Best things to do in New Orleans


The top”herd” things to do in New Orleans via tripadvisor. Booo

VS.

The truly best things to do in New Orleans curated by locals.


What kind of traveler are you?

How many people are in your group?

  • Solo – I want to expand my worldview while meeting a few new friends, oh yea, don’t forget to show me the party.
  • Couple – Create some new selfies and party.
  • Family – Make it easy on mom, dad financially and time wise.
  • Bachelor party – Create some wild memories with activities and some party.
  • Bachelorette party – Create some meaningful memories and then party.
  • Corporate Team – Have some laughs, make sure it isn’t too long of an event and end with drinks.

What genre of activities do you love?

  • Adventurer
  • Foodie
  • Eco
  • Partier
  • Music
  • Haunting / Scary
  • Free – People watch, city park,
  • Unique
  • History

What are the best things to do in New Orleans?

That is a simple question to answer, get the insight of a local to share a few of their favorite spots.  It is too bad that most locals don’t do trip advisor reviews, that’s why we don’t recommend looking at tripadvisor.

With that being said, here is a top 15 list for you to peruse.

  1. People watch (Its Free!)

This could easily be a top 15 things to watch in the French Quarter post.

  • French Quarter – Grab a daiquiri or beer and walk around. (It is ok to drink on the street! Well, preferably the sidewalk or the neutral ground)
    • Some of the best musicians are out on the street, they travel from all over the country to play in New Orleans and while the competition is fierce to get people in bars, most musicians have an opportunity to make more money playing on the street.  If you do stop to listen.
    • Street performers will awe you with their magic tricks, backflips and ability to make you think they are a golden statue.  They are easy to pickout by the large groups that form around them.
    • You will see plenty of panhandlers, they make for colorful characters.
    • It could be 8am on monday morning, here come the drunks.  They make for adequate laughs and hopefully they don’t get hurt.(HINT: Don’t be drunk and near Bourbon street past 1am…unless you want to get rolled for some dough)
  • Second Line– Dance your heart away and meet some new friends in this weekly tradition.  Find out where the second line travels here.
  • Mardi Gras – Duh.  The only trick is finding the wildest parties to attend.
  • Festivals & Events: There are too many to list,  be picky.
    • Halloween – My favorite time to visit.
    • Buku – Get your rageathon on.
    • Voodoo – Sometimes a good lineup, sometimes not.
      • Food Festivals – Crawfish Fest, Mirliton Fest, Strawberry Fest.  We like the more dialed down festivals that don’t attract too large of a crowd and are focused on nonprofit fundraising.
      • Jazz Fest(Rant) – Come pay a bunch of money for music you could hear for free most of the rest of the year while paying more for a room and finding no parking anywhere… But it is #JAZZFEST, so if you have the $, just do it.
      • Kinky Salon
      • In Fringe Fest

 

2.  Eat food & drink ….duh

New Orleans is one of the worlds culinary powerhouses.  On top of that, we have over 300 years of practice drinking and being ridiculous.  Over our history, we’ve concocted many cocktails unique to our city.  Below is a list of some of our favorite establishments to eat and drink based on plenty of “practice”

first… the CLASSY JOINTS

K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen   Since 1979, this place has been kicking out classic cajun cuisine with careful attention to old world technique.  K-Paul’s specialty is blackened drum, (fresh from the gulf) which they rub with their secret seasonings before searing to blackened perfection in mid 20th century cast iron pans.  Their surf and turf dish is possibly my go-to recommendation for a last meal hurrah!

Atchafalaya   Slightly off the beaten path but well worth the Uber/street car ride to get there.  Atchafalaya serves some of the highest quality dishes in town featuring locally sourced produce and proteins.  They have the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had and thats a truly bold statement that I stand by.  If you are looking for beautiful feel good food from a place that knows and cares where it came from then this is the spot.  Tell them the kayak boys sent ya!

Meril  Some people just cant hop on board with celebrity chefs.  I understand this sentiment…that said, there are some chefs that earned their public recognition and Emeril Lagassi, I believe, is one of them.  He owns five thousand restaurants in New Orleans but his most recent, Meril, named after his daughter, has a wonderfully eclectic menu that is difficult to categorize stylistically and exhibits his diversity.  Just go eat there…everything is good and the service is exactly how it should be.  Get the turkey neck as a starter!

COCKTAILS anyone?

21st Amendment   I enjoy a place that feels like a step back into an era.  21st Amendment feels like a very obvious prohibition era speakeasy.  The music, the decor, the sharply dressed barkeeps…it all works.  In my opinion, it’s the best place in the quarter to catch a stylist drink and a 3 piece. (band)  

Cane & Table   Dark and handsome is this Decatur street craft spot.  It almost seems out of place, hidden amongst the earthy squaller and sticky dive bars that line this section of the lower quarter.  It’s a gem.  Carefully crafted drinks and old school service.  Also they served small plates and dinner (equally good)

3.  Get outside the city for a day! 

There’s so much of Louisiana to see outside of the city.  Below is a list of activities within a short drive of New Orleans

 

 Clark Creek Natural Area/ Tunica Falls

Louisiana, especially around the Greater New Orleans area is flat…very flat.  We have many iconic and beautiful swamps, wetlands and marshes to explore by boat, but the prospect of a hike across dry ground seems unattainable.  THIS IS NOT TRUE.  Just a 2.5 hour drive north of the city center lies a land of topographic variance with rugged sandstone cliffs and clear running waterfalls hiding amongst a surprising and unique wooded landscape.  I speak of the Clark Creek Natural Area running along the border of Mississippi and Louisiana.  With over 30 waterfalls and 8 miles of hiking trails, Tunica Falls is WELL worth the drive and the time.

 

 Cajun Country swamp and plantation combo

Driving west out of New Orleans is like taking a trip back into the past.  Just over the levy lies the vast swampland of the Mississippi River delta, the biggest in North America.  A swamp tour is a must during your visit to New Orleans.  Kayak Tours are ideal, as you can reach shallow and narrow areas that are inaccessible with large motorized vessels.  The landscape and its wild inhabitants are one of a kind.  Traveling further west, you will find plantation row along the Mississippi, with many tours of the grounds available.  We highly recommend the Whitney Plantation over any other plantation tour option.  The Whitney is the one and only national monument to slaves, sharing the the story of Louisiana’s sugar plantation era from the due perspective of those enslaved in the river valley.  If you don’t have a rental car, you can still experience both of these tours by reserving a spot on our swamp and plantation combo tour with transportation.

Louisiana Global Wildlife Center

Just an hour drive to the north of New Orleans city center sits the Louisiana Global Wildlife Center.  Covering over 900 acres it is the largest totally free-roaming animal preserve of its kind in the entire country.  Private tours as well as 1.5 hour wagon tours are available daily giving visitors the opportunity to get up close and personal with over 4000 species of exotic animals from all over the world including bison, giraffes, zebras and camels!!

Jean Lafitte National Park/ Bayou Coquille walkway

Louisiana’s ONLY national park is just a quick 20 minute drive south of the river.  There are multiple elevated wooden walkways that zig-zag through the marshy swamps and bayous along the east edge of the park.  It’s not uncommon to walk up on alligators, turtles and an array of birds while walking along the 1 mile path.  This is a great opportunity to experience a Louisiana swamp for those weary of getting into a boat or kayak.

 

 

More coming soon!