Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Swap This for That: Where to Eat and Go in New Orleans

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Tourist attractions are popular for a reason, right? Just like I would never begrudge someone for coming to Nashville and spending an evening on Broadway, I would never tell a visitor to NOLA to steer clear of Bourbon Street. There are so many adult things to do in New Orleans that you could just stick to the big tourist attractions and easily kill a weekend.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

But I always think it’s important to incorporate a mix of activities in your itinerary so you get a well-rounded taste of any destination—and also to, at times, steer clear of crowds. Thus, here are a few iconic New Orleans experiences—and substitutes for when you need something beyond the classics.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Beignets

You Already Know: Café du Monde. Located right on Jackson Square in the French Quarter, it’s popular for its beignets and coffee, a deadly combination for a sweets’ lover like me, and it’s been going strong since 1862 so you know it’s good. There’s also usually a pretty long line, and sometimes you just don’t have time to wait.

Try These Instead: Consider skipping the wait and heading straight to Morning Call. It’s located right in the middle of the lush City Park and where locals have been going for nearly 150 years. Note: It’s cash only, so plan accordingly. It’s also open 24 hours a day, so you needn’t go without beignets ever.

Mother Nature

You Already Know: Cajun Encounters swamp tour. The nearby Honey Island Swamp is rife in local color, and you know you’ve always wanted to encounter an alligator in the wild.

Experience The Bayou Up Close : For those who don’t have a full four hours to get out to the swamp, take the tour and head back into NOLA, there’s something for you, too. Located just outside of City Park where you’re already headed for your morning beignets, Kayak-iti-yat offers a couple different options for touring Bayou St. John while learning about the history and ecosystem of the area. It’s an active way to start your morning and a great tactic to see a residential part of New Orleans that not many tourists get to witness.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Po-Boys

You Already Know: Mother’s Restaurant. Conveniently located downtown, this iconic NOLA staple has been keeping the local population well-fed since World War II, just a decade after the po-boy first rose to popularity (the story goes that this inexpensive sandwich of roast beef and gravy was created in the late-1920s when streetcar drivers went on strike and the kitchen would serve these “poor boys” surreptitiously from out back). We went here for my bachelorette, and it was amazingly gluttonous and delicious, but again, the wait—particularly on a weekend—was not short.

Eat Here Instead: Many residents told us that Parkway Bakery and Tavern, which has been around since 1911, serves up the best po-boys in town, and who am I to disagree with a New Orleans native? We had lunch there following our kayak tour and feasted on a hodgepodge of sandwiches—fried oyster, Reubens and, of course, roast beef—with some local beers and banana pudding to wash it all down. I loved seeing a more residential part of New Orleans, too, as Parkway is located in Bayou St. John about three miles northwest of the heart of the city.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat
Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Shopping

You Already Know: Jackson Square. It’s a National Historic Landmark, is brimming with trinket shops and Mardi Gras merch galore, and is always guaranteed people-watching fun. But don’t you want to take something different home to remember your glorious trip to New Orleans?

Explore Here Instead: Magazine Street. Filled with vintage shops and consignment stores, trendy boutiques, bars and restaurants, this six-mile stretch would take you days to explore in its entirety. So, have your Lyft driver drop you off at Magazine and Felicity streets, then start working your way west from there. Some of my favorite shops include Green Serene, a pair of shops full of art made from found objects, and both Zele and The Market, a collective for talented artisans creating some really interesting stuff, from clothing to home décor. And when you’re in need of a snack, lucky for you, District Donuts isn’t far away.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat
Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Oysters

You Already Know: Felix’s Restaurant. With its Gulf location, New Orleans is a bastion for quality oysters. And for more than 70 years, Felix’s—which recently underwent a pretty sizable expansion—is the place to go.

Eat Here Instead: But if you’re all “been there, done that,” then the five-year-old Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar in the Garden District needs to be on your radar. Pro tip: Go for the weekday happy hour where raw oysters run at just 50 cents a pop and drink deals are many: two-for-one frozen mojitos, cheap draft beers and half-price wine bottles.

Mardi Gras

You Already Know: St. Charles Avenue. Sure, you might still see beads strung precariously from the Southern live oak trees and woven throughout the balconies, but let’s be honest: What fun is it to see the party carnage when you could actually be in the party? While I still fully support taking the streetcar down St. Charles no matter the time of year, there’s an even better way to get a feel for Mardi Gras than bead-hunting.

Visit Here Instead: At Mardi Gras World, “every day is Mardi Gras,” meaning you don’t have to visit in February to reap the benefits of this timeless festival. Try on costumes, take a peek at the floats and learn more about the storied history behind the treasured traditions thanks to Bill Kern, who founded this museum back in 1984.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

Live Brass Music

You Already Know: Bourbon Street. And it really needs no introduction, because who doesn’t know Bourbon Street? It’s an absolute legend!

Go Out Here Instead: As is Maple Leaf Bar where you can get that iconic big brass experience every Tuesday night with the Rebirth Brass Band (there’s also live music nightly). Similarly, Frenchmen Street’s lively music culture is a can’t-miss, but warning: It will more than likely keep you out until the sun rises.

Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat

What’s your favorite tourist hack for enjoying another side of NOLA?

This post is sponsored by the New Orleans CVB. All opinions are my own.


 

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Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat
Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat
Iconic New Orleans: Where to See, Where to Go & Where to Eat
COMMENTS
  • August 26, 2017

    Thanks for the top tips. I am going to New Orleans next year and can’t wait. I wasn’t sure if the Commander’s Palace would be too stuffy but it looks fabulous, I could eat the shrimp and grits now too.

    • August 26, 2017

      It’s great! Go for weekday lunch. 25-cent martinis! So worth it.

  • August 26, 2017

    I just got back from New Orleans and YES to all of this! I’m sad I didn’t get to check out Frenchmen Street though because I kept hearing so many good things–better than Bourbon for the over 25 crowd. Sigh…next time though.

    • August 26, 2017

      I’ll admit, I almost went home early because I had a 5am airport call time—and I’m so glad I didn’t! Frenchmen was well worth getting no sleep for. The music was out of this world!

  • August 26, 2017

    I’ve seen so many posts about New Orleans lately, it’s killing me a little. I keep meaning to plan a trip there, but it’s a long flight from the West Coast when you don’t have much vacation time.
    Great post though, beautiful pictures 🙂
    Katherine recently posted..Aussies Round the World: Challenges of cross-national relationshipsMy Profile

    • August 26, 2017

      I know what you mean, Katherine—I did my bachelorette party there when I was living in San Francisco (in 2010) and it took me nearly a day to reach. I hope for your sake that airlift is better now!

  • August 26, 2017

    Lovely photos, brought back memories ! I like this colorful, lively, noisy, bewitching city ! New Orleans is so many amazing things at once. Old and new. Elegant and bawdy. Urban and tropical. Loud, and yet also beautifully and peacefully silent.And there is a heat that flows through, swirling around and pulling you along, encouraging you to taste and experience as much as you can. It’s difficult to not fall in love with NOLA !
    C-Ludik recently posted..The Mercantour: destination MerveillesMy Profile

    • September 1, 2017

      It really is the ultimate sensory experience!

  • August 26, 2017

    Magazine Street is one of my favorite places! I lived on Broadway Street one summer while bartering on Bourbon Street – crazy times. Love this guide and hope to get to New Orleans to visit soon! So much has changed.

    • September 1, 2017

      Lucky you! Magazine is so gorgeous, and I have a friend who lives a block off of it that Scott and I might housesit for in the near future. *fingers crossed*

  • August 26, 2017

    Great post! New Orleans has been on my bucket list forever and I love seeing sides of a city that most tourists don’t get to experience!

  • August 26, 2017

    This looks amazing! I wanted to go to New Orleans last year but the hotels worked out too pricey. Will keep this list in mind for when I do go!
    Helena recently posted..Manchester Neighbourhood GuideMy Profile

    • September 1, 2017

      I think summer is when to go, Helena! It may be hot, but the prices are super affordable then. It’s more their off-season, vs. fall and spring when the influx of tourists come. I’ve also heard November is great, though I don’t know what prices are like then.

  • August 26, 2017

    What a great guide! We’re thinking of doing a quick weekend trip soon so we’ll keep these suggestions in mind!

    • September 1, 2017

      I hope you get your weekend trip, Michelle! Such a fun city for a weekend.

  • August 26, 2017

    Girl, you know I love me some NOLA! I will definitely have to head to City Park and Bayou St. John next time I’m in town to explore some new to me areas.

    • August 26, 2017

      Bonus: the beignets are up that way, too! Beignets, kayaking, po-boys at Parkways—it’s definitely the best way to spend a Nawlins afternoon =)

  • August 26, 2017

    This is a fantastic post! Love the format of providing the place that people have already heard of and providing an alternative. Saving this for what I finally make it over to New Orleans!

    • September 1, 2017

      Thank you, Emma! I find that in places like New Orleans, it’s hard to know where to go that isn’t touristy because everyone gives you the same ol’ list of places. Hopefully, this round-up is helpful 😉

  • August 27, 2017

    This is a great guide. I will show this to my parents as they are heading to New Orleans in a few weeks.:)

    • September 1, 2017

      I hope they have the best trip ever!

  • August 27, 2017

    So many things to do. I haven’t been to New Orleans yet but definitely want to visit. Great photos too.

    • September 1, 2017

      You definitely need multiple trips to even see a slice of NOLA, but this is a start!

  • August 27, 2017

    Oh I love NOLA. I live in Baton Rouge and I love just randomly driving and spending the day there. Great tips on the not so famous places to go. Definitely going to save this for my next trip

    • September 1, 2017

      I’ve never been to Baton Rouge, but my friend just wrote a book based in that area (The Young Wives’ Club). One day, I’ll make it to a UT game there 😉

  • August 29, 2017

    New Orleans is the place where one can find various things to do in this city. You have shared an amazing post about this city, your tips really very helpful for the best tour this city.

  • August 30, 2017

    New Orleans, is the city where every leisure traveler wants to visit and want to explore its every nook and corner. I would like to tell you that you have shared amazing photographs.

  • August 30, 2017

    Brilliant guide Kristin! Can’t wait to visit New Orleans!!

    • September 1, 2017

      Hope it’s on your agenda soon! =)

  • August 30, 2017

    Mardi Gras World where everyday is Mardi Gras! Can’t believe we missed this. Must go again. Thanks for the useful info, I love the juxtaposition of the already know and trying something new. Great concept and gorgeous pics x

    • September 1, 2017

      Right?! Oh, the things they don’t tell you!

      And thanks, Rene!

  • August 31, 2017

    Oooo. its really amazing place to visit, i really love it and want to plan a trip soon.

    Really great images and content. thanks for sharing such a lovely article

  • August 31, 2017

    Kristin, Your post is really very useful for a travelers like me, I never visit to New Orleans. But traveling is my hobby. I think some days when i visit in this city, the information of your post is really help me a lot. I’m going to convert it into .pdf for me. Thanks dear…

  • August 31, 2017

    Ha! Ha! ‘Love this. I think I’ll do them all as I’ve never been to that part of the US.

    Mind you, I love watching the vampire/werewolf/witch adult series – “The Originals” which is set in New Orleans and the Bayou, and I absolutely loved when “American Horror Story” was set in New Orleans too. So much so, that I watched it 3 times!
    Victoria @The British Berliner recently posted..51 things to do in Ljubljana. That’s right!My Profile

    • September 2, 2017

      I need to go back and watch alllll the Anne Rice movies (and read the books) after revisiting New Orleans! Have you ever read the Sookie Stackhouse series (or seen the show based on it, “True Blood”)? Also based in Louisiana! There’s just something about that voodoo, man 😉

  • September 4, 2017

    I love this guide! I find there’s a few cities I keep visiting – like NYC – and after I’ve seen and done all those big ticket things, I really want to get off the tourist trail and experience things with a more local vibe. Plus, I hate lines. So much. The most much.
    Terra recently posted..Running the Patrick Henry Half MarathonMy Profile

  • September 6, 2017

    Orleans is looking amazing and It have so many good things to get fun. Amazing guide to visit that palce and stunning photos you shared.

  • September 12, 2017

    Lovely pictures. Thanks for sharing such an informative blog with us.

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