Christy's Guide to New Orleans

Fun stuff

There are plenty of thing to keep you entertained during your visit to New Orleans (pronounced N'awlins or New Or-luns, not New Or-leens). Many fun and informational guided walking tours are available. Or if you like to explore on your own, grab a map and visit some of the suggestions below, stopping at whatever else catches your fancy along the way.

  • Explore the streets of the French Quarter. There is plenty to see and do from historical buildings and exhibits to shopping and dining. Around Jackson Square you can find live entertainment, dancers, mimes, musicians, tarot card readers. Make sure the toss a dollar in the bucket or hat if you like, a must if you take a picture.
  • Wander through the French Market—daily flea market and farmer's market—a good place to buy souvenirs!
  • Enjoy some beignets and café au lait at Café du Monde, 800 Decatur Street, French Quarter. Open 24 hours. Find a clean table, sit down, place your order, and watch the world go by. A New Orleans must-do.
  • If you are an architecture buff and love big, old houses, take a walking tour of the Garden District, visit the cemetery and have lunch at Commander's Palace. Or gawk at the houses along St. Charles Avenue from the comfort of the St. Charles street car. If you have a car, Esplanade Avenue has some fine houses as well.
  • Go shopping and gallery-hopping on Magazine Street. Magazine is very long, so don't attempt to walk. Take the Magazine Street bus if you don't have a car. There are stops every 2-3 blocks. The best stretches are: Felicity to Jackson Avenue, in the Lower Garden District; Washington to Louisiana Streets in the Garden District; Foucher Street to Napoleon Avenue and Jefferson Avenue to Nashville, Uptown. There are also many great restaurants, bars and coffee houses. Take the Magazine Street bus to the end of the line for Audubon Park and Zoo.
  • Visit The National WWII Museum, 945 Magazine Street, Warehouse District. (St. Charles streetcar stop: Lee Circle or St. Joseph Street). Or if the Civil War is more your thing, visit the Civil War Museum, 929 Camp Street.
  • Ride the ferry across the river to Algiers Point. Stunning views of the French Quarter and a close-up of the churning, muddy Mississippi. Board the ferry at the foot of Canal Street.

  • Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World started on the Westbank, and there are still warehouses there. But their new space is next to the Convention Center. Take a tour and learn about Mardi Gras in New Orleans, see real Mardi Gras floats up close and personal and see the artists at work.

  • Visit the Southern Food and Beverage Museum, home of the Museum of the American Cocktail. 1504 Oretha C. Haley Boulevard

  • Take a walking tour. Some tours are better than others but if you want to go inside the cemeteries in the French Quarter, you must now be with a licensed tour guide. If you are tired of walking take a tour in a mule drawn carriage. Just go to the Decatur side of Jackson Square in the Quarter. I'd like to give a shout out to my friend Christine and her walking tour company, Two Chicks Walking. She gives intimate, small tours and private tours. Very informative and entertaining. Tours like: Dead Sexy; Garden District Grandeur; Brothels, Bordellos and Ladies of the Night; Vixens of Vaudeville.

  • Did you know the French Quarter is in a National Park? It's part of the Jean Lafitte NP. The French Quarter Visitor Center is a nice place to stop for information, cool A/C and clean bathrooms. Also part of the park is the New Orleans Jazz NHP at the US Mint with exhibits, more cool A/C and clean bathrooms (Hey, they can be hard to come by!) and free, live music performances.

If you plan to stay a few extra days, here are some ideas for day trips:

  • Take a riverboat cruise. There are several to choose from of various time lengths. A few stop at Chalmette Battle field for the war buffs.

  • Might not be considered "fun" but local tour agencies now offer driving "Katrina" disaster tours. If you don't have a car or don't feel comfortable driving around on your own, one of these tours may be the way to go.

  • Visit some of the plantation houses outside New Orleans. You can join a tour or drive yourself.

  • Visit the swamp and see alligators up close and personal, less than an hour drive from downtown at the Barataria Preserve. Visit the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park visitor center in the French Quarter, 419 Decatur, for details and maps.

  • Explore the North Shore. New Orleans lies on the southern shore of Lake Pontchartrain. If you have a car, you can drive over the lake to the Northshore. The Causeway spans 24 miles and is the longest bridge over water in the world. No you cannot see the other side of the lake from the South Shore. No toll on the way to the North Shore, a small toll on the way back ($3 or so). Best places to visit are along the lake front, and the towns of Abita Springs (Home of Abita beer! tour the brewery or visit the Brew Pub), Mandeville (home of the Old Rail Brewing Company), Madisonville and Covington’s historic downtown district. Rent and ride bikes on the rails to trails Tammany Trace. Go canoing or tubing on the Bogue Chitto River.

Visit the State of Louisiana Travel web site for information.

In the spring and fall when the weather is usually nice, festivals abound in town and statewide. You name it, we probably have a festival for it. Most festivals you will find live music, food and arts/crafts. Some festival calendars:

Markets have gotten popular and almost every weekend you can find one. You can find locally grown produce, food, art, crafts and all sorts of neat things.
Crescent City Farmer's Market - They have three markets: 1) Uptown - every Tuesday 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Uptown Square parking lot, 200 Broadway; 2) Mid-city - every Thursday 3-7pm at Orleans Ave and Bayou St John in the American Can Company parking lot; 3) Downtown - every Saturday from 8 am to 12 noon at the corner of Magazine and Girod.
Gretna Farmers Market - Every Saturday 8:30am - 12:30pm, Huey P. Long Avenue, between 3rd and 4th Streets Gretna, LA 70053
Lakeview's Harrison Avenue Marketplace - 2nd Wednesday of the month - 5:000-8:30pm, 801 Harrison Ave.
Freret Market - An Art/Food/Flea market, noon - 5:00 pm first Saturday of the month except July and August. Free live music.
The Arts Market of New Orleans - Palmer Park (S. Carrollton Ave. at Claiborne Ave.) Last Saturday of the month, 10am - 4pm
The Gretna Art Walk is held on the 2nd Saturday during the months of September through May from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. on beautiful Huey P. Long Avenue in Historic Downtown Gretna.

Christy's Guide to New Orleans

Overview, weather, getting around, etc. | City regions defined | Fun stuff | Art and culture | The dark side | Kids and kids at heart | Dine like a local | Bars and clubs | Live music | For java heads | For the sweet tooth | For dogs and their owners

Updated: July 4, 2015