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10 Fun Things To Do in New Orleans' French Quarter (And Beyond)

Discover 10 fun things to do in New Orleans French Quarter and beyond on a weekend break in Louisiana. Explore what to see in New Orleans.
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.  Did you know that New Orleans' French Quarter is designated a National Historic Landmark?

We've visited New Orleans a few times over the years and I was just reminiscing about our good times in and around the Big Easy. 

I thought I would share my picks of the best things to do in New Orleans' French Quarter (and beyond) on a weekend trip.
Saint Louis Cathedral on Jackson Square in New Orleans French Quarter

1. Live it up on Bourbon Street

For good times, look no further than Bourbon Street in the heart of the French Quarter.  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 in the New Orleans French Quarter

2. Try a New Orleans Shark Attack Cocktail!

Over-the-top cocktails abound in the French Quarter, 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 a specialty in the New Orleans French Quarter

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 in the French Quarter for a bit of obligatory indulgence.   
Beignets and Chicory Coffee - New Orleans

4. Save Room for Dessert and Try Bananas Foster

Brennan's is a great place for an old school dinner in New Orleans' French Quarter. 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 served in New Orleans French Quarter

5. Jazz it up Over Brunch in New Orleans' French Quarter

Much like Dublin, New Orleans is a musical city.  If you find yourself in the French Quarter 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 which takes over the French Quarter in February each year. We've never traveled to the area during this crazy and most expensive time of year.  

When is Mardi Gras in 2023?

Mardi Gras in 2023 falls on February 21st (aka Fat Tuesday). New Orleans' Mardi Gras parades begin early (Jan 6th) and the momentum builds on weekends starting at the end of January and running through Fat Tuesday. 

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 Mississippi River from the French Quarter and is a good excuse to step onboard Steamboat Natchez, an old fashioned paddle-wheeler, for the ride across.
Mardi Gras World in New Orleans

7. Take the Tram out to New Orleans' Garden District

New Orleans' French Quarter may be where all the action is at, but sometimes it's nice to explore quieter places. 

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, art galleries, and more gourmet eats. 

Commander's Palace (where celebrity chef Emeril Lagasse got his start) and other top notch restaurants call New Orleans' Garden District home.
New Orleans' Garden District

8. Visit New Orleans' 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 Louisiana Plantation

New Orleans itself is very seductive, especially the French Quarter.  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 from New Orleans, 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 (especially in the French Quarter!) and there are so many reasons to visit again and again. 

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Sidewalk Safari | Part-time Travel Blog: 10 Fun Things To Do in New Orleans' French Quarter (And Beyond)
10 Fun Things To Do in New Orleans' French Quarter (And Beyond)
Discover 10 fun things to do in New Orleans French Quarter and beyond on a weekend break in Louisiana. Explore what to see in New Orleans.
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