New Orleans Travel Guide

Activities & Events

Stroll historic neighborhoods look at the architecture and businesses, and people watch in the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, Faubourg Tremé, Bywater, Esplanade Ridge, Uptown, Algiers Point and Carrollton
Streetcar rides St. Charles Avenue (green cars) is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the U.S.; the Canal Street route also provides a pleasant ride
Riverboat cruises - short or long cruises, some of which have quite good jazz bands on board. Enjoy the Steamboat Natchez Riverboat Cruise. Great way to enjoy 3 attractions-in-one ... New Orleans food and music during a cruise down the Mississippi. Aquarium-Zoo Cruise - riverboat cruise package is a great way to see the Aquarium of the Americas and the Audubon Zoo
River ferry - the budget alternative to riverboats, take the free pedestrian ferry from the foot of Canal Street across the Mississippi to Algiers Point and back for a great view of the river, downtown, and the Quarter
Walking tours including voodoo, jazz history, French Quarter, or Garden District ones
Bicycle Tours for history, architecture, or hurricane damage.
Casino gambling at Harrah's next to the Quarter in the Central Business District. Voted "Best Casino" by the readers of "Casino Player." This "world-class" casino offers over 2000 of the newest slots and over a hundred action-packed table games along with a 24 hour buffet, Besh Steakhouse and many other food options.
Antique shopping up & down Royal St in the Quarter or Magazine Street Uptown
Cooking Classes - learn how to cook meals like a local when you return home. A four-course meal is demonstrated by excellent chefs, who will entertain you as well as teach you the secrets of Creole and Cajun cooking.
Carriage rides - Take a carriage ride while you're in New Orleans ... and enjoy a tour of the French Quarter (Garden District tours available, too!) Quaint mule-drawn carriages take you past many landmarks of New Orleans, including Bourbon Street, the mighty Mississippi, and Jackson Square.
Celebrate Mardi Gras - The two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday is a period of celebration in the city, with parades and parties throughout.
Mardi Gras World - with thousands of sensational sculptured props and giant figures—it's the place where Mardi Gras floats are made. A great place to get the Mardi Gras spirit year-round; at the edge of the Central Business District
Museums - Museum highlights include: National World War II Museum (formerly D-Day Museum), Central Business District. New Orleans Museum of Art, Mid-City; Ogden Museum of Southern Art, Central Business District; French Quarter museum highlights include the Cabildo and Presbytere history museums, The Old Mint, and several house museums.
Cities of the Dead - Historic cemeteries
Run. there are great road races such as the Mardi Gras Marathon, and the somewhat more whimsical Red Dress Run (everyone wears a red dress and running shoes, men and women).
Day trips outside of town
Swamp tours - those with a car can make an easy day trip to the Jean Lafitte Nature Preserve, a free park, with as good a view of local swamp flora and fauna as various pay tours. Honey Island Swamp Tours Inc. - nearly 70,000 acres of the Honey Island Swamp is a permanently protected wildlife area. Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours - Cajun-style boat tour takes you out on an 1 hour and 45 minute trip through the heart of Southern Louisiana's swamplands. Some swamp tours also have vans that can pick you up at your hotel and take you to the swamp tour location, though this can be significantly more expensive option than driving yourself.
Plantation tours - the Great River Road between New Orleans and Baton Rouge has several fine plantations, "Laura"and "Magnolia Mound" (Creole Plantations) and "San Francisco" are of special interest.
Battle of New Orleans Site - Battlefield history fans will want to visit the site of the famous battle where Andrew Jackson defeated the British at the end of the War of 1812. It didn't actually happen in New Orleans, but in the nearby community of Chalmette, Louisiana. Drive there or take a riverboat.
Festivals

In addition to year-round attractions, a series of celebrations and festivals provide additional interest:

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage FestivalAlso known just as Jazz Fest. Held the last weekend in April and the first weekend in May every year at the New Orleans Fairgrounds, F-Su 11AM-7PM. It is second only to Mardi Gras for importance and size for New Orleans. The festival has been held every year since 1970. The true heart and soul of the Jazz Fest, as with New Orleans, is music. That includes jazz, both traditional and contemporary, Cajun music, blues, R&B, gospel music, folk music, Latin, rock, rap, country music and bluegrass. But it's not just music. This is a cultural feast with food and crafts. There are thousands of musicians, cooks and craftspeople at the festival and 500,000 visitors each year. Visit the two large food areas where you can sample Louisiana cuisine and see demonstrations from top New Orleans chefs. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen.
French Quarter FestivalBig free music festival at multiple locations all around the French Quarter each Spring, usually the week before the start of JazzFest.
Essence FestivalBig music festival in the Superdome and Convention Center in early July.
San Fermin en Nueva OrleansStarted as a bit of silliness by a bunch of friends in 2007: The idea was to replicate the famous "running of the bulls" in Pamplona, but with roller-derby girls with plastic baseball bats serving as the "bulls" chasing the runners. It caught on, and now attracts thousands of participants and even more spectators each July in the French Quarter and CBD.
Satchmo Summer FestivalFirst held in 2001 to mark the 100th anniversary of the birth of New Orleans jazz legend Louis "Satchmo" Armstrong. Organizers were unsure how many people would come out for a music festival in the August heat, but it was such a success that it's been repeated ever since. On and around the grounds of the Old Mint on Esplanade in the lower French Quarter, first weekend in August.
Southern DecadenceEach summer, big event for Gays and those who love and respect the Gay community.
Halloween. While not as large a celebration as Mardi Gras, Halloween is still a big deal in New Orleans. Locals begin costuming two or three days in advance, with most of the action Halloween night being, of course, in the French Quarter, which becomes a veritable parade of costumes ranging from the traditional to the satirical. Families can enjoy Halloween festivities in their own neighborhoods or at various events around the city specifically geared for children.
Voodoo ExperienceThe pop/alternative/contemporary counterpart to the Jazz Fest hosting multiple stages in City Park over 3 days around Halloween time.
Neighborhood festivals. Some of the smaller neighborhood based events are listed in the individual neighborhood articles; they often offer great local music and food in a more intimate setting.
Volunteer

Although the city has made great strides in its post-Katrina recovery, many neighborhoods like Gentilly and the Lower Ninth Ward remain in need of help as their residents rebuild their lives. Volunteers and work groups do much of the work for organizations like the St. Bernard Project or Rebuilding Together, working alongside homeowners to restore their lives. Annunciation Mission links volunteers to work projects and provides lodging and meals to individuals, mission trips, and groups of all faiths and sizes.

source: Wikivoyage

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