Sure, drinking and partying are a huge part of the culture in New Orleans - it can’t be denied. There are local watering holes on almost every street corner, the drinking age barely exists, and you can go just about anywhere with a drink in hand – including in your car after going through a drive-thru daquiri place!
There are sides of town and stories that most people who visit New Orleans don’t know anything about. From its antebellum upbringing through Hurricane Katrina and the reformation afterwards, this city has a truly unique story. Different from the rest of the world, operating almost separately from the rest of the country. It’s one place that is so captivating in its beauty and its charm.
I love coming back to New Orleans, time and time again.
Here are things I recommend doing to help you better understand the true New Orleans, beyond just the surface of Mardi Gras and the famous Hurricanes and Hand Grenades. Spend a little time to take a deep dive and truly discover the soul of New Orleans.
Things to do during the day:
Ride the trolley! One of the easiest ways to get around New Orleans is the free trolley system. You can ride up and down Canal Street and all over town to see the city in a quick, traffic-free, way.
I recommend a catacomb tour that includes The Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveu’s, final resting place or a haunted history tour that would share stories of serial killers, vampires, and other crazy stories.
Visit Jackson Square! If your tour doesn’t take you around Jackson Square be sure to spot by this national landmark to see the statue of Andrew Jackson in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Plus, see the street performers and purchase some local art. It’s an eclectic place to walk around, learn a bit, or grab a bite to eat or drink.
Go to the market! Try some authentic Cajun cuisine at The French Market. Buy pralines, boudin, or some right near the banks of The Mississippi River. Watch women weave traditional sweetgrass baskets and create beautiful masterpieces with their hands.
Learn more about this long-running marketplace, here: https://www.frenchmarket.org/
Visit a Voodoo Shop! Hopefully you will learn all about the religion of Voodoo on your tour, but if not, check out a voodoo shop. Marie Laveau has a store and then there is Voodoo Authentica. Buy a spell or a voodoo doll and summon some good things your way!
Where to eat:
Café Du Monde - Try some beignets at this world-famous New Orleans restaurant. This New Orleans staple, doesn’t come without a wait, though. Be prepared to stand in line for a few hours if you are visiting any time during the day, especially on the weekend. The restaurant is 24 hours, though, so I always recommend stopping by to end the night on a sweet note. Plus, it’s fun to watch them sweep up all the powdered sugar at 3 am!
Read the Café Du Monde menu, here!
Jack Rose - Another nicer dinner spot is the trendy Jack Rose inside The Pontchartrain Hotel. It’s an upscale dining spot full of eclectic artwork and bright colorful feelings. It’s a great place for a girl’s night out or a bachelorette party. Plus, the rooftop, Hot Tin, is a great place to checkout afterwards!
See more about Jack Rose, here.
Where to go at night:
Bourbon Street! No trip to New Orleans would be complete without at least one stroll down Bourbon Street. This famous stretch is home to some of the wildest bars in the country. People are on this street 24-7 sipping on the famous bright green Hand Grenades or giant fish bowls of liquor.
Here are bars I recommend visiting, though 99% of bars on Bourbon Street won’t leave you disappointed:
Frenchmen’s Street – the better Bourbon Street alternative!
If you like live music then Frenchmen’s Street is your area. Nearly every bar in this area has live music almost every night. This isn’t as wild as Bourbon Street, but in my opinion a way more fun time. Check out The Spotted Cat for jazz music, Café Negril for Reggaeton vibes, and Adolfo’s for some of the best Italian and creole dishes in the area!
Take another tour! Seriously, I cannot recommend enough hiring a guide and going on a tour. There is so much to be seen in New Orleans, and some of the best stuff only comes out at night. Ever wanted to see a ghost or wanted to hunt for vampires? There is a night tour out there that can show you a whole new side of NOLA once the sun goes down.
This is by no means a complete list of things to-do, but just a launching point for those who know nothing about Nawlins. I hope this guide helps you plan a successful, fulfilling trip!
Enjoy and Laissez Les Temps Bon Rouler!
Checkout my guides for other U.S. Cities below:
Talkin' 'bout Tacos:
I'm Taylor, aka Tacos! I am sharing my journeys and experiences from across the world hoping to inspire travel and adventure in all who read.