There are so many cool sites to see in New Orleans that it’s hard to put them all in one post. We will highlight some of the top sites to see along with a few obscure and quirky sites to see as well. We do hope you enjoy.
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The French Quarter
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the French Quarter. Not only is it the oldest part of the city, but it’s one of the top sites to see in New Orleans. The history, the beauty, the lure is all so inviting.
I love to roam the cobble stone streets and just admire the architecture. The Historic New Orleans Collection has numerous restored buildings that you can tour for free, but you can make a donation to help the preservation continue. This is a lovely way to spend and afternoon.
The best way to tour the French Quarter is to take a free walking tour. Well, sort of free. Nola Tour Guy offers tours in the French Quarter, the Cemeteries, and the historic Garden District. Nola Tour Guy does not charge an upfront fee, but you can pay what you think the tour is worth. If you don’t like the tour, or leave early, you don’t have to pay anything. Our tour guide Eric was great, so we had no issue paying him fairly. Quick tip if you travel, see their Partners page and learn about free walking tours in countries all over the world.
At the center of the French Quarter is Jackson Square and most everyone wanders through here.
Originally called the Plaza D’Aramas by the Spanish during their rule. The Square was later renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson because of the Battle of New Orleans. Of course, the focal point is the St. Louis Catherdral, the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States. Not to mention, Jackson Square is also home to the Lower and Upper Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in the United States. You will find the Presbytere and Cabildo (Louisiana State Museums), here as well.
Jackson Square is not only a great spot to catch fun street performers, but there are many local artists here to watch paint and create wonderful art that you can purchase if you like. You can even have your palm or Taro cards read for those of you who believe in that stuff.
Join the Party on Bourbon Street
Well of course this is a must if you visit New Orleans. Iconic Bourbon Street is filled with bars, taverns, jazz music clubs, Cabaret joints and more. People watching is so much fun here and certainly a great source of free entertainment. I highly recommend being part of the party, even if you’re not the partying type!
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St Louis Cemetery No. 1
Built in 1789, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest in New Orleans. It is also the most visited with over 100,000 visitors per year. Many visitors come to see the famed VooDoo Priestess Marie Laveau, but others of importance are buried here as well. Homer Plessey, a very early seed planter in the civil rights movement, is buried here. Paul Morphy, early world champion of Chess, and Benjamin Latrobe, early U.S. architect, are buried here as well. Nicolas Cage, though not dead yet, already has his future tomb purchased in the cemetery.
Important note, you must be with a licensed tour guide to enter the cemetery. The Catholic Church had to enforce this new rule due to widespread vandalism over the years. Nola Tour Guy and Free Tours by Foot are tour companies that are approved and offer tours in the cemetery. You can find a complete list of approved tour guides here. The tour guides at the entrance to the cemetery charge $20 per person.
Visit the National WWII Museum
The National WWII Museum shares the American experience in the war and how it changed the world. Through exhibits, multimedia experiences and personal accounts, you will experience their journey. You will also learn why the war was fought, how it was won and why it is important to us today. Tickets to the Museum can be purchased online in advance or at the Museum. Adults ticket begin at $28.50 and there are reduced rates for Seniors, Military, College students and children.
Experience a Haunted Tour
Of course if you’re visiting the most haunted city in America, then you need to experience a haunted tour. Tour companies like Ghost City Tours and Free Tours by Foot offer many different types of haunted tours to choose from. Whether you believe in the Supernatural or not, it’s still a cool thing to do in New Orleans. Furthermore it’s a cool way to learn more about the history of New Orleans.
Enjoy Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Open 24 hours a day and serving wonderful coffee and scrumptious Beignets, since 1862, Cafe Du Monde is absolutely one of the top sites to see in New Orleans.
Cafe Du Monde is on everyone’s list to visit, as a result there may be times you have to stand in long lines. This is especially true if it’s cold outside. Cafe Du Monde is certainly worth the wait.
Explore Marie Laveau’s House of VooDoo
You know you’re going to be on Bourbon Street anyway, so take a some time to visit this cool little place. Considering Marie Laveau is one of the most famous people in New Orleans history, it is one of the sites you should see on your trip. You will definitely find cool and unique souvenirs here.
For the full experience you can also have a divination or psychic reading during your visit. Be advised that you should not take photos or videos while visiting. To visit is completely free.
Enjoy Street Performers on Royal Street
If you’re looking for free entertainment, look no further than Royal Street in the French Quarter.
Many of the artists perform jazz of course, but you will find all types of music on Royal Street. Obviously you can tip the performers if you enjoy their music, but you are under no obligation to do so.
Find the Singing Oak in City Park
Another great thing to do in New Orleans is to visit City Park. City Park is a wonderful and free way to spend your time. You can take the Canal streetcar all the way to end and you will end up in City Park. City Park is fifty percent larger than Central Park in New York City and has something for everyone. Families, outdoor enthusiasts, golfers, nature lovers and walkers like myself.
A special treat is to find the Singing Oak located near Big Lake. The large oak tree is home to a set of wind chimes that ring a pentatonic (five notes per octave) scale. This musical art exhibit was designed by Jim Hart. Certainly there’s no better place than the birthplace of Jazz to find such a magical, musical tree.
This City Park Map will help you plan your activities for the day. It also includes directions for accessing the park if you decide to drive.
Take A Ride on a Streetcar
Step back in time and take the favorite transportation of a different era. New Orleans Streetcars are a fun and inexpensive way to not only visit historical parts of the city, but experience the history as well. The fare is $1.25 one way on each of the four lines. You can access the French Quarter, Central Business District, the Riverfront, plus the Cemeteries and City Park.
Visit the Museum of Death if you Dare
If you’re looking for something different to do in New Orleans, then this is the place for you. It’s creepy, weird and interesting all at the same time. You will have the opportunity to view crime scene and morgue photos, Antique mortician apparatuses, and coffins. Not to mention artwork, letters and more created by serial killers. It’s located at 227 Dauphine St. and the cost is $15.
Steamboat Natchez River Cruise
Enjoy a time that was slow and graceful aboard the Steamboat Natchez. Spend the afternoon cruising along the Mississippi and taking in the sounds of live Jazz music as you relax. Additionally you can add lunch or dinner to your ticket for the opportunity to savor traditional New Orleans cuisine.
The price for the cruise itself starts at $38 for adults and $15.50 for children 6-12. The cruise with a meal included starts at $50 for adults and $24 for children. You can find out about the cruise options as well as pricing and times here.
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