New Orleans is a fun and vibrant city with ample activities to suit everyone. The weather in the Big Easy is usually nice, but the summers are hot and humid. When you are planning what you're going to do, make sure you allow time to get out of the sun. Many of the things you will find to do here have cultural appeal. Even walking around or taking the streetcar from one place to another can be entertaining if you take your time.
Colorful buildings, cast iron balconies and an upbeat vibe lure people to the French Quarter. You can find a host of things to do here. It spans six blocks over which you will find a host of offerings from fresh seafood to souvenirs. Much of the open air market is covered, so you can take a break from being in the sun while you peruse the wares of local merchants.
Grab a bite to eat a local eatery and head over to New Orleans Musical Legends Park to catch a show from a local jazz musician. The park is out in the open and is marked with statues of some of the city’s musical legends. During the winter months, the air might be slightly nippy, but a bowl of gumbo can help to keep you warm. If you need a snack, Café Beignet is right there with sweet offerings.
Located in the Louisiana swamplands, the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve gives you a glimpse into the natural beauty of the area. There are free tours of the park that provide you with an in-depth look at the area. Ideally, you will visit this area in the spring or fall months when the weather is a bit mild. The tour guides will usually offer personal stories and antidotes if you opt for one of the many swamp tours that are offered outside of those hosted by the rangers.
Chicory coffee and beignets (puffy pastries covered with powdered sugar) are the traditional fare at Café du Monde. You can get your goodies to-go and enjoy them while you walk around. There is also open-air seating at the café. Nearby, you can find benches along the Mississippi River where you can sit and watch river traffic.
Jackson Square is an open area where you can see some Civil War weaponry, including cannons. Lush greenery surrounds the square. From within you can see the St. Louis Cathedral and the open air market of the French Quarter. You may want to walk across the street to the cathedral to take a tour of it or just to admire the architecture. Street performers, including musicians and artists, surround the square. You can find some unique souvenirs as you check out those performers.
Preservation Hall is open 360 nights a year with live music. You can visit it in the afternoons and nights during the week, but on Friday and Saturday, it is only open at night. The intimate setting often has standing room only. If you need seating, you need to plan ahead and reserve your seats. Be prepared with cash because the venue doesn’t take any other forms of payment.
When the sun sets, Bourbon Street comes to life. It is 13 blocks long and runs from Esplanade Avenue to Canal Street. Bars and clubs, many of which are open around the clock, dot both sides of the street. This is a destination that is best for adult only trips as some of the sights you will see along this street are for mature audiences only. This is especially true during the Mardi Gras season when the revelers are out partying.
You can take a tour through the New Orleans Rum Distillery, but it is only available to adults. There is a tasting of Gris Gris and other products at the end of the tour. The company offers a free shuttle from the French Quarter’s stall 27, the Organic Banana Daiquiri Stand and Juice Bar. While you might be able to jump on the shuttle when it stops, it is best to make online reservations to ensure you have a tour space saved for you.
Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World gives you an intimate look into how the intricate floats for parades are made. It is open at 9:00 every morning except Mardi Gras, Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. The tours start 30 minutes later. You can call the office to arrange for a free shuttle the building if you are going to take a tour. The behind-the-scenes lets you see just how much work goes into each detail of every float the company puts out on the parade routes.
The Audubon Zoo and Aquarium of the Americas are two distinct attractions that complement each other. You should plan a full day at each location so you can fully enjoy them. Near the site of the aquarium is the space that hosted that World’s Fair in 1984. You can take the St. Charles Streetcar to get close to the campus. While the aquarium is indoors and ideal for hot or rainy days, the zoo is fully outdoors.