This travel guide will take you through what to do, eat and see in New Orleans.
I had such a blast visiting New Orleans. I would highly recommend the trip to anyone. I enjoyed a lot of food and a lot of drinks during my visit and honestly wish I could’ve tried more!
New Orleans Travel Guide: Where to Eat in New Orleans
New Orleans Travel Guide #1 Must-Do: Cafe Du Monde
This is one of those must-dos that really does live up to the hype. The beignets are SO good. I’d recommend getting your own order instead of sharing and visiting several times during your visit. The first day we arrived in NOLA we were able to visit during lunch hours without any line, but had a short wait for our order.
The next day (Friday afternoon) we saw a line down the street – yikes! Don’t subject yourself to waiting in line for more than a few minutes. There is too much fun to be had in this city than to wait in a line for beignets. Plus, the Cafe Du Monde location on Decatur street is open 24 hours. Just come back later. You can also skip any lines and order beignets to go from a carry-out window.
St. Roch Market
I actually spotted a movie star at St. Roch Market! Don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s too trendy or high-end. The market is indoors and a bit more upscale than what might come to mind. There are counters for multiple food vendors with barbecue, Mexican, baked goods and more. And there’s a bar where you can grab a drink before getting a spot at one of the communal tables.
I enjoyed some BBQ with all the fixins from Brugger’s BBQ and tasted the tacos from La Mezcla Mexicana. I also grabbed a Big Easy ‘Bucha kombucha for the next morning. I went with the Cajun Kick flavor and highly recommend it!
District Donuts isn’t just a breakfast spot. I loved their lunch selection of sliders. If you’re feeling hungry go with one or two sliders, but I’d recommend splitting their side of fries. The side portion was HUGE. It was also incredibly delicious, but there was no way I could finish it. And, of course, you’ll need to get a donut too. But, afterwards, you can walk it off while shopping on Magazine Street.
Killer Po Boys
Po Boys were on my list of NOLA must haves and Killer Po Boys did not disappoint. The sandwich was huge here too, so I’d recommend splitting. The flavors at KPB are more creative than traditional po boys so keep that in mind if you’re craving a more traditional option. I still enjoyed a shrimp po boy and my seafood-averse boyfriend had the beef.
The Company Burger
TCB was worth the (short) hike to the Business District. There are multiple locations, so check which one is closest to you. The burgers are made fresh and come with a serve-yourself selection of mayonnaise at the toppings bar. I’m not naturally a big mayo person, but these flavors were fun and perfect for dipping your french fries into.
New Orleans Travel Guide: Things to Do in New Orleans
Hop On Hop Off Sightseeing Bus
Don’t be afraid to do touristy things, okay! While I don’t consider a bus tour essential in every city I visit, it was super useful here in NOLA. With this bus your ticket lasts 3 days and you are able to hop on and hop off at many destinations throughout the city. It provides easy access to different neighborhoods and good views from the top floor. Plus, it helps save some cash so you’re not constantly catching an Uber or Lyft. The guide on the bus was entertaining and shared some great tips about places to visit and shared some interesting bits of history that I hadn’t heard before.
From my experience, the tour guides are sharing different anecdotes and stories so that even if you ride the bus through the same route, you’re not hearing the same cookie-cutter stories over and over. The bus was especially helpful when getting to and from Magazine Street. And we hopped on it at the French Market to take it to the St. Louis Cemetery. My only small critique is that I wish they had a stop on Frenchmen Street.
Washington Artillery Park
If you’re staying anywhere near the French Quarter, then the Washington Artillery Park is easily walkable. I suggest checking their website for information about any free events. They regularly have live music and entertainment. During our visit, we were able to see the lighting of the Christmas tree.
New Orleans Travel Guide Must-Do: Cemetery Tour
The cemeteries and entire funeral/burial process in New Orleans is so interesting that visiting a cemetery is a must-do. We opted for a paid tour at the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 which requires that you visit with a tour guide. With the Hop On Hop Off bus, you should be able to get $10 tickets when purchasing inside the Visitor’s Center beside the cemetery.
There are also tour guides who wait near the entrance of the cemetery if you wish to just walk up for a tour. You should not be paying more than $20 a person. This cemetery is so popular because it’s home to Madame Lavreau’s tomb. And Nicolas Cage’s future tomb!
American Horror Story: The Coven House
If you’re a fan of American Horror Story, then you can make a quick detour on your way to Magazine Street to see the house the Coven season was filmed in. It’s a short walk from District Donuts actually. If the weather is nice, I’d recommend just doing a large loop and admiring the houses in this neighborhood before heading further down Magazine Street.
Mardi Gras World
This place is SO cool. Visiting New Orleans during Mardi Gras might not be everyone’s cup of tea due to the increased costs and crowds, but there’s no denying the parades and floats are true masterpieces. You can get a first-hand experience of them at Mardi Gras World. And if you take the Hop On Hop Off Bus you can get dropped off right in front of the entrance and receive a discounted entry.
I personally didn’t go on a swamp tour, but a friend of mine who visited NOLA a few months before me was raving about the swamp tour he went on.
Walk along Bourbon Street & Frenchmen Street
I highly recommend walking down both Bourbon and Frenchmen Street and taking in the sights, sounds and spirits. I didn’t stay on Bourbon Street long and even if you’re not a big drinker, it’s still an essential part of visiting the French Quarter.
Try one of many available tours!
I am someone who loves to do tons of research and create my own itinerary when traveling. And while I do like to go off the beaten path and try to discover where the locals hang, I also believe in supporting the tourism industry in the places I visit, hence the suggestion for guided tours, buses and more. Plus, all the tour guides I encountered were full of fun and interesting quips about the history of NOLA that I would never have known without them.
New Orleans Travel Guide: Where to Drink in New Orleans
Get yourself a cocktail to go and take a stroll down Bourbon Street. Some bars to check out include: Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar and Pat O’Briens. I personally just enjoyed a walk down the street and back to take in the sights, but didn’t find it necessary to stay here for long. There is so much more to see in the city!
Crescent City Brewhouse
Located in the French Quarter, CCB brews their own beers and offers some good bar food. I really enjoyed the wings! I tried the IPA during my visit. Be sure to check out the rooftop patio for some quality people watching in a casual environment.
I have a thing for arcade bars. It’s been my experience that they always have a good selection of affordable cocktails and craft beers, plus there are games! The arcade games at Barcadia aren’t free like some of the arcade bars in Cincinnati, but they were still pretty low cost. The oversized Connect Four games by the patio are free to play and you can enjoy the fresh air.
New Orleans Travel Guide Fave: Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar
This bar is a must-do! Hotel Monteleone is utterly gorgeous and I hope to stay here next time I visit New Orleans. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s a must do to visit their renowned bar. The carousel bar is not a theme, the actual bar itself is a carousel.
The bar seats, counter and area behind the bar all slowly rotate like a carousel. It’s so slow it’s almost not noticeable so don’t worry about feeling nauseous while riding. And even if there are no seats available at the bar itself, the rest of the bar is spacious with plenty of cozy seating and cocktail servers who will take care of you.
Must-See in New Orleans: Frenchmen Street!
While Bourbon Street is, of course, on any New Orleans travel guide, it’s just as important to see Frenchmen Street! Frenchmen Street is sort of the Bourbon Street for locals. The bars here were just as fun. Some had younger crowds and more of a dive vibe while some had an upscale lounge atmosphere. I suggest hopping around between a few to find what you enjoy the most. While people are certainly having fun here it doesn’t feel as over the top (or as expensive) as Bourbon Street.
Karaoke Bar – Kajun’s Pub
In the same neighborhood as St. Roch Market, you’ll find this karaoke bar. It was definitely a dive, but the funnest karaoke bar I’ve ever been to. Everyone was happy to be there and there was no judgement on anyone who was performing.
New Orleans Travel Guide: Where to Shop in New Orleans
New Orleans Travel Guide Must-Do: Magazine Street
There is tons of shopping all along Magazine Street. You’ll find vintage clothing stores, some art markets, furniture stores, trendy clothing, small boutiques, a huge LUSH store (we don’t have these in Cincy! lol) and more.
The French Market is in the French Quarter nearby Washington Artillery Park and Cafe Du Monde. It’s a huge open market with a wide variety of offerings like clothing, souvenirs, glassware, beads and masks, food and more. I picked up some alligator jerky for my brother who is obsessed with it.
I can’t be the only one who loves Christmas shops year round. It was the holiday season during our visit, so I popped in to one of the Christmas shops near the French Market to get an ornament for our tree. I think ornaments make great souvenirs. You’ll find Santa’s Quarters and Merry Christmas – All That Jazz near the French Market.
Any Pralines Shop
In addition to beignets, pralines are another popular sweet treat here in NOLA. There are several shops offering Praline goodies. Check out the samples to see if you prefer a specific kind and take some home to remember your trip! I enjoyed Aunt Sally’s and Magnolia Praline Company.
Sweet Pea and Tulip Boutique
I’m so glad I stopped at this boutique! Sweet Pea and Tulip carries some cute trendy clothing for women and has lots of printed tees for men and women. Plus, you’ll find some fun items for gifts like custom coasters. When I stopped in the staff working was helpful and even gave us suggestions on places to visit that night.
New Orleans Travel Guide Must-Do: Frenchmen Street Art Market
The Frenchmen Street Art Market is like the French Market but on a much smaller scale. However, you’ll find more unique pieces here from prints to paintings.
Be sure to also check out my other NOLA Travel articles:
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Casey is the founder of Casey La Vie & has been running this travel and lifestyle blog since 2016. She’s on a mission to balance her career as a social media manager with exploring her home of New York City and seeing more of the world.