Don't be overwhelmed by the hundreds of things to do in New Orleans. We'll help you figure out what's worthwhile with this handy list of the top 10 New Orleans attractions.
1. Go on an Airboat Swamp Tour
There's nothing like New Orleans' breathtaking skyline, but have you ever wondered what it looked like before the infrastructure? Choose a New Orleans bayou tour package and dive into this nowhere-else-in-the-world ecological treasure. Two action-packed hours of scooting through the swamp, experiencing the unique environment and local wildlife of Cajun country from the comfort of your very own airboat — now that's a local adventure!
2. Attend a Saints game
American football games are an experience to be reckoned with, and there's a special something about the New Orleans Saints' underdog story. Our local team's followers know how to pass a good time, that's for sure — you're likely to enjoy the famous tailgating scene and fan antics as much as your time at the Superdome. As a bonus, the local love of crazy costumes doesn't shine anywhere brighter than on the field: don't miss the Saints-themed Boba Fetts, witch doctors, and ever-present trio of "football bishops" cheering on our boys from the sidelines. Of course if you are here supporting another football team, we'll let that slide. Who dat say they gonna beat them Saints? Feel free to try!
3. Take a bus tour of the city
Enjoy the story of New Orleans past and present while sitting back in air-conditioned comfort. City & Katrina sightseeing bus tours last two or three hours and cover almost 40 square miles of famous (and infamous) Big Easy neighborhoods, from the lush mansions of the Garden District to the historic post-Katrina levees of the Ninth Ward. These tours will give you a great overview of NOLA in a short amount of time and might give you some ideas of where you might like to explore on your own later in your trip.
4. Cruise the Mighty Mississippi
Just steps from the French Quarter, a couple of unassuming piers lead to the Mississippi's most scenic riverboat cruises. Enjoy a cocktail on the water, sample the local cuisine, and enjoy the siren sounds of a New Orleans offshore jazz band while taking in the breeze on the two New Orleans paddle wheelers, the Creole Queen and the Natchez. Day cruises offer history and value while the dinner jazz cruises show you a wonderful, perhaps even romantic, night out on the river. Big wheels keep on turnin', indeed.
5. Check out the WWII Museum
For the American history buff, New Orleans' World War II Museum offers an unparalleled glimpse into this pivotal period in our nation's history. Get up close with real aircraft used in the conflict, including a Douglas C-47 Skytrain that hangs suspended from the hangar-sized atrium ceiling. The museum's Boeing Center boasts one of America's most famous planes: a B-17E Flying Fortress Bomber — one of the only three intact models in existence — named My Gal Sal (right), which was recovered over 50 years after its abandonment in Greenland. With plenty of artwork and memorabilia, the museum focuses on the role that the United States played in the Allied victory and is considered the official museum for WWII.
6. Explore a historic cemetery
Telling your friends “Hey, let’s go walk around a graveyard!” on a sunny afternoon might draw odd looks back home, but the famous above-ground mausoleums of New Orleans are a can't-miss. With elegantly-wrought stonework and cast iron statuary, they're as stunning as they are somber. If you’re into genealogy or history, see the final resting places of some of the most powerful people in New Orleans history at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest and most famous of the city's burial grounds. Check out Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau's tomb there.
7. Check out a haunted French Quarter tour
There's a reason New Orleans is popularly known as "America's Most Haunted City." Get a top-to-bottom look at the most famously creepy spots in town with a New Orleans ghost and vampire tour. From deranged socialites to powerful witch queens to the murderous, jazz-loving "Axeman of New Orleans," every corner has a spine-tingling story. Just don't forget to stop at one of the Quarter's numerous voodoo shops for a little gris-gris — you don't want to take a spirit home, do you?
8. Cool off under the sea
Going to the aquarium is a surefire hit for all ages, and New Orleans' Aquarium of the Americas is widely considered one of the best in the world. Start off by immersing yourself in the world of aquatic wildlife with a walk through the underwater entrance tunnel, featuring colorful reefs, darting fish, and friendly divers swimming above and all around. Inside, there's no shortage to what the day can bring. Nature-loving kids will jump at the chance to hold a stingray or feed the flocks of parakeets in the outdoor atrium, while parents can enjoy immersive (and educational!) exhibits like tropical rainforests, Louisiana swamps, or deep-sea jellyfish waters. Best of all, the aquarium's powerful air conditioning system is the perfect way to cool off after a scorching summer day.
9. Take a stroll in the park
Since 1854, New Orleans City Park has been the destination for dog walkers, joggers, and visitors who want to take in the view of the South. Bring a lunch (or pick up an order of beignets and cafe au lait at the Morning Call) and get lost wandering the botanical garden. The Carousel Gardens Amusement Park offers all the fun of a Six Flags at a fraction of the price. Younger kids (and less adventurous adults) will particularly enjoy the Ladybug — a teacup-sized rollercoaster that's fast and furious without the high-octane loop-de-loops.
10. Walk the plantation roads
The antebellum charm of Louisiana's plantations make for the perfect day trip from New Orleans. Get the full experience of their picturesque architecture and rich history with a guided tour of Laura Plantation and Oak Alley Plantation, two of the area's most popular destinations. With a Gators & Ghosts plantation tour combo, you don't even have to choose: cover all the sites in one magical day or combine one plantation with a swamp tour.