Top 14 Tourist Attractions in New Orleans: A First-Timer’s Guide to the Big Easy

The Big Easy is easy on fun: from steamboat rides on the Mississippi to guzzling Hand Grenades on Bourbon Street to elegant Southern mansions, New Orleans has it all. Whether you only have a weekend or a full week, make sure you hit these top  tourist attractions in New Orleans! For Americans, New Orleans is an easy long weekend getaway, perfect for girl’s trips, or an awesome spot to hit up on your own.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(1/14) Eat a Bowl of Gumbo

You can’t go to New Orleans and not eat a bowl (or several) of gumbo. On the first night, I went to the Gumbo Shop in the heart of the French Quarter and fell in love with their gumbo. I was only in town for a few days, but you better believe I went back, possibly more than once. I tried the seafood gumbo (delivious), chicken andoullie gumbo (also delicious), and the Shrimp Creole (still delicious). The trend was…everything is delicious. Eat there.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(2/14) Take a Steamboat Ride

Take a boat ride on the Natchez steamboat down the Mississippi. Bonus points if you go for the brunch and jazz cruise. I opted for the brunch buffet and promptly stuffed myself with everything from cheesy grits to bread pudding…make sure you schedule some nap time after your ride. Also maybe hire someone to roll you out of there—yes, there’s that much food. And no, I have no willpower…

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(3/14) Explore the French Quarter

This is probably the most obvious top tourist attraction in New Orleans. My suggestion? Spend some quality time wandering around the streets, taking in the unique architecture, and checking out the shops. If you’re so inclined, there are some delicious food tours and really cool voodoo tours around the French Quarter. I ended up taking myself on a little mini photo tour of the area, and trust me, it was downright gorgeous.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

Pro tip: It’s best to avoid Bourbon Street in the morning before the cleaning trucks spray the street. It smells like a combination of beer, puke, and general disgustingness. Save that for later in the day, you’ll thank me.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(4/14) Chill at Jackson Brewery

For some low key afternoon drinks, head to Jackson brewery and sip on some local brews. There’s an upper deck with river views. For the steamy NOLA days, hang out inside and make friends with the bartender. The bar brings in a ton of local beers from around Louisiana, so you can up your beer knowledge.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(5/14) Bar Crawl down Bourbon Street

Unless you live in a hole, you probably know that Bourbon Street is one of the top tourist attractions in New Orleans. Head here once the sun goes down, and grab some signature New Orleans drinks. Can’t miss beverages are the Hand Grenade, Purple Drank, and Hurricanes. If you’re feeling social, join a bar crawl down Bourbon.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(6/14) Listen to Jazz on Frenchman street

If you want a more authentic (read: less crazy) New Orleans experience than Bourbon Street, head over to Frenchmen Street. There’s amazing live jazz most nights; check out my favorite –the Spotted Cat!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(7/14) Visit the Frenchmen Art Market

While you’re in the neighborhood, swing by the Frenchmen Art Market. I happened upon the market by surprise, but has such an awesome atmosphere. Twinkling white lights run overhead, music plays in the background, and the market features authentic art from local and regional artists. It’s a nice spot to take a break as you’re hopping from one jazz club to the next down.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(8/14) Tour an Above-Ground Cemetery

Stroll through the city’s famous above-ground tombs. Yes, it’s a bit creepy to go on a casual walk through a cemetery, but they tombs are embellished with incredibly ornate designs. You can walk wander through on your own, or take a guided tour of the cemetery, where you can learn about some of the city’s most infamous residents!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(9/14) Eat at Café du Monde

Indulge in fresh beignets and café au lait to start your morning. For those that don’t know (I didn’t), beignets are deep fried pastries dipped in powdered sugar. I would highly recommend not wearing a dark shirt, because you will look like a powdered sugar covered disaster by the time you’re done. Arrive early, because the line will quickly be out the door! This is definitely one of the top tourist attractions in New Orleans.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(10/14) Take a Streetcar

Hop on a streetcar, and take an epic ride to another part of the city. It’s nice to give your legs a rest, as you get a new view of the city. I headed over to the Garden District to explore for the afternoon.

(11/14) Wander through the Garden District

The Garden District is home to jaw-dropping Southern mansions. You can take a guided walking tour, but it’s also very easy to walk around gaping at the mansions on your own. In any case, the houses have some beautiful historic architecture.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(12/14) Watch the Street Musicians & Performers

Check out the quirky and eclectic street musicians and performers throughout New Orleans. My favorite was definitely the silver man that danced on  a crate…sounds a bit odd, but he was very captivating! There are also a ton of drummers, singers, and a whole host of other characters.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(13/14) Visit Jackson Square

One of the iconic sites of New Orleans, Jackson Square is home to the St. Louis Cathedral. Fun fact: St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest Catholic Cathedral in continual use in the United States! It’s prominent positions overlooking Jackson Park makes it an iconic New Orleans site. If you’re craving some greenery or just want to check out some Big Easy history, definitely swing by the square during your visit.

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

(14/14) Relax in Armstrong Park

Located just across the street from the French Quarter, Armstrong Park honors the great jazz legend Louis Armstrong. Keep an eye out for the iconic arched entrance. Inside the park, there’s plenty of space to relax and unwind. Bring a book, and chill for a bit—especially after a long night out!

Logistics

Hotel Deals: My top choice is probably Priceline.com —I’ve found some insanely cheap (beautiful) hotels. Other sites I check are Expedia.com  and the Hilton (for points). If you’re looking to avoid hotels, definitely check out Airbnb (my link will get you $40 off your first stay)! I would definitely opt for an Airbnb in the middle of the French Quarter. Personally, I ended up with an adorable little loft, conveniently located restaurants, Bourbon Street, and Frenchmen Street. I was able to walk everywhere at night without having to worry about a cab!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

Cheap flights: I’d recommend checking out Momondo. They scan tons of different travel discount sites and let you filter by cheapest, best, and shortest. Another good one to check out is eDreams.net —they often feature special flight deals.

 

My New Orleans Essentials


So, I hope you found this New Orleans guide helpful; it was seriously one of the most delicious and architecturally unique cities I’ve ever visited. If you haven’t been, it should definitely be on your bucket list!  Tell me—have you visited New Orleans, Louisiana and loved it as much as me? If not, what’s your favorite city for a weekend getaway? Let me know in the comments!

P.S. This post contains affiliate links. If you click on one and make a purchase, I might make a little extra spending money, at no extra cost to you. As always, all opinions are my own and these products/services have been found useful during our travels and come highly recommended to you from yours truly!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

Discover top tourist attractions in New Orleans! From steamboat rides to the French Quarter to live jazz, New Orleans has it all!

23 thoughts on “Top 14 Tourist Attractions in New Orleans: A First-Timer’s Guide to the Big Easy

  1. We hit 12 of your 14 list so am feeling pretty happy we covered NOLa. Great tip re avoiding Bourbon Street before clean-up and the Spotted Cat was also my fave. We stayed at Dauphine Orleans, a beautiful hotel with a checkered history. We absolutely loved New Orleans! 🙂

  2. Wow so many incredible things to see and do – I really loved New Orleans and managed a few things on your list but I also visited The National WW2 Museum which was definitely a highlight, Some fantastic tips and I will definitely try and visit the brewery next time! Did you do the ghost tour?

    • I wanted to do the WW2 museum, so I’ll definitely have to fit it in next time! Also, had plans to go to a ghost tour, but ended up spending way too much time at dinner, so another thing I’ll have to add to the list for the next visit 🙂 Always love to hear suggestions!

  3. tracystravels10 says:

    Would love to visit New Orleans and work my way through the list! Saving as one day I am sure we will visit! #feetdotravel

  4. PackYourBaguios says:

    I’ve never been to New Orleans, and its only 6 hours away. My friends either love it or hate it. I’ll have to go down and decide for myself!

    • That’s so crazy, you’ll definitely have to check it out and report back! For me, it was an awesome weekend destination, but I can’t imagine staying there for too long…and you definitely have to be in the right mood to visit!

  5. This may be a first-timer’s guide but… we’ve been there tons of times and still love doing all of these! Each one is a big part of the classic New Orleans experience that we just love. Thanks for sharing on #FeetDoTravel!

  6. Kay Gonsoulin says:

    Never forget the delicious muffaletta sandwiches at the Central District Grocery Store on 200 block of Decatur street. Other highlights are Lake Front seafood places, Audubon Park, Mother’s for breakfast and Michaud’s at 7th and Magazine for country Cajun food and good fun (learn the Cajun two step.) Antique fans will love Magazine Street.
    Kay Gonsoulin

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