New Orleans is a city of Creole cuisine, thriving nature preserves, and historically rich character. The combination of French, Caribbean, Native American, West African, & Spanish cultural influences (just to name a few) make New Orleans a must-visit city.
Admittedly, our trip didn’t scratch the surface to all there is to be had here. That being said, with a city that offers it all – live music, classic cocktails, food infused with a cultural zest, elegant Southern mansions, French architecture, & spooky history the “must see’s” are almost never-ending.
I have compiled a highlight reel that is my very own, along with a Top 20 Must Do’s in New Orleans list.
Top 20 Recommendations
You can’t visit New Orleans without taking a tour of the swamp. So naturally, our first stop was the Cajun Encounters Swamp Tour.
They take you through Honey Island Swamp where you get to see the wild critters up close. When we signed up for the tour our hope was to see alligators, but unfortunately, we had an early morning tour & it was pretty cold out.
Tip: Alligators are coldblooded. They rely on the environment to regulate their temperature. So, don’t plan on seeing alligators when it’s cold because they are brumating (the reptilian equivalent of hibernating).
Even though we missed the gators the tour was my favorite part of the trip. We actually saw plenty of really cool animals including a wild swamp boar. Our tour guide gave us an entertaining & informative experience that amplified the encounter.
Final thought, whether you use Cajun Encounters or another tour agency you will not regret adding this to your list of New Orleans must do’s.
It’s a pretty universal belief that New Orleans has some delicious cuisine. One of my favorite restaurants was Felix’s (thank you, Aaron, for the recommendation). It was incredibly busy, but the service was excellent & the atmosphere brings you right into the boisterous vibration that is New Orleans.
The French Quarter & Cafe Du Monde
We spent a great deal of time in the historical heart of the city, The French Quarter. I was truly enamored by the gorgeous buildings, porches covered in lush greenery & balconies overlooking the lively pulse of the onlookers below.
The area appeared to have been plucked straight from a Turner Classic film. If it wasn’t for the modern dress & walking cell phones in the streets I would think I was in the 1800s.
I took the advice of friends, family, & fellow bloggers stopping into perhaps one of the more famous beignet spots in New Orleans, Cafe Du Monde.
Beignets – french donuts covered in powdered sugar designed to satisfy any sweet tooth.
Tip: Grab at least one of these tasty treats, but don’t wait for a table. Do yourself a solid & avoid the crazy wait time. Look for the take-away window, pick-up one or two or five & stroll along the Marina. (Shout out Carol for this advice!)
There are three locations that I am aware of, click here for my favorite spot.
Bowling at Fulton Alley
One thing that isn’t found on most New Orleans itineraries is a trip to the bowling alley.
The food here was the best I had in all of New Orleans.
Stop in, have some appetizers, & tell me what you think. We ordered Glazed Brussels roasted in pepper jelly, Blackened Shrimp Deviled Eggs, & Vegetarian Spring Rolls with pickled veggies & house-made peanut sauce. It was out of this world scrumptious.
Take In All That Is Bourbon Street
Of course, the vibrant nightlife of Bourbon Street is unavoidable.
I have heard it described as the Hollywood Boulevard of New Orleans & I can understand why. Still, you should not skip the experience.
If you want to check out some bars along the way one I highly recommend is Arnaud’s French 75.
Just off Bourbon Steet, Arnaud’s is an elegant break from the hustle & bustle of Bourbon Street. It truly was a breath of fresh air.
There you will find the famous French 75, a lovely combination of Gin & Champagne. This drink is also available at other locations, but I highly recommend finding yourself in the lovely embrace Arnaud’s. (Pro-tip: dress nicely for this place.)
Encounter Some Voodoo
If you have any interest in Voodoo, New Orleans is your city. With plenty of options from museums to tours, you won’t be disappointed.
Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is one place where you can shop & undergo a psychic reading.
The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum is for those curious individuals interested in exploring Voodoo history & culture.
Full Day at the Museum & Lunch at Auction House
A full day at the World War II Museum is absolutely positively worth it. The museum opens at 9 am & closes at 5 pm.
If you want the full experience, do not do what I did and wait until the day of your visit to buy the theater tickets (especially during busy seasons). I linked the site so you can check out the options for yourself.
There is a restaurant at the museum, but we opted for lunch at Auction House Market. This place was awesome. A food hall with plenty of options for everyone. The environment is chique, rich with natural lighting, & walls of plants. You know I love me some baby greens.
Have a Date Night in the City
Sure a vacation as a couple can be romantic, but if you take at least one night to dress up & spend some true one-on-one time together (phones away!) it can make the travel experience that much better.
This doesn’t just reign true for a couple’s trip. You can have a “date night” to yourself if you are traveling alone or with friends when you’re in a group.
In the end, your trip will be unique to you, but I hope my recommendations add a special spark to your New Orleans visit.