Top 25 New Orleans Attractions You'll Absolutely Love

Last Updated on February 24, 2024 by Nikki Jain

New Orleans is a vibrant and storied city in the state of Louisiana, perfect for visitors of all ages. It is renowned for its unique dialects, distinctive music scene, amazing Creole cuisine and architecture, and the exciting celebration of Mardi Gras.

As a result, the city has many nicknames, from The Big Easy to the Crescent City and Hollywood South to The City That Care Forgot. Across all these names, one truth remains: few places are better to visit for a dose of history, culture, and tradition mixed with old opulence and new freedom.

Many New Orleans attractions cover these aspects, taking you back into the past or keeping you grounded in the present, depending on their subject matter. There are many things to do in New Orleans, after all. So, where should you begin? What are the best places in New Orleans? Here are the top tourist attractions in New Orleans, Louisiana.

Things To Do in New Orleans

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1: Bourbon Street

Bourbon Street
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

What Bourbon Street offers is 13 blocks of New Orleans history, restaurants, bars, cafes, souvenir shops, and New Orleans' culture.

Stop for a bite to eat at the popular Galatoire's, admire the architecture, do some shopping, and then stick around for nightfall when things really start heating up on Bourbon.

If you're lucky enough to be in town for Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street is the place where it all happens, so definitely join in the festivities! It is one of the must-see attractions in New Orleans.

Address: Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA

2: French Quarter

French Quarter

A lovely portion of downtown New Orleans, the French Quarter is one of the best New Orleans attractions. It is a National Historic Landmark and is the city's oldest neighborhood, built around three centuries ago on the banks of the Mississippi River.

Also known as Vieux Carré, this is a haven of history, filled with all sorts of things you can explore. Of course, the most touristy part of the French Quarter is Bourbon Street, but even if you avoid that crowded hotspot and tourist trap, there are tons more to do.

You can find galleries, food, shops, nightlife, and all sorts of entertainment. Many other important historic sites and attractions within the French Quarter are also listed in our tourist attraction list, so heading to this district will put you at the heart of all that fun.

Address: 600 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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3: New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

The New Orleans Museum of Art, also known as NOMA, is famous in New Orleans for its stunning collections of art, steeped in history with beautiful aesthetics. Situated in City Park, the museum was established on the large financial grant left behind by sugar broker and art collector Isaac Delgado, who left the city in 1912.

NOMA's collection is extensive, boasting more than 40,000 displayed works of art. You'll find items that date all the way back to the Italian Renaissance, and there are also plenty of contemporary creations from the present day.

Of course, most people absolutely love the 19th- and 20th-century displays, with big names like Renoir, Braque, Monet, and Rodin to ogle. An outstanding exhibit filled with African American art from different periods is also available. Remember to check out the Japanese ceramics, the collection of the Americas, and art by Carlos Rolon and Bob Dylan.

Address: 1 Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124

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4: City Park

City Park
Dreamstime/Christian Ouellet

For such a lovely verdant place, City Park has opposing origins! In the 19th century, French colonists drained a swampland here that would later develop into City Park. When it was first created, this was a meeting place for men who sought to settle disputes and disagreements, thus earning the name Dueling Oaks.

By the 1850s, City Park received the much-needed landscaping and refurbishment to turn it into a great park. Today, it is the sixth-largest urban park in the United States and one of the best recreational things to do in New Orleans.

As you stroll through City Park, you'll spot gorgeous oak trees - some over six centuries old - each draped with lovely, green Spanish moss. There are a number of lovely bridges and roads to lead you around the ponds, through the oaks, and up to some of the many sculptures in the park. You can picnic, hike, cycle, or visit the onsite amusement park or 36-hole golf course.

Address: 1 Palm Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124

5: Jackson Square

Jackson Square
Dreamstime/Sean Pavone

One of the coolest New Orleans attractions by far! Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is a gorgeous way to spend an afternoon. It's a National Historic Landmark, so it's easy on the eyes, to say the least.

The square itself was designed after the famous Place des Vosges in Paris, France. In the center, you'll see the equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, for whom the square is named, as well as the St. Louis Cathedral.

Back in the 1720s, the square was used as a site for military parades. The area was officially renamed at the end of the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Jackson Square is one of the best places to go in New Orleans for those who want to explore and enjoy the city's charms.

Tourists love the location, and it's filled with shops, galleries, dining establishments, and formal gardens to wander through.

Address: 700 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116

6: St Louis Cathedral

St Louis Cathedral

The St. Louis Cathedral is the nation's longest-running Roman Catholic church and remains active to this day. It's no surprise, then, that it's one of the most historic attractions in New Orleans.

It's also well-known for its glorious stained glass windows and original gilded and embellished Rococo altar, both incredible to behold in their elegant opulence. The cathedral was opened and dedicated in 1789 to Louis IX of France.

Several reconstructions have been performed to keep it in tip-top shape, but its current aesthetic still dates relatively far back, with 1850-built architecture in a Spanish Colonial style.

This aesthetic is appreciated by visitors thanks to its impressive appearance of magnificent symmetry. There are spires, window pediments, scallop moldings, and Doric columns that make up the gorgeous structure.

Address: 615 Pere Antoine Alley, New Orleans, LA 70116

7: Frenchmen Street

Frenchmen Street
Flickr/Kent Kanouse

The name "Frenchmen Street" is slightly misleading, as this isn't a simple street. More specifically, it's a long road stretch situated in Faubourg Marigny, where it spans a total of three blocks.

It's among the best places to visit in New Orleans for music lovers, a product of its sparkling reputation as the best city hotspot for live music. Frenchmen Street is also filled with all sorts of things to see, such as Creole-style, old-fashioned cottages and huts with tons of charm.

There are also plenty of cultural stores, blues and jazz clubs, and plenty of examples of the city's heritage. Then enjoy dinner and music at one or more of the popular venues on the street, including The Spotted Cat, The Maison, Blue Nile, and Bamboula's. It's essentially a less crowded version of Bourbon Street.

Address: Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA

8: National WWII Museum

National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum is one of the prime spots in New Orleans for history buffs, those interested in the military, and anyone fascinated by war-related historical events. This museum was once called the National D-Day Museum and has continually grown in popularity as the perfect place to learn about battles of the past.

Located in downtown New Orleans, the National WWII Museum had its start focusing only on D-Day before expanding in 2009 to go beyond the scope of the Battle of Normandy. The museum is now a Smithsonian Institution affiliate and is renowned nationwide.

The observation deck is especially popular, where you can see an up-close view of the aircraft that hands from the ceiling of the aviation exhibit. There's also the opportunity to watch the specially-made, exclusive award-winning film, Beyond All Boundaries, a 4D spectacle well worth your time.

Address: 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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9: New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Many people who think of New Orleans also think of voodoo, an extremely misunderstood cultural and religious practice that originates in West Africa. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum honors, educates and commemorates this practice, and it's one of the most unique places in the US.

In 1972, Charles Massicot Gandolfo, a man with a huge passion and interest in voodoo, created the museum to spread information about the practice to others. For the most part, its displays consist of local voodoo items and exhibits, which were brought into the country in the 1700s as a result of the slave trade.

The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum displays many fascinating and intriguing items. Some items were owned by the city's first Queen of Voodoo, Maria Laveau, as well as taxidermy, talismans, and antique dolls used in the practices. You can even book fortune readings by local practitioners or purchase things like potions, snake skins, books, and candles.

Address: 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116

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10: Audubon Park

Audubon Park

Audubon Park, also called the Audubon Nature Institute, is one of the beautiful family-friendly New Orleans attractions. It's a vast expanse filled with various points of interest, and it's also the home to a significant number of century-old oaks, some of which date back to the days of New Orleans' plantations.

Audubon Park is also home to a big aquarium that features a stunning Gulf of Mexico-themed tank measuring 400,000 gallons. Animal lovers will enjoy the zoo and its jaguar showcase, the butterfly garden, and the interesting insectarium.

There are also environmental talks and film screenings, feeding opportunities, and chances to get up close and personal with animals. Many events are also held here, including several dedicated explicitly to children.

Address: 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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11: Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is undoubtedly the best of the things to do in New Orleans related to music and jazz. This traditional venue is a well-known favorite across the city. It is specifically family-friendly, so it stands out among the many adults-only joints for jazz music in the city.

More than one hundred musicians perform here for most nights every year, and this is one of the world's most respected venues for live jazz performances. Preservation Hall opened in the 1950s, but life was really breathed into it in 1961 when Alan Jaffe took over as manager.

He focused on hiring musicians who were a part of the first wave of the genre, giving it an incredible revival while also providing elderly musicians with a great reason to get back into the world.

Address: 726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116

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12: Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World

Mardi Gras World is situated in the port area of New Orleans, and it's easy to overlook. Don't make that mistake, as it's one of the most fun New Orleans attractions! This is the place to be if you want to get a behind-the-scenes glimpse into one of the biggest parties in America: Mardi Gras!

In 1932, Roy Kern began growing a company that manufactured and made floats. Eventually, he opened Mardi Gras World in 1984, and today more than a hundred workers and artists are employed at the location and Kern Studios.

Their job is this: put effort, time, and creativity into creating the most beautiful, perfect floats that they can hope for Mardi Gras.

About 75% of the floats used during the event are made here at Mardi Gras World, and tours, which last one and a half hours, teach you all about the traditions and costumes involved as you view the beautiful works in progress.

Address: 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130

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13: Garden District

Garden District
Dreamstime/Khairil Junos

The charming Garden District neighborhood in New Orleans was originally built for wealthy settlers who did not want to settle in the French Quarter with the Creole people.

This happened in the 1830s, which is why the neighborhood remains filled with buildings in the popular architectural styles of the time: Italiante and Greek Revival mansions surrounded by flower-filled gardens!

The Garden District remains one of the upper-class portions of the city. Architecture enthusiasts and sightseers wondering where to go in New Orleans should definitely consider a leisurely stroll through this elegant and opulent district.

You can also spot plenty of notable old buildings, such as the Goldsmith-Godchaux House, the Brevard-Rice House, Colonel Short's Villa, and the Commander's Palace.

Address: Garden District, New Orleans, LA

14: New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
Flickr/Jeremy Thompson

The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is among the most unique and unusual New Orleans attractions. It's equal parts fascinating and intriguing.

Situated in an old two-floor building within the French Quarter, this museum displays a significant number of memorabilia related to healthcare and pharmacy history.

At the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, you'll find unique oddities and all sorts of bits and bobs. There are old leather physician's bags, optical prosthetic devices, medical instruments, wheelchairs, apothecary ingredients in jars, eyeglasses, and surgical tools.

There are also voodoo potions, such as the famous and renowned Love Potion No 9! Head to the back of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum to find a workspace recreation.

This room is an impressively detailed depiction of the kind of place a pharmacist would have worked decades upon decades ago. You'll see microscopes, wooden blenders, old mortars and pestles scattered about for even more authenticity.

Address: 514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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15: Louisiana Children's Museum

Louisiana Children's Museum

The Louisiana Children's Museum is a must-see in New Orleans for those visiting the city with their children. This fun location covers two stories of space and is set on 8.5 acres of grounds containing additional notable locations.

There's a mock grocery shop outside the building for kids to explore, a lagoon bank to chill at, and a wetland habitat and edible garden to explore. There's even a special 30-meter exhibit called the Mighty Mississippi.

The Louisiana Children's Museum also hosts regular seasonal events throughout the year, including those celebrating cultures, taking closer looks at different occupations, and enjoying fun and exciting activities.

There are also plenty of activities and experiences that kids can delve into, like "Dig Into Nature," "Make Your Mark," and "Follow That Food".

Address: 15 Henry Thomas Dr, New Orleans, LA 70124

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16: Ogden Museum of Southern Art

Ogden Museum of Southern Art
Flickr/Wally Gobetz

The Ogden Museum of Southern Art opened in 1999 and is home to one of the South's biggest collections of art. It's one of the best New Orleans tourist attractions for art lovers and aficionados, mainly because some of its pieces date back to 1733.

Of course, there isn't really one specific Southern style of art, so the Ogden Museum of Southern Art contains a multitude of influences, genres, and mediums, ranging from abstract art to landscapes and from sculptures to ceramics.

You'll find folk art, neo-Expressionist art, modernist paintings, and much more, with various techniques, art styles, and cultural contexts creating diverse creativity.

Address: 925 Camp St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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17: New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival

If you're in town at the right time, there's no way you should miss the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, which is undoubtedly one of the very best things to do in New Orleans.

This exhilarating festival is an extravaganza that lasts for eight days at the Fair Grounds Race Track, and it's filled with music, culture, art, and food. It usually happens on the last weekend of April, which runs up to May's first weekend.

Locals simply call the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival the "Jazzfest," which has a 50-year history in the city. Though its name relates to jazz, you'll actually get to hear and watch performances of virtually every type of music.

A total of 12 stages are established throughout the festival, with food stalls set up throughout so you can grab beignets, gumbo, and crab po'boys, among other great bites. Expect to see lots of people dressed in costumes and hats, waving flags, and having fantastic handmade crafts.

Address: 1751 Gentilly Blvd, New Orleans, LA 70119

Also Read: Most Beautiful Small Towns in Louisiana

18: New Orleans Jazz Museum

New Orleans Jazz Museum
Dreamstime/Chon Kit Leong

New Orleans has always been known for its fantastic jazz music scene, so there's nowhere better for a museum like this than in New Orleans.

Housed within the old building of the United States Mint, a Neoclassical structure, the New Orleans Jazz Museum is a haven of memorabilia and objects related to the genre of jazz.

If you're a music lover, this is one of the attractions in New Orleans you shouldn't miss. There are several priceless artifacts displayed in the New Orleans Jazz Museum.

You'll find instruments used by the likes of Sidney Bechet, Dizzy Gillespie, and Georgie Lewis, thousands of photographs from the early days of the jazz world, and numerous records to listen to. One of the most exciting items displayed is Louis Armstrong's first-ever coronet, marked with various notches that Armstrong himself carved into it.

Address: 400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116

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19: Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
Dreamstime/James Buckley

Wondering what to do in New Orleans for a little time in nature and a good bit of physical activity? The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve is the perfect fit!

Spanning a whopping 22,241 acres and encompassing an impressive six locations across New Orleans, this is the ideal place for guided walks, independent hikes, and exploration.

The different biomes visible across the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve make sightseeing much more rewarding. You'll pass bayous, swamps, and prairies while seeing gorgeous flora. There are also several historical sites within the park's area, including the Battle of New Orleans site.

The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve also serve an important purpose. It is meant to protect the Mississippi River Delta region's cultural and natural resources.

Address: Marrero, LA 70072

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20: The Presbytère

The Presbytère

The Presbytère can be found in Jackson Square, where it is one of the many popular historic New Orleans attractions. It dates back to 1791 and boasts jaw-dropping beautiful architecture that is wonderful to behold.

The Spanish colonial design in which it was constructed is a prime example of the formal style and boasts some neo-Renaissance elements. As its name suggests, the Presbytère was originally used as a home for the Capuchin monks who served at the Cabildo next door, which we'll discuss in a moment.

After it was done as domestic quarters, the building was used as a courthouse, during which a French-influenced mansard roof was installed. Today, the Presbytère is the flagship location of the Louisiana State Museum.

It boasts two permanent exhibits. One is about the effects of Hurricane Katrina, and the other is a thematic and much-loved exhibit about Mardi Gras.

Address: 751 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116

21: The Cabildo

The Cabildo
Dreamstime/Ruben Martinez Barricarte

Situated right next to the Presbytère, the Cabildo is a fantastic historic and cultural location. Like its neighbor, it boasts incredible and awe-inspiring architecture, serving as a beautiful example of Spanish colonial design.

Originally, this was the Spanish colonial city hall's seat, a purpose it served until 1908. Now, the Cabildo is among the coolest places to visit in New Orleans, as it is a part of the Louisiana State Museum and displays a whopping 500 or so artifacts.

These items relate to the city's culture and history. You will see exhibits related to the Battle of New Orleans, a room where the Louisiana Purchase was finalized, and a Native American item collection.

Address: 701 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130

22: Steamboat Natchez

Steamboat Natchez

One of the fun activities in New Orleans is touring its hotspots via Steamboat Natchez. This excellent touring company offers well-known cruises that take you through the beautiful rush of the Mississippi River.

The company began in 1975 and has been doing this ever since, offering dinner cruises, harbor cruises, and brunch cruises. Steamboat Natchez uses traditional sternwheel steamboats that bring you back in time to a soothing, more slow-paced time.

You'll be serenaded by old-style music while a captain provides megaphone-narrated historic information about the places you're passing by.

Address: 400 Toulouse St, New Orleans, LA 70130

23: Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo
Dreamstime/Michelle Ratulowski

The Audubon Zoo is one of the best family-friendly New Orleans attractions. The city's natural climate allows for a wide range of different habitat recreations across exhibition spaces, allowing animals to live in enclosures that realistically mimic their natural environments.

You'll see a bunch of different animals here at Audubon Zoo, such as Asian elephants, orangutans, Malayan tigers, gorillas, rhinos, and lions, among others. Notable themed areas are the award-winning Louisiana Swamp, where gators live, the self-explanatory Jaguar Jungle, the splash park of Cool Zoo, and the awesome Gator Run.

You can also travel throughout the zoo on the exciting Swamp Train, where you'll get a glimpse of most of the exhibits so you know where you'd like to go.

Address: 6500 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70118

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Also Read: 30 Best Zoos in the USA

24: Historic New Orleans Collection

Historic New Orleans Collection
Flickr/Wally Gobetz

It's hard to visit New Orleans without immersing yourself in its culture and history, which is exactly what the Historic New Orleans Collection allows you to do. This museum paints a delightful and relatively comprehensive picture of the city, boasting gorgeous exhibits that showcase the artistic tastes and background of the region.

The Historic New Orleans Collection opened in 1966. It was built on the private collection of General Lewis Kemper Williams and Leila Hardy Moore Williams. In 1938, the couple purchased the Merieult House, where the Collection is housed today, as a private residence.

Their legacy remains in the collection they've left behind, displayed in a mix of permanent and rotating items totaling over one million individual pieces. There are four exhibition areas within the Historic New Orleans Collection.

Items span three centuries of origins! These are the Williams Gallery, Louisiana History Galleries, Boyd Cruise Gallery, and Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art.

Address: 520 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

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25: Longue Vue House and Gardens

Longue Vue House and Gardens
Dreamstime/Dan Oberly

The Longue Vue House and Gardens are one of the most elegant attractions in New Orleans. The house was one of the Country Place Era's final estates, owned in the 1930s by Edgar B. Stern, an entrepreneur and philanthropist.

It was built in a beautiful Classical-Revival architectural style that is a quintessential representation of the sophisticated design of New Orleans' older days. The Longue Vue House contains more than 20 rooms you can explore, furnished with authentic or close recreations of period furnishings.

This includes preserved costumes and items from across the globe, such as European carpets or ceramics from China. Meanwhile, the Longue Vue House's gardens span 8 acres and are just as beautiful to walk through.

Address: 7 Bamboo Rd, New Orleans, LA 70124

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Plan your trip to New Orleans soon!

There are countless things to do in New Orleans, each steeped in history, tradition, and culture. You can find something that tickles your fancy, from music to museums and food to art. While we've covered the most popular New Orleans attractions, you'll find plenty of hidden gems if you're only willing to explore. Get lost in the Big Easy and immerse yourself in the gorgeous, vibrant City of Yes, and you'll have memorable experiences on every corner.

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