Want to experience all that New Orleans has to offer? It’s a really fun city and one of the only places in the country where you can take a stroll down the street with a drink in hand. Bars will even ask you if you want a to-go cup!
Caroline previously lived in New Orleans and grew up only an hour away. Her friend Kelly Fields, of the newly famous Willa Jean Bakery, helped us put together a must-do list that reaches into the underbelly (literally below sea level) to bring you all the best things NOLA has to offer.
This post may contain affiliate links, where we receive a small commission on sales of the products that are linked at no additional cost to you. All opinions are always our own. Read our full disclosure for more info. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Local Adventurer possible.
Last Updated: May 18, 2020
The Ultimate New Orleans Bucket List - 101 Things To Do in New Orleans
Get started on Bourbon Street in the French Quarter and stick around for a festival or two – Jazz Fest and Mardi Gras are two of the biggest but certainly not the only. On any given street corner in the Quarter, you can walk up on street music being slung from trumpets and snare drums.
This was our favorite way to experience music in the city. Neighborhoods not to miss are the Marigny, Bywater, and the length of Magazine Street from the Quarter to Claiborne Avenue.
Tourist Attractions + Local Attractions
Our favorite animal was the Komodo dragon in their Reptile Encounter.
Catch redfish, black drum, speckled trout, and more.
Take this historic ferry across he Mississippi River to a charming 19th century neighborhood.
Rated one of the World’s Best Record Shops by The Vinyl Factory.
See exotic animal races, historic race course from 1839, and grab a bite to eat.
The Ghost & Vampire tour was really fun.
Come check out of the best-preserved collections of beautiful, historic mansions in the Southern United States.
Learn about the French Quarters as take a carriage ride around town.
See the Voodoo Queen’s final resting place.
12 acres of pretty flowers, cacti, and Japanese gardens.
Make sure to wear lots of sunblock and comfy non-slip shoes.
Eat some gator nuggets, buy some gifts, and stroll through the many shops.
Tiny little bar next to the St. Louis Cathedral with all the pirate vibes.
A standard one-way fare on a streetcar costs only $1.25.
Have Sunday brunch on the steamboat and listen to live music.
Book a tour and learn about the family mausoleums and history of these cemeteries.
There’s also a little museum inside to visit.
Doullut Steamboat Houses
Not open to the public, but you can take a peek at their exteriors if you’re in the neighborhood.
Museums + Memorials
Algiers Folk Art Zone and Blues Museum
Unique folk art as well as carvings and sculptures.
Learn about New Orleans culture through their detailed and informative exhibits.
Civil War artifacts, uniforms, weapons, etc.
Rotating exhibitions in a historic warehouse space.
Tour this historic home built in 1857. Walk through several rooms filled with opulent decorations.
One of the only Federal architectural style buildings in New Orleans.
Pay respects to hundreds of victims who lost their lives to Hurricane Katrina.
Known to be the oldest building being operated as a bar in the US.
Louisiana State Museums
Includes N.O. Mint, The Cabildo, The Presbytère, 1850 House, and Madame John’s Legacy.
Check out old parade floats and learn about the history of Mardi Gras.
This 18th-century Creole colonial country home is on the National Register of Historic Places.
Displays of true crime memorabilia to historical medical/funeral items.
Very small museum where you can learn about voodoo history.
Just a short walk from the Natchez steamboat.
Old, classic pieces to new, modern art.
Admission is only $5 and tours are at 1pm, Tuesday through Friday.
See works of art by various Southern artists.
Tons of confederate coins on display.
Lots of visual and interactive art.
Experience the lifestyle of residents from more than 150 years ago.
Visit earlier in the morning to avoid large crowds.
Set aside at least 3 hours if you want to see all of the exhibits.
Free to visit, donations are appreciated.
Spotlights on the food, drink & culture of the South.
Shows + Venues
Be sure to check out their secret patio and enjoy live music outside.
Classic New Orleans jazz in an intimate, local joint.
New Orleans style food, live music.
Variety shows from stand up comedy, game-shows, and more in an art-deco space.
Dive bar, live music.
Come catch a show in this old church turned opera house.
Thursday night is Zydeco night.
Catch a New Orleans Pelicans game here.
Jazz venue in an old 1809 tavern.
Stand up comedy, sideshow, burlesque, and more.
Find this space in the heart of Bourbon Street.
Small venue for a variety of live musical performances. Cheap drinks, too.
Only $5 cover charge on Friday nights.
Popular during Christmas to see The Nutcracker.
Go for drinks and jazz.
Indie-type movie theatre that seats about 150 people.
National Park Units
Take an easy walk on a boardwalk into a swampy, interesting bayou.
Learn about the Battle of New Orleans.
There is a 1-hr. lecture by staff every morning at 9:30am.
Learn about the history and culture of jazz origins in NOLA.
Urban Parks + The Great Outdoors
You can schedule a horse back riding lesson here.
From the French Quarter, you can follow the signs and enter the park using a pedestrian bridge (elevator or walk to the top).
Along with bike rentals, kayaks, or just have a simple picnic.
Super fresh and local produce.
We loved seeing the artists, magicians, and various entertainers in the square.
Lots of stalls from local artists and food vendors throughout the year.
Cozy bar in an old, historic building.
See the longest continuous bridge over water in the world.
Honors Louis Armstrong and other famous jazz legends.
Magnolia Bridge aka ‘Cabrini Bridge’
Great spot to catch the sunset.
Mississippi River Trail
(aka the Levee Path) Great for runners, but also open to cyclists, fishers, and inline skaters.
They feature more modern rock music as opposed to jazz.
Peaceful area to picnic or lay out.
The Singing Oak at New Orleans City Park
Hidden wind chimes in this spectacular live oak tree.
Nice area to relax and pop open a good book.
Great spot for photos along the Mississippi River.
Beautiful and ornate Mardi Gras masks.
Super tiny, yet charming bookstore that carries a variety of genres. The space can only accomodate about 12 customers max.
Try alligator meat, shop for fun souvenirs and local gifts.
Local art, jewelry, custom t-shirts, and more.
For views of the Mississippi River, ships, and shopping.
6 mile-long street filled with dozens of funky boutiques, antique and vintage shops, books, etc.
Local seafood is a must-try here.
Food + Drink
Their pre-fixed brunch comes highly recommended by locals and tourists alike.
A New Orleans staple for coffee and beignets.
Big gulf oysters, cash only spot.
Quick counter service, loved by celebrities.
Loved their creative cocktails!
You can get pizzas for half price during happy hour.
Long lines, especially during the summer, but worth the wait,
Famous for their authentic cajun dishes.
Try their Kobe Burger!
Independent craft coffee with local and organic offerings.
Seasonal + Special Events
(Late Apr – Early May) Local and nationally known jazz artists.
(Late Feb) Elaborate parades, music, and parties.
Catch a glimpse of some of the rowdiest football fans in the nation.
101 THINGS TO DO IN NEW ORLEANS CITY MAP
Essential Tips for First Time Visitors to New Orleans
The Best Time To Visit
It depends. If you’re looking for cooler temperatures and are interested in festivals, try to travel between February and May. The weather is beautiful but the tradeoff is lots of tourists and packed hotels. If you can’t visit during the spring, just be prepared for heat (temps easily hit the 90’s during the summer), humidity, rains and the potential for hurricanes. (Hurricanes pose a threat from June to November but the peak season for them is August and September). As for a winter visit, hotel rates tend to be a little lower and temperatures hover in the 60’s, not bad when it’s snowing where you live.
Look for a Rental Car here. Want to avoid driving in New Orleans? Consider public transportation. We rode the trolley several times while we were there and really enjoyed it.
- Getting around New Orleans by streetcar is a great way to see the city. There are three different lines: St. Charles (green cars), Canal Street (red cars), and the Riverfront (also red cars). Each line starts/ends downtown but takes you to different parts of the city. One way passes are $1.25. Bring exact change as they will not give you change!
You can also get a one day pass for $3.00, a three day pass for $9.00, and a 31-day unlimited ride pass for $55. See the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)’s website for a list of places to purchase these or download the RTA gomobile app.
- In addition to the St. Charles, Canal Street and the Riverfront cars, you can also use the Loyola/UPT line which opened in 2013. It’s only 1.6 miles long but allows people arriving by Greyhound bus or Amtrak trains to get from the station to Canal Street as well as the French Quarter and Central Business District (where most of the major hotels are located.)
- There’s a new streetcar line (Rampart/St. Claude) that connects you from the Downtown area to the ever popular St. Claude Arts District in the Marigny/Bywater. If you want to bypass the Tremé and the French Quarter, pick up this new line via Rampart St. and Loyola Ave. It will bring you to Rampart and Elysian Fields.
Parking in New Orleans
Parking in New Orleans … depending on where you’re going in the city, parking is going to either be no big deal (the outskirts of the city) or a huge headache (think: French Quarter) If you’re brave (or crazy) enough to drive into the quarter go slow. Many of the streets in the quarter are narrow (they were originally designed for horse-drawn carriages!) and many are one-way streets. People are everywhere at all times of day and there are also horses and bikes to contend with. Take your time and if you have a dinner reservation, build in extra time so you’re not stressed. If you’re lucky enough to find a parking space, make sure your parallel parking skills are en pointe and that you read the signs around you and pay the meter! If at all possible, don’t drive into this area of New Orleans. Parking violations range from $20 at an expired meter to $40 for parking too close to a corner. Don’t park in the median (called “neutral ground” in New Orleans because that will cost you $75. We recommend taking the trolley.
Below are a list of parking offenses that will get you ticketed in New Orleans:
- Blocking driveways or fire lanes
- On sidewalks or neutral grounds
- Near fire hydrants (within 15 feet)
- On corners and crosswalks (within 20 feet)
- In loading and service zones (buses and cab zones too)
- On a parade route within two hours of a parade
- During rush hours (7-9 a.m., 4-6 p.m.) on major streets
- On street cleaning days (usually Tuesdays and Thursdays, 6 a.m. – Noon)
- At bagged meters (during special events) and broken meters
- Near railroad crossings (within 50 feet)
- On-street for more than 24 consecutive hours
- Vehicles longer than 22 feet overnight in the Central Business District
- On a narrow street without allowing 10 feet of unobstructed roadway
- More than 18 inches from the curb
- Having 3 or more unpaid parking violations.
If your car is towed away contact the Claiborne Auto Pound at (504) 658-8284.
The city has two kinds of meters: the older ones that accept coins and the more modernized ones that can be used with an app (Parkmobile.com) or that also accept dollar bills and credit cards. The latter will give you a printed receipt to place on your car dashboard.
As for parking meter rates, they differ depending on where you are in the city. In the French Quarter, Marigny, the
Central Business District and the Warehouse District, it’ll cost you $3.00 an hour. You can pay for up to 2 hours. Parking meter rates are $2.00 an hour everywhere else in the city of New Orleans. Operating hours for the meters are 8 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday-Saturday. One final note: Parking is prohibited at meters in designated rush hour zones from 7 a.m. – 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. – 6 p.m. Oh and if you find a broken meter, don’t park there. They are not free passes. Parking at a broken meter could result in a ticket.
Did we miss anything? How many items on this list have you done?
Did you enjoy this post? Pin it for later
SEE MORE CITY BUCKET LISTS
“Discovery consists not of seeking new lands but in seeing with new eyes” – M. Proust
CAROLINE + ERIN
They are freelance web designers and photographers who love finding adventure, both big and small. The two make a daily practice of sharing vulnerabilities, truth telling, and side splitting laughter. They’ve honed the art of traveling fast and doing all of the things that an adventurer can do in a day or two. The couple lives in Asheville and loves spending their time in the mountains.