There is no shortage of things to do in New Orleans. Whether you want to explore the history and culture of the city or just enjoy a good time, there’s something for everyone. You can wander through the French Quarter and take in the sights and sounds of Bourbon Street, or head over to Frenchman Street and listen to some live blues or jazz music. You can take a riverboat cruise or visit the Audubon Zoo. The options are endless!

New Orleans is a city that has many different facets. It’s an exciting, vibrant place you can spend your entire day in without running out of things to do or places to visit. There’s no shortage of exciting activities for every member of the family either. The Big Easy offers something for everyone—indulge in the eclectic cuisine, experience the history and culture, shop, explore nature, enjoy a festival or a live concert.

So, what should you do in New Orleans for just one day? Here are my recommendations:

new orleans scaled
New Orleans (Photo by D. Saparow)

The Vieux Carré (aka the French Quarter)

If you’re looking for things to do in New Orleans, the French Quarter should be at the top of your list. New Orleans is a city where the best way to explore is by walking. You’ll explore the vibrant French Quarter, admire its characteristic architecture, and wander through cafés and boutiques. It is also home to some of the city’s most famous attractions, such as Jackson Square, Pat O’Brien’s Bar, St. Louis Cathedral Basilica of St. Louis King of France, Bourbon Street, Café du Monde and Preservation Hall.

You’ll also taste some of the city’s unique Creole and Cajun cuisine, and sip cocktails on Bourbon Street or listen to blues or jazz bands on Frenchmen Street. You can then head down Royal Street to the French Market, where you can find local farmers selling their fresh produce and handmade goods. Walk around the Garden District and see beautiful houses as well as antique shops.

For those who are interested in the history of New Orleans, there is no shortage of attractions to visit. The French Quarter is a great place to learn about the city’s past. The Cabildo is a museum that gives visitors an in-depth look at the history of New Orleans, from its founding to modern times. Another great place to learn about the city’s past is the Old Ursuline Convent, which was once a school for young women. The convent now houses a small museum that gives visitors an idea of what life must have been like in New Orleans in the 18th century.

There are so many sights in New Orleans to cover, but for a good overview we recommend touring the old French Quarter.

Start your day at the Café Du Monde

Cafe du Monde 1
Café du Monde

When Mike and I visit New Orleans, we start our day at the Café du Monde. The Cafe is a popular coffee shop for its unique atmosphere and delicious beignets. I’m not sure exactly how they make these little taste sensations, but they are the perfect accompaniment to a cup of coffee. I’ve seen them referred to as doughnuts, dough puffs, or Beignets. Whatever you call them, get some of these when you get your morning coffee—they are worth it!

Café du Monde is a really welcoming experience. The brass band on the street, the striped awning, the old-time feel of this place drenched in culture & history – it’s all about Old New Orleans. They’re open 24 hours, 7 days a week and only close their doors on Christmas day.

Parkway Bakery and Tavern

Parkway Bakery and Tavern Shrimp Po boy
Parkway Bakery and Tavern Shrimp Po Boy (D. Saparow)

For lunch we head to the Parkway Bakery which is a historic bakery in New Orleans that has been around since 1911. The bakery is most famous for its poor boy sandwiches, (also known as Po’ Boy,) which are split and filled with cold cuts, cheese, vegetables, and dressing. Some of the popular poor boy variations on the menu include roast beef, shrimp, oyster, catfish, and, for something different, smoked alligator sausage.

The Parkway Bakery is a couple of miles from the French Quarter but the Po’ Boys are worth the drive.

Jackson Square

Jackson Square 1
Jackson Square

Jackson Square is a historical attraction in the heart of New Orleans. The square is surrounded by beautiful, historic buildings and landmarks, including the St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo. Jackson Square takes its name from General Andrew Jackson, who fought in the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.

The heart of New Orleans beats at this square, which is home to some of the city’s most famous attractions. It also has amazing artists that can create a beautiful souvenir for you, and street performers that will entertain you.

St. Louis Cathedral

The St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most notable landmarks in New Orleans. It’s located in Jackson Square, which is instantly recognizable by the towering spires of the Cathedral. The cathedral was named after King Louis IX of France and is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States.

The square pre-dates the St. Louis Cathedral, which is located on its eastern side and is listed as the oldest cathedral in North America. The cathedral contains magnificent religious artwork, gilded altar and stained glass windows.

The Cabildo

The Cabildo is a historic building located in Jackson Square in New Orleans. It was originally built as the seat of Spanish colonial government in 1799 and served as the location where the Louisiana Purchase was transferred from France to the United States in 1803. The Cabildo has been used for a variety of purposes over the years, including as a courthouse, prison, and museum. Today, it is home to three floors of exhibitions that cover Louisiana’s history.

Bourbon Street

What is the most popular street in New Orleans? Bourbon Street is one of the most famous streets in the United States, located in the French Quarter of New Orleans. It is known for its nightlife, which includes street parties as well as partying in the many bars on the street.

Click here to see what’s happening on Bourbon Street right now!

EarthCam New Orleans Cam
EarthCam-Bourbon St.

Frenchmen Street

If you want a more authentic New Orleans experience, get away from Bourbon Street and the French Quarter and head to Frenchmen Street- it’s lively without being too touristy. A popular, locals-friendly spot for culture, Frenchmen Street is a four-block stretch of live music, bars, restaurants, and art galleries. Here you’ll find fewer crowds and cheaper eats & drinks. You’ll also get to encounter local talent and meet the friendly residents – it’s kind of like Bourbon Street’s hipper, trendier cousin.

Canal St & Royal St

Consider spending some time on Canal and Royal Street. Canal and Royal streets in New Orleans are two of the most popular streets for tourists. They are home to a variety of shops, restaurants, and attractions. While it can be tempting to try to do everything on these streets, it’s often more enjoyable (and manageable) to simply wander around and take in the sights and sounds without an agenda. Who knows what you might find?

Samatha Fish
Samantha Fish (D. Saparow)

Live Music

There are many venues for live music in New Orleans. From small, intimate clubs to large concert halls, there is something for everyone. The live music scene in New Orleans is better than ever and there are plenty of opportunities to see your favorite performers.

WWOZ provides information on where to find live performances in New Orleans so be sure to check their website before you visit.

The bars and clubs in the French Quarter can get pretty crowded, so it’s best to go early if you want to get a good seat. If you’re looking for some live jazz music then head over to Preservation Hall, which offers great food and drink deals!

Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is a music venue in New Orleans, Louisiana. It was founded in the early 1950s by Allan Jaffe as an art gallery and soon began hosting live jazz performances. The hall was almost destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005, but reopened later that year. Today, Preservation Hall is known for its traditional New Orleans jazz performances. Thanks to the efforts of aficionados such as William “Bill” Russell, much of this music has been documented and preserved.

Jazz Museum

The New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates jazz in the city that made it famous. Through dynamic interactive exhibits, multigenerational educational programming, research facilities and engaging musical performances, the music New Orleans made famous is explored in all its forms. The museum is located at the intersection of the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street – two of the most iconic areas of the city. The music scene in this area is legendary, so if you’re a fan of jazz (or just want to experience some live music), this is definitely the place to be.

Steamboat Natchez Mississippi Cruise

The Steamboat Natchez is a great way to experience the Mississippi River. It’s the only steamboat left in town and offers a trip down the river with music. Optionally, food, and drinks are available. The music is excellent, with live bands on board playing genres from all over the world.

Magazine Street

Magazine Street is a 6-mile long avenue between Canal Street and Audubon Park in the French Quarter of New Orleans. Magazine Street got its name from a warehouse that Spanish Governor Miro built to house Kentucky tobacco and other exports. The street has clusters of shops interspersed with charming homes, and a mix of renovated warehouses and shops selling housewares, pottery, period furniture, clothing, books, glass, toys, china, soaps and jewelry. It’s the ideal spot for a leisurely walk-about – with plenty of coffee shops, cafes and restaurants to provide refreshment to the tired shopper.

The main attraction of Magazine Street is the Garden District, which is located next to Vieux Carré. There are lots of shops and restaurants on Magazine Street, as well as coffee and cocktail bars. The Magazine Street Shopping District is a popular tourist destination in the Garden District.

The Garden District
The Garden District (D.Saparow)

The Garden District

The Garden District is historically one of the city’s most elite neighborhoods. It was famously home to families such as the Dumas, Destrehan, and Schirott. Today, this district continues to be a hotspot for many visitors who want to experience New Orleans’ rich history firsthand. The Garden District Tour showcases some of the city’s most illustrious homes which are perched atop lush landscaping-you’ll be sure to feel like you’ve been transported back in time! As you walk through this historic neighborhood, you’ll experience an authentic New Orleans atmosphere.

Audubon Park

The Audubon Park is a beautiful place to hang out in New Orleans. The park consists of two large lakes, the Mississippi River and over 300 acres of forest. Visitors can enjoy many different recreational activities such as picnicking, fishing, hiking and bicycling.

The paved trail that winds through the park is a great place to take a stroll. The trail is flat, level, and perfect for walkers of all ages. There are benches along the way for sitting. There are also signs posted on the side of the path to keep track of how far you have gone or how far you have yet to walk.

Audubon Zoo or Ride the Audubon Nature Boat

The Audubon Zoo is a great place to take the whole family. There are a variety of animals to see, as well as a creepy-crawly snack bar-bug appétit. if you’re looking for something more adventurous, consider taking the Audubon nature boat tour.

New Orleans City Park

New Orleans City Park is a huge park located in the heart of New Orleans. It offers a variety of activities and attractions, including an art museum, sculpture garden, botanical garden, golf course, mini-golf course, dog park, and more. The park is bigger than Central Park in New York and is definitely worth exploring if you have a day in New Orleans.

Plantations and Cemeteries

Some of the most popular things to do in New Orleans are visiting the cemeteries and plantations. There is a lot to learn and see on these tours. Places like Oak Alley Plantation and St. Louis Cemetery No.1 which provides a glimpse into the past and what life was like for those that lived long ago.

Oak Alley Plantation

Oak Alley Plantation is a popular tourist destination for those who want to learn more about plantation life in the United States. The tours are educational and cover different aspects of plantation life, including the history of New Orleans and Louisiana before the Civil War. There are full-day and half-day tours available, and pick-up points are available in the French Quarter.

St. Louis Cemetery No.1
St. Louis Cemetery No.1 (D. Saparow)

St. Louis Cemetery No.1

New Orleans is a city that has always been in love with the dead. The cemeteries of New Orleans are among the most beautiful and well-kept in the world. Saint Louis Cemetery is one of the most famous cemeteries in New Orleans, where visitors can come to see firsthand the above ground vaults that provide a distinctive feature on these grounds.

The oldest cemetery in the city is St. Louis Cemetery #1. It has been around since 1789, replacing St. Peter Cemetery as the main burial ground after a devastating fire in 1788 and redesigning the layout of the city with it.

Tulane University

Tulane University is a great place to visit if you want to get away from the hustle and bustle of Bourbon Street. It is located in uptown New Orleans and is a beautiful place to spend an afternoon. You can walk around the campus and admire the architecture and history of this great university.

The Palace Market

The Palace Market is a hidden gem in the Flatiron District. As the day winds down, locals come to buy and sell everything from jewelry to paintings to rare records to handmade furniture. The market is open every day except Sunday.

The Palace Market showcases the work of local, independent artists. These artists create pieces that are uniquely representative of the city and its many diverse lives. The market offers a variety of items and ideas that cannot be found anywhere else.

The Rum House

The Rum House is a Magazine Street restaurant that has Caribbean influenced menu items and Mardi Gras celebrations. The Rum House is also known for its incredible popularity, with travelers visiting it at every opportunity they have. If you’re looking for a great meal and an even better atmosphere, this is the place to go. The Rum House has delicious Caribbean influenced menu items that are sure to satisfy your appetite.

New Orleans School of Burlesque

The NOLA Project and the New Orleans School of Burlesque are located on Frenchmen Street. If you’re a fan of burlesque, you’ll love the New Orleans School of Burlesque. This is one of the oldest burlesque schools in America, and it’s a great way to spend an evening.

The National WW II Museum
The National WW II Museum (D. Saparow)

National World War II Museum

For those who want to learn more about the World War II era, a visit to the National World War II Museum is an absolute must. The museum gives visitors an in-depth look at the war that was fought between 1939 and 1945. It also tells visitors about the contributions that New Orleans made to America’s victory over Germany and Japan during World War II. It contains more than two million artifacts and photographs from the war, and it is open every day except Mardi Gras Day, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and Christmas Day.

Mardi Gras

Mardi Gras is the biggest celebration in New Orleans. It usually lasts around two weeks before and through Shrove Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. The most elaborate parades take place in the last five days of the Mardi Gras season.

Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras (D. Saparow)

Mardi Gras World

While in New Orleans for Mardi Gras, be sure to check out the incredible floats and artistry that goes into making them. At Mardi Gras World, you can explore the workshops and see how these floats are put together – it’s an amazing process.

Mardi Gras is a celebration of costumes, parades and King Cake. The festival is celebrated in many cities around the world, but perhaps the most famous celebration takes place in New Orleans. At Mardi Gras World, you can learn more about the history and origins of Mardi Gras as well as see some of the giant floats that will be featured in this year’s parades.

Final Thoughts

New Orleans is a city filled with exciting things to do. Whether you’re coming for Mardi Gras, a Saints game, or just want an escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, New Orleans has something for everyone. From festivals to restaurants to museums, there’s no shortage of fun activities in this Southern city.

Happy Trails,

SIG DoraKSaparow 1

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