Top Things to Do in New Orleans

The Big Easy is big on fun: Mardi Gras, jaw-dropping Southern mansions, lazy riverboat rides along the Mississippi and so much more. Check out our list of top things to do in New Orleans.

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

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Photo By: Jeff Strout

Photo By: New Orleans City Park

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Photo By: Rusty Blazenhoff, flickr

Photo By: The National World War II Museum

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

Photo By: Getty Images

St. Charles Line, All Aboard!

Hop aboard the historic St. Charles Avenue Streetcar, the oldest continuously operating street railway system in the world. Built in 1835, the line covers a 13-mile-long loop, running from Canal Street to Carondelet Avenue, with dozens of historic New Orleans mansions along the way.

Garden District Mansions

Among the stops on the St. Charles Line is the Garden District. Spanning 25 acres, this stretch of town is home to some of the best-preserved mansions in the entire South. Among them is this “Wedding Cake House,” a privately owned Victorian Colonial Revival-style home, at 5809 St. Charles Avenue.

French Quarter's Jackson Square

Named for Battle of New Orleans hero Andrew Jackson in 1815, Jackson Square Park has been called one of “America’s Great Public Spaces” by the American Planning Association. Roughly the size of a city park, the space is a regular venue for live musical acts. At its center you’ll find Saint Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in North America.

Audubon Aquarium’s Deep Seas

See the wonders of the sea at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Located on the banks of the Mississippi River, next to the French Quarter, the aquarium is home to amazing displays of sea life, like in the massive 400,000-gallon Gulf of Mexico exhibit, where stingrays, sharks, endangered green sea turtles and more exotic marine life glide past your nose.

Carousel Gardens

Give it a whirl around the Musik Express. It’s one of about 15 rides you’ll find at Carousel  Gardens, a small outdoor theme park in the heart of New Orleans. The kids will love the park’s prime attraction (and namesake) -- a wooden carousel more than 100 years old that hasn’t let up on its merrymaking magic.

Grab Your Beads ...

The good times roll on and on in New Orleans. Grab your beads for NOLA’s biggest celebration of the year, Mardi Gras. And once you’ve had your French Quarter fill, come back for New Orleans’ other colorful festivals, including the Whitney White Linen Night (August), the New Orleans Film Festival (October) and the Oak Street Po’ Boy Festival (November).

Mardi Gras World

And for a peek into Mardi Gras... tour this working warehouse, where parade floats for New Orleans’ biggest day are made. Located on the Mississippi River, the massive, 400,000-square-foot space known as Mardi Gras World is home to artists and craftsmen who design and build over 500 floats each year.

America’s National WWII Museum

Head to “America’s National World War II Museum,” so named by Congress in 2003. Among its exhibits, the museum tells the story of the role New Orleans played in the war effort: Boats crucial to D-Day operations were designed, built and tested by a New Orleans’ company of its day, Higgins Industries.

New Orleans’ Only Steamboat

Take a sentimental journey along the Mississippi River, courtesy of Steamboat Natchez Riverboat. The two-hour cruise glides along the river, with live jazz and a menu showcasing local food options like file gumbo and Louisiana-style fried fish -- all topped with delicious views of the Big Easy’s skyline.

Treme Neighborhood

Explore one of New Orleans’ oldest neighborhoods. Home to more than 4,000 people, the historic Treme neighborhood began as a plantation in the late 1700s, owned by a Frenchman named Claude Treme. Today, this stretch of town is lined with old homes like this, with many undergoing rehabilitation efforts. Treme was also the subject of an HBO series of the same name.

Frenchmen Street

Perk up your eyes, some very cool jazz is yours to hear at D.B.A. This live jazz club is one of many you’ll find on Frenchmen Street, in New Orleans’ 7th Ward. In addition to its many bars, clubs and restaurants, the street is home to unique Creole Cottages -- one-storied houses with a unique New Orleans feel.

Go, Saints!

Cheer on the Saints at New Orleans’ Superdome. This whopping 72,003-seat domed sports and exhibition space, in the city’s Central Business District, routinely makes the short list of stadiums to host major sporting events, such as the Super Bowl.