Known as the Big Easy, New Orleans is a diverse and intriguing city. New Orleans is named after Orléans, a city on the Loire River in France, and New Orleans, or NOLA, boasts a huge French quarter celebrating the city’s cross-cultural and multilingual heritage.
New Orleans is famously known as the Birthplace of Jazz and attracts plenty of foodies and revelers due to Creole cuisine as well as partiers for over-the-top celebrations like Mardi Gras.You'll be hard-pressed to find another locale in the country quite like NOLA.
Whether you’re looking to taste a bowl of traditional gumbo, sway to the music in a late night jazz club or explore New Orleans’ diverse neighborhoods, there is plenty to experience throughout the city.
Things to do in New Orleans
French Quarter: Locals and tourists alike appreciate the French Quarter. This area of the city features stunning architecture as well as many museums, art galleries, bars and restaurants relating back to the the city’s French heritage. The French Quarter is an ideal area to explore the culture and history of NOLA. This area of the city, which is mostly closed to road traffic year-round, not only displays influences from France but from Spanish, Creole and Cajun backgrounds as well, creating a fascinating blend of international flare you won't find anywhere else. New Orleans also has above-ground cemeteries, and just steps from the French Quarter, you can take a guided tour of the old St. Louis Cemetery where voodoo queen Marie Laveau rests, along with other famous residents.
Bourbon Street: The French Quarter is also home the famous Bourbon Street - one of the most favorited thoroughfares for partiers. This booze-soaked street extends 13 blocks with a reputation for fantasy and fun due to the infamous cabarets and open-air bars. Bourbon Street is steeped in city history that brings forth folklore dating back to the 1700s. Some favorite stops along the street include Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop -- which is considered by many to be the oldest watering hole in the country. There’s also the Old Absinthe House where visitors can still partake in the now illegal libation substituted with Herbsaint.
Mardi Gras: Chances are if you are visiting New Orleans, you are looking to party at Mardi Gras - and we don't blame you. This extravagant festival features parades, floats, music, beads and excitement circling around purple, gold and green colors. During Mardi Gras roads shut down and everyone walks around the city, making new friends and enjoying the celebratory experience. People dress up in wild costumes and the city lets loose to have a great time!
New Orleans Museum of Art: This art museum is New Orleans' oldest fine arts establishment, opening in 1911 with only nine pieces of work. Since then the museum has grown and expanded to become host to a fascinating collection of almost 40,000 masterpieces. French and American art are standouts here, but the museum also features glass, photography and African and Japanese works. The New Orleans Museum of Art is also home to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, one of the most important sculpture installations in the U.S. More than 60 sculptures rise up along paths and lagoons here.
Dining and shopping in New Orleans
Cafe du Monde: For the perfect NOLA breakfast, stop at Cafe du Monde in the French Market. It’s open 24 hours a day seven days a week, and will serve you traditional chickory coffee as well as New Orleans-style beignets, brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. Beignets are square pieces of fried dough covered in powdered sugar and are practically a pastime in NOLA.
Bacchanal Wine bar: This restaurant is known for its laid-back attitude and al fresco dining experience. Enjoy traditional cuisine while listening to live music in the courtyard. Bacchanal is the perfect place to enjoy a great selection of wine, artisanal cheese and charcuterie.
Boucherie: A boucherie is a Cajun tradition with a day full of partying and pig butchery. This restaurant delivers a tribute to this NOLA tradition with Cajun cuisine and a festive atmosphere. All meats are smoked, cured and aged in-house, reflecting the eatery's passion for keeping traditions alive and thriving.
Magazine Street: Beginning near the French Quarter and continuing through the city, Magazine Street is a top location for shopping in New Orleans. With everything from antique and art shops to other sorts of stores, this 6-mile stretch features everything you could want for a day of retail therapy. The shops and galleries along Magazine Street were given a cultural arts tax-free shopping designation as well, so it’s a great place to collect pieces.