New Orleans For first-time visitors

Our most recommended New Orleans For first-time visitors

New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

1. New Orleans: Evening Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Journey back in time aboard the newly renovated Riverboat City of New Orleans. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the New Orleans atmosphere as the smooth jazz of the Dukes Trio fills your ears on this two-hour cruise on the mighty Mississippi, enjoying craft cocktails, and the sites. Depart from the heart of the French Quarter and experience breathtaking views of New Orleans as the city skyline slips away. Seating is available indoors and on the outdoor decks for the very best views of the Mississippi River and New Orleans. Make sure you check out all four decks as the top deck view is a sight to see.  Choose the dinner buffet option for a dinner menu including: Tossed salad, chicken and sausage gumbo, baked chicken with a mushroom ragout, Bayou seafood pasta, Creole vegetarian jambalaya, herb-garlic fingerling potatoes, pasta primavera, green beans, white chocolate bread pudding, Bananas Foster dessert, and garlic rolls. 

New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

2. New Orleans: Day Jazz Cruise on the Steamboat Natchez

Savor the beauty and romance of New Orleans on a cruise aboard the Sternwheeler Steamboat Natchez, the only authentic steamboat in New Orleans. Cruise along the Mississippi River, listen to live jazz music, and enjoy an optional lunch of local fare. Your cruise from the heart of the French Quarter and takes you back to a time when life was as slow and graceful as the current on the Mississippi. Set out to see New Orleans from the Mississippi River, one of the world's most active ports. While on board, visit the museum-quality engine room to learn how steam powers this magnificent boat through the "Mighty Mississippi." Add an optional Creole lunch to your cruise, prepared fresh on board and served with your choice of coffee and iced tea. Savor the tastes of New Orleans before docking back where you started the tour. Sample Menu Lunch (subject to season and availability) • Southern fried fish• Red beans and rice• Jambalaya• Salad du jour

New Orleans: Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

3. New Orleans: Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

Discover Mardi Gras magic on a self-guided tour of Mardi Gras World, where artists and craftsmen have designed and built the oldest and biggest parade floats and attractions for each Mardi Gras season in New Orleans since 1947. Begin your tour by receiving your ticket in form of a bead necklace and watch a film which gives an overview of the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and the role Mardi Gras World plays in it to this day. Then, enjoy a slice of the traditional Mardi Gras cake, King Cake, before your self-guided tour leads you through the float den. Explore where Mardi Gras World artists work year-round to build spectacular, one-of-a-kind floats and props, with over 500 floats built and decorated each year. See how the various themed elements are created from scratch or are adapted from elements created for previous themes — from sculpting the elements, to finishing and painting them. There is even an electronic robot that can carve 3-D sculptures. Take photos with some of the finished pieces from various themes over the years, then tour the floats themselves. Get up closer to the floats than is possible during Mardi Gras parades, and find out how these amazing pieces come to life each year. See floats in various stages of completion as they prepare for the upcoming Mardi Gras as much as a whole year before. At the end of the tour, stay and take more pictures with any of the floats if you like. For your convenience, a complimentary shuttle service is provided from stops in Downtown; just call the number provided on your voucher for your nearest stop and to arrange pickup.

New Orleans: The National WWII Museum Ticket

4. New Orleans: The National WWII Museum Ticket

Designated by Congress as the official WWII museum of the United States, the National WWII Museum is located in downtown New Orleans, where 5 soaring pavilions house historical exhibits, on-site restoration work, a period dinner theater, and restaurants. Purchase your timed tickets in advance to secure your desired entry or movie time. Housed in 5 buildings, the museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world – why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today. The Louisiana Memorial Pavilion features the “D-Day Invasion of Normandy” exhibit and an exhibit telling the story of the war experienced on the Home Front.  The "Campaigns of Courage" area features the “Road to Tokyo” exhibit, which retraces the grueling trail from Pearl Harbor to Tokyo. It also houses the “Road to Berlin” exhibit, recreating actual battle settings and villages as America campaigned to defeat the Axis powers. A two-hour guided tour of these two exhibits, led by an expert docent, is also available to book as an option. The U.S. Freedom Pavilion features actual WW2 airplanes restored to their wartime glory, including the B-17E Flying Fortress, as well as wartime tanks and trucks. Liberation Pavilion, which opens in 2022, will explore the closing months of the war and immediate postwar years, concluding with an explanation of links to our lives today.  In the Solomon Victory Theatre, you will be able to see, hear and feel the epic story of World War II in the exclusive 4D experience “Beyond All Boundaries”, narrated by Tom Hanks. This movie experience requires the purchase of the option which includes the 4-D film.

New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

5. New Orleans: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

Experience 2 typical Louisiana features—plantation homes and bayous—on a guided day trip from New Orleans with hotel pickup. Tour Oak Alley Plantation, with entry tickets, included, and look out for wildlife on a boat trip through the swamplands. Start with a pickup from your French Quarter hotel. Head out of New Orleans and travel to Oak Alley Plantation, one of the best-known in the area. Built in 1837-39, the plantation is famous for its alley of 28 evenly spaced live oak trees. Take a guided tour of the historical plantation and gain an educational insight into the times of slavery. Afterward, enjoy a fully narrated boat tour of the swamps. Keep a lookout for alligators, turtles, water birds, and other local wildlife. Listen as your captain tells stories of local Cajun and Creole history, and the people who live in the Bayou area. Finish your tour with the return journey to New Orleans, where you’ll be dropped off at your French Quarter hotel.

From New Orleans: Whitney Plantation Ticket & Transportation

6. From New Orleans: Whitney Plantation Ticket & Transportation

Step back in time as you visit the Whitney Plantation on this bus day trip from New Orleans. Gain a unique perspective on the enslaved people who lived and worked here through museum exhibits, memorial artwork, restored buildings, and hundreds of first-person slave narratives. In 2014, Whitney Plantation opened its doors to the public for the first time in its 262-year history, as the only plantation museum in Louisiana with a focus on slavery.  The early owners of Habitation Haydel, later known as the Whitney Plantation, became wealthy producing indigo before the plantation transitioned to sugar in the early 1800s.  Whitney is also significant because of the number of historic outbuildings which were added to the site over the years, thus providing a unique perspective on the evolution of the Louisiana working plantation. The Big House is one of the finest surviving examples of Spanish Creole architecture and one of the earliest raised Creole cottages in Louisiana.  The Whitney Plantation Historic District is on the National Register of Historic Places. As a site of memory and consciousness, this site pays homage to the slaves on the plantation itself and to all of those who lived elsewhere in the United States.

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

7. New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

Embark on a high-speed adventure through the swamps and marshes just 35 minutes from New Orleans and experience the amazing scenery by airboat. Slow down or stop to take pictures and get a personal tour from your local captain. Avail of airboats with stadium-style seating so that the person in front does not obstruct your view. Be amazed as alligators come so close to the boat that you can stare into their reptilian eyes! Encounter magnificent birdlife, including bald eagles, pelicans, ospreys and owls. Every tour is unique and you never know what will be around the next corner! Reach speeds of up to 35 miles per hour, propelled by a huge fan that blows air from the back of the boat in excess of 200 miles per hour. Ride in shallow water and access areas where traditional boats cannot go.

New Orleans: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

8. New Orleans: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

Listen to stories of witchcraft and keep watch for spirits on a guided city walking tour of New Orleans. Explore the historical French Quarter, as you indulge in stories of magic, ghosts, vampires, and voodoo practitioners from your expert guide. Travel to several of the city's venerated neighborhoods, soaking up stories about the witches, ghosts, vampires, and Voodoo practitioners who have contributed to the city's colorful past. Meet your local guide and set off on a journey through New Orleans’ haunted history. Pass outside well-known sites such as Muriel’s Restaurant and the Old Ursuline Convent. See the exterior of the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, where bloodletting and leeching took place in the 19th century. From the outside, see the house where Jacques Saint Germain — who was rumored to be a vampire — once lived. Plus, hear chilling tales of LaLaurie House and its mistress, Madame LaLaurie. Let your guide entertain you with local folklore as you continue past the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The final stop of your activity is outside Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar, where your spooky experience will end.

New Orleans: Bayou Tour in Jean Lafitte National Park

9. New Orleans: Bayou Tour in Jean Lafitte National Park

Bring your cameras and adventurous spirits as you explore the Barataria Preserve of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve. Meet your guide at the meeting point and go to the swamp. Embark on a pontoon boat ride around the waters of the area. Get the chance to spot alligators, local wildlife, and two other friendly creatures, Sunshine the Pig and Patrick the Possum.  Listen to stories and legends told by your informative local guide. Following the tour, enjoy a delicious Cajun lunch (not included) at a local eatery down the street, the perfect way to refuel. After lunch, you’ll be driven back to New Orleans and dropped off at the original meeting point.

New Orleans: Haunted French Quarter Carriage Tour at Night

10. New Orleans: Haunted French Quarter Carriage Tour at Night

Explore the iconic French Quarter of New Orleans on a carriage tour at night and get introduced to the ghostly lore and legends. Pass by Bourbon Street, Napoleon House, and more while listening to true stories of ghosts, voodoo, and vampires from your guide. With so much paranormal activity happening in the city, the best way to tour these haunted locations is by carriage ride at night. Historical stories of love and tragedy come to life as the professional tour guides explain the legends and lore, in addition to historical narration detailing all major landmarks throughout the French Quarter. On the haunted tour, expect Voodoo galore, and learn about how Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen, applied her magical powers to shift the course of love, luck, and law in New Orleans. Learn about the bevy of haunted restaurants, like Muriel’s, where numerous seances have been held over the years. Witness the site of a 19th-century massacre, said to still hold ghosts of the tragedy.  You may even discover that your hotel is haunted, as the carriage ride rolls past all of the most haunted hotels in the French Quarter. Group carriage tours travel at a leisurely pace and with small groups exceeding no more than 8 passengers per carriage. For a more exclusive experience, you can reserve a private carriage that holds 1 to 4 passengers.

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Frequently asked questions about New Orleans

What top attractions are a must-see in New Orleans?

The must-see attractions in New Orleans are:

What are the best day trips and excursions from New Orleans?

The best day trips and excursions from New Orleans are:

Mississippi River

Other Sightseeing Options in New Orleans

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What people are saying about New Orleans

Great tour, it was rainy the day we went but that made the experience a little extra spooky! This tour is more about history of cemeteries than the people in them, not that it’s a bad thing, the guide was very knowledgeable about the cemeteries and history of New Orleans, I learned a TON of cool stuff. I’ll never look at pizza the same.

Libby was so knowledgeable and an awesome storyteller! She was very accommodating to the wheelchair in our group. Anyone can tell that Libby loves her City and is very passionate about it. Thanks for a great tour, Libby!

Definitely so worth it, captain Matt was amazing and educated us on the bayou along with the canals, got us super close to the gators which was such a cool experience! The tour was definitely better than we expected!

Lots of walking but you need it to walk off all the wonderful food you eat! History of New Orleans and food history as well

rain or shine is true and it was a blast. Our driver was very knowledgeable on the bayou. such a great experience!