could very well be considered the Nightlife Capital of America, and it’s one of the things New Orleans is best known for. 

This strip of bars, clubs, and various establishments of iniquity is a partier’s playground. A popular destination for Bachelor and Bachelorette parties, Bourbon Street is best avoided by families at night. That said, the street’s bars and restaurants vary in tone, and with some effort, you can find something for nearly anyone.

The Riverboat Natchez

Experience life on the Mississippi.

View of the Riverboat Natchez near the dock

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 569-1401 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 7 pm daily | Entrance: Varies; $39, adults (daytime jazz cruise), $16 for kids 6-12, free for kids 5 and under | 👉 Browse Steamboat Natchez tours

The Steamboat Natchez is one of only two true steam-powered sternwheelers on the Mississippi River today. Families will love the view from the river, the engine room, and the calliope. Couples might opt for the Jazz lunch or dinner cruise. 

When the Steamboat Natchez undergoes maintenance, its sister ship, the City of New Orleans, is ready to take visitors for a spin.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Check out the Hotel Monteleone if you want to be right in the center of the French Quarter action.

Cafe du Monde

Sip your cafe au lait like a Parisian.

View of the people dining outside the Cafe du Monde

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 525-4544 | Website | Hours: 7:15 am – 12 am Thursday – Monday; 7:15 am – 11 pm Tuesday and Wednesday | 👉 Browse French Quarter Food Tours

Cafe du Monde is a famous open-air cafe in the French Quarter near Jackson Square. The cafe dates back to 1862 and makes a visitor feel as if they’ve been transported to the streets of Paris. 

Since their famous specialty is beignets (fried dough covered with powdered sugar), you likely won’t get many protests from the kids. Adults will enjoy sipping a cafe au lait with their sugary treats.

Frenchmen Street

Allow yourself to be surrounded by jazz in every direction.

Frenchmen signage on the street of New Orleans

📍 Google Maps

Frenchmen Street is the main New Orleans thoroughfare for live music venues – mostly local jazz clubs. It is a short car ride or longer (but generally doable) walk from the French Quarter. You’ll experience New Orleans music on the streets and inside almost every bar on a weekend night and many weeknights. Visitors often enjoy Cafe Negril, the Spotted Cat, and Three Muses. 

Since Frenchmen Street generally involves bar hopping, it is best reserved for adult visitors to New Orleans.

Mardi Gras Parades

Laissez les bons temps rouler (let the good times roll) at one of the country’s biggest parties.

The author Meg O'Connor with colorful beads around her neck at the Mardi Gras Parade
Me with my beads at Mardi Gras
Crowd with colorful outfits at Mardi Gras Parade
Mardi Gras spirit on full display

📍 Various locations around the city | Website | Mardi Gras Day varies annually; season lasts from January 6 – Fat Tuesday | Entrance: Free

Mardi Gras Season in New Orleans is arguably the country’s largest party. The season begins on January 6 (Three Kings Day or Epiphany Day) and ends the day before Lent begins. Parade frequency kicks up about two weeks before Mardi Gras Day, and especially the weekend and Monday before Fat Tuesday.

Families and adult revelers alike will have a blast catching throws from floats or cracking a beer on the side of a crowded New Orleans street. If you’re looking to avoid crowds, stay away from New Orleans during Mardi Gras.

If you’re unsure if visiting during Mardi Gras is right for you, then read my guide to the best time to visit New Orleans.

New Orleans Ghost Adventure Tours

Feel goosebumps on your neck as you prowl the streets at night.

Dramatic black & white silhouette of New Orleans cemetery

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 475-5214 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 9 pm daily | Entrance: $30 | 👉 Browse other New Orleans Ghost Tours

Ghost tours are a great way to while away a night in New Orleans. In a city known for its eerie history and purported ghosts, ghost tour fans shouldn’t miss a chance to bask in the creepiness. Furthermore, ghost tours are an excellent way to learn more about the history of a city you’re visiting. 

New Orleans Ghost Adventure Tours offers a variety of tours, including a ghost tour by foot or bus and a true crime bar crawl.

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

Experience one of the country’s greatest music festivals.

Hand painted poster of women and Jazz Fest signage

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 558-6100 | Website | Hours: Takes place in April – May annually | Entrance: A one-day ticket is $85 ($95 at the door), adults, $5, kids ages 2-10; A three-day weekend pass is $240

New Orleans Jazz Fest is a world-famous and much-coveted experience. New Orleans can get a little crowded during Jazz Fest (especially around the New Orleans Fairgrounds in the Bayou St. John neighborhood) and tickets are pricey. 

However, you and your family will be in for a once-in-a-lifetime music experience. Headlining acts are often major, like the Rolling Stones or Ed Sheeran.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Check out the Inn at the Old Jail in the Bayou St. John neighborhood, about one mile from City Park and the Fairgrounds (where Jazz Fest takes place)

Magazine Street

Shop, eat, and promenade at your leisure.

Magazine signage on the street of New Orleans

📍 Google Maps

Magazine Street is a main Uptown New Orleans thoroughfare. It follows the curve of the Mississippi River and was named for an ammunition magazine once located there. 

The street is chock-full of amazing New Orleans restaurants and shopping opportunities. Some of my favorite restaurants in this area include Dat Dog, Shaya, Mohoney’s, and the Rum House. The whole area is very family- and kid-friendly.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? Check out the St. Charles Coach House in the beautiful Lower Garden District

Kid & Family Activities in New Orleans

City Putt

Putter around a Louisiana-themed mini-golf course.

A cute sculpture at the mini golf course in New Orleans City Park
Mini golf course in New Orleans City Park, featuring Mr. Bingle, the New Orleans Christmas mascot

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 483-9385 | Website | Hours: 3 pm – 9 pm Wednesday, Thursday, Friday; 10 am – 10 pm Saturday and Sunday; Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $10, adults, $8 for kids (4-12), free for kids under 4

New Orleans City Park is an expansive, family-friendly wonderland. City Putt plays no small role in the magic. This miniature golf attraction has two courses: one is New Orleans- themed, the other Louisiana-themed. 

Kids will love the big decorations along the course and may even learn a thing or two about Louisiana history and culture.

Audubon Zoo

Visit all sorts of critters in this New Orleans uptown institution.

A baby monkey hanging on the wood at Audubon Zoo

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 861-2537 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $30, adults, $25 for kids

Audubon Zoo is one of those places you can visit for an afternoon and feel like you’ve traveled around the world. 

With themed areas representing different regions and biomes, visitors are immersed in vibrant sights and sounds. One unique highlight is the Louisiana-themed area where visitors will get a taste of life in the swamp.

The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

Take a spin on a Victorian-era carousel.

View of the crowd at the entrance of The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 482-4888 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm Saturday and Sunday | Entrance: $25, kids over 36”, $13, adults/chaperones

Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in New Orleans City Park has 18 rides and is one of the oldest carousels in America. The historic carousel dates back to 1906, when merry-go-rounds were a more common sight in urban centers. 

Other features include a roller coaster, bumper cars, a Ferris wheel, and rides on a miniature train that takes you throughout City Park.


Scamper around giant fairy-tale sculptures.

View of the sculptures holding the landmark sign of Storyland

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 483-9402 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4:30 pm Wednesday – Sunday | Entrance: $6, adults and kids 36” and up, Free for kids under 36”

Young kids in particular will adore Storyland with its large-scale fairy-tale sculptures designed for playing and climbing. And since it’s right next door to the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in New Orleans City Park, larger families can even split up their older and younger children.

Cool Zoo at Audubon Zoo

Cool off in a lazy river or shaded cabana.

Different animal sculptures in the middle of a big fountain in Audubon Zoo in Uptown New Orleans

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 861-2537 | Website | Hours: Spring/Summer only; 10 am – 1 pm and 2 pm – 5 pm Saturday and Sunday | Entrance to Zoo: $30, adults, $25 for kids, Entrance to Cool Zoo (in addition to zoo ticket): $10

Although the Cool Zoo is part of the Audubon Zoo, it warrants its own entry here because it can be hard to find places to cool off in New Orleans’s grueling summer heat. 

If you’re visiting during a heat wave and have kids in tow, the Cool Zoo is a unique place to get some relief. There’s a 750-foot lazy river for the kids and shaded lounges and concessions for the adults. 

Louisiana Children’s Museum

Splash around models of the Mississippi River and port.

A colorful boat on the water

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 523-1357 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4:30 pm Wednesday – Saturday; 11:30 am – 4:30 pm Sunday; Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $16, adults and children; $13, seniors and military

The Louisiana Children’s Museum is another fantastic gem in City Park for little ones and their families. 

One of the coolest elements of the museum is its regional New Orleans content, like Mississippi River-inspired watery play tanks. There will be plenty to capture the interest of older kids, but there are also many dedicated toddler areas.

Smoothie King Center

Enjoy a rollicking, family-friendly basketball game.

The author Meg O'Connor posing outside the Smoothie King Center
Me at the Smoothie King Center

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 587-3663 | Website | Entrance: Varies by event

In recent years, New Orleans has become better known as a “basketball city.” The New Orleans Pelicans home games are particularly family-friendly and kids will love the mood and the entertainment. Concerts are also held at the stadium, often featuring world-famous acts.

Mardi Gras World

Experience Fat Tuesday any day of the year.

Sculptures at the entrance of Mardi Gras World
(photo: 4kclips / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 361-7821 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5:30 pm daily | Entrance: $22, adult, $14, child

Even if you can’t visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras season, it’s always possible to squeeze a little Mardi Gras spirit in. 

One way is to visit Mardi Gras World. It’s open year-round and 7 days a week. It’s great for family photo ops and ogling at huge floats. They also offer a free shuttle from the New Orleans French Quarter (Canal Street) to transport you to Mardi Gras World.

Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Befriend the river otters.

View of the coral reef and fishes under the ocean

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 565-3033 | Website | Hours: Temporarily closed but reopening in the summer of 2023 

The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a fantastic aquarium. It’s also another option for the family during a rainy or sweltering hot day in New Orleans. 

The ambiance inside is relaxing and escapist, with tropical gardens to walk through. Kids will love the sharks and otters.

Live Music & Entertainment in New Orleans

Rock n’ Bowl

A jamming bowling experience.

View of the pins at the bowling alley

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 861-1700 | Website | Hours: 5 pm  – Til Tuesday – Friday; 4 pm -Til Saturday; closed Sunday and Monday | Entrance: Bowling is $25/hour for one lane

Rock n’ Bowl combines the family fun of bowling with an element of nightlife and a New Orleans cultural flair. Their selling point is live music while you bowl, usually on Thursday, Friday, and/or Saturday (check their online calendar). 

BB’s Stage Door Canteen

Sip a drink, sway to the music, and time travel back to the 1940s.

Exterior view of The National WWII Museum from BB’s Stage Door Canteen

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 528-1943 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: Varies based on event

The Stage Door Canteen is a themed performance space located in the National WWII Museum. Visitors who want to add a little levity to their museum experience or who just want a fun and unusual night out will adore the Canteen’s shows.

They have both matinee and evening performances. Shows have included Wartime Piano Happy Hour and Dine and Dance with the Victory Swing Orchestra.

Dueling Pianos at Pat O’Brien’s

Relax in a classy piano bar (and home of the Hurricane).

View inside the dueling piano lounge at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter
The dueling piano lounge at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 525-4823 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 12 am Sunday, Wednesday, and Thursday; 12 pm – 2 am Friday and Saturday; Closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: No cover charge

Pat O’Brien’s is one of my favorite bars in the French Quarter and New Orleans. Located just off Bourbon Street, it’s got a classiness and openness that can be difficult to find elsewhere. Relax near a fountain in the sprawling courtyard or settle in for the dueling pianos inside. 

The piano lounge is open Thursday and Sunday from 4 pm to midnight and Friday and Saturday from 3 pm to 1 am. Be sure to order a Hurricane–they were invented in-house.

Visit Tipitina’s

Hang with the locals and catch some great music.

A performer with a guitar at Tipitina’s
A performer at Tipitina’s

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 895-8477 | Website | Entrance: Tickets vary but are generally between $0 and $35 | 👉 Browse New Orleans Music Tours

Tipitina’s (locally often shortened to “Tips”) is a music venue in Uptown New Orleans. It is popular amongst locals and is a true cultural institution. 

In fact, the name of the venue was inspired by the song “Tipitina” by Professor Longhair, a seminal blues musician from the area. Tipitina’s is an old warehouse with a laid-back and intimate vibe.

Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro

Kick back to the sound of New Orleans brass.

View of the hanging signage at the Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro
(photo: Wirestock Creators / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 949-9696 | Website | Hours: 6 pm – 12 am Thursday – Sunday; Closed Monday – Wednesday | Entrance: Ticket prices vary | 👉 Browse Frenchmen Street tours

You may hear New Orleans locals describe Frenchmen Street as the “new Bourbon Street” because it’s where the authentic music and nightlife lives. While adventurous crowds may choose to wing it or partake in a Frenchmen pub crawl (see the tour link), some people might want a more mellow option. 

Snug Harbor is an intimate, sit-down jazz bistro. Tickets are purchased ahead of time, so you won’t have to elbow through the crowd. And you can enjoy dinner and cocktails during the show.

Preservation Hall

Experience an authentic brass band in a famous concert hall.

View of the pastel colored doors at the Preservation Hall

📍 Google Maps | Website | Phone: (504) 522-2841 | Hours: 5 pm – 9:30 pm daily | Entrance: $40 seated, $25 standing room

Preservation Hall is a famous jazz performance space in the New Orleans French Quarter. The performers and the space itself seem to exude passion and soul. 

The space is small and can get hot in the summer, but guests still flock back religiously to get their authentic jazz fix. For $50, you can purchase a front-row ticket and experience all Preservation Hall has to offer. 

Outdoor Activities in New Orleans

The Country Club

Take a dip and take a sip at the Bywater’s counterculture establishment.

The author Meg O'Connor posing outside  near the staircase to The Country Club entrance
Me posing outside The Country Club

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 945-0742 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 11 pm daily | Entrance: $20 day pass, must be 21 or older

The Country Club isn’t your typical country club: it’s an offbeat, LGBTQ-friendly, counterculture hangout spot for adults. It’s got both a delicious restaurant and a backyard courtyard and pool. 

If you’re a solo adult looking to meet people or a couple looking to cool off, head to the backyard for a dip and a cocktail. Enjoy the pool scene of Miami mixed with the open-minded acceptance of New Orleans.

Alto Rooftop Pool (The Ace Hotel)

Enjoy a swanky rooftop pool and cocktails.

View of the interior in the lobby of Ace Hotel in the Warehouse District
The swanky lobby of the Ace Hotel

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 900-1180 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 9 pm Sunday – Thursday; 9 am – 10 pm Friday and Saturday | Entrance: $45 for a day pass

The Alto Rooftop Pool at the swanky, 4-star Ace Hotel is the grown-up version of the Cool Zoo. You have to be 21 or over to enter, and admission is somewhat steep for a day pass. 

However, if you are craving a hip pool scene and rooftop bar to help you forget about the New Orleans heat, the Alto Rooftop Pool is a great option. Be sure to check out their lobby and attached coffee shop as well.

The New Orleans Botanical Garden

Bask in a subtropical paradise.

A sculpture surrounded with greenery at The New Orleans Botanical Garden
The New Orleans Botanic Gardens

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 483-9488 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4:30 pm Wednesday – Sunday, closed Monday and Tuesday | Entrance: $12, adults, $6 for kids 3-12, free for kids under 3

The New Orleans Botanical Garden at City Park, dating back to 1936, can be enjoyed year-round. There’s a covered conservatory with a tropical rainforest exhibit that can help visitors get out of the cold or rain. 

A kid-friendly hidden gem within the property is the Train Garden. It’s a small model of New Orleans, featuring the city’s Creole architecture, with little motorized streetcars that zoom around 1,300 feet of track. The trains only operate on Saturdays and Sundays, so plan accordingly if you have little ones in tow.

Metairie Cemetery

Wander through a City of the Dead.

View of the tomb at the New Orleans cemetery
A tomb at the cemetery
A crow sits on a headstone at the cemetery
A crow sits on a headstone at the cemetery

📍 Google Maps | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse Metairie Cemetery Tours

Metairie Cemetery sits on the grounds of a former (antebellum) race track. It is located near Longue Vue House and Gardens and the two can be easily combined if you have access to a car. 

While there are more famous cemeteries in New Orleans (like St. Louis #1 and Lafayette Cemetery), Metairie Cemetery is large, impressive, low-key, and free. Unlike some of the more famous cemeteries, it does not require an official tour to visit.

Crescent Park

Enjoy a free fitness class next to the Mississippi River.

View of the Crescent Park with a clear blue sky  in the background

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 636-6400 | Website | Hours: 6 am – 7:30 pm daily | Entrance: Free

Crescent Park is a linear park along the Mississippi River. It has a 1.4-mile-long path for walking or biking. While Crescent Park is not, in my opinion, among New Orleans’s prettiest green spaces, it warrants a quick stop for anyone wanting a view of the Mississippi River or of the city’s skyscape. 

The park also has free fitness classes on Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Congo Square/Louis Armstrong Park

Pay homage to the birthplace of jazz.

The sculptures at the Louis Armstrong park

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 638-3200 | Website | Hours: 8 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: Free 

Louis Armstrong Park in the Treme neighborhood celebrates black musicians from New Orleans like Louis Armstrong and Mahalia Jackson. It also contains Congo Square, a famous 18th-century gathering spot for enslaved people in New Orleans. 

The square is often credited as one of the fundamental birthplaces of jazz.

The Algiers Ferry

Cruise the Muddy Mississippi for almost free.

A ferry sailing across the Mississippi River
(photo: Page Light Studios / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 361-7821 | Website | Hours: Check official ferry schedule | Entrance: $2

The Algiers (or Canal Street) ferry might be a practical mode of transport for some New Orleans locals, but for visitors, it can achieve so many purposes.

Maybe you want the cheapest possible ride on the famous Muddy Mississippi. Or maybe you want to snag some of the best photos of the downtown New Orleans skyline. Or possibly, you know you’ll be delighted by the 19th-century charm of Algiers, the lesser-known New Orleans neighborhood across the river. Regardless, the Algiers Ferry will delight members of the family of any age.

The Music Box Village

Release your inner musician and child.

Musical notes made with wood and leaves

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Limited visiting hours; check their calendar for info on shows and public hours | Entrance: $15, adult (suggested donation), $5, child (suggested donation)

The Music Box Village is like a quirky cross between a playground, a modern art museum, and a backyard concert. Interactive art and music pieces invite you to climb on up and bang on some drums in a treehouse, for instance. 

It’s hard to describe but will awaken your inner child and artist to experience this New Orleans hidden gem.

Museums & Education

The Cabildo

Exterior view of The Cabildo
The exterior of the Cabildo

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 568-8975 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 3:30 pm Tuesday – Sunday | Entrance: $10, adults, $8 for kids over 6, Under 6 is free

The Cabildo is the 18th-century building that houses the Louisiana State Museum exhibits in Jackson Square. Two major exhibits are a Mardi Gras exhibit and a Hurricane Katrina exhibit. 

The Mardi Gras exhibit is appropriate for families and kids of all ages. While the Hurricane Katrina museum is tougher to take in, it is an incredibly well-done homage to the suffering that occurred during the storm.

The Southern Food and Beverage Museum

Learn about everything from the founder of Popeyes Chicken to the history of absinthe.

Old bottles displayed in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum
Old bottles in the Southern Food and Beverage Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 569-0405 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 5 pm daily, closed Tuesday and Wednesday | Entrance: $10.50, adults, free for kids under 12

Head to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum to learn not just about Southern food, but also its interconnection with culture and community in New Orleans and the region. Adults in particular may enjoy the Museum of the American Cocktail exhibit and the inexpensive bin of used cookbooks for sale. Kids will enjoy the vivid exhibits and props.

Backstreet Cultural Museum

Learn authentically about New Orleans’s culture.

Colorful exhibit of Big Chief Victor Harris, Spirit of FiYiYi
Displays at the Backstreet Cultural Museum

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 657-6700 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 4 pm Tuesday – Saturday; Closed Sunday and Monday | Entrance: $20, adults, $10 for kids 12 and under | 👉 Browse Tours of the Treme Neighborhood

The Backstreet Cultural Museum contains the world’s largest collection of New Orleans African American cultural items. Specifically, the museum focuses on Mardi Gras Indian costumes and artifacts related to parades and jazz funerals. 

The Backstreet Cultural Museum pays homage to the backbone of New Orleans’s cultural traditions and provides an amazing learning experience for any visitor or family.

New Orleans Museum of Art

Enjoy a classy break from the heat.

Façade of the New Orleans Museum of Art, seen from a distance
The New Orleans Museum of Art

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 658-4100 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Sunday; Closed Monday | Entrance: $15, adults, Free for kids 12 and under

The New Orleans Museum of Art in City Park has three expansive floors full of exhibits. The museum is free for Louisiana residents on Wednesdays, and the sculpture garden adjacent to the museum is also free. 

The sculpture garden is beautifully and creatively landscaped. Guests also rave about the museum’s cafe with varied and worldly dishes.

Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Learn more about Southern art.

Exterior view of the brick walled Ogden Museum of Southern Art

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 539-9650 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily | Entrance: $10, adults, $5 for kids ages 5-17, Free for kids under 5 

The Ogden Museum of Art specializes in the art of the southern United States. Through diverse galleries and programming, the museum educates visitors on Southern art and culture. The Ogden After Hours event features music, food, and drinks.

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

Learn about medicine from times-gone-by.

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 565-8027 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Tuesday – Saturday; Closed Sunday and Monday | Entrance: $10, adults, $7 for students, seniors, and military, Free for kids 6 and under | 👉 Browse tours of French Quarter attractions and museums

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter is a quirky little establishment that will appeal to lovers of the eclectic or grotesque. 

It actually pairs quite nicely with the Sazerac House due to the shared history of medicine and cocktails. They occasionally host live music in their historic courtyard. 

The Voodoo Museum

Learn about gris-gris and zombies.

Hanging wooden signage of The Voodoo Museum
(photo: f11 Photo / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 680-0128 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $10, adults; $8, students | 👉 Browse New Orleans Voodoo tours

The Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter is small and dusty, but it’s probably unlike anything you’ve seen before or will see again. 

A few of the artifacts, like a mummified cat, may impact sensitive visitors or kids. But most visitors will be delighted to learn more about the mysteries of Voodoo, zombies, and gris-gris. You can pass through the museum in an hour or so if you’ve got a busy day lined up in New Orleans.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum

Explore jazz history in the old New Orleans Mint building.

View of the landmark signage at The New Orleans Jazz Museum
(photo: William A. Morgan / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 568-6993 | Website | Hours: 9 am – 4 pm Tuesday – Sunday; Closed Monday | Entrance: $8, adults; $6, students, seniors, and military; Children under 6 are free | 👉 Browse New Orleans Jazz tours

The New Orleans Jazz Museum is almost two museums in one, seeing as it’s housed in the old mint from 1835. 

The bottom floor pays homage to the New Orleans Mint with coin exhibits, while the upper floor is dedicated to jazz. And since it’s then an easy walk to the bustling live jazz corridor Frenchmen Street, you won’t be a far walk from authentic jazz as the sun sets.

Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience

Discover the unique experiences of Southern Jews.

View of the signage of the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience outside the building
(photo: William A. Morgan / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 384-2480 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 5 pm Wednesday – Monday; Closed Tuesday | Entrance: $15, adults, $10, children 6-17, free for children under 6

The Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is a fantastic, modern learning experience right in New Orleans. The museum incorporates technology seamlessly throughout. Visitors love the many different perspectives and interviews integrated into the museum’s exhibits. It is on the small side, so you only need about 90 minutes.

The Museum of Death

Stare into the abyss – and Robin Williams’s death mask.

An exhibit of two human skulls

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 593-3968 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 6 pm daily | Entrance: $17

The Museum of Death in New Orleans is a gritty and unique experience for those who aren’t faint of heart. 

The collections include everything from serial killer paraphernalia to skeletons and taxidermy. Many viewers may find the museum truly disturbing, but it’s a cool bucket-list item for fans of true crime or dark history.

Historic Houses in New Orleans

The Pitot House

Witness Colonial West Indies architecture.

Exterior view of The Pitot House
(photo: William A. Morgan / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 482-0382 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday; Closed all other days | Entrance: $10, adults, $7, students and seniors

The Pitot House hails from the year 1799 and was once occupied by a New Orleans Mayor. Today, it’s the only example of Colonial West Indies architecture in New Orleans that can be toured by the public. The furnishings inside date to the 19th century. 

Adults who love architecture or old houses should definitely pencil in the Pitot House.

The 1850 House

Visit one of the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.

📍 Google Maps | | Phone: (504) 524-9118 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 4 pm Tuesday – Sunday | Entrance: $5, adults; $4, students, seniors, and military; children under 6 free

This mid-19th-century New Orleans French Quarter house is part of the Louisiana State Museum system. It’s right in Jackson Square, making it easily accessible from anywhere in the French Quarter. 

It is decorated with antiques and reflects life as an upper-middle-class New Orleanian during the 19th century. It is thought to be one of the oldest apartment buildings in the United States.

The House of Broel

See a staggering collection of handmade dollhouses.

A two storey old dollhouse

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 494-2220 | Website | Hours: Tours by appointment only

The House of Broel is a gorgeous Garden District mansion and a popular New Orleans wedding venue. However, the lesser-known secret about the House of Broel is its Dollhouse Museum, all made by the house’s owner, Bonnie Broel. 

Tours of the mansion and gardens are available by appointment only.

Madame John’s Legacy

See one of the last examples of French Creole architecture in the city.

Two women taking a picture at the balcony of Madame John’s Legacy
(photo: Page Light Studios / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 568-6968 | Website | Hours: Temporarily closed as of April 2023

Madame John’s Legacy is a historic house in the New Orleans French Quarter. It is built in the French colonial style, which is older than the more-recent Spanish colonial architecture. 

The house is a National Historic Landmark and was briefly seen in the movie Interview with a Vampire. Fans of historic architecture will enjoy their visit.

Longue Vue House and Gardens

Tour a 1940s mansion and lush, subtropical gardens.

The author Meg O'Connor with her friend taking a picture together
Me and a friend after enjoying a picnic at the Longue-Vue gardens

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 488-5488 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 5 pm Monday – Saturday; Closed Sunday | Entrance: $25 for the house, $30 for the house and gardens, $10 for just the gardens

The Longue Vue House is an opulent mansion built in the late 1930s by famous architect Ellen Shipman. The house has twenty rooms and is a National Historic Landmark. The house runs guided tours and provides a great option for families or couples seeking a rainy-day activity in New Orleans. 

The gardens can be seen in less than an hour but provide a lovely picnic opportunity.

Garden District Mansions

Stroll down St. Charles Avenue and imagine what it’s like to be Southern high society.

Façade of a mansion in the Uptown New Orleans Garden District
A mansion in the Uptown New Orleans Garden District

📍 Google Maps | Website | Entrance: Free to walk, $3.00 round trip for the St. Charles Streetcar | 👉 Browse tours of the Garden District

The Garden District is a beautiful neighborhood in Uptown New Orleans full of live oaks and gorgeous mansions. 

There are several ways to explore the Garden District. One option is to take a formal tour of the garden district. Another is to do a self-guided walking tour. Finally, the St. Charles streetcar moseys down the main drag of the Garden District and provides a fantastic way to gawk at mansions.

Beauregard-Keyes House

Tour a French Creole residence built before the Civil War.

Exterior view of the Beauregard-Keyes Home at sunset
(photo: William Silver / Shutterstock)

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 523-7257 | Website | Hours: 10 am – 3 pm on weekdays; closed Saturday and Sunday | Entrance: $10, adults; $4, kids 6-12; Free for kids under 6

The Beauregard-Keyes House was originally built in 1826 and is a must-see on the New Orleans historic house circuit. The home was owned by a French Creole family and a New Orleans author named Frances Parkinson Keyes, who wrote a book inspired by the famous New Orleans chess player, Paul Morphy. The house has been stunningly restored to its Victorian look.

It is located on the outskirts of the French Quarter and nearby Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, one of the coolest bars in New Orleans and one of the oldest in America.

Fun Things to Do in New Orleans

Art Galleries in the Arts District

Explore funky galleries in the Warehouse District.

Blue door façade in the New Orleans Arts District
A beautiful building facade adjacent to a gallery in the New Orleans Arts District

📍 Google Maps | Website | Hours: Vary by gallery | Entrance: Free 

One of the best times to visit the New Orleans Arts District’s many galleries is on the first Saturday of every month starting at 6 pm for the First Saturday Gallery Openings. 

There are also large events annually like White Linen Night in August. The neighborhood is known as a bar and restaurant hub for young professionals and artists.

The Superdome

Intercept some excitement at a Saints game.

View of the crowd across The Superdome

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (800) 756-7074 | Website | Entrance: Varies by event

Caesar’s Superdome is one of the most distinctive features of the New Orleans skyline. It is best known as the home of the New Orleans Saints, and football fans will love attending a home game. 

Even if you don’t make it for a game, it’s fun to walk around the base of the stadium and see the statue commemorating Steve Gleason’s famous 2006 block. Other events like concerts and monster truck show also take place at the Superdome. 


Try not to knock over your giant Jenga tower.

View of the colorful interior in Barcadia

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 335-1740 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 12 am daily | Entrance: No cover charge

Barcadia is a restaurant, bar, and nightclub in New Orleans’s Central Business District. They have happy hour on Monday – Thursday from 11 am – 7 pm. The selling point of Barcadia is its expansive collection of arcade games, including Pac-Man and giant Connect Four. The drinks are notoriously strong pours.

The Sazerac House

Get some hands-on learning about New Orleans’s cocktail history.

Closeup view of a glass of sazerac cocktail with Mardi Gras beads on the wooden table

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 910-0100 | Website | Hours: 11 am – 6 pm Tuesday – Sunday; Closed Monday | Entrance: Free | 👉 Browse New Orleans Cocktail Tours

The Sazerac House is a true hidden gem of New Orleans. It’s a cocktail museum where you actually get to sample the cocktails. 

A self-guided tour of the Sazerac House is free (there are various educational cocktail class add-ons should you desire them). The last tour begins at 4:20 pm. While kids might not be too keen on this cocktail museum, it will be great for most adults, whether they are drinkers or not. 

Clue-Carre Escape Rooms

Race against a swamp witch’s curse.

The author Meg O'Connor with her friends at the Clue-Carre Escape Rooms
Me and friends at the escape room

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 667-2583 | Website | Hours: 12 pm – 9 pm on Monday – Thursday; 10:30 am – 9 pm Friday, Saturday, and Sunday | Entrance: $32 per person

Clue Carre is my favorite escape room in New Orleans because of the elaborate set pieces and creative puzzles. They are more reasonably priced than their main competitor and all rooms are private. They have 5 rooms to choose from at the New Orleans location.

I highly recommend Revenge on the Bayou or French Quarter House of Curiosities for visitors. Since the former is a little spooky, sensitive kids might do better in the latter. Families, couples, and groups of friends will enjoy working together to solve puzzles.

🛎️ Need a Hotel? There are so many great Central Business District hotels, like the Eliza Jane Hotel.

Escape My Room

Get swept away by puzzling entertainment.

The author Meg O'Connor with her friend at the Escape My Room

📍 Google Maps | Phone: (504) 475-7580 | Website | Hours: 9:30 am – 9:30 pm Sunday – Thursday; 9:30 am – 9:45 pm Friday and Saturday | Entrance: Varies based on group size (where the cost per person decreases as group size increases); Two people on a weekday is $116, two people on a weekend is $140

Though pricier than some other Escape Room options, Escape My Room certainly brings some perks to the table. 

First, it was awarded the title of 9th best escape room in the world.  It is also located in a historic perfume factory and goes all-in convincing you you’ve time-traveled to the past. You will even be greeted by costumed actors. This escape room is definitely unique to New Orleans.

FAQs About What to Do in New Orleans

What is the number one attraction in New Orleans? 

The number one attraction in New Orleans is the French Quarter. This compact historical neighborhood contains most of the main landmarks, like St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and Cafe du Monde.

What are some unique and local things to do in New Orleans? 

Some unique and local things to do in New Orleans for families include the attractions at New Orleans City Park (City Putt mini-golf, the train garden inside the New Orleans Botanic Gardens, and the Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art

For adults visiting, catching live music on Frenchmen Street and visiting the Sazerac House cocktail museum are both unique things to do in New Orleans.


There is certainly no shortage of fun and unique things to do in New Orleans. From parks to museums to music, New Orleans–especially the famous French Quarter– is sure to impress its visitors. Up next, check out these excellent day trips from New Orleans.

I hope you now have a sense of things to do in New Orleans. Have fun exploring!

(Featured Image Credit: Nina Alizada / Shutterstock)

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