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The 16 Best Things to Do in New Orleans (Updated 2023)

One of the many old, colorful buildings in bustling New Orleans

Posted: 5/23/2023 | May 23rd, 2023

New Orleans is one of the best cities in the world. Synonymous with debauchery, it’s become famous for the boisterous Mardi Gras festival that takes over the city each February.

But there is more to “NOLA” than just partying. Much more.

I first went in 2006 and have been drawn back countless times, diving deeper and deeper into the city. From feasting on delicious Creole food to learning about voodoo and its cultural roots, New Orleans is a city with layers — layers that are often overlooked by partying tourists.

New Orleans is magic. It is such a phenomenal place. I’ve never not had a great time there. It’s one of my favorite places in the WORLD! That’s how good it is!

To help you have fun and make the most of your visit beyond the tourist trail, here’s my list of the best things to do in New Orleans:

1. Celebrate Mardi Gras

People celebrating Mardi Gras during a wild parade in New Orleans
Mardi Gras — French for “Fat Tuesday” — is one of the most popular festivals in the world. It kicks off in January and lasts until Ash Wednesday. There are parades with floats and live music, balls, and a nonstop party atmosphere known for getting rowdy. Upwards of a million visitors flock here each year to celebrate, turning the city into a giant party.

While it can be a blast, make sure you book everything well in advance, as prices skyrocket and everything sells out quickly. But it’s a party not to be missed!

2. Listen to music on Frenchmen Street

Buskers, jazz, blues, big band: you can find it all in NOLA. Live music is hugely popular here, and there are tons of bars and clubs in which you can take in a performance. The main area to find them is on Frenchmen Street, which grew to prominence in the 1980s and has been a staple of the music scene ever since.

3. Take a ghost or voodoo tour

New Orleans is considered one of the most haunted spots in the country, thanks to the city’s voodoo roots. Voodoo is a set of underground religious practices that came out of the African religious traditions that enslaved people brought to America in the 17th and 18th centuries. Over the years, voodoo and the occult became synonymous with New Orleans. From stories of ghosts and vampires to Marie Laveau (the most famous voodoo practitioner), New Orleans has a certain unsettling aspect.

To learn more, take a voodoo tour through the French Quarter and its cemeteries. Witches Brew Tours and the Ghosts, Vampires, and Voodoo French Quarter Tour are two of the best.

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