The gorgeous “Big Easy” in southeastern Louisiana is often commonly thought of for its Mardi Gras festivities and epic, Girls Trip-style bachelorette and bachelor parties. But what about the rest of the year? New Orleans is constantly buzzing with activity, as the city boasts an incredible culture that blends French, African, and American traditions together to produce distinctive Creole cuisine and music.
If you’re looking to appreciate the city any weekend of the year, here are some absolute must-do activities.
1. Rent bicycles and explore
With its French influence, New Orleans has some amazing architecture, and I often find myself saying, “I can’t believe we’re still in the United States” when in this city. Thanks to its location near the Gulf of Mexico, the weather here is fairly mild year round, making bike riding a perfect way to explore this city. Be sure you enjoy some of the greenery at Audubon Park and admire the gorgeous houses in the Garden District. Fun fact: this is where they filmed American Horror Story: Coven!
2. Learn about the spooky history
On that note, you wouldn’t be appreciating New Orleans if you didn’t fully understand its gruesome history! There are numerous ghost tours in the French Quarter that will provide not only thrilling stories, but also a glimpse into the region’s history. After taking one of these tours, be sure to check out Lafayette Cemetery (one of the oldest city-governed cemeteries), or pop into the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum!
3. Visit Jackson Square
Located at the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square and its prominent St. Louis Cathedral serve as the city center. This block and the area surrounding is full of street artists, ice cream shops, card readers, and dozens of interesting stores and bars all within walking distance!
4. Eat beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Serving only its legendary beignets and coffee, Cafe Du Monde is located right on the edge of Jackson Square. It doesn’t matter what time of day you stop in, this place is sure to be packed — and with good reason. You won’t believe how these powdered sugar dusted pastries melt in your mouth!
5. Visit a bar from the 1700s
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar feels like something off a pirate movie set — only better, because it’s authentic. According to Lafitte’s, the bar was built somewhere between 1722 and 1732, and is reputed to be the oldest structure still used as a bar in the United States. Nowadays, you can enjoy its dimly-lit ambience and piano bar while sipping on a frozen drink!
6. Enjoy jazz music on Frenchman Street
If you’re looking for some incredible jazz music away from the touristy party scene, wander away from Bourbon Street and head down to Frenchman Street. With incredible spots like The Spotted Cat, Cafe Negril, and Blue Lion, you will be bar hopping all night to keep up with the unbelievable live music.
7. Shop local art at Palace Market
While you’re hopping in and out of bars on Frenchman Street, be sure to stroll through Palace Market — an open air market featuring the work of dozens of local illustrators, painters, jewelers, and sculptors. There’s always something incredible to find!