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Welcome to the French Quarter! That magical place where you feel like you’ve stepped back in time with beautiful French-inspired architecture, jazz music playing in the streets, and some of the best food around the world.
You will quickly find there are so many things to do in the French Quarter.
After all, the French Quarter is where it’s at in New Orleans. It is truly the heartbeat of the city.
It’s a culturally rich melting pot that’s both welcoming and down-to-earth, and yet elegant and bougie.
The city thrives on a raucous-causing good time (Mardi Gras, anyone?), while still maintaining an air of class. Add a splash of elusive, mystical appeal, and it’s no wonder the “The Quarter” draws us in.
It’s here that you’ll likely spend the bulk of your time in New Orleans. So as the New Orleanians say, “laissez les bon temps rouler”. Cajun French for, “let the good times roll”.
So, let’s roll, shall we? 😉
10 Things You Must Do in the French Quarter
1. Take a “Classic” New Orleans Ghost Tour
New Orleans is famous for many things, but at the top of that list you’ll quickly discover they are famous for their ghost tours.
It is seriously a must! This New Orleans ghost tour is my all-time favorite tour, and trust me, I have taken a lot of tours.
Now I must tell you, I am a weak-link when it comes to anything remotely scary. Don’t believe me? I didn’t sleep for weeks after watching The Ring.
Yes, it’s that bad.
But honestly, this ghost tour in New Orleans is so much fun! The French Quarter is so unique and this tour really gives you insight into the history of New Orleans that you would never know on your own.
For instance, I learned my hotel was haunted (great…?), visited sights where ghostly spirits have been documented, and stopped at a bar that used to be the landmark to a massive smuggling operation.
It’s pretty cool.
For the most convenience, I recommend purchasing your tickets in advance here.
2. Explore Jackson Square
Jackson Square is the cultural center of the French Quarter.
It is New Orleans’s lively old town square where you’ll find charming street corner painters, live music, and cute boutique shops selling anything from Mardi Gras masks to one of a kind jazz instruments.
And seriously, we cannot forget the beautiful, St. Louis Cathedral. St. Louis Cathedral is one of the most iconic churches in America and recognized around the world.
3. Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride
New Orleans is many things to many people, but “romance” is definitely a word I would use to describe this beautiful city.
It’s not hard to see why.
New Orleans has cobblestone streets, beautiful wrought-iron balconies, and yes romantic horse-drawn carriage rides through the city streets.
What more can you ask for?
During your carriage ride the guide will provide an entertaining narration of the city and you’ll even have the chance to stop by St. Louis Cemetery for a short walking tour. You can book your tickets in advance here.
4. Go Antiquing down Royal Street
Hello to all my fellow window shoppers!
Strolling down Royal Street is a New Orleans essential. This street is seriously eye candy. It’s filled with art galleries, antique stores, luxury hotels (looking at you Hotel Monteleone!), and tasty little cafes and bakeries.
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Royal Street is one of my favorite streets to just stroll and peruse, wishing I could buy that $20,000 hand-made crystal chandelier. ?
5. Visit a New Orleans Cemetery
I know what you’re thinking, “whaaaat you’re wanting me to visit a cemetery?”.
I know, it sounds crazy. But yes, that’s exactly what I’m recommending. Visiting a cemetery in New Orleans is like, a thing. ?
I recommend visiting St. Louis Cemetery No.1 because it’s the oldest and the most famous.
This tour of St. Louis Cemetery No.1 is amazing because the guide leads you to famous graves and provides added information like the story of the famous Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. It also includes bonus information such as some history about the French Quarter, Creole townhouses, and more!
You can book your tour online here.
6. Go Shopping at the Old French Market
The Old French Market is honestly a treasure trove of goodies.
The market is an open air building filled with all kinds of unique goods, vendors, and even concerts and performances in the summertime.
Let’s also not forget the food. You’ll find cafés offering only the best New Orleans cuisines such as my personal favorite, the muffuletta!
7. Take a Food Tour!
Speaking of food, you absolutely cannot visit New Orleans without getting your fill of some of the best food Louisiana has to offer.
I’ve been to New Orleans many, many times and honestly, the thing I get the most excited for is THE FOOD.
Yes, it really is that good.
The best way to experience all of the amazing food in New Orleans is with a food tour. They are seriously the best!!
Come ready to sample some amazing food because this tour includes 7 food tastings including classic Louisiana dishes like seafood gumbo, Creole brisket, poboys and more!
You’ll also be guided around some of the French Quarter’s best and most popular restaurants and learn about the history behind Louisiana’s tasty French/Creole/Cajun fusion. Be sure to purchase your tickets in advance online here.
8. Take a New Orleans Cooking Class
I told you I loved New Orleans food didn’t I? ?
If you are also obsessed with all things New Orleans cuisine then taking a cooking class is for you! Trust me, it’s a super fun (and tasty!) way to spend an afternoon. 🙂
I highly recommend booking in advance online because these cooking classes are quite popular and they do sell out.
Here are the two I recommend:
- Taste of New Orleans – This 2-hour class takes place at the super popular restaurant, The Old Coffee Pot (which is also one of my personal favs!). You’ll learn to cook the classic New Orleans dish, Fleur-de-lis Chicken and of course, get to eat your masterpiece.
- Small Group Cooking Class – This 3-hour cooking class is a bit more intimate of an experience. The dishes you cook include gumbo, BBQ shrimp and grits, banana foster and more! Plus, this class includes free drinks so, can’t go wrong there. 🙂
- Taste of New Orleans Cooking Class and Luncheon
- Price: $52.20
- 3-Hour Small-Group Cooking Class in New Orleans
- Price: $147.34
9. Soak up the New Orleans Music Scene
It should be illegal to come to New Orleans and not see at least one live performance.
Music always has and always will run deep through the veins of the French Quarter.
Music legends were born in this city such as popular artists like Louis Armstrong, Jerry Lee Lewis, Harry Connick Jr., and even Lil Wayne.
One of the most popular New Orleans hang out spots is the fun and lively piano bar, Pat O'Brien’s. If you go, you also have to order a Hurricane. They're both delicious and famous to this bar.
For the true music fans (especially the jazz and blues lovers) you will LOVE this 2-hour New Orleans music tour. This walking tour includes the music history of New Orleans, plus walking past former homes of music legends like Danny Parker and Louis Armstrong.
You also pass famous recording studios and the tour is even lead by a local record producer with 20 years of industry experience. Trust me, you will love it! It's best to book your tour in advance online here.
10. Eat Beignets at Café du Monde
Like, you can't NOT do this. You're just not allowed.
Eating beignets at Cafe du Monde is one of the most quintessential New Orleans activities.
I don't care how long that line is, you gotta do it. ?
For those that don't know, a "beignet" is the French term for a pastry made from deep-fried "choux" or light pastry dough. Think of it as a light doughnut sprinkled with lots and lots of powdered sugar. Yum!
BONUS: Experience the Nightlife
Did you now that New Orleans is nicknamed "The Big Easy"?
Since it's not the most intuitive nickname in the world, I'll explain how it came about.
New York is nicknamed "The Big Apple", so back in the 1970's a local Louisiana newspaper writer began to call New Orleans "The Big Easy" as a way to define the easy-going way of life compared to the hurried pace of life in New York.
Within no time at all, the name stuck.
New Orleans definitely lives up to it's nickname "The Big Easy". It’s its round-the-clock nightlife is famous and it's not just for tourists. Locals join is as well hanging out at a local bars or singing at a live show.
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For tips on where to go, here are some places to check out:
- Bourbon Street – Everyone's heard of Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is the place for nightlife in New Orleans. There are tons of bars along this street or you can just join in on the festivities in the street with a drink in hand.
PRO TIP: Remember that in New Orleans you are allowed to take alcoholic beverages to go!
- Jazz/Piano Bars – Again, Pat O'Brien’s is my favorite, home of the Hurricane.
- Carousel Bar & Lounge – This revolving bar has been named one of the Top 20 Bars in the World. Come to Hotel Monteleone and enjoy a cocktail where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams also threw a few back.
- Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop – Riddled with folklore and legend, Lafitte’s is a unique bar that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 18th century.
I hope you're getting excited about your trip to New Orleans! As you can tell, it's a super fun city with lots of exciting things to do. I hope this post inspired some ideas for what you can do in New Orleans.
For more insight into what to do in New Orleans, keep reading!
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What's your favorite thing to do in the French Quarter? Love to know in the comments below!