10 Best Things to Do in the Big Easy

10 Best Things to Do in the Big Easy

Getaway Staff
Updated: Oct 15, 2019

New Orleans is a mix of magic, mystery, and romance. NOLA is a diverse city full of culture which combines the histories of the French, Spanish, and Caribbean people who made the Crescent City the gem she is today. There's something for everyone in New Orleans, including ornate architecture, rowdy Bourbon Street, and the ghosts and ghouls roaming the Mississippi Riverfront. If you haven't been down to New Orleans, then your life isn't complete. The Spanish Moss hanging from centuries-old trees, the friendly smiles of locals, and exquisite restaurants will ignite your imagination and nourish your soul.


01The French Quarter or Vieux Carre


The Vieux Carre is a historic district in New Orleans and is the oldest part of the city. The French Quarter was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The old square stretches across 85 square blocks that extend from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. The French Market began in 1781 and is still in business today. The outdoor mall is the oldest in the United States which provides mouth-watering restaurants, unique shops, and live music. Bourbon Street is infamous for it's year-round Mardi Gras atmosphere year-round. You'll find massive to-go adult refreshments that you can sip on as you walk through the charm of the old quarter.  

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02Boutique du Vampyre

Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images Jonathan Daniel / Getty Images

In the French Quarter, you'll find touristy souvenir shops, bars pumping out bass-heavy tunes, and pretty girls trying to lure unsuspecting visitors into 'live performances.' Unique shopping requires a visitor to venture beyond the worn path and explore the darker parts of the Vieux Carre. Here you'll find the Boutique du Vampyre. It's served mortal and vampires alike since 2003. You can even get a bespoke set of fangs made just for your teeth.    


03Cities of the Dead


New Orleans is a unique environment. The city was built entirely on swampland, which complicates how people bury their dead. The inability to bury people in the ground has created some of the most magnificent and beautiful cemeteries in the world. St. Louis No. 1 is a short stroll from the French Quarter and is the resting place of Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau. Legend states that if you bring Queen Laveau an offering, like a candle, a piece of fruit, or candy and mark three X's on her grave, then she may help you manifest your deepest desires. Be careful in the cemeteries of New Orleans; the ghosts won't bother you, but criminals may be hunting for a lone traveler transfixed by the cemetery's allure which makes it easy for them to relieve you of your valuables.

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04The Mississippi Waterfront


Throughout the majority of New Orlean's history, the riverfront was inaccessible to residents due to the industrial nature of the area and busy wharf. Recently, the industrial section was razed to make way for Woldenberg Park. Woldenberg Park honors the memory of a local philanthropist. The park helps attract almost ten million visitors every year. The riverfront is an excellent place to grab a Po' Boy and explore the sights and sounds of New Orleans at leisure.  

CrackerClips / Getty Images


05Be a Witness to the Damage Done by Hurricane Katrina


America's worst natural disaster occurred in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the southeast United States. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, many lost their lives, and our government shamed itself with a less than efficient response to such a horrible crisis. There are many different types of tours to account for the horrors of Katrina. See where the levee broke which caused chaos and tragedy. Familiarize yourself and your family with the link between dwindling wetlands, levee reinforcement, gas and oil pipelines, and hurricane destruction. Examine for yourself the hard-hit neighborhoods of the Ninth Ward, St. Bernard, and Gentilly. It's vital to remember these catastrophes to prevent them.

Mario Tama / Getty Images


06St. Louis Cathedral


The St. Louis Cathedral proudly overlooks Jackson Square. The cathedral is the oldest, functioning parish of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Construction began in 1724, but the cathedral's undergone two significant restorations, including after a fire and following Hurrican Katrina. The church dedication occurred in 1794.  The parish is a functioning cathedral and visiting the church is possible during periods without regular religious services.

Chris Graythen / Getty Images


07Take a Ride on Steamboat Natchez


The Mississippi riverfront is an exciting place with lots of things to do to stimulate all your senses and is a great place to cool off from the humidity of a Big Easy summer. The mile-long riverfront hosts an annual, 'French Quarter Festival' that draws visitors from all over the world to enjoy the Crescent City. The Steamboat Natchez sails three times every day with a dinner service included in the evening.  Park in the city and take an iconic, red streetcar to the boat. The steamship will transport you to another time when these vessels brought cotton, gambling, and jazz up and down the mighty Mississippi.  

Skip Bolen / Getty Images


08Jean Lafitte National Historic Park


The Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve along with the Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center provide extensive exhibits about many of the oldest protected historic districts in the nation. Ask about the swamp tours to see reptiles in their natural elements. The visitor center is east of the French Quarter. Exhibitions mean to educate visitors on how New Orleans was shaped by cultural, environmental, and sociological aspects that still impact residents today.

Erika Goldring / Getty Images


09The Voodoo Museum


Since the 18th century, Voodoo and New Orleans remain connected to one another. The Voodoo Museum attempts to unravel the mysteries and magic of the culture of New Orleans, Louisiana. The museum provides an extraordinary perspective on the history of the Big Easy with entertaining and educational exhibits. They can also help book ghost tours and other hunts for paranormal creatures.

Tim Graham / Getty Images


10Beignets and Cafe Au Lait


There are two iconic coffee shops in New Orleans which have operated since the mid-1860's: Cafe du Monde and Morning Call. Locals tend to split into Morning Call devotees, or they're loyal Cafe du Monde customers. Both shops are open around-the-clock and offer delicious chickory coffee with traditional, French doughnuts covered in powdered sugar which are known as beignets. Go ahead, dig in!

Chris Graythen / Getty Images


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