25 Best Things to Do in New Orleans Outside of the French Quarter

New Orleans House. (photo via jezdicek /iStock Editorial / Getty Images Plus)
Alex Temblador
by Alex Temblador
Last updated: 10:00 AM ET, Wed October 2, 2019

Beyond the French Quarter

Are you over the crowds of the French Quarter or the partying of Bourbon Street? We get it. The French Quarter is beautiful and fun but it's often hailed as the epitome of all there is to do and see in New Orleans and that's just not true. Check out this list of amazing things to see, do, and eat beyond the French Quarter. Trust us, you'll be glad you did.

Magazine Street

Located in the Garden District, Magazine Street is a funky, hip street full of great shops and restaurants. You'll discover art galleries, antique shops with cool items from New Orleans' past, and some of the most delicious restaurants like The Rum House and Shaya.

Bacchanal Wine

Bacchanal Wine is one of the most popular destinations in the Bywater neighborhood. Set in an old house, visitors enter Bacchanal Wine and choose a bottle of wine and variety of cheeses before taking a seat on the back patio for good conversation, a romantic date, and perhaps some live music.

Stay in a historic inn

Staying in the French Quarter can be expensive and may not be as quiet as you'd like. That's why we suggest you stay in a historic inn outside of the French Quarter, such as those found on Esplanade Avenue which is within walking distance of some of NOLA's most happening neighborhoods. Check out Rathbone Mansions on Esplanade Avenue and enjoy charming morning breakfasts, a pool, hot tub, and spacious rooms in two historic mansions.

Julia Street Art Walk

Julia Street Art Walk is a fun affair that occurs on the first Saturday of every month. Located on Julia Street in the Arts District of New Orleans, Julia Street Art Walk is a monthly event in which all the galleries of Julia Street open their doors to locals and visitors who love art.

Dooky Chase's

Dooky Chase's is an iconic restaurant in New Orleans' Treme neighborhood. The restaurant serves an array of delicious Creole cuisine in an upscale dining room. It became famous for the work of Chef Leah Chase who made Dooky Chase's a white tablecloth establishment for a black community who was long segregated from fine dining in New Orleans. Dooky Chase's has been a hot spot for civil rights leaders, entertainers, and presidents.

City Park

City Park is an oasis in the center of New Orleans. Visitors will find gorgeous walking and bike paths, as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art. Plus, it's home to the New Orleans Botanical Garden, a small amusement park, a lake, sports fields, Train Garden, cafes, playgrounds, golf, and even a "Singing Oak Tree" with hanging wind chimes that sing with the wind.

Find the best murals

If you're a fan of murals, New Orleans has plenty but they're not in the French Quarter. Spend the day walking or biking through neighborhoods like the Bywater, Marigny, Garden District, and Treme for the best murals. A few have even started to pop up in the Central Business District this year.

Audubon Zoo

The Audubon Zoo is a family-friendly destination with a great mix of animal habitats and experiences. They're best known for their Louisiana Swamp and Jaguar Jungle showcase, as well daily feedings and presentations. Before or after your visit to the zoo, have a picnic in the Audubon Park where the zoo is located.

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1

Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 is one of the most well-known cemeteries in New Orleans. It's the oldest cemetery in New Orleans and notable for being non-segregated and non-denominational. While the cemetery is the resting place of well-known New Orleans citizens like the jazz associated Brunie family, it is also famous for its inclusion Anne Rice novels and many films like Interview with a Vampire.

Louie Armstrong Park

The Louie Armstrong Park is a Treme centerpiece named after the famous jazz musician who is from New Orleans. Perhaps the most important spot in the park is Congo Square, a historic meeting place for slaves and free people of color in the 1800s. Today, you'll find voodoo practitioners, concerts, bands, and a community who continues to meet and interact here.

Old New Orleans Rum Distillery

Rum lovers should make their way to the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery as it's the oldest craft rum distillery still in operation in the United States. Those that visit can experience a tour seven days a week and enjoy a tasting of their specialty cocktails and spirits.

Crescent Park

Crescent Park is a thin and narrow park that stretches from the edge of the French Quarter to the Bywater neighborhood. The park features a 1.4-mile path, stunning views of the New Orleans skyline, and a space for a farmer's market and other events.

New Orleans African American Museum

The New Orleans African American Museum reopened earlier this year after being closed for six years. Located in five historic buildings in the Treme neighborhood, the museum offers tours and exhibits that showcase the history, art, and culture of African Americans in New Orleans.

Commander's Palace Restaurant

Commander's Palace is an Instagram dream with its blue and white exterior, but don't be content with just taking pictures of the outside. This Garden District restaurant has been around since 1893 and is well-known for its "Haute Creole" cuisine and jazz brunches. As a winner of seven James Beard Foundation Awards, it's one of NOLA's best restaurants.

Palace Market Frenchmen

If you're interested in a family-friendly or romantic evening activity in New Orleans, look no further than Palace Market Frenchman. A rotating collection of artists and craftsmen come together to present their work at this open-air night market seven days a week on Frenchmen Street. Bring cash or card as you'll want to buy an item or two.

Bayou St. John

Louisiana is famous for its bayous and Bayou St. John is conveniently located in the city. Rent a kayak and explore the bayou or grab a po-boy from a local shop and enjoy it on the banks as you watch others fish or paddleboard. Bayou St. John also has some fantastic bars and restaurants just a few blocks away so you can spend the whole day there.

Paddlewheeler cruise

The Mississippi River is a crowning feature in New Orleans and the best way to see it up close is by a paddlewheeler cruise. Book a cruise on the Creole Queen and choose between a historical cruise about New Orleans or a romantic evening of dinner and jazz.

Orpheum Theater

The Orpheum Theater opened in the 1920s for vaudeville acts, but as times changed it turned into a movie theater. Today, it's the host of theatrical plays, musicals, performances by the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra, and other events.

Mardi Gras World

We all can't visit New Orleans during Mardi Gras, nor would all of us want to, but we can still learn about the celebration and its history at Mardi Gras World. Visitors to Mardi Gras World tour a 300,000 square foot warehouse to see where and how the Mardi Gras parade floats are made.

Willie Mae's

You'll find some of the best fried chicken in New Orleans at Willie Mae's Scotch House. This historic restaurant opened as a bar in 1957 in the Treme neighborhood and turned into a restaurant in the 1970s. Today, it's a laid-back dining establishment that focuses on good soul food. Willie Mae's is very popular so expect a wait time for lunch or dinner.

National World War II Museum

Learn about WWII at the National World War II Museum in the Central Business District of New Orleans. Primarily focusing on the American experience in the war, the National World War II Museum has exhibits (some of which are interactive), tours, and events.

Oak Street

Even though Oak Street is on the rise in popularity, it's mainly visited by New Orleans residents, offering visitors a chance to see how the locals live. This charming street is home to cafes, bars, music venues like Maple Leaf Bar, restaurants like Jacques Imo's Restaurant, yoga, galleries, and boutiques. Visit in November and you might be able to attend Oak Street's amazing Po-Boy Festival.

Mansions of Garden District

The Garden District is one of the most beautiful areas in New Orleans and definitely worth a visit. Many take the streetcar through the neighborhood, but stop, get out, and walk to see the neighborhood's stunning, historic mansions. Embark on a self-guided tour and find the home where Confederate president Jefferson Davis died or the home of famous novelist Anne Rice. Join a tour group and you'll learn more about the rich history and architectural features of these homes.

Audubon Louisiana Nature Center

Eighty-six acres of hardwood bottomland forest make up the Audubon Louisiana Nature Center. The center is home to walking trails, a planetarium, and educational programs. While the planetarium costs a fee to visit, the walking trails are free making it a great escape from the bustle of New Orleans.

Hurricane Katrina Memorial

In 2005, more than 1,100 people in the New Orleans community lost their lives to Hurricane Katrina, one of the most devastating natural disasters in American history. Today, you can visit the Hurricane Katrina Memorial to pay your respects to those that lost their lives. The memorial is shaped like a hurricane and holds the remains of unclaimed or unidentified victims of Hurricane Katrina.

New Orleans offers a wealth of experiences beyond the tourist-packed French Quarter.

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Laurence Pinckney

CEO of Zenbiz Travel, LLC

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