As far as American cities go, few can claim to be as interesting, or even close to being as interesting, as New Orleans. A prominent port city well before the Louisiana Purchase, “The Big Easy” has just grown and seeped in its unique culture as the years have rolled by. A visit there today is a delight of different vibes: Cajun, jazzy, tropical, jovial, captivating, soulful, spooky, block-party, haunted, historic and hip, just to attempt to name a few.
Whatever your definition of fun is, it’s happening in New Orleans. While there are more activities than you could fit into a month, here are the first-time musts to consider when planning things to do in New Orleans.
Whether you start or end your New Orleans adventures with this is entirely up to you, but it’s a must while in the Big Easy: strut your stuff in the middle of the street, a proud member of a parade. Parades (affectionately known as Second Lines in the Big Easy) are as prominent in New Orleans as crawdads, it is strikingly difficult to visit and not cross paths with one. There’s no wrong time of day to jump in a parade, and just about any parade will be happy to have more participants. But, if you’re truly worried that supply may not fit your demand, it is shockingly easy to apply for your very own parade permit from the city and book a brass band. Happy marching!
This one may feel slightly tourist-trappy, but the truth is: the locals are all-in on it too. Beignets are French in origin: An airy, nay, pillowy doughnut of fried goodness, hot and fresh out of the fryer with a blizzard-like blanket of powdered sugar coating the top. So light, fluffy, and delicious are these that it’s perfectly acceptable to put down a plateful of them all by yourself—think of it as a salad for the soul, and incredibly healthy for your spirit. Wash it down with frozen chicory coffee for the full-fledged Nawlins experience.
The city’s certified Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau hasn’t abdicated her throne despite being buried in 1881. In life, she was the city’s most powerful voodoo priestess, reading fortunes and selling charms to all of the city’s social classes. In death, her mausoleum has become a pilgrimage site for all still seeking her favor from beyond the grave. The perfect starting point for New Orleans’ supernatural side, follow up a trip to her grave with a ghost tour or a visit to the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum for a thrilling dive into the occult and accompanying heebie-jeebies.
The official birthplace of Jazz, all types of music run deep in New Orleans—and promptly bubbles up to the forefront of just about every dive bar, street corner and social function. There’s never not an opportunity to put on your boogie-shoes and dance the day (and night, and subsequent day) away—be it jazz, blues, ragtime, brass band, Cajun, zydeco or bounce. Preservation Hall is the tried-and-true historic music venue most quintessential to New Orleans’ music scene, but honestly: with the number of venues and festivals that the call the city home, you’re more likely to miss a parade than miss live music.
The best part of diving into this bayou of best living? It doubles as the starting point for many Caribbean cruises. Consider it: all of the above for day one of your vacation, then heading off to tropical shores for the apex of your travel.
Ready to make it a reality? Speak with one of our travel agents to get started. Their knowledge, expertise, and professional relationships with the leading names in travel—such as Crystal Cruises—helps elevate your adventures to new levels of fun.