New Orleans is a unique city. It has a unique vibe that can’t be found in any other city in America. It’s known for its tradition of jazz music, Cajun cuisine, and outrageous Mardi Gras celebrations. New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures, with diversity reflected in its language, architecture, and music.
The French Quarter is the main tourist area in New Orleans. It’s the most famous district in the city, and it’s filled with excitement. The heart of the area is Bourbon Street, where tourists come to party. On the Mississippi River, you’ll find horse-drawn carriages for sightseeing, boats, and lines of people buying beignets from street vendors.
New Orleans is a city of many neighborhoods. Although the French Quarter is the most famous, there are many other locations around town that are worth exploring. From the trendy Warehouse District to the posh Garden District, this city has something for everyone.
New Orleans is a wonderful walking city. Many of the main attractions are located in or near the French Quarter, but to explore the Garden District, you might want to take a streetcar. The bus system is also a great way to get around. If you want to visit an attraction that’s further away, such as the zoo, it’s a good idea to take the bus.
If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, check out our list of the top attractions. We’ve ranked them by popularity and level of interest.
1. French Quarter
The French Quarter is the heart of tourist attractions in New Orleans. It is full of entertainment, dining, and architecture. The main attraction is the architecture, but it’s also great for people who want to eat and listen to jazz music.
Old buildings dating back 300 years are scattered all over the city. These buildings are French in appearance with arcades, wrought iron balconies, red-tiled roofs, and picturesque courtyards. Many of these buildings now contain hotels, restaurants, souvenir shops, galleries, and jazz clubs.
Bourbon Street is the most famous street in the French Quarter, but it’s not necessarily the highlight of the area. This street by day is relatively benign but at night transforms into a loud and boisterous pedestrian area that may not always feel safe.
New Orleans is known for its historic buildings, fine dining, and unique shopping opportunities. The Royal Street in the French Quarter offers a great mix of these things. This street has some higher end stores, galleries, and hotels. One of the notable buildings here is the Court of Two Sisters (1832), now an upscale restaurant known for its jazz brunch.
Some of the best jazz musicians in New Orleans can be found on Frenchmen Street. When you go to Frenchmen Street, you will also find good food and the city’s artists.
Within the French Quarter, one of the most famous squares is Jackson Square. It is located right on the waterfront and is known for its street musicians and artists.
2. Mardi Gras
They call it Mardi Gras. And also Fat Tuesday, and Pancake day. No matter what you call it, the New Orleans Carnival is a big deal for locals and tourists alike. It lasts for two weeks, ending with the last day before Lent.
Celebration parades are a daily occurrence in Rio. The city is full of festivities and entertainment leading up to Carnival. People crowd the streets, balconies, and sidewalks to watch the parades. There are many floats with outrageous decorations. Everyone gets covered with beads as the beads are tossed from the floats.
Bourbon Street is the main bar street in the French Quarter. The whole French Quarter is super popular. The tradition was introduced to the city by French settlers and became extremely popular by the end of the 19th century.
3. National WWII Museum
The U.S. National World War II Museum in New Orleans is one of the best museums I have ever visited. Its exhibits are engaging and offer the visitor a look into the history of WWII as it was fought in Europe and in the Pacific. I can easily see why it’s so popular with tourists.
The museum is divided into three sections, each exhibiting a different aspect of the war. There’s a section for the war in the Pacific, another for the war in Europe, and a third building housing World War II aircraft.
The film Beyond All Boundaries will be shown in the 4D Theater. The theater will be transformed into a tank that makes viewers feel as if they are in the middle of a battle. It will also include stage props that will bring the story to life and make it more exciting.
As you walk through the museum, you’ll see short documentary-style films. They give a look at how the items on display were involved in war. The segments are black-and-white. The oral histories will enhance your experience.
Throughout the museum, there are stations where you can find out more about the person who is in your group. You can read more about what that person did during their time overseas.
Last month, the complex opened the Stage Door Canteen, which is a restaurant that also hosts live entertainment. The entertainment includes comedy, music, and dancing. The shows are lunchtime performances on weekdays, and dinner performances on weekends.
4. Jackson Square
In the center of the French Quarter of New Orleans is a statue of General Andrew Jackson. Surrounded by trees and greenery, the statue is in Jackson Square. The name of the square originates from its original use as a military parade ground, called Place d’Armes.
St. Louis Cathedral is the most prominent landmark in the French Quarter. It has a white façade and cone shaped spires. Nearby are the Presbytere and Cabildo, both of which are Louisiana State Museums.
Around the iron fence that surrounds the square, artists have long congregated. Nearby are restaurants and shops, making it a popular spot for tourists.
The Riverboat Docks and the Moon Walk are downtown attractions that people can enjoy as they stroll along the banks of the Mississippi. The Millhouse is a local restaurant where people can dine on a variety of food. And there are plenty of stores to choose from!
5. Preservation Hall
Preservation Hall is a run-down building that has been around for a long time. It’s known for its jazz music, but now it’s more traditional. The historic Preservation Hall still features local artists performing jazz music.
The cafe is small, creating a cozy atmosphere. Seating is limited, so if you walk by the building in the afternoon you’ll see if there are any events going on that evening. Opening hours and event information is posted at the door each day.
6. St. Louis Cathedral
The St. Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square is a beautiful landmark in the city of New Orleans. It was built in 1794 and is the oldest cathedral in continuous use in the United States. Pope John Paul II visited it in 1987.
Don Andres Almonester de Roxas was a Spaniard who arrived in New Orleans with a fortune. In the aftermath of the second great fire, he contributed money to rebuild the city. A church was built using his wealth.
7. City Park
New Orleans City Park is more than 1,300 acres and has many things to do, including the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden.
The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park in Sarasota, Florida, is an attraction for children and families alike. It is home to Storyland, where families can enjoy reading stories. The park is still under construction, but when completed it will include City Splash, a new water park.
In addition, the park also has an 18-hole golf course, tennis courts and a beautiful walking area. It boasts that it is home to one of the largest stands of mature oak trees in the world.
8. Louisiana State Museum at the Cabildo
The Cabildo, which was built in 1795, is located to the left of St. Louis Cathedral and served as the official residence of the Spanish governor. It is both an historical building and a museum with an outstanding collection.
The Louisiana Purchase was agreed to in 1803 after it was decided that this would be the new capital of the Louisiana Territory. The town council started here in 1799. The building was previously used as a courthouse, but today it houses the Louisiana State Museum and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Thousands of years of history in Louisiana are preserved in the collections of this museum. The museum has a specific focus on the history of Louisiana, with an emphasis on the culture and people of Louisiana. The museum also has an extensive collection of art and artifacts from around the world.
9. Garden District
The Garden District is a wealthy neighborhood with historic mansions, mature trees, and lovely gardens. It is a very well-to-do area that has been featured in numerous movies and TV shows. Millions of tourists from all over the world visit to see the beautiful homes and gorgeous grounds.
To get a real feel for the Garden District, you should walk around with your feet. Some brands offer guided tours of the Garden District, and they’re a good way to learn and see the sights. A few good streets to visit are First Street, Camp Street, and Prytania Street. They have large, elegant 19th-century houses with extensive grounds.
In this neighbourhood, you can find the homes of some famous celebrities. Most visitors come to enjoy the relaxing environment. Although there are a few boutiques and coffee shops in the area, they are spread out. Lunch may be a bit difficult to find.
10. Audubon Park & Audubon Zoo
The Garden District is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans, but it’s not the only one worth visiting. Southwest of the Garden District is Audubon Park, which is famous for being the location of the World’s Industrial and Cotton Centennial Exposition of 1884. You’ll have to travel a little ways from the French Quarter to see this part of town, but it’s well worth it.
The Audubon Zoo is a wonderful and relaxing oasis from the busy downtown. It’s full of exotic and domestic animals, such as the giraffes, jaguars, leopards, orangutans, elephants, rhinos, lemurs, and white alligators. The zoo is so popular that the giraffes are one of the most famous residents.
Forget the zoo’s buses and plan a scenic trip on the Swamp Train. As you go, see the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit, sea lions, and Reptile Encounter areas. The ride takes about 30 minutes and tickets are available at the station. They’re valid all day, so you can hop off and on as much as you like.
When the summer heat hits, the zoo offers a refreshing way to cool off. Known as the “Cool Zoo,” it’s a place where kids can have fun while also learning about animals.
Also within Audubon Park are various attractions. There’s a garden that’s focused on butterflies, an insectarium, and an Audubon Golf Club. There are lakes and open green space, too.
11. Steamboat Natchez
Travelers can now embark on a nostalgic cruise down the Mississippi on board the Steamboat Natchez. The paddle steamer takes passengers on an educational tour of New Orleans, where they can see and learn about the city’s history and culture.
The New Orleans harbor cruises are a great way to see the sights of the city. The two-hour tours offer narration about the sites, with an optional lunch of creole cuisine. For dinner, you can choose between a buffet dinner or a live jazz band.
Another way to have fun on the water is to take a special event cruise. These are offered seasonally, with many holidays represented. Special event cruises are available for Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, Easter, Thanksgiving, Independence Day, Halloween, and Christmas.
If you’re going to Steamboat Springs, Colorado, you should pre-book your cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. This guarantees your spot on the boat and also ensures the lowest price.
12. Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras is the most famous event in New Orleans, and it draws people from all over the world. These visitors come to celebrate the elaborate festival that takes over the city for a few days each year.
If you want to learn more about Mardi Gras, go behind the scenes. In New Orleans, one of the world’s leading float makers is also a major player in the annual Mardi Gras Parade. Blaine Kern Studios produces floats for around 1,000 krewes and other organizations each year. See how they do it on a tour of their massive complex.
If you want to see the floats before the parade, there are guided tours of the workshops where artists and sculptors work. You can see sculptures, decorations, costumes, and more. To get a sense of the size, color, and imagination that goes into these floats, check out a workshop tour.
13. New Orleans Museum of Art
South in City Park is the New Orleans Museum of Art, one of the finest of its kind in the South. The museum features an excellent collection of French, American, African, and Japanese art.
On site and another of the institutions highlights is the outdoor Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, with more than 60 sculptures, as well as walking paths, lagoons, and mature live oak trees.
If you’re in Barcelona, go check out the Museu Picasso’s current exhibit. It’s open today, so don’t forget to go there. You’ll find temporary exhibitions and themed events on its calendar.
14. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located on the waterfront in New Orleans. It’s near the French Quarter, within walking distance of many attractions. The aquarium has a very impressive collection of over 3,600 animals. And it houses over 250 different species.
The Aquarium of the Americas is an interesting place to visit. It features creatures that live in the nearby gulf waters, including marine animals from the Mississippi River. The aquarium has many exhibits that feature freshwater fish, including sharks and stingrays, as well as sea turtles.
Maya Reef Aquarium is an immersive structure that mimics an ancient Maya city. It’s filled with over 20 unique species of fish, many of which are endangered. As you walk through the tunnel, you’ll feel like you’re underwater.
The Amazon Rainforest, the largest tropical rainforest in the world, is home to a myriad of amazing plants and animals. The region’s lush landscapes are home to brightly colored birds, exotic fish, and even beautiful snakes.
One of the most popular attractions are the sea otters and penguins. Taking the wildlife encounter programs are also popular. Optional extras are hands-on experiences with African penguins and SCUBA diving or snorkeling with the Great Maya Reef.
15. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park & Preserve is made up of six sites spread out across southeastern Louisiana.
Two of these websites are found in the New Orleans area. They are worth a visit. The Barataria Preserve is a treasure trove of beautiful Louisiana scenery.
The preserve is a haven for nature. Sites have been found here dating back to ancient Troyville, Marksville, and Tchefuncte cultures. These sites have revealed the remnants of a bygone era.
A more historical experience can be found at the Chalmette Battlefield, where you can see the site of the January 8, 1815 Battle of New Orleans. This was a decisive American victory over the British during the War of 1812.