A lot of tourists get overwhelmed on how awesome Bourbon Street and the French Quarter are and never get the chance to fully take in all of New Orleans. There is so much to do and see around the Big Easy that it can easy for hidden gems to fall between the cracks, but we’ve come up with a great list of off the beaten path things to do. The best may actually be the Drive Through Daiquiri Shops!
Other Top Attractions In New Orleans:
1. Cemeteries & Voodoo: In a city known for voodoo and “Bloody Mary,” no trip to New Orleans would be complete without checking out its supernatural side. Whether you believe in the legends or not checking out a couple spots will really add to your trip.
If you are looking for a tour of the Garden District’s Lafayette Cemetery #1 the best one is done by Save Our Cemeteries (website, Daily at 10:30; Adults $15, Children Free). Their 1 hour tour goes very in-depth not only into the cemetery itself, but also the time in which it grew, and how it contrasts with cemeteries in the French Quarter. Haunted History Tours (website) also has a cemetery tour in the Garden District at 2:30pm for $20. Lean on Save Our Cemeteries (website) again if you want the best tour of the famous St Louis Cemetery #1 which is New Orlean’s oldest dating back to 1789. The 1 hour tour (Daily at 10:am plus Fridays & Saturdays at 1pm; Adults $15, Children Free) covers everything from the tales of VooDoo Queens to Bloody Mary.
Haunted History Tours (website) runs our favorite Series of Ghost Tours. Their Cemetery Tour leave Zombie’s Zoodoo Shop (723 St Peter St) everyday at 10am and also 1:15pm Mon-Sat. Their Ghost Tour leaves from the same place nightly at 6pm & 8pm as well as 3pm in the Summer. The Underworld Tour leaves the shop daily at 5:30pm. The Voodoo Tour leaves from the shop at 7:30pm Friday-Sunday. Their best tour is their Vampire Tour which leave from in front of St Louis Cathedral nightly at 8:30pm. All of their tours are $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Reservations are highly suggested and you’ll want to show up about 30 minutes before your tour which will last between 1.5 and 2 hours. New Orleans Spirit Tours (website) also runs a great Ghost & Vampire Tour that meets nightly at 8:15pm and meets at Toulouse Royal Gifts (601 Royal Street).
Voodoo Lady http://www.voodooboneladytours.com/GhostTours.html
Lord Chaz http://www.lordchaz.com/
By Foot http://www.freetoursbyfoot.com/new-orleans-tours/tour-calendar/
2. Natchez Steamboat Jazz Cruise: While in Dixie, one of the best ways to experience New Orleans old world feel is aboard a Steamboat full of Jazz music. Natchez offers two day time cruises and one dinner cruise to help make it easy to fit one into your schedule. Natchez offers both indoor and outdoor seating, common walk around areas, breathtaking views of the city, a museum quality Engine Room, fresh food prepared on board for your purchase, and of course great Jazz music. While all of the Jazz is great, during the dinner cruise it’s steps up a notch with the Grammy nominated “Dukes of Dixieland.”
Location: This cruise departs from the Toulouse Street Wharf behind Jax Brewery. Reservations are recommended and can be made online, by phone or in person at their French Quarter office. Dinner Cruise: 6pm Boarding, Cruising 7pm-9pm, Adults $41, with Dinner $67.50, Children’s tickets are half priced Day Cruises: 11am Boarding with Cruising 11:30am-1:30pm & a second cruise 2pm Boarding with Cruising 2:30-4:30pm, Adults $24.50, with Lunch $35.50, Children’s tickets are half priced.
3. House of the Blues: You can’t come to the Big Easy without getting your fix of the Blues, and the House of the Blues gets some of the biggest names in music. Although expensive at $40 per adult, the House of the Blues has an amazing Gospel Brunch every Sunday morning. Even if you can’t make one of their daily performances, it has a really uniquely fun vibe to grab a drink, and the colorful entrance makes for great photo opportunities. Hours: Daily 11:30am-Close Cost: Daily performances/events costs vary, but they are always open for dining and drinks.
4. Frenchmen Street: Know for its hip and eclectic night scene, Frenchmen Street is the one of most lively area to visit in New Orleans. Within a walkable few blocks to the East of The French Quarter the heart of the Frenchman area is at the intersection of Charters Street and Frenchmen Street. Lined with shops during the day and bars at night, this is where the locals go when they want to have fun.
If you’ve been waiting your whole life for a legit burrito, you want to be on Frenchman. The famous street vendor dubbed “Burrito Man” comes out on the weekends, at least Friday & Saturday night and for just $5 you get a burrito literally the size of your head. Pineapple pork is the best.
French is the hippest place to go out on the town in New Orleans, for a full rundown of the places to go please check out our Frenchmen St section.
5. New Orleans City Park: At the North end of the Esplanade Ridge, is a great family-friendly escape from Bourbon Street. The best part of the 1,300 acre park is the compact southern end that holds the New Orleans Meseum of Art (website, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm, Closed Mondays; Adults $10, Children $6), New Orleans Botanical Garden (website, Tuesday-Sunday 10am-4:30pm, Closed Mondays; Adults $6, Children $3), Sculpture Garden (website, Free, Open 10am-4:45pm), Storyland Disney Playground & Carousel Gardens Amusement Park ($3). Getting Here: If you don’t have a car you can easily take either a taxi or the Canal Streetcar to City Park. The street car costs $1.25 each way and has two lines. The main Canal Streetcar drops you off directly at the main part of City Park and the Canal Streetcar instead goes to Greenwood Cemetery which leaves you 1 mile from the main area of City Park on the West side of the park; Each of the two cars are marked well with their end destination.
6. Drive Down Esplanade Ridge: The stretch of Esplanade Avenue from Johnson Street to City Park, known as Esplanade Ridge, is a beautiful show of mansions that housed the Creole upper class throughout the 1800’s. Lined with large oak trees, a drive down this French-style boulevard will make you day dream to what living here must have been like in days gone by. Because of how wide Esplanade Avenue is, you can easily get great views of the mansions right from your car. Although it’s plenty safe walk around the Ridge during the day, the area is increasing shady and seedy for tourists once the sun starts to set.Musson House (2306 Esplanade Ave) built in 1852 and home to famous painter Edgar Degas in 1872. Dufour-Baldwin House (1707 Esplanade Ave) built in 1859. The Ridge was mainly home to the wealthy French-speaking Creole residents compared to St Charles Street in the Garden district which was main for wealthy English-speaking people. The most festive time of the year is the last week of April/first week of May when the Fairgrounds at the Ridge is home to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival (website). Getting Here: Rental car is best, otherwise you can take either a taxi or the Canal Streetcar to City Park and walk south. Ridge from the Park to Johnson Street is 1.3 miles each way.
7. Mardi Gras World: Mardi Gras World is a world of wonders, created for you by the people who bring Mardi Gras to life every year: the artists of Blaine Kern Studios. The colors, the lights, the music, the joie de vivre. Year-round you can peek behind the curtain and tour Mardi Gras in the making through a wide range of giant floats, props, and costumes. Since 1947, Blaine Kern Studios (website) has been as much a part of Carnival as the parades New Orleans loves and are now the world’s leading makers of floats, sculpture, and props. Hours: Daily 9:30am-4:30pm with tours every 30 minutes Cost: Adults $20, Children $13 Getting Here: It is located right at the end of the Riverfront Streetcar line which follows the river from the French Quarter going south. Cost for the streetcar is $1.25 each way but Mardi Gras world also has a number of free shuttles that leave from Jackson Square, just call them before hand to confirm departure times. Website: (HERE).
8. Drive-Through Daiquiri Shops: On your way back from any New Orleans day trip we suggest the unique experience that is the drive-through daiquiri shop. You simply pull up, pick your size/flavors off the menu, and you’ll have a cheap but delicious drink with generous booze in no time. The way the Louisiana laws work it’s totally fine to buy these at a drive though as long as you don’t take the straw out of the wrapper or puncture the star on the lid as either action would make is an “open container.” Although drinking and drive is not legal, you’ll see many people getting around the “open container” part of the law by simply taking the lid off instead of using the straw. Getting To One: We recommend the Daiquiri Bay Cafe which is located right between New Orleans and the Airport in the suburb of Metairie right off the highway (1001 Veterans Memorial Boulevard). Chances are you’ll pass right by it anyway.
9. Hope Haven Spanish Mission: While most of New Orleans has a heavy French influence, the beautiful buildings at the Hope Haven Center are distinctively Spanish.
Chapel of St John Bosco with a great Virgin Mary Statue out front
Hope Haven Orphange Chapel in Marrero Louisiana is the bigger building
Hope Haven was founded in 1925 by Monsignor Peter Wynhoven as an orphanage; the campus includes the St. John Bosco chapel and the school building, last used as a residence in 2008
Madonna Manor now has http://www.cafehope.org/
other buildings being re-tooled for Senior living
young adults ages 17-23 who are serious about learning on-the-job skills in the kitchen and on the floor of a fully operating restaurant: Café Hope. We will also help you figure out life skills essential for being a successful adult.
Open for lunch Tuesday-Friday from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.Now open Friday night for dinner. Full Menu. BYOB. Limited seating. Reservations recommended.
first opened in the 1930s as an orphanage and later run by the Archdiocese as a treatment center for troubled youth. Early programs – now long-since discontinued – stressed self-support, so enterprises like an on-campus dairy and carpentry shop produced income for the center and taught its young residents potential job skills.
Madonna Manor was for young children. Nearby Hope Haven was for older children and teens.
9. National WWII Museum: This large Museum’s vault houses more than 100,000 artifacts and the display collection includes but is not limited to Allied and Axis uniforms, weaponry, vehicles, medals, diaries, letters, artwork, photographs and other mementos. From the ubiquitous “Steel Pot” helmet to the impressive Sherman tank and the C-47 Bomber to British Spitfire Planes, the Museum’s artifacts are an integral part of interpreting the history of the Second World War. Our favorite exhibits are the very unique D-Day exhibit and the huge Victory Theater that puts you right in the action. Hours: Daily 9am-5pm Cost: Adult $19, Children $9 (Can add the Solomon Victory Theater for Adult $5 and Children $3). Website: (HERE).
10. Louisiana Civil War Museum: Housed in the Confederate Memorial Hall which opened in 1891, The Louisiana Civil War Museum has a great collection of uniforms, over 125 battle flags, rare guns, artwork, and more than 500 original photographs from the Confederate Army. Hours: Weds-Sat 10am-4pm. Cost: Runs off donations and gift shop purchases. Website: (HERE).
11. Louisiana Superdome: The world’s largest fixed dome structure in the world with a 273 foot (83 m) tall dome and 680 foot (210 m) diameter. This Iconic home of the NFL’s New Orleans Saints was also a point of refuge during the disastrous events of 2005’s Hurricane Katrina. The neighborhood surrounding the dome can be fairly seedy, and there are no tours of the dome, so unless you are going to a game or event there it’s not worth going out of your way. There is still great visibility of the massive dome from the Highway though, so you will still be able to see it to and from the airport and many of our suggested day trips. Website: (HERE).
12. Audubon Park/Zoo: Located in historic Uptown New Orleans Audubon Zoo offers an exotic mix of animals from around the globe, engaging educational programs, hands-on animal encounters and lush gardens. Unique natural habitat exhibits such as the award-winning Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle showcase the relationship between people and nature. Don’t miss the sea lion and elephant presentations; highly endangered whooping cranes, Amur leopards and orangutans; white tigers Rex and Zulu; and our mysterious white alligators. Audubon Zoo is often ranked among the country’s best for innovation and entertainment value! The Zoo is only about 2 miles west of the Garden district; directly accessible by either the Saint Charles Streetcar. Hours: Tuesday-Friday 10am-4pm; Saturday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Cost: Adult $14.95 Children $9.95. Audubon 5-Day Package: Adult $39.95 Children $24.95 gets you one admission to each of the Audubon attractions and you have up to 5 days to use them. Website: (HERE).
13. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas: Located on the Mississippi River adjacent to the French Quarter Audubon Aquarium of the Americas immerses you in an underwater world. The colors of a Caribbean reef come alive in our walk-through tunnel, while our penguins and Southern sea otters enchant you with their antics. Touch a sting ray, feed a parakeet, and marvel at our gigantic sharks, tarpon, and rays in the 400,000 gallon Gulf of Mexico Exhibit. Watch for sea
turtles throughout the Aquarium—as coordinator of the Louisiana Marine Mammal and Sea Turtle Rescue Program, we prepare many of them for release to the wild. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm. Cost: Adult $19.95 Children $12.95; Combo with IMAX is Adults $26 Children $16. Audubon 5-Day Package: Adult $39.95 Children $24.95 gets you one admission to each of the Audubon attractions and you have up to 5 days to use them. Website: (HERE).
Next door is the Entergy IMAX® Theatre, home to the “Largest IMAX® screen in the Gulf South.” Located next door to the Aquarium, Entergy IMAX® Theatre combines the visual power of a five-and-a-half story screen with dynamic sound to put you in the middle of the action. Explore the wonders of nature through a variety of IMAX® features! One of the favorite films at this theater is Hurricane on the Bayou, Executive Produced by Audubon Nature Institute. This award-winning film weaves together rollicking local music, dramatic views of southeast Louisiana, and the stunning images of Hurricane Katrina’s effects into an uplifting story about steps underway to sustain Louisiana’s vanishing wetlands.
14. Audubon Insectarium: Audubon Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street, encourages you to use all five senses as you explore North America’s largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives. You’ll discover why insects are the building blocks of all life on our planet and along the way, you’ll be shrunk to bug size; wander through a mysterious Louisiana swamp; join the active audience of an awards show for bugs, by bugs; and be captivated by thousands of butterflies in an Asian garden. Voted “A top museum for you and your kids” by CNN.com, 2009. Hours: Tuesday-Sunday 10am-5pm; Closed Mondays. Cost: Adults $15.95, Children $10.95. Audubon 5-Day Package: Adult $39.95, Children $24.95; gets you one admission to each of the Audubon attractions and you have up to 5 days to use them. Website: (HERE).
Best Places to Eat In New Orleans:
1. The Gumbo Shop: Located just a half block from Jackson Square in the French Quarter, this great restaurant will help you get your fill of Creole cooking with its mouth-watering Gumbo. Our personal favorite is the chicken and sausage gumbo, truly amazing. Website: (HERE).
2. Mother’s Restaurant: Sits at 401 Poydras Street at the corner of Tchoupitoulas St (Chop-a-TOO-lis), and is one of the best recognized landmarks in New Orleans. Being only two blocks south of the French Quarter this is a very easy place to get to and locals favorite that is well worth the trip. When you you can get many New Orleans favorites including po’ boys, gumbo, and homemade biscuits. The top seller is the sandwich, Debris po’ boy, which is covered in tons of shreds and left over meat. Hours: Mondat-Saturday 630am-10pm; Sunday 7am-10pm. Website: (HERE).
3. Central Grocery: Right next to the French Market in the French Quarter at the corner of Decatur and N Peter. This plaza hosts many well known restaurants, but the best at Central Grocery is the famous Café du Monde (website). This cafe not only has great coffee but is best known for its muffaletta, a huge sandwich with layers of cold cuts and cheese piled on Sicilian bread, and topped with an olive salad. There is also another Café du Monde in town located just two blocks south of the French Quarter near the river in Riverside Marketplace. Hours: 24 hours a day.