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10 of the Best Things to Do in New Orleans on a Quick Trip

10 things to do in New Orleans on a weekend city break. Discover what to do in New Orleans including trying New Orleans famous Shark Attack cocktail.
Things to do in New Orleans - flaming bananas foster
Laissez les bons temps rouler!  Let the good times roll...and indeed they do in New Orleans, one of the top U.S. travel destinations.  We've visited a few times over the years and I was just reminiscing about our good times in and around the Big Easy and thought I would share.

1. Live it up on Bourbon Street

For good times, look no further than Bourbon Street.  Period buildings lined with wrought iron balconies look out on the scene below.  Wander down the street and pop into a bar that catches your fancy for a drink and some Jazz or Zydeco music.  Bourbon Street is the only place in the U.S. that we've been to that comes close to the vibe of Dublin's Temple Bar.
Bourbon Street - New Orleans

2. Try a New Orleans Shark Attack Cocktail!

Over-the-top cocktails abound but that's all part of the fun.  I love the Shark Attack at the Tropical Isle.  I'm not sure exactly what's in it, but a clear heavily spiked beverage is put in front of you, the bartender rings a bell and shouts Shark Attack! before proceeding to plunge a plastic shark filled with red liqueur into the drink.  Down the hatch!
Shark Attack Cocktail - New Orleans

3. Eat Beignets and Chicory Coffee

Americans that live in Louisiana are noted for their girth (the state ranks in the Top 10 for obesity).  Beignets (delicious and addictive powdered doughnuts) served with woodsy chicory coffee could very well be a key contributor to this.  Don't miss Cafe Du Monde for a bit of indulgence.   
Beignets and Chicory Coffee - New Orleans

4. Save Room for Dessert and Try Bananas Foster

As if beignets weren't decadent enough, Brennan's takes things one step further with their world famous Bananas Foster.  The dessert is prepared tableside and includes at least a stick of butter, bananas and copious liquor topped with rich creamy ice cream.  The preparation is rather dramatic with flames shooting close to the ceiling.  New Orleans definitely has a flair for the dramatic.
Brennan's Bananas Foster - New Orleans

5. Jazz it up Over Brunch

Much like Dublin, New Orleans is a musical city.  If you're there on a Sunday, enjoy a leisurely brunch accompanied by a bit of soft jazz.  We tried the magical Court of Two Sisters. 
Jazz Brunch - New Orleans

SIDEWALK SAFARI SPOTLIGHT: Looking to experience the full diversity of cultures and landscapes in the United States? Check out these amazing destinations:
  1. Embark on a Florida Gulf Coast road trip and experience fantastic beaches and wildlife.
  2. Go birdwatching in the San Francisco Bay Area or take the ferry to Alameda.
  3. Explore Buffalo architecture including plenty of historic buildings by Frank Lloyd Wright.
  4. Walk the High Line in New York City.
  5. See where America was born with a weekend in Philadelphia.
  6. Take a scenic road trip from Boston to Maine in New England.
  7. Explore the U.S. Midwest with a day in Chicago or Cleveland or discover a myriad of things to do in Pittsburgh.
  8. Appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest when you spend a day in Seattle.
  9. Find yourself deep in the heart of Texas on a Houston to Austin drive.

6. Tour Mardi Gras World

New Orleans is probably best known for Mardi Gras.  We've never traveled to the area during this crazy and most expensive time of year.  However, we were able to get a behind the scenes look at some of the floats and the history of the parade at Mardi Gras World.  This popular attraction is located across the river from the main part of the city and is a good excuse to step onboard an old fashioned paddle-wheeler for the ride across.
Mardi Gras World - New Orleans

7. Tram out to the Garden District

Rustic trams plying tracks shaded by large trees whisk travelers away from the crazy heart of New Orleans to the Garden District.  Here you'll find shopping opportunities and more gourmet eats.  Commander's Palace (where celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse got his start) and other top notch restaurants call the area home.
Garden District - New Orleans

8. Visit Lafayette Cemetery

Because of the swampy lay of the land and French influences, New Orleans features atmospheric cemeteries, particularly in the Garden District.  Take a stroll and admire the grand above-ground monuments to those that went before us in Lafayette Cemetery.
Lafayette Cemetery - New Orleans

9. Visit a Plantation

New Orleans itself is very seductive.  It took us three trips to the city before we finally managed to get beyond the city limits.  There is so much history in this area and doing a plantation tour will confront you with America's uncomfortable slave-owning past.  Gorgeous antebellum homes greet visitors with a warm welcome but just beyond are the poor slave quarters that made all this possible.
Louisiana Plantation

10. Cruise the Louisiana Bayou

Once you are further afield, a cruise of the bayou is a fun diversion.  Board a swamp boat and come face to face with the impressive alligators that call this area home.
Bayou Cruise and Alligators near New Orleans

We hope to visit New Orleans again at some point.  It's such a dynamic city and there are so many reasons to visit again and again.  For detailed advice from someone who has lived in New Orleans, check out this post on From East to West with RMS.

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 10 of the Best Things to Do in New Orleans on a Quick Trip
10 of the Best Things to Do in New Orleans on a Quick Trip
10 things to do in New Orleans on a weekend city break. Discover what to do in New Orleans including trying New Orleans famous Shark Attack cocktail.
Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog
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