7 Must Visit Attractions in New Orleans

Visiting New Orleans can be a great adventure that stays with you for a lifetime. After all, there is a good reason why it is one of the best cities to visit in USA. But, to enjoy it properly, you need to know which places to visit and how to organize your time.

A stay in the Big Easy is like a stay with a big happy family: good times on the cheap. The French Quarter in New Orleans and adjacent areas such as the quaint Faubourg Marigny and the busy Central Business District are peppered with accommodations for all budgets. Riding the famous street car is like riding a piece of history; hop on for a scenic tour of St. Charles Avenue's many mansions. There are food cities, and then there is New Orleans.

Back in the Quarter, stop by the one-of-a-kind Cafe du Monde for beignets and café au lait, then stroll through one of America's oldest neighborhoods to check out art galleries and antiques shops, see and hear street performers, and sip a sweet cocktail while people-watching. The Big Easy is, and has long been, defined by food - gumbo, jambalaya, muffalettas, and po' boys, to name a few.

Thanks to filling po'boy sandwiches and large portions of filé gumbo and crawfish étouffée, you will eat so well (and affordably) that you will wish you had another stomach. Taste Oysters Rockefeller. Imagine fresh oysters (usually Moondancer or Great White) in just the right balance of white wine, garlic, butter, shallots, spinach, Pecorino Romano, and SarVecchio Parmesan, cooked just long enough to remain juicy but achieve that crispy crust on top.

While Louisiana is a pretty state, it’s like New York where the highlight is the one city. New Orleans is yes obviously a party town with Bourbon st. But what separates it from just being another tourist trap like Vegas or Atlantic City is it’s rich culture. New Orleans has been under the influence of the Spanish, the French, the US, the Confederacy as well as tons of influence from Cajuns, Creoles, Carribean, Vietnamese, and African American.

Some attractions include Preservation Hall, Jackson Square, tons of Jazz clubs, the WWII museum, Audubon Park, etc. Some famous dishes here are Gumbo, Shrimp etoufee, Po’boy, beigne, pralines and bananas foster.

The Mardi Gras of New Orleans is the best-known carnival in the United States. Fat Tuesday, is the last day of the Carnival season, since it always falls the day before the Ash Wednesday, the first day of Lent. Dress yourself and it is important to wear a mask, a key element for all those who wish to participate fully in Mardi Gras. On the other hand, you know that many of the streets through which the parades pass are quite narrow so you must be careful before large accumulation of people.

If you go with small children avoid these streets and focus on those larger ones, in the same way as at the start and finish of the routes. During these parades, from the floats, all kinds of gifts are thrown to the spectators, so many say that you have to go prepared with bags to keep everything like toys, stuffed animals, necklaces. The necklaces are very coveted, before they were made by stones from Czechoslovakia.

With this in mind, we are going to cover the must-visit attractions in New Orleans. That way, you will know what this beautiful city has to offer and what to visit first. We recommend that you don't try to visit all the places we will mention during a single visit. New Orleans is a big city with a vibrant culture and rich history. Therefore, trying to experience all of it at once will only make you feel confused and tired. Instead, our advice is to pick a couple of attractions and make the most of them.

Do further research into what seems interesting and try to be in the moment while visiting them. That way, you will have a far better experience. And, if you want to stay here permanently, you will have a much better idea of what New Orleans is like.

A street in New Orleans with a tram going through itA street in New Orleans with a tram going through it

Here are our picks of the must-visit attractions in New Orleans:

1. Jackson Square

To start off our list, let's first mention the staple of New Orleans - Jackson Square. There is hardly a local tour guide that won't take you here as the first attraction to see in New Orleans. And with good reason. In 1960, this historic park was declared National Historic Landmark since it is the site of the Louisiana Purchase in 1803.

The park itself is gorgeous. So much so that it featured in movies like: "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "Angel Heart," and "Star Trek: Deep Space Nine." Crowded with painters, musicians, and other artists, Jackson square is booming with activity. Therefore, you will have a ton of fun merely strolling through it.

2. St. Louis Cathedral

Another must-see for New Orleans visitors is St. Louis Cathedral, which stands tall and proud. In fact, it has done so for over 500 years, as the initial church was built in 1718. It should come as little surprise that this is the oldest cathedral in the U.S. and, as far as we are concerned, one of the most beautiful.

Whether or not you are religious, you should treat yourself by visiting this gorgeous building. The sheer craftsmanship involved in it is bound to leave you speechless. And, conveniently, it is right next to Jackson square.

3. Audubon Zoo

Now, let's explore what you can do with your family in New Orleans. If you are taking your kids with you, you should definitely consider visiting the Audubon Zoo. This gorgeous zoo is home to over 2000 animals, and it sprawls over 58 acres. If you want, you can make a whole day out of it, but if you are only looking for more exotic animals, it can be a lovely afternoon. Among other animals, you will find:

  • Gorillas
  • Orangutans
  • A white alligator with blue eyes
  • A green anaconda
  • A Malayan tiger
  • An Asian elephant
  • A giraffe

A terrific swap exhibit showcases the animals usually found in Louisiana in as natural habitat as possible. Hence, if you are new to Louisiana, you will get a good idea of what wildlife here is like.

4. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas

Audubon Aquarium of the Americans is run by Aubodon Nature Institute, just like the Audubon Zoo. And also, like Audubon Zoo, it is a terrific place to take your kids. If it is rainy outside and you would like to enjoy your family vacation, Audubon Aquarium is the place to visit. The aquarium houses over 10,000 animals, gathered into different exhibits for you to enjoy. Our favorites are the Caribbean reef exhibit and the Gulf of Mexico exhibit.

5. The National WWII Museum

If you are looking for a bit more substance out of your visit to New Orleans, we strongly recommend visiting the National WWII Museum. Few museums in the U.S. do such an excellent job at depicting the U.S. involvement in WWII, as does the museum in New Orleans. From war tech used in the period to period weapons and clothing that soldiers wore.

We strongly recommend that you set aside the three hours necessary to watch the 4D film Beyond All Boundaries, shown in the Solomon Victory Theater. There is even a wargaming convention held yearly called "Heat of the Battle." All in all, there is a ton to do and explore here, especially if you are a WWII buff. But don't worry. The museum houses a restaurant, so you can freely spend your whole day here.

6. Decatur Street

If you've grown tired of culture and family fun, we suggest that you head on to Decatur Street. Here you will find some of the best bars in New Orleans, as well as music venues, jazz events, and art performances. The famous Palm Court Cafe is located in Decatur Street, where you can hear terrific traditional jazz.

And you can also visit the House of Blues, and enjoy a lovely evening. All in all, if you are looking for a decent bite and some soft music to listen to while you dine, Decatur Street is where you need to be.

7. House of Shock

Our final recommendation for must-visit attractions in New Orleans is the House of Shock. This haunted house is well-known among the New Orleanians as quite an attraction. The only downside is that it only opens on weekends in October. But, if you can make it, you will see why New Orleans is one of the best cities in USA to go during Halloween. The show features a lot of pyrotechnics, live actors, a zombie graveyard, morgue, and butcher house.

As you can see, a short holiday is not enough to see the entire New Orleans, but it may be enough to experience some of its spirit. And if the home of jazz and fantastic food makes you consider it as your new home, zippyshelllouisiana.com does a terrific job explaining what moving to and living here is like.

Kalyan Panja