Top Things to Do

Top Things to Do

Written on 01/05/2020
Guide to NOLA

Top Things to Do


Whether you're planning a visit to New Orleans, or you live here...these are some of our favorite things to do, ranging from family friendly to adult night life. There's lots to do here in New Orleans, and as we say here, laissez le bon temps rouler (let the good times roll)! 

First, we'll highlight a few top activities for families, and then list everyone's most popular spots for shopping, live music, and nightlife.


Family Friendly Fun

  • Audubon Nature Institute - The Audubon Institute offers several of the best family activities in the city, including the Aquarium of the Americas & Entergy Giant Theater, Audubon Zoo, Audubon Insectarium, Louisiana Nature Center and Planetarium, Audubon Park and Golf Club, Woldenberg Riverfront Park, and Wilderness Park. The Aquarium, Insectarium, Zoo, Audubon Park, and Golf Club are all accessible by streetcar.
  • City Park - City Park offers an enormous variety of family activities. New Orleans Botanical Garden, New Orleans Museum of Art, Louisiana Children's Museum, Storyland, Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, City Putt, Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Train Garden, City Park Birding Corridor, NOLA City Bark Dog Park, Bayou Oaks Golf, City Park/Pepsi Tennis Center, Boating & Biking (with rentals available), Couturie Forest, Disk Golf, Hiking and Fitness Trails, and more! City Park is accessible by streetcar, and offers free parking throughout the park.
  • Louisiana State Museum - There are several museum locations within New Orleans, including The Cabildo, The Presbytere, The New Orleans Jazz Museum, 1850 House, and Madame John's Legacy. All of the museum sites are located within the French Quarter, and within walking distance of each other. 
  • The National World War II Museum - This massive award-winning, world-class museum is in the top 5 museums in the country, and top 10 in the entire world. With things for the whole family, including the interactive cutting-edge displays, Beyond All Boundaries 4D Theatre, Stage Door Canteen shows, the Boeing Center, USS Tang Submarine Experience, Road to Berlin, Road to Tokyo, American Sector Restaurant, and much more! The museum is accessible by streetcar.
  • New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park - Yes, there is a National Park IN New Orleans located in the French Quarter. The visitor center is within easy walking distance of Jackson Square and the Louisana State Museum campuses.
  • Other Museums & Attractions - There are many other museums and attractions such as Blain Kern's Mardi Gras World where you can witness floats being built and Mardi Gras history, Chalmette Battlefield/Jean Lafitte National Historic Park where the Battle of New Orleans took place, Southern Food & Beverage Museum, New Orleans Pharmacy Museum,  & Jackson Barracks Museum (free and nearby to the Chalmette Battlefield).
  • Paddlewheeler Boats - Ride an authentic steam-driven paddlewheeler, the Steamboat Natchez, for a lunch or dinner jazz cruise. Or, hop aboard the Creole Queen paddlewheeler to ride down the river to the Chalmette Battlefield during the day, or for a dinner cruise in the evening.

Shopping Hotspots

  • The French Market - Starting in 1791, the French Market is America's oldest public market. Now covering the riverfront from the open air market by Esplanade St down to Cafe Du Monde across from Jackson Square, the French Market, the French Market offers over 100 vendors, shops, boutiques, and artists.
  • Jackson Square & the Pontalba - Jackson Square contains an open air art market, where dozens of local artists hang their paintings on the wrought iron fence for sale. The Pontalba apartments surrounding the square contain a wide variety of shops and boutiques.
  • Royal Street - Royal Street in the French Quarter contains many world-famous art galleries, fine antique shops, and boutiques.
  • Magazine Street - Magazine Street, from Napoleon Ave to Felicity St,  is packed with some of the best shops, boutiques, restaurants, coffee shops, and more. It is one of the most popular shopping districts in New Orleans. It is accessible within walking distance of the St Charles Streetcar line. 
  • Oak Street - Oak Street, from S Carrolton to the river, offers fantastic shopping including galleries, antique stores, shops and boutiques, restaurants, and unique spots such as local coffee shops, a brewery, a wine bar, and even a gaming cafe. Located near the Riverbend shops and restaurants, Oak Street is accessible by the St Charles Streetcar line.

Nightlife & Live Music

  • Bourbon Street - New Orleans' most famous street always lives up to its name with countless bars, clubs, music venues, and seedy joints. Don't miss America's oldest bar, an unchanged gas and candlelight piano bar down at the quiet end of the street (furthest from Canal St). 
  • Frenchmen Street - Down by the river, starting near the French Market, lies a street filled with jazz, food, fun, and an unrivaled nightlife. Frenchmen is "the locals' Bourbon St" where the jazz, food, and spirits flow in equal measure. 
  • Preservation Hall - This unchanged music rehearsal space from the days of Louis Armstrong, Fats Domino and more is still the best place in the world for pure New Orleans jazz. Sit on the floor of this historic room and listen to and experience the masters of jazz.
  • Tipitina's - It seems that everyone who is anyone in music has at one time played here at Tipitina's. This famous music hall still has some of the finest (and most famous) musical acts in the country every single week.
  • Local Theatre - Some of the nation's best theatre companies are right here in the New Orleans area, including Le Petite Theatre, Southern Rep Theatre, Tennessee Williams Theatre Company, Jefferson Performing Arts Society, Rivertown Theatres, Civic Theatre, and many more. Also thriving is New Orleans' historic and current burlesque scene at venues such as AllWays Lounge & Theatre, SoBou, and many other places.
  • National and Touring Music & Theatre - Touring Broadway and National musical acts can be seen weekly at venues such as the Smoothie King Center, the historic Saenger Theatre, Mahalia Jackson Theatre, House of Blues, Fillmore Theater, Lafon Performing Arts Center (in nearby Luling, LA), and several smaller venues around the city.