Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans

28 January 2015

I wanted to do something a little bit different for my birthday last year, so we booked an extended weekend getaway in New Orleans for next to nothing thanks to some credit card points I had racked up. We couldn't wait to get to the Crescent City and wander around the streets of the French Quarter, but with only 4 days to visit, we were afraid we wouldn't have time to cram everything in! To help you plan your trip, we decided on our top favorite 6 things you must do while you're visiting New Orleans. 

1. Sit down to some beignets every chance you get
These fluffy, deep-fried fritters are seriously a Crescent City must, and we may or may not have made a stop each day of our visit. Our favorite place to stop was at Cafe du Monde, the original french market coffee stand of New Orleans. It's always packed and cash only, but for about $5.50, you can enjoy a plate of two beignets and a cup of coffee. Man oh man are these bad boys delicious! They are doused with powdered sugar, so naturally I made the mistake of wearing black and showering myself in it almost every single time. It was totally worth it, though.

Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans | The Brave Little Cheesehead

2. Go for a bike ride!
One of the highlights of our trip was a bicycle tour with Confederacy of CruisersWe had an awesome Creole Tour with our guide Jeff who was incredibly knowledgeable about the area. If you're not a skilled biker, there's no need to worry -- this company certainly caters their tours to people at all skill levels. Jeff even welcomed us into his own home to see what a typical New Orlean's shotgun style house is like, and he took us to a bar outside of the Marigny for an awesome Bloody Mary. This is a great way to get out to parts of New Orleans that you might not otherwise see, and you'll get some light exercise as an added bonus! Confederacy of Cruisers also offers a creole food tour and a booze tour, but we opted for a glimpse into the city's history and culture and were pleased with our choice.

Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans | The Brave Little Cheesehead

3. Wander through some Graveyards
You've probably heard many tales of vampires, voodoo and black magic originating from New Orleans, so it shouldn't be a surprise that the city's graveyards are a huge draw. Despite the eerie, morbidity of traipsing through burial plots and broken headstones, cemeteries in New Orleans are hauntingly beautiful. We made a trip out to the Garden District to see Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. It is common practice for graveyards to be above ground in mausoleums and crypts due to potential flooding from heavy rains during hurricane season, so it seems as if you're walking through a serene, peaceful city of the dead.

Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans | The Brave Little Cheesehead

4. Try a traditional po'boy
Everybody has their favorite spot to munch on New Orlean's signature sandwich, but we chose Johnny's Po'Boys in the French Quarter. This little hole-in-the-wall dive has but a few tables, and we managed to snag one upon walking in. We got hungry early and by happenstance ended up at Johnny's Po'Boys around 11am, which was lucky for us. Nearly 30 minutes later, the line jutted out the door, and we were pushed flesh up against our table to make room for other lunchers forced to stand and eat. We tried the shrimp and fried chicken po'boys, and both were so delicious that despite my reminding myself several times to take a picture, we gobbled them up before I had the chance. These sandwiches are huge, though! We probably could have gotten two half sandwiches and a side of fries to split and still would have been stuffed silly, but we polished off our plates none the less. And, of course, we wandered down to the bay for a little siesta afterwards. 

Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans | The Brave Little Cheesehead

5. Stroll through the streets of the French Quarter
At 13 blocks deep and six wide, the French Quarter is the oldest, most beautiful area of the Crescent City. I had my camera at the ready and stopped my boyfriend just about every five minutes to capture some vibrant door, brick facade or iron balcony. This is where you'll find Bourbon Street, of course, but make sure you spend time bopping in and out of the boutiques along Chartres and antique shops on Royal. At one point, we found ourselves wandering amongst guitars autographed by Jimi Hendrix and Eric Clapton or records signed by the Rat Pack in a small gallery. We were totally starstruck.

Top 6 Must-Do's in New Orleans | The Brave Little Cheesehead

6. Spend your nights at Frenchman Street
Bourbon Street is overrated. Make a stop there at least once, and then head straight to Frenchman Street. This is where you will find the city's best jazz music. Just take a stroll down the street and stick your ear into any one of the bars to find a style that you like. My personal favorites include d.b.a for some Dixieland style jazz, Bamboula's for folk rock, and the Spotted Cat for traditional be-bop. Amidst all of the musical madness, you'll find a unique little art fair, which is open from 7pm-7am daily. If you spend some time wandering through the stalls, you might find yourself taking home handmade jewelry or a framed photograph from local artists!

Planning a trip to New Orleans? Check out our itinerary for a long weekend to get some inspiration!

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  1. If you visit a cemetery it's best to do it on a tour as some are not safe to visit alone.

    1. Great tip, Duane! We certainly recommend doing some research to evaluate the safety of every place you're visiting. We did find Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 perfectly safe to visit during the day. Lots of people had the same idea we did. :)