You’re thinking about planning a trip to New Orleans; good choice! This vibrant city has a lot to offer tourists. With so many things to see and do, it can be hard to decide what to include in your itinerary.
That’s why we’ve compiled a list of our 15 favorite tourist attractions in New Orleans.
From iconic landmarks to hidden gems, there’s something for everyone in this eclectic city.
Read on for our recommendations, and add at least a few of these attractions to your travel bucket list!
1. French Quarter
The French Quarter is the oldest and most iconic neighborhood in New Orleans.
The narrow streets are packed with charming Creole and French colonial-style homes, lively restaurants and bars, and exciting museums and attractions.
It’s a great place to wander, people-watch, and soak up the unique local culture.
Some of the top tourist attractions in the French Quarter include Jackson Square, the New Orleans Museum of Art, and Bourbon Street.
2. National World War II Museum
The National World War II Museum is a huge tourist attraction in New Orleans, and for a good reason. It’s one of the world’s most comprehensive museums on World War II.
The museum tells the war story from multiple perspectives, including American, European, Pacific and Holocaust views.
It also has interactive exhibits, including a 4-D theater and a “Road to Tokyo” exhibit that takes you through the Pacific War.
This is a must-visit attraction if you’re interested in World War II.
3. Garden District
No trip to New Orleans is complete without a visit to the Garden District. This historic neighborhood is known for its antebellum homes and lush gardens.
You’ll also find several art galleries, antique shops, and restaurants.
Be sure to wander the streets and take it all in. You could easily spend a few hours touring this charming neighborhood.
4. Jackson Square
If you’re looking to see what New Orleans is like, there’s no better place to start than Jackson Square. You can stroll through the area, taking in all the gorgeous architecture dating back to the 18th century.
Walk through and take in the wrought-iron balconies, ornate churches, and of course, the centerpiece, an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson.
You’ll also find street musicians, magicians, painters, and more entertaining.
On top of that, several galleries and permanent art exhibitions are situated around the square. Be sure to grab a snack here, too, perhaps some beignets, as you watch the world go by!
5. Mardi Gras World
Are you looking for a unique experience in New Orleans? Then head to Mardi Gras World, where the floats and costumes for the Mardi Gras parade are made.
You can take a guided tour of the factory where they make the floats and learn all the exciting facts while exploring their production process.
During the tour, you’ll see how they create the jaw-dropping floats seen at Mardi Gras every year.
Plus, there are plenty of photo ops with some iconic characters! Mardi Gras World also has a museum that you can explore, which details the history and culture associated with Mardi Gras. It’s a must-see spot for anyone visiting New Orleans!
6. St. Charles Avenue Streetcar Line
Ready to explore? Why not start with the iconic St. Charles Avenue Streetcar line?
This is one of the oldest running streetcar lines in the world, and it’s a great way to get a feel for the city’s vibrant culture.
You can ride on this charming streetcar from the Garden District to Uptown, which has been around since 1835!
The best part is that it’s free (if you’ve got an RTA or Jazzy Pass), and there are almost always locals that you can chat with on board.
It’s a great way to get off the beaten path and explore some of New Orleans’ lesser-known neighborhoods while taking in some unique architecture.
You’ll even see some of New Orleans’ classic Greek Revival homes, sure to take your breath away!
7. Audubon Zoo
You should visit the Audubon Zoo to get up close and personal with some of Louisiana’s fantastic wildlife. This world-famous zoo is home to more than 2,000 animals from around the globe.
You can tour all the exotic habitats and watch tigers, zebras, giraffes, alligators, and many more animals in their natural habitats.
The zoo also offers interactive exhibits that allow you to get even closer to the animals. You can also explore their interactive aquarium and enjoy the botanical gardens for a truly unique experience.
8. Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
You’ve probably heard of the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. It’s located in the historic French Quarter and is a great way to experience marine life up close and personal.
You can see sharks, jellyfish, sea turtles, stingrays, anemones, seahorses, and much more. There are also interactive exhibits where you can learn about ocean conservation and get an even closer look at some of the animals in their tanks.
It’s a fantastic way to spend a few hours learning about the incredible creatures that inhabit our oceans.
After wandering around the main Hall and taking in all of the aquatic life, be sure to take some time to check out their interactive touch tank. It’s worth it!
9. City Park
Next on the list is City Park. This 1,300-acre green space is worth a visit.
With the New Orleans Museum of Art, the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, and the oldest grove of mature live oaks, you can easily spend an entire day here.
The park also boasts two golf courses, a sculpture garden, and plenty of ponds to explore by canoe or kayak.
It’s easy to understand why many locals like to call it ‘the people’s park’; it’s open year-round and accessible to everyone regardless of income or background.
With so much to see and do, you’ll almost certainly stay longer than you originally intended. Take your time and explore what City Park offers; you won’t be disappointed!
10. Mississippi River Cruises
For a peaceful and scenic tour of the Big Easy, there’s nothing quite like hopping on one of the Mississippi River cruise boats. Enjoy the sights and sounds of Louisiana’s most extensive river as you glide past shimmering lights and colorful buildings.
This is a relaxing way to look at some of New Orleans’ more eye-catching skyscrapers while also taking in its unique mix of culture.
If you want to learn more about the history of New Orleans, many tour companies will provide onboard narration and point out sites along the way.
You’ll learn about the city’s French Quarter and its colorful past, plus get an up-close look at important historical landmarks like the old docks and shipyards.
Plus, with so many cruise companies offering trips day or night, you can choose to go on a sunrise or sunset ride!
Or, if you’re feeling extra adventurous, why not book a themed cruise? Plenty of special events, like jazz cruises or dinner cruises with live music, cater to your interests.
So it’s easy to find something exciting for everyone in your group.
11. Preservation Hall
Preservation Hall is the 11th on our list of tourist attractions in New Orleans. Founded in 1961, Preservation Hall is one of the oldest jazz venues in the city, and it’s a must-visit for any music lover.
This cozy live music venue is located in the heart of the French Quarter and offers a variety of shows every night from some of New Orleans’ best musicians.
It’s easy to spend hours here, dancing to classic jazz tunes and soaking up the atmosphere.
If you want to make the most of your visit, you can also participate in one of their guided heritage walks or attend a special event. The options are plentiful!
The Hall is open from 7 pm to midnight each day, so there’s plenty of time to drop by and enjoy a night of music and culture.
12. New Orleans Jazz Museum
The New Orleans Jazz Museum is perfect for learning about the city’s music history.
It’s located in the heart of the French Quarter and features exhibits on Louis Armstrong, Dizzy Gillespie, and other jazz legends.
You can also listen to recordings of old-school New Orleans jazz here.
13. Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve
The fourth must-see attraction in New Orleans is the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.
This park honors an important historical figure, pirate Jean Lafitte, who is credited with helping Andrew Jackson and his troops win the Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812.
Today, visitors to Jean Lafitte National Historical Park can hike along boardwalks and trails, go boating and fishing, explore the Barataria Preserve wetlands, and take a tour of the Chalmette Battlefield from the War of 1812.
Several educational ranger programs run throughout the year, providing insight into Louisiana culture and heritage.
Be sure to check out their website for more information on upcoming activities!
14. Explore Magazine Street
Are you heading to New Orleans and looking for something different from the touristy sights?
Check out Magazine Street! This well-known street runs through the heart of Uptown and is packed with eateries, boutiques, galleries, and souvenir shops.
This street is one of the best places to find interesting local goods, so make sure to set aside some time to peruse the shops.
If you’re looking for art, check out The Front Gallery.
Here you can find original pieces by local artists that make great souvenirs or conversation starters.
If you want some books instead, head to Octavia Books; it’s one of the most beloved independent bookstores in the city (and it has bunnies)!
Plenty of upscale restaurants scattered along Magazine Street are perfect for a special night out.
Whether you want unique souvenirs or a fancy dinner, Magazine Street has everything you need!
15. Visit the Louisiana State Museum
Are you a history buff? A must-see while in New Orleans is the Louisiana State Museum.
This museum offers an extensive collection of French, Spanish, and American artifacts that tell the story of how this city came to be.
From the Mardi Gras costumes to war memorabilia and records dating back hundreds of years, this museum is a great way to learn about the city’s past.
The Louisiana State Museum also has a range of exhibitions on everything from jazz and art to natural history, so there’s something for everyone here.
Take advantage of the Jazz Museum, which showcases classic instruments like trombones and trumpets and incredible photographs documenting New Orleans’ jazz history.
And if you’re a film buff, check out the Maritime and Mechanical Hall, which features a stunning collection of vintage cameras, projectors, cinematographers’ uniforms, and more!
What places to avoid in New Orleans?
When looking at tourist attractions in New Orleans, it’s essential to know what areas to avoid.
Here are some places to steer clear of Central City, Saint Roch, Seventh Ward, Florida, St Claude, Pines Village, and West Lake Forest. Unfortunately, due to each of these neighborhoods’ history and current circumstances, tourists should stay away and check out other areas in town.
Also, keep in mind that public drinking is banned in New Orleans no alcohol on the streets and no glass bottles are allowed.
And unfortunately, there are 13 tourist traps you should watch out for: Chartres Street Market, French Quarter Phantoms Haunted History Tours, Royal Street Ghost Tour Arts District Gallery & Cafe Experience, and Haunted Pub Crawl of New Orleans.
By knowing where to go and, just as important, where not to go in New Orleans, you can make the most of your trip and soak up all this historic city has to offer.
How many days should you spend in New Orleans?
You’ll want to spend at least 3-5 full days in New Orleans to see all the tourist attractions.
This city is packed full of history, culture, and fantastic food.
Start your exploration in the French Quarter, and then make your way to Bourbon Street for some of the best nightlife in the country.
Don’t forget to sample the cuisine while you’re here. New Orleans is known for its Cajun and Creole dishes, so try local favorites like gumbo, jambalaya, and beignets.
What is the number one tourist attraction in Louisiana?
The number one tourist attraction in Louisiana is the French Quarter. This historic district in the heart of New Orleans is full of beautiful architecture, interesting shops, and delicious restaurants.
The French Quarter is the place to be if you’re looking for a taste of Louisiana culture.
You’ll find everything from traditional jazz clubs to alligator-shaped souvenirs.
And be sure to try some of the famous Creole cuisines while you’re there!
Other popular tourist attractions in New Orleans include the National WWII Museum, Mardi Gras celebrations, and Jackson Square.
The LaLaurie Mansion is also a point of interest, even though it’s said to be haunted.
What is the number one attraction in New Orleans?
If you’re looking for the number one tourist attraction in New Orleans, the French Quarter should be at the top of your list!
The French Quarter is rich in history and architecture and an excellent place for dining and entertainment.
The iconic landmark of the French Quarter is St. Louis Cathedral, which has been around since 1794. It’s a symbol of New Orleans and one of the most recognizable landmarks in the city.
The French Quarter is filled with old-world charm and plenty of things to do! From bars and clubs to live music, there’s something for everyone.
You can also find many museums, galleries, and shops to explore. So make sure you add this top tourist destination to your list when visiting New Orleans!
No matter what time of year you visit, New Orleans always has something to see and do.
With some planning, you can make the most of your trip and explore all this unique city.