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New Orleans

Must sees for a first timer in New Orleans

My fiancé and I are going to New Orleans over NYE. It's my first time, and I'm wondering what the must-sees are for a first timer like me. We will be there for 5 days/4 nights; we're driving from Texas. I've heard tours are a good place to start, but there are so many, I don't know even know where to begin. We also like to have some time to just wander, so I don't want to be in a tour group the entire time. I like a mix of touristy attractions, as well as places that locals like. We are staying about 10 minutes outside of the French Quarter at a budget hotel, so we're definitely interested getting the biggest bang for our buck. Thanks in advance! 

7 Answers

top answer by
Rudy from Tappan, New York

Definitely check out Frenchmen Street for some good music and interesting nightlife. Also, try the chargrilled oysters at Felix's Restaurant. Of course, you have to experience French Quarter! It's a great city. Enjoy!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Frenchmen Street (attraction)
  2. Felix's Restaurant (restaurant)
  3. French Quarter (restaurant)
5 thanks

answered by
Regan from Brooklyn

We started with a bike tour to get the lay of the land through Big Easy Bicycle tours in The French Quarter.  Then we wandered around alone the rest of the weekend.  Audubon Park, Frenchmen Street, Commander's Palace Restaurant for a swanky lunch with 25 cent martinis (formal attire required), a streetcar ride through the Garden District on St. Charles, a bicycle tour and sample the restaurants in Marigny/Bywater.  And after  you've had a few, wander down Bourbon Street to people watch and laugh.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. The French Quarter (neighborhood)
  2. Audubon Park (attraction)
  3. Frenchmen Street (attraction)
  4. Commander's Palace Restaurant (restaurant)
  5. Garden District (attraction)
  6. Marigny (attraction)
  7. Bywater (attraction)
  8. Bourbon Street (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Nathan from Sayulita

I really enjoyed the Haunted History Tours.

New Orleans City Park isn't too far from the French Quarter and is HUGE. Beautiful, plus museums, sculpture garden, walking trails, etc. I think one of the trolleys goes up there, or it's not that far of a walk if you're feeling ambitious.

Superfood Bar has fantastic organic smoothies and other food (bit of a different fare than you'll find in the rest of NOLA), and Magazine Street in general has lots of shops and restaurants.

If you have time, take the ferry to Algiers. It's only $1 (or maybe free?) and feels like a place from another era. Lots of shotgun houses.

Just walking through the French Quarter at night yields so many clubs and great music with no cover charge. Explore as many as possible! Don't forget about Frenchmen Street (just east/north) of the Quarter proper.

Have a great time! 

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Haunted History Tours (attraction)
  2. New Orleans City Park (attraction)
  3. Superfood Bar (restaurant)
  4. Algiers (attraction)
  5. French Quarter (restaurant)
  6. Frenchmen Street (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Melissa from Chicago

New Orleans is an interesting and fun place. I love it. For tours, I recommend a bike tour (or two) since you will be there for 5 days. Look into the Confederacy of Cruisers Bike Tours and the Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tours. A swamp tour can be fun. The tours will pick you up at your hotel. Besides alligator spotting, the swamp is really beautiful. Pay the extra to go on the smallest airboat. I honestly can't remember what tour operator we used, but I am sure you can find a good one on trip advisor. I have also done haunted tours at night and a voodoo tour during the day...we may have booked them through Marie Laveau's House Of Voodoo. That is a fun place to visit and get a reading done (if you aren't too scared!) A walk through the cemeteries and Louis Armstrong Park is nice.

For food, I recommend Café du Monde, Coop's Place, Stanley, Magnolia Grill, GW Fins, Bayona, and visit the bar at Restaurant R'evolution for the crab beignets and crafty cocktails.

I love shopping on Royal St. There are a variety of shops selling all sorts of goods and usually street performers playing awesome music. 

For music, hit Frenchmen Street...especially when you are sick of Bourbon Street (although it is still really fun and there is great people watching). Definitely have a drink at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. It is dark and really cool.

NOLA is an amazing will have a great time!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Confederacy of Cruisers Bike Tours (attraction)
  2. Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tours (attraction)
  3. Marie Laveau's House Of Voodoo (attraction)
  4. Louis Armstrong Park (attraction)
  5. Café du Monde (restaurant)
  6. Coop's Place (restaurant)
  7. Stanley (restaurant)
  8. Magnolia Grill (restaurant)
  9. GW Fins (restaurant)
  10. Bayona (restaurant)
  11. Restaurant R'evolution (restaurant)
  12. Royal St (attraction)
  13. Frenchmen Street (attraction)
  14. Bourbon Street (attraction)
  15. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (attraction)
4 thanks

answered first by
Jeremi from Lafayette

New Orleans is a great place to just be there and hang out.  If you go to the  French Quarter, there's a lot to do within walking distance.  There's obviously the nightlife, but there's a ton of great restaurants, there's Jackson Square, and there's the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas.  Also within walking distance of the French Quarter are the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Smoothie King Center if you're into sports.  You can see if the Saints or Pelicans are in town while you're there.  A trolley ride away is the The National WWII Museum.  My suggestion is to research parking in the French Quarter before you go.  There a number of pay lots around.

Being a pseudo-local, I've never done any of the tours.  My suggestion is to go to TripAdvisor and see which tours have the highest ratings.  Then you can pick out something you like.

Have fun.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. French Quarter (restaurant)
  2. Jackson Square (attraction)
  3. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (attraction)
  4. Mercedes-Benz Superdome (attraction)
  5. Smoothie King Center (attraction)
  6. The National WWII Museum (attraction)
4 thanks

answered by
Russ from Pittsburgh

If you are not going to get the chance to see a Mardi Gras parade, we always recommend a visit to Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World to see the floats and costumes.  Also don't miss the chance to take your turn on the Carousel Bar and have a cocktail at  Hotel Monteleone.  If you are so inclined as to attend Sunday Mass, St. Louis Cathedral is magnificent, but for a real NOLA religious experience, we have been sending our friends to St. Augustine Catholic Church - said to be the oldest African American Catholic parish in the US, so much fun and inspiration you won't even mind the extra long mass time (1-1/2 - 2 hours)!

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World (attraction)
  2. Hotel Monteleone (hotel)
  3. St. Augustine Catholic Church (attraction)
2 thanks

answered by
John from Carlsbad (California)

You could taker a tour of one of the plantations near New Orleans.  This website lists some of them and also has a lot of information on other things to do in NOLA.

Mentioned in this answer:

  1. New Orleans (city)

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