There are so many amazing things to do in Nola! It would take a lifetime to really get to know all the ins and outs of this muggy, jazzy, sexy, witchy city. Old traditions live alongside new ones that pop up every year.
I don’t know if I believe you could ever know this place completely. But, it’s really worth a try. New Orleans is unique. There is nowhere in the world like it and you should visit at least once in your life. Here are some of my favorite things to do in Nola.
(Oh, and it’s a really, really good idea to have some (eco-friendly) bug repellant in this city, especially during the summer. It’s basically just buildings balancing on a swamp so…kind of a 24/7 raving mosquito orgy. But, it’s great! You should definitely go!)
We love this place. It’s over in the Bywater next to the train tracks. You walk in and choose from a large selection of wines displayed in the front room. There is a refrigerator with various cheeses and you can pick several if you like. You hand them to the cashier, pay for your wine and they take the cheese into the back to make a delicious cheese board.
You walk outside and sit in a lovely courtyard. String lights twinkle whimsically and there is almost always great live music. The vibe can’t be beat. They serve a menu of fresh and very tasty food that changes seasonally. But, always get wine, cheese and the chocolate bark.
Check out their event calendar to see what’s going on while you’re in town.
Go in the morning. It’s the most beautiful time of day to be there.
Huge oak trees rest their massive branches on the ground, swans swim in the creek & Morning Call Coffee Stand serves chicory coffee and beignets 24/7. Get some and enjoy the park.
Crawfish at Cajun Seafood on Broad Ave
They’ve never let me down. It’s always delicious. Go here and get a big ol’ bag of hot, spicy crawfish. Then, you should stop by New Orleans Original Daiquiris on St. Charles Ave and get some frozen daiquiris to go (Yep, to go. Love nola.) and then take both to the next place on the list!
The Fly (Butterfly Riverview Park)
This is a small park over next to the zoo. It’s a perfect place to bring your crawfish and daiquiris! You sit right on the banks of the mighty Mississippi and watch the barges roll by. Also, if you want to go healthier than stuffing your face and drinking (why?) it’s a great place to do some yoga.
A friend introduced me to this place on my first trip to New Orleans and now I go back every time.
This is a great park in the Bywater that lets you walk along the riverfront and gives you a cool view of downtown. It’s enjoyable at any time of day. Open 6am-7:30pm.
The Tree Of Life
No one is sure how old this beautiful thing is, but it’s estimated to be between 100-500 years. It’s huge and gorgeous and you can’t help but be in awe. Bring a picnic and sit next to its branches which rest on the ground.
Despite being next to Audobon Park and the zoo, it’s not usually crowded around the tree so you should have plenty of opportunity to enjoy it. Great place to do some reading.
A slightly lesser-known fact about the tree is that it backs up to the giraffe paddock of the zoo. Sometimes you get a glimpse of them, which is fun and bizarre.
Visiting a cemetery may sound morbid, but it isn’t in New Orleans. This city can’t bury its dead underground because of sea levels and the fact that NOLA was built on a swamp. Dig a few feet down and the ground is too wet. So, their cemeteries are vast acres covered in ornate mausoleums. It’s worth a visit.
It can be fascinating to read the information on a tomb, especially a really old one, and imagine what that person’s life was like. Some of the inscriptions are full of love and truly beautiful…and I have to admit, slightly heartbreaking. If you go there and take it all in you should leave feeling grateful for your life and loved ones.
I can understand how this seems cheesy, but it’s actually pretty fun. The Carousel Bar is the bar in Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter. It slowly revolves and all that. For me, it’s less about the revolving and more about the vibe. It’s a place that writers such as Hemingway, Faulkner and Capote used to drink and it feels exactly like that.
It looks like what you want New Orleans to look like: ritzy, jazzy & a little over the top. It’s fun to dress up a little and go order a nice cocktail. I pretend I’m a fancy lady, the kind who would have a veil on her hat, a long cigarette holder and a dark secret. You don’t have to do that, though.
In my opinion, Bourbon St. is one of the least enjoyable places in New Orleans. Frenchmen is a great alternative! Better bars, fewer people.
The Spotted Cat Music Club
Come in out of the rain and hear the jazz pour down. (Credit to the Dire Straits for the cool line.) This is a cozy little bar on Frenchmen with great music. Click the link to go to their page and check out their live music calendar.
See the top of the Eiffel Tower
Back in the 1930s there was a restaurant at the top of the Eiffel Tower. Unfortunately, it was too heavy for the tower to support it and was actually causing structural damage. The restaurant was removed, shipped to America and reconstructed in the Garden District of New Orleans.
Today it still sits on St. Charles. It used to be a restaurant open to the public. Now it’s a venue space available for rent. I suppose if you’re a real Francophile, you could get a tour by saying you were thinking of booking it for an event.
Anyone up for a fun Nicolas Cage fact? Of course you are. Nic has already chosen & built his final resting place and it’s a huge, weird pyramid in St. Louis Cemetery.
Alright, guys, those are some of my favorite things to do in NOLA! My last piece of advice is to make sure you are constantly eating during your visit. There is not enough time to consume all the delicious treats this city offers, so if you’re not munching something every second of the day, you’re doing it wrong.
Enjoy the Crescent City!