New Orleans is one of the most iconic cities in the United States. It’s found along the Mississippi River in the state of Louisiana. Although most famously known as being the ‘Home of Jazz’, this incredible city has so much more to offer.
With direct flights from London, I highly recommend adding it to your USA bucket list. I visited as part of a Deep South Road Trip, which included Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi.
Before you get on to reading my article, I recommend having a look at this video on the top 15 things to do in New Orleans.
Here are the most unique things to do in New Orleans.
Unique Things to Do in New Orleans – FAQ
How to Get to New Orleans?
New Orleans is easily accessible by air through Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport. For those driving, it’s connected via major highways like I-10.
Amtrak provides rail services, and bus options like Greyhound offer routes to the city. Once in New Orleans, public transit, taxis, and rideshares are convenient for getting around.
How to Get Around New Orleans?
Getting around New Orleans is easy and convenient, offering various options like taxis and rideshare services.
Additionally, New Orleans is a very walkable city, especially in the more touristic areas. Walking not only allows you to fully absorb the unique atmosphere of the city but also gives you the freedom to explore hidden gems.
For visitors looking to explore the city at their own pace, the Hop-On Hop-Off bus tours are an excellent choice. These buses offer a flexible and informative way to see New Orleans’ main attractions.
You can hop off at any of the designated stops to explore areas like the French Quarter, Garden District, and along Magazine Street, then hop back on when you’re ready to continue, super convenient.
Is New Orleans Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! New Orleans is a unique blend of cultures, famed for its vibrant music scene, delicious cuisine, rich history, and lively festivals. Needless to say, I loved my time here!
From exploring the historic French Quarter to enjoying live jazz music and tasting Creole dishes, the city offers a memorable experience that you will surely enjoy.
What is the Best Time to Visit New Orleans, Louisiana?
The ideal time to visit New Orleans is between February and May, when the weather is comfortably cool and the city celebrates various festivals, including Mardi Gras.
The fall months, particularly October and November, also offer pleasant temperatures and fewer crowds, making it a great time for a visit.
Best Tours in New Orleans
15 Unique Things to Do in New Orleans
1. Bike Tour with FreeWheelin Bike Tours
FreeWheelin Bike Tours is known to be the No.1 rated bike tour in the city. There are three tours to choose from; ‘Creole & Crescent’, ‘Electric Creole Cruise’, and ‘NoLa Safari’. All of these offer a great way to explore New Orleans.
FreeWheelin Bike Tours also offers bike rentals so you can head out self-guided.
We had an amazing and insightful tour with Teddy, which included passing through Tremé, a neighbourhood badly affected by hurricane Katrina.
2. Vue Orleans and the Riverwalk
Vue Orleans is a cultural exhibit and observation deck all in one, which offers 360° views of the city, making it one of the best things to do in New Orleans.
After, take in the views from the Riverwalk or better yet, head out on a boat trip. Paddlewheeler Creole Queen is a popular option that offers both historical and jazz cruises. Let’s talk about this experience here below.
3. Go on an Evening Jazz Cruise
Ready for a fun time in New Orleans? Hop on a big paddle-wheel boat and cruise down the Mississippi River. It’s a cool way to see the city from the water!
You can walk around the boat, hang out with your friends and family, and watch the city lights shine at night. If you pick the dinner option, you’ll get to eat a yummy dinner with Creole flavors while listening to live jazz music by the famous Dukes of Dixieland band.
It’s a great mix of music, food, and amazing views of the New Orleans skyline! I seriously can’t think of more unique things to do in New Orleans!
4. Ride the New Orleans Streetcar
Riding the city’s Streetcars is another of the top things to do in New Orleans, especially as their history dates back to 1835. In fact, these streetcars were one of the first passenger railroads in the U.S.
Not only that, but they’re still one of the world’s oldest continuously operating street railways!
5. Ziplining with ZipNola
ZipNola will take you on an exhilarating zipline adventure over New Orleans’ swamps. It’s actually the first fully aquatic swamp zipline in the world, and along the way, you may get to spot alligators, turtles, and snakes.
There are five zip lines on-site, as well as two sky bridges, and an elevated spectating platform.
Want to see more of New Orleans? Join a fun bus tour! It’s not just about the French Quarter; you’ll also visit cool places like the Garden District, Treme, and the 9th Ward.
Your guide will tell you all about the city’s history and culture as you drive around. You’ll see famous streets like Frenchmen Street and Esplanade Avenue.
Here’s what you’ll get:
- A knowledgeable guide to show you around
- A comfy bus with air conditioning
- A visit to a special cemetery
- Tasty beignets and coffee
You’ll meet your guide at Bon’s New Orleans Street Food. If you’re on the 12:30 pm or 4 pm tour, you can even buy some beignets and coffee before you start!
The tour kicks off at Jackson Square, where you’ll see cool spots like St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo. You’ll also pass by other interesting places like Louis Armstrong Park and Magazine Street.
Simply put, it’s a great way to learn lots about New Orleans in just a short time!
7. Enjoy the Nightlife in New Orleans
New Orleans at night is full of life and fun. The city’s famous for music, especially in the French Quarter where jazz fills the air.
ou’ll find all sorts of places to enjoy, from cool rooftop bars to cozy little spots. The city’s known for its tasty drinks and great tunes, making every night an exciting adventure. Here below are the best things to do in New Orleans at night.
8. Go to a Jazz club
As New Orleans is the home of Jazz, no trip here is complete without heading to a jazz club. My top recommendation must be the Preservation Hall All-Stars Concert, as you’ll get to admire fantastic Jazz assembles.
Being such a unique experience, taking photos and video of the artists is forbidden and you’re encouraged to enjoy the experience without your phone. I totally respect this kind of venue, and you’ll just have to go and experience it for yourselves.
Other popular spots include The Jazz Playhouse, The Spotted Cat Music Club, and Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub.
9. Visit Bourbon Street
Although touristy, Bourbon Street is a must-visit. Trust me, you must see the sights of Bourbon Street. Located in the city’s French Quarter, this street is home to historic buildings, bustling bars, and fantastic live music.
This fun lively atmosphere, bustling streets and live music make it the perfect location for a night out or two.
10. Visit Frenchman Street
If you’re looking for lesser-known hotspots in New Orleans, head to Frenchman Street. It was recommended by locals on more than one occasion as the less-touristy alternative to Bourbon Street. It is known for its live music.
Whether you’re looking for Blues, Jazz, or Reggae music, this part of the city has it all.
11. Wednesday in the Square
For those on a budget, Wednesday in the Square offers a free weekly concert, where you’ll get to appreciate a wide variety of music styles, including Latina, Jazz and Rock.
Located in Lafayette Square, this is a fantastic experience, especially as you’ll find food trucks and beverage stands lining the area!
Get ready for some spooky fun in New Orleans with a haunted pub crawl! You’ll go to different bars and hear scary ghost stories from a local guide who knows all the creepy details.
One of the cool places you’ll visit is the Lalaurie Mansion, which is super haunted. You’ll also hang out at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, the oldest bar in the USA.
It’s a great way to see the haunted side of New Orleans, meet other people, and enjoy some drinks along the way. Don’t miss out on this ghostly adventure!
13. Visit Lafayette
The City of Lafayette is just a 2-hour drive from New Orleans, or you can catch a Greyhound Coach which will take you over 3 hours.
You can easily visit Lafayette on a day trip if you have time, and I highly recommend doing so. Here’s my list of the best things to do in Lafayette.
Airboat Swamp Tour – Atchafalaya Basin
If you’re looking to admire the beauty of Louisiana then head out on an airboat swamp tour, which will allow you to explore the Atchafalaya Basin.
As you head through the swamp and lush forest, you’ve got a great chance of spotting alligators and other wildlife so keep your eyes peeled!
While in the city, take some time to explore Downtown Lafayette. Home to over 40 restaurants and bars, this part of Lafayette is regarded as a foodie paradise. As such, don’t miss out on Sunday’s Soda Fountain which serves delicious ice cream.
I’d also recommend checking out the Cajun Hatter, who makes unique, one-of-a-kind custom hats. He also has an impressive rum collection.
Rhythms on the River is a free concert series that takes place every Thursday. Located in River Ranch’s Town Square, this concert takes place between 5:30pm and 8:30pm. Better yet, there’s room to dance!
Food and drink can also be purchased here, so what’s not to like?
Food and Drink in Lafayette
Adopted Dog Brewing
This fantastic brewery offers an endless variety of beers, from blondes and IPAs to porters and stouts. No matter your preference, you’re sure to find something to your liking! There’s even a beer float on offer if you’re after something unique.
Not only that, but this place serves mouthwatering food too, including burgers, flatbreads, and nachos.
Located within the Tabasco Museum on Avery Island, this casual eatery is known for its authentic Cajun dishes (many of which are very spicy!). No surprise there really, as the dishes are flavoured with (you guessed it) Tabasco Sauce.
Restaurant 1868 has a bit of everything, including salads, gumbo, fried shrimp, nachos, chicken tenders, and spicy wings.
14. Visit Avery Island
Avery Island is just a 40-minute drive from Lafayette, so I’d suggest visiting both at the same time. Covering an impressive 2,200 acres, this beautiful place is actually located on top of a huge salt mound.
Here are the top things to do on Avery Island!
No trip to Avery Island is complete without heading on a Tabasco Factory tour. As the tour is self-guided, you’ll get to experience this awesome factory at your own pace.
There are 10 stops in total, and you’ll get to learn all about the history of Tabasco Sauce, as well as how it’s produced.
While on Avery Island, don’t miss out on the beauty of Jungle Gardens. Covering an impressive area of over 170 acres, these gardens are home to a wide variety of birds and wildlife, including alligators, deer and raccoons.
There’s also a beautiful bamboo grove located here, and a magnificent Buddha statue.
15. Visit Mobile, Alabama
If you’re looking to tick off another state, then why not head to the City of Mobile in Alabama? It’s just over a 2-hour drive from New Orleans, or you can get there by bus, which takes at least 2.5 hours.
Below, I’ve outlined some of my top things to do in Mobile.
While in Mobile, make sure you visit the USS Alabama. This memorial park will allow you to learn all about America’s military past, through endless artefacts, displays and exhibits, so isn’t a place you want to rush.
I mean, getting to explore a battleship is pretty crazy, and this ship will blow you away.
While in Mobile, don’t leave Mobile Tensaw Delta off your itinerary. This area covers over 48,000 acres and is best explored by heading out on an airboat ride. Not only are they fast and exciting, but you’ve got a great chance of spotting wildlife.
Airboat Adventures and Airboat Express are the two companies offering these tours.
Don’t forget to visit Dauphin Street while in Mobile. First of all, the architecture along this street is incredible, as it’s dotted with charming, colourful houses.
You’ll also find a variety of restaurants and bars along this street, and it’s a great area for nightlife if you’re looking to ‘paint the town red’.
If you’re a nature lover like me, then make sure you go kayaking with Wild Native Tours. There are several tours available, and these differ in duration, price and location.
Some of their tours will see you explore swamps, while others will take you along the coastline. If you’re lucky, you might even get to spot dolphins or alligators!
There are plenty of fantastic places to eat in Mobile, with one of the most popular being Ruby Slipper Cafe. This place is known for its brunch dishes and tasty cocktails.
Two other great options include Oyster House and Felix’s Fish Camp, both of which specialise in seafood.
Where to Stay in New Orleans
Here’s a list of great places to stay in New Orleans to make your trip unforgettable:
Luxury: Virgin Hotels New Orleans
Virgin Hotels is undoubtedly one of the best places to stay in New Orleans, with its array of dining options, modern suites, and fantastic amenities such as the rooftop pool and bar.
Thanks to its location, you’ll be just a short walk from the city’s French Quarter and other popular tourist attractions.
Mid-Range: The Jung Hotel and Residences
The Jung Hotel and Residences, only a 20-minute walk to Bourbon Street, offers modern rooms with city views and free WiFi.
Rooms have flat-screen TVs, private bathrooms, and some include seating areas. The Canal at LaSalle streetcar stop provides easy access to the French Quarter, and it’s close to St Louis Cathedral, which is super convenient.
Budget: India House Hostel
India House Hostel is located in New Orleans’ Mid-City district along the Canal St. Streetcar Line, and features an outdoor pool and deck.
It’s 1.9 miles from the Fair Grounds and 3.1 miles from City Park. The hostel offers male, female, and mixed dorms with shared bathrooms, and some private rooms with private bathrooms!
Best Places to Eat in New Orleans
No trip to New Orleans is complete without enjoying fresh seafood, so try heading to Superior Seafood & Oyster Bar.
Boasting a front-row seat of New Orleans and delicious Louisiana seafood, this place has so much to offer. Not to mention the tasty (yet affordable) Creole-inspired dishes.
Next up is Juan’s Flying Burrito. This lively establishment is a must-visit, as it’s famous for its Mexican cuisine, including burritos, fajitas, quesadillas, and tacos. Don’t forget about the yummy sharing nachos either.
If you still aren’t convinced, this place has tons of beverages on offer including craft beer, funky cocktails, wine, and liquor among others.
Tujague’s has been a fan-favourite for over 160 years and is located within the French Quarter. In fact, it’s the city’s second-oldest restaurant. Known for its traditional dishes and authentic experience, it’s a fantastic place to dine.
Tujague’s can get busy, so I’d recommend reserving a table in advance to ensure your spot.
Boasting an on-site brewery and some of the best BBQ cuisine in New Orleans, you don’t want to miss out on this place.
Devil Moon BBQ focuses on the Cajun smokehouse traditions of South Louisiana, and its BBQ plates are the most popular option. These feature a meat of your choice, two sides, pickles, bread, and sauces.
Lastly, there’s Cochon which serves mouthwatering and traditional Cajun dishes. This place focuses on using the freshest local ingredients, including meats and seafood, so naturally, the food is amazing!
The restaurant also offers a rustic vibe as it’s set in a renovated warehouse, and there’s a bar, which offers a wide variety of drinks.
I hope you have enjoyed this article! This trip was in partnership with Explore Louisiana and part of an epic Deep South Road Trip. Please make sure you check out my articles about Alabama, Tennessee and Mississippi.