If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, make sure you get the most out of it! There’s much more to the Crescent City than Bourbon Street. My top 10 list will fill your time with amazing experiences not to be missed during your visit. Enjoy!
1. Explore the Audubon Aquarium/Zoo/Insectarium
As a kid, I used to get so excited when my parents would tell me we were going to the aquarium in New Orleans! My husband and I actually went to the Audubon zoo while we were in college and loved it. Do you have a little bug enthusiast on your hands? Built in 2008, the Insectarium is the newest of the 3 Audubon attractions. It’s interactive and educational, which keep kids entertained while learning biology (not an easy task). Keep in mind, the zoo is completely outside. So if it’s a horrendously hot day, stick to either the aquarium or insectarium. Website: Audubon Nature Institute
Aquarium: Adult $29.95, Child $21.95, Senior $24.95
Zoo: Adult $22.95, Child $17.95, Senior $19.95
Insectarium: Adult $22.95, Child $17.95, Senior $19.95
2. Go on a Ghost Tour
Believe it or not, in all my years of traveling to New Orleans, the first time I went on a ghost tour was when I was 20 years old. It was fantastic! There are so many tour companies out there for these types of tours. You may even be able to find a discount brochure at your hotel. But I would recommend Haunted History Tours. $25 per person. Tip: It is a walking tour at night, so make sure you wear comfortable shoes
3. Take a Free Walking Tour
New Orleans is huge and there’s so much to see and learn. I’ve been traveling there for 27 years and there’s never a trip I take without learning something new about this colorful city. The Free Walking Tours are something I stumbled upon when doing some trip research for friend. I know what you’re thinking: “Free? No way!” It’s true! Here’s how it works: You sign up for a tour on their website, but you don’t pay a dime unless you enjoyed the tour. If you enjoyed it, then it’s your discretion as to how much you believe the tour was worth. How cool is that? The reviews for these tours are outstanding. I haven’t done one myself, but if you have or plan on doing one, let me know!
4. Soak up Some History at the World War II Museum
If you are interested in the history of WWII or just enjoy museums, this is an incredible one. It’s a state of the art museum with interactive areas everywhere you turn. At some points, you feel like you’re in the trenches with the troops! One thing that really resonated with me is the fact that there are volunteers as well as visitors walking around the museum who actually lived through WWII. It gives me chills. There are not many WWII veterans left, so to be able to speak to them and hear their stories first hand is truly amazing. Do not miss this if you’re in New Orleans for a few days! It will take a few hours to get through, but it is so worth it. Adults: $26, Children, College Students, Military: $16.50, Seniors: $22.50, WWII Veterans and Children under 5 are free. Website: National WWII Museum
5. Conjure Spirits at Lafayette Cemetery #1 (Garden District)
Ok, ok, I know some people do not enjoy wandering through cemeteries like I do. However, the cemeteries in New Orleans are unique and beautiful since they cannot bury their deceased underground. Why? New Orleans is below sea level, so if they were to bury their dead underground… lets just say, they wouldn’t be there for long. So instead of below ground graves, they are all above ground. It’s totally free to walk around, but there are many tours that can bring you through and teach you all about who is buried there. Check out more about this cemetery here: Lafayette Cemetery #1
6. Shout, “Throw me somethin’, Mister!” at Mardi Gras World
You can’t go to New Orleans without experiencing Mardi Gras in some way! If you aren’t able to make it there during the actual event, check out Mardi Gras World. See where the magnificent Mardi Gras floats are made. It’s incredible to see the amount of work and detail that goes in to each one. Adults: $20, Children: $13, Seniors and Students: $16. They are open every day from 9:30 am – 4:30 pm with tours every 30 min. They also have a free shuttle to get you there which is a nice bonus!
7. Take a Cajun Cooking Class
The food of New Orleans is something that stays with people for a lifetime. Once you try it, you’ll understand. So why not learn how to make it while you’re there? Head over to the New Orleans School of Cooking to see all of their different classes. They have something for everyone!
P.S. If you’re looking for some great restaurants for your visit, check out my New Orleans Eats & Treats post!
8. Go Gator Hunting
Ok, not really. But you should take a short break from the party in the quarter and spend some time in the swamp. Cajun Encounters is an excellent company and you’ll get to see tons of alligators plus possibly some wild boar (pictured)! The guides are so knowledgeable and make the entire experience so fun. Great for all ages! Adults are $29 and Children are $19.
9. Wander Through the Louisiana State Museum in the Cabildo
Not only will you learn about the rich history of Louisiana, but you’ll also see where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. I thoroughly enjoyed this museum and it’s a very inexpensive activity to boot! Admission is $6 for adults or $5 for seniors and students (children under 12 are free). This makes a wonderful activity for a rainy day. Website: The Cabildo
10. Go Shopping in the French Market
Whenever we visit New Orleans, we always start our day with the French Market. Here you’ll find lots of different food stands along with vendors selling unique art and souvenirs. We rarely buy souvenirs in a brick and mortar shop in the quarter unless it’s something we can’t get anywhere else. Most likely, you’ll be able to find any souvenir you want in the French Market and it will be much cheaper than anywhere else.
There is obviously much, much more to do in New Orleans, but these are my favorites! Is there anything you would add? Do I need to make a top 15 or even a top 20 list? Tell me in the comments below!