- New Orleans receives over 17 million visitors every year.
- The city has a distinctive culture, including music, dialect, and cuisine.
- New Orleans is among the few places that offer cemeteries tours as a tourist attraction.
Located in the state of Louisiana, New Orleans is a city that is awash with culture. Offering a vibrant art scene, distinctive architecture, world-famous cuisine, and eclectic neighborhoods. New Orleans is a remarkable city making it an ideal tourist destination. In 2018, the number of visitors exceeded 18 million people with an increase of 4.29% in travelers compared to previous years. Captivating people from all over the globe, the city draws in an impressive 17 million vacationers every year.
The city has a rich history that begins with its 250-year isolation from the mainland. This segregation resulted in a cultural explosion with innovative sounds emerging in jazz and gospel music as well as the exciting flavors of Creole cuisine and the unique Creole dialect. In 1958, a bridge was built to connect New Orleans to the mainland and since then, crowds of people have flocked to the city for an array of annual festivals and celebrations, especially Mardi Gras.
Did you know, New Orleans has a nickname? It is sometimes referred to as the Crescent City, due to its quarter-moon shape. Come and see it for yourself and check out some of the best places the city has to offer. Here are 15 spots that are a must-see when visiting New Orleans.
15. City Park
Spend some time strolling through the 1300 acres of City Park and discover its array of activities. Stop off at City Putt for a game of mini-golf or admire the beautifully landscaped Botanical Gardens. Take the children to the Carousel Gardens Amusement park for an afternoon of fun.
14. New Orleans Museum of Art
History fans will love the New Orleans Museum of Art. Home to a collection of over 4000 objects, the museum showcases some of the best pieces of art from around the world. Exhibitions are held frequently; some past displays include contemporary photography of the Louisiana wetlands and stone monoliths from Nigeria.
13. Steamboat Natchez
12. The French Market
If you want a souvenir or gift to commemorate your time in New Orleans, look no further than the French Market. Stalls and shops sell an array of items including clothing, crafts, jewelry, and antiques.
11. The Cemeteries
New Orleans is one of the few places in the world where a cemetery is part of the vacation itinerary. The city’s high water table meant graves could not be dug deep as they would fill with water so above-ground tombs were used instead. Some of the city’s most famous cemeteries include Lafayette Cemetery and the St. Louis Cemetery.
10. Swamp lands
Swap busy streets for the tranquility of nature and visit New Orleans’ plantations and wetlands. Try out activities such as kayaking and air boating or book onto a swamp tour.
9. Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is New Orleans’ most famous event. The celebrations last for two weeks, ending the day before Ash Wednesday. Head to the streets to watch parades packed with floats, entertainment, and festivities. The atmosphere is electric and it is not to be missed.
8. Audubon Park
Take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city and relax in Audubon Park. Stroll through the ancient oak trees or enjoy a picnic overlooking the tranquil pond. If you like to keep fit while on vacation, there is a 1.8-mile jogging path that you can freely use.
7. Frenchmen Street
You will find the charming Frenchmen Street in the French Quarter. If you are a jazz fan, this is the best place to find quality jazz music. A number of restaurants, clubs, bars, and galleries line the road so you will find plenty to keep you busy.
6. Jackson Square
Jackson Square is located in the center of the French Quarter and is a National Historic Landmark. The Square attracts over 2 million visitors each year and is a favored location for many of the city’s celebrations and events. St. Louis Cathedral, the Jax Brewery Shopping Mall and the Pontbala Apartments are all in close proximity to Jackson Square. Be sure to check out local artwork hung on the area’s iron fence before you leave.
5. Royal Street
Shop ‘til you drop on Royal Street. Enjoy browsing independent boutiques, antique stores, and high-end shops before sitting down for some exquisite cuisine in one of the many eateries. Try award-winning Creole dishes at the elegant Brennan’s Restaurant or enjoy the jazz brunch in the iconic Court of Two Sisters building.
4. Preservation Hall
Preservation Hall is a jazz venue situated in the French Quarter of the city. Established in 1961, the historic building is an institution in the jazz music scene. Live bands play over 350 nights a year and the place is usually packed during the weekends. If you are thinking of attending on a Saturday night, make sure you arrive early to secure the best spot.
3. Bourbon Street
Located in the French Quarter, Bourbon Street is the neighborhood’s most famous street. As soon as the sun sets, the strip comes alive. Pulsing with music and illuminated by neon lights, travelers spill out of bars and restaurants. Many embark on a bar tour to sample famous New Orleans cocktails such as brandy milk punch and the powerful Hand Grenade.
2. The French Quarter
Proudly named the “crown jewel of New Orleans”, the French Quarter is one of the city’s best attractions and is the most popular among visitors. Situated on a bend of the Mississippi River, the neighborhood was founded in 1718. The area showcases a combination of Creole, Spanish and French architectural styles and the iconic wrought-iron balconies are recognized around the world. The French Quarter is home to a number of restaurants, art galleries, souvenir stores, and jazz spots. Many musicians, artists, and dancers take to the streets to perform for the crowds.
1. The Historic Voodoo Museum
The Historic Voodoo Museum should be at the top of your New Orleans to-do list. This fascinating museum explores the traditions and mysteries surrounding voodoo and educates visitors about its history and influence on the city. You can find the museum between Bourbon and Royal Street.