10 Things to Do in New Orleans in a Day

What is New Orleans Most Famous For?

New Orleans is renowned for its extravagant Mardi Gras celebration, jazz clubs, 18th-century buildings, and thriving practice of voodoo. The annual festivity often lasts for 2 weeks, with loud music, quirky costumes, and elaborate floats parading through the streets of the city. If you’ve missed out on Mardi Gras, there are plenty of museums displaying props and decorative items from previous years.

Fans of the macabre can tour some of the world’s most haunted buildings and cemeteries, with a local sharing grisly facts and spooky tales along the way. Family-friendly attractions are plentiful as well, such as city parks, street shows, and kids’ museums. Discover the best things to do in New Orleans to make the most out of your holiday.


Start the day in the French Quarter

Check out free art exhibitions at Jackson Square

The French Quarter is the area many call the heart of New Orleans, thanks to its many 18th-century buildings, townhouses, and art galleries. You get to enjoy beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, which has been operating since 1862. Historical landmarks in the French Quarter include the Cabildo (where the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803) and St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in the USA.

Location: 700 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

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Must-See: LaLaurie Mansion

Learn the history of this notorious slave owner with a ghost tour

From the outside, LaLaurie Mansion is a picturesque display of early 19th-century architecture, with its wrought iron balconies and baroque façade. However, it is notorious for being one of the most haunted buildings in the USA thanks to its gruesome past. The mansion’s owner, Marie Delphine Macarty or “Madame LaLaurie”, tortured and killed many slaves back in the mid-1800s. Entrance isn’t permitted, but you can learn about the grisly history of the LaLaurie Mansion by joining a ghost tour.

Location: 1140 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Open: 24 hours

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photo by Tom Bastin (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred


Take a break at City Park

Take photos with the “3 Little Pigs” at Storyland

City Park, located in Victory Avenue, is arguably the largest green space in New Orleans. Here, you can enjoy over 15 themed rides at the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, including a hand-carved carousel called “The Flying Horse”, which dates back to the early-1900s. The park also features a whimsical Storyland garden setting, where you and your loved ones can check out 20 sculptures of popular book characters.

Location: 5 Victory Ave, New Orleans, LA 70124, USA

Open: Daily from 10am to 5pm

Phone: +1 504-483-9402

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photo by Britt Reints (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred


Visit the St. Louis Cemeteries

See the tomb of voodoo queen Marie Laveau

The St. Louis Cemeteries, located half a mile northwest of Bourbon Street, are where you can visit the tombs of many New Orleans icons. These 3 labyrinth-like graveyards date back to the late-18th century, with most of the intricate tombs set above ground. One of its most popular residents is Marie Laveau, also known as the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans. Many claim to have seen her spirit wandering the St. Louis Cemetery, which attracts plenty of paranormal enthusiasts.

Location: 425 Basin St, New Orleans, LA 70112, USA

Open: Daily from 9am to 3pm

Phone: +1 504-596-3050

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  • Unusual

photo by Tim Wilson (CC BY 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred


Dress up at Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World

Wear elaborate outfits from the costume trunks

Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is a working studio and museum displaying thousands of extravagant costumes, floats, and props for Mardi Gras celebrations. Founded in 1947, it occupies a 37,000 sq m warehouse in the Port of New Orleans, about 1 mile southeast of the Louisiana Children’s Museum. Among its many creations are a dragon-shaped float and giant sculptures of Disney characters. You can even rummage through the costume trunks and dress up in your favourite Mardi Gras costumes during your visit.

Location: 1380 Port of New Orleans Pl, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA

Open: Daily from 9.30am to 4.30pm

Phone: +1 504-361-7821

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Eat crawfish

Enjoy this traditional dish in the French Quarter

Crawfish is a New Orleans dish that’s made by boiling pounds of these freshwater crustaceans with lots of spices, salt, garlic, potatoes, and corn. Eating crawfish is far from an elegant affair, so try to avoid wearing your favourite clothes and prepare to get your hands dirty when you’re at a restaurant in New Orleans. Crawfish boils are traditionally eaten between March and June, though you can find many restaurants serving them all year round.

Location: French Quarter, New Orleans, LA, USA

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Must-See: New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum

Join the walking tour to St. Louis Cemetery and the tomb of Marie Laveau

The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum displays creepy artefacts relating to the practice, including altars, candles, dolls, and paintings. Here, you can learn about New Orleans’ Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau by joining a walking tour to her tomb. There’s also a gift shop selling voodoo dolls and potions (that may or may not work, depending on your belief).

Location: 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Open: Daily from 10am to 6pm

Phone: +1 504-680-0128

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Shop at Crescent City Farmers’ Market

Enjoy free cooking demonstrations at this open-air market

The Crescent City Farmers’ Market takes place on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays at 4 different neighbourhoods in New Orleans. The market hosts over 50 local vendors selling fresh vegetables, fruits, fish, and meat, as well as packaged food items, jams, honey, and homemade pastries. There are also free cooking demonstrations and live music to liven up the atmosphere.

Location: Varies by day

Phone: +1 504-861-4488

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photo by Infrogmation (CC BY-SA 2.0) cropped, calibrated, blurred


Ride the New Orleans Streetcar

Travel on the Riverfront line to the French Quarter and Riverwalk

The New Orleans Streetcar has been operating since 1835, making it one of the oldest transport systems in the USA. There are 4 lines travelling to popular neighbourhoods in the city, but most tourists opt for the Riverfront line. This 2-mile route travels along the Mississippi River and stops at landmarks such as the French Quarter, Riverwalk Marketplace, Jackson Brewery, and French Market. A standard 1-way fare for the New Orleans Streetcar costs $1.25, but the 1-day Jazzy Pass gives you better value for money as you can enjoy unlimited trips on RTA buses and streetcars for $3.

Open: 24 hours

Phone: +1 504-248-3900

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End the day on Bourbon Street

Catch live jazz at Fritzel’s European Jazz Club

Bourbon Street, located in the French Quarter, is arguably New Orleans’ liveliest nightlife hub. You’re bound to hear live jazz or rock ‘n’ roll in the evenings as some of the city’s best jazz clubs, bars, and burlesque theatres are located along this street. A popular spot is Fritzel’s European Jazz Club, which has been hosting nightly traditional jazz performances since 1831.

Location: 733 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA

Open: Daily from 12pm to 2am

Phone: +1 504-586-4800

  • Couples
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Penny Wong | Compulsive Traveller

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