August 3, 2021

5 Fun Things To Do Around New Orleans

Did someone say something about fun things to do around New Orleans? My hometown?! Playing tourist is something that I grew up doing. From riding the St. Charles Streetcar to perusing the French Quarter Flea Market, my love for exciting activities in my city has not waned as I have become an adult. Discovering new (but mostly fun) things that are close enough to do in half a day or a day is what I found I like best. New Orleans itself has a tremendous amount of activities within the city, but if you’re looking for something to add to your repertoire (and this goes for locals, too) here are the top things I recommend:

Kayaking with Honey Island Kayak Tours

1. Visit the Dreamy Swamps

  • Honey Island Kayak Tours is one that I discovered from my favorite New Orleans podcast, Beyond Bourbon Street. Jessica, tour guide extraordinaire, takes you through what she calls her “backyard” and shows you tupelo and cypress trees that will knock your socks off. I did this right before winter and knew that I would be going back during the springtime, mostly because she said that’s when the snakes are in full bloom. It was a great way to be one with the swamp that has been there for hundreds of years. She even lets you go off on your own for a little bit. It’s a magical and almost haunting experience.
  • Jean Lafitte National Park has been my go-to since I was a kid. It’s a walking swamp experience, so come prepared with the right shoes and some drinking water. My favorite trail is Bayou Coquille. It’s got both dirt paths and boardwalks for optimal animal sightings. Most sunny days you will see alligators sunning and swimming, a snake slithering, birds resting or flying overhead, and squirrels galore. You might even see a swamp bunny - a thrill for this animal lover! It’s one of the places I go back to again and again. For me, this is definitely at the top of the list of fun things to do around New Orleans.
  • Cajun Encounters is another great swamp tour through the Honey Island Swamp. The reason I like them is because they use the flat boats through the swamp. Air boats can be damaging to the fauna of the area, so I prefer the flat boats. They will either do hotel pickups or you can travel to meet them at their docking location, which is about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. This is great for both kids and adults, and the guides offer a lot of knowledge throughout the tours. They feed alligators marshmallows so you will normally get an up-close-and-personal view of the gators. They will not jump in the boat and eat you, so don’t fret about that.
Bed at The Myrtles Plantation

2. Educate Yourself at a Plantation Home

  • Whitney Plantation is a New Orleanian favorite because they focus on slavery, the slaves themselves, and the education around how slavery came to be, specifically in Louisiana and at Whitney. You will see the slave buildings as well as the old owner’s house. This is a tour that will assist in understanding slavery at a much deeper level than other plantation home tours. For that, I highly recommend this particular plantation tour.
  • Oak Alley. This is the quintessential plantation home that so many think of when they think of Louisiana plantations. It is a stunning structure, and one that will help you understand about many facets of plantation life. There is a sugarcane exhibit, a slave exhibit, a tour of the “big house” and a blacksmith shop. They emphasize the importance of slavery in the building and everyday functioning of the plantation. You will have dozens of opportunities for pictures, and it truly is a stunning property. Guests can also stay on the property as well as dine.
  • The Myrtles Plantation is either a full day trip or an overnight stay. It’s located about an hour and a half from New Orleans in St. Francisville, but it’s worth the hike. It’s dubbed as one of, if not the, most haunted houses in Louisiana. Make sure you eat at the delicious restaurant, too. If you’re really brave, book a night there and see if you get the full haunted experience. Don’t be so scared. Everyone that has slept there has come out alive. Mwahahahah!

Flying Over New Orleans in a Helicopter

3. Get Some Perspective

  • HeliCo does a few different helicopter tours around New Orleans. I did the 15 mile one and realized after landing that it just wasn’t enough - I needed to go back and do a longer one. The Lakefront Airport is easy to get to from the city. The folks at the tour company walk you through the process before boarding the helicopter, and that puts everyone at ease. The ride is smooth and enjoyable, and the pilot gives some factual information about the areas he flies over. It’s a fun way to see the city from a very different perspective.
  • Although a very short and quick ride, the Algiers Ferry is such a fun way to see New Orleans as a backdrop against the Mississippi River. Going and coming back, you get to see the Crescent City in all her glory. While you’re over on Algiers Point, eat some breakfast at Tout de Suite. Discovering this place was a treat and can’t stop thinking about the delectable dishes they serve. I am an eggs and breakfast potatoes kind of gal, but I take no shame in eating off of my company’s plates if they get something that looks divine.
  • Take the streetcar! There is no better way to see St. Charles Avenue than to hop on the streetcar and take the line all the way up and down. Even locals do it from time to time because driving the avenue just isn't the same. When you see the Roman Candy Man, JUMP OFF AND GET SOME. It is the best treat, and I particularly recommend the strawberry flavor.

New Orleans Cemetery

4. Take a Walk. Either with a Tour or Self-Guided

  • Two Chicks Walking Tours is a fantastic company that does really fun tours around the city. They have even incorporated virtual tours since so many people couldn’t make it to New Orleans in 2020. I did their New Orleans Brothel History Tour with two girlfriends and we had a blast. Not that into past hussies? Try a Garden District tour. Most people can’t get enough of the gorgeous houses there. These folks are knowledgeable and entertaining, and they get their facts straight. Even as a local know-it-all (kidding!), I learned a lot.
  • Walk through one of my favorite spots in all of New Orleans: City Park. But specifically, the Sculpture Garden. Since the expansion of it, it has become a local and visitor-of-New Orleans favorite. I often wander around there with no real agenda, only to get some peace and serenity, and to look at some pretty radical sculptures. My favorites are the giant safety pin and the giant spider. It’s like being in Honey, I Shrunk the Kids! Afterwards, go grab yourself a beignet and cafe au lait at Morning Call. You’ll have to drive over, but it’s not far and the beignets are perfect every batch.
  • Our cemeteries are to.die.for. Get it? Seriously, though, they are phenomenal. My favorite to stroll is Lake Lawn Metairie. It’s near the end of the Canal (red) Streetcar line, and it’s almost like strolling through a quiet, very quiet, park. With a lot of tombs. You can pick any of the more “famous” cemeteries, but for a more personal and private experience, this is my choice. And don't forget your non-flip flops. Any of these shoes will suffice!

The Sazerac House

5. Drinks, Please!

  • The Sazerac House has a plethora of complementary and paid events that they host. If you want to dip your toe in to see if you like what they offer, do the complementary tour that lasts about 90 minutes and get some tastings along the way. Some of the paid ones are really cool, though. They have cheese pairings, gin drink-making workshops, and whiskey education. Obviously this is 21+ years of age, so plan accordingly if you want to do this on your trip and have younger ones. Beware: I came away with $100 of booze and bitters after my “free” tour. You might, too.
  • Visit the Deutches Haus on Bayou St. John for a cold German beer. Don’t like German beer? Weirdo. They also have Bud Light and such. It’s definitely one of my favorite places to enjoy a delicious brew and eat my heart out on warm pretzels and beer cheese. You can absolutely ride your bike there from many neighborhoods in New Orleans. Maybe even kayak over. Don’t ask me how to tie it up. I’m just throwing out suggestions. It’s not far from the Lafitte Greenway, and its location is pretty central. Now I want to leave this blog and go there. Next blog, I’ll be coming live from this location. Oh, and it’s dog friends. Woof!
  • For amazing craft cocktails and a speakeasy feel, I love going to Jewel of the South in the French Quarter. You can sit inside or outside to enjoy your libations, and they have nibbles for you as well. Prefer wine? Me too. Hit Effervescence, which isn't too far from there. It's a cozy space that makes you feel like you could spend the entire day, or night, snug in one of their lounge chairs.

These are only a few of my suggestions in and around New Orleans. You see all the obvious ones from other people, other bloggers, maybe even tourists who think they know. I’ve lived here most of my life and love sharing my city with people who love to come here. Even some locals don’t experience some of this awesomeness. I just happen to love exploring, even and especially my own city. If you follow any of these suggestions because I suggested it, let me know! I want to hear how much you enjoy New Orleans so we can share in it. New Orleans is a special place, so drink it up, eat it up, and laissez les bon temps rouler.
Share The Article
Subscribe To My
Newsletter List
Get 15% off of your first order, and valuable lifestyle content that will change your life for the better.
Stay Updated
Give it a try, you can unsubscribe anytime.