Things to do in New Orleans


"Laissez les bons temps rouler!" - "Let the good times roll!"

If you have some extra time in New Orleans, you will want to get out and explore this city!  Go to the New Orleans & Company website (formerly the New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau) for a current list of activities and a comprehensive look at what all New Orleans has to offer.

Here are a few of the highlights as recommended by the Headquarters staff:


It should go without saying that the top items on your list should be (in any particular order):
  • Technical Sessions
  • Exhibit Hall
  • Any event where you can network and meet a new friend
After you've knocked out those three, then get thee to the following (in any particular order):
  • Jackson Square (walking distance) -Located on Decatur Street, between the Jax Brewery Shopping Mall and the French Market, in front of the St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square earns it name for one of three bronze statues of Andrew Jackson located in the center of the square.

    The area surrounding Jackson Square contains a mix of commercial and residential property. The Cabildo, the Presbytere (on the opposite side of the Cathedral), and one of the apartment townhouses of the Lower Pontalba Apartments are now state museums. The lower floors of the apartment buildings are shops and restaurants, while the second and third floors are residential apartments. Jackson Square is also the location of an open-air artist colony, where artists display their work on the outside of the iron fence. Visitors even have the opportunity to see the artists at work and perhaps have their portrait drawn by one of the many talents utilizing Jackson Square as their studio. Grab coffee and beignets from Cafe du Monde and enjoy breakfast while people watching in the Square. Jackson Square has been featured in numerous movies, live television network broadcasts, and the New Year's Eve celebration.

  • Garden District (take a streetcar to get there) - Everyone agrees. Uptown’s got the looks in the family, bless its heart. Those handsome neighborhoods, like the St. Charles Avenue streetcar, trundle upriver, unfolding as a series of distinctive names: Oretha Castle Haley, The Garden District, Irish Channel, Riverside, the Black Pearl, Carrollton. Uptown’s homes -- gleaming white and tiered like wedding cakes or shot-gunned into long, narrow lots – are the place’s glory and sheltered by canopies of leafy green or family trees as branched and blossoming as any ancient magnolia. The air’s opulent with the scent of jasmine and a slower, grander age. Uptown, where white tablecloths still cover two-tops. The waiter knows both your name and your preferences. A gin fizz? The crabmeat salad? Satsuma orange ice cream? They’re all on offer, as are the dazzling array of goods. The smart shops on Oak and Maple, Freret and Magazine, rival anything anywhere else. But this is Uptown, sugar. Once you’re here, there’s no reason – not ever – to leave.

  • Treme - Won’t bow down. Don’t know how.” A place of pride and refuge for New Orleans’ free people of color who could buy property here, the Faubourg Treme – as far back as its founding in the 18th Century – served as cultural rendezvous between the worlds of white and black while its back streets birthed a music that conquered the world. Bulldozed but not forgotten, the infamous Storyville red-light district flourished in the Treme’s upper stretches while St. Augustine Church remains the centerpiece for the oldest African-American Catholic parish in the country. Jazz today is honored by Armstrong Park, named in tribute to Louis Armstrong and Congo Square – where slaves once gathered to make music. Similar beats are heard today seeping from tiny clubs, booming out in a joyous second line or in the eerie drumming of the skeleton krewe emerging from the Backstreet Museum at dawn Mardi Gras Day to wake the sleeping. “Live!” is their command. And that’s exactly what the Treme always does.

  • Lafayette Square was first known as Place Gravier, it became Lafayette Square after Lafayette’s visit to New Orleans in 1825. Bordered by Poydras Street and St. Charles Avenue, Lafayette Square is located across from the historical Gallier Hall, former City Hall and another great site for music throughout the years. Lafayette Square has been the site for inaugurations, yearly pilgrimages by school bands, and jazz concerts for over 150 years. In 1864, famed bandleader Patrick S. Gilmore presented his legendary concert with a 500 plus member band, a choir of thousands of school children, and a bell ringer. Today Lafayette Square is a great place to relax and enjoy the natural beauty of New Orleans right in the heart of the Central Business District. Lafayette Square is also host to the Wednesday at the Square, a free summer concert series featuring the top names in local acts. The Square is also home to a fall blues music festival.

A Streetcar Named New Orleans

Getting around New Orleans by streetcar is a great way to see the city. There are three different lines: St. Charles, Canal Street, and the Riverfront, each of which originates downtown but takes you different parts of the city.  Streetcars in New Orleans offer $1.25 fares and can be paid with exact change when you board. One, three, and 31-day unlimited ride “Jazzy Passes” are also available for $3, $9 and $55 respectively. See the Regional Transit Authority (RTA)'s website for a list of places to purchase these. You can also download the RTA gomobile app and pay your fare instantly from your phone.



Bourbon Street - It's in the name, there will be plenty of libations. Just steps away from the host hotel, this is not an area that I would take the children, but it can be really fun at night!  In one of the oldest cities in America, Bourbon Street is rich with historic venues, social tales and iconic buildings. The street dates back to 1718, when New Orleans was founded by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. French engineer Adrien de Pauger laid out the streets of New Orleans in 1721 and chose one to carry the name of the French royal family ruling at the time, Rue Bourbon. This monumental street is in the heart of the French Quarter extending 13 blocks from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue before meandering through the Marigny neighborhood. 

You'll find lots of live music on Bourbon Street. Many, many, many clubs offer good music, but if this your first time to New Orleans, you must see a set at Preservation Hall. New Orleans’ Preservation Hall was established in 1961 to honor one of America’s truest art forms – Traditional New Orleans Jazz. Operating as a music venue, a touring band, and a non-profit organization, Preservation Hall continues its mission today as a cornerstone of New Orleans music and culture. Situated in the heart of the French Quarter on St. Peter Street, the Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year featuring ensembles from a current collective of 100+ local master practitioners. On any given night, audiences bear joyful witness to the evolution of this venerable and living tradition.

There are a lot of New Orleans iconic bars on Bourbon Street. If actor Channing Tatum were to open up a bar in New Orleans - oh, no, wait! Channing Tatum DID open a bar in New Orleans. Go to Saints and Sinners to check it out. The Cat's Meow should be on your list if you have enough bourbon in you to sing karaoke. Dating back to 1806, the Old Absinthe House is an old Bourbon Street favorite. Oscar Wilde, P.T. Barnum, Mark Twain, General Robert E. Lee, Franklin Roosevelt, and somewhat more recently Liza Minnelli.  Pat O'Brien's can rock you like the hurricane drink that they are famous for. The famous Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Monteleone is a long-time favorite New Orleans hotspot. One quick visit there will not only have your head spinning, this classic New Orleans hotel bar is the city’s only revolving bar.

Pop into Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo to have a psychic reading or to pick up a fun trinket for someone back home. 

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