Best Things to Do in New Orleans Besides Eating and Drinking

February 5, 2019 0 0

Surprise: The best things to see and do in New Orleans don’t always have to involve eating or drinking – although one of the food capitals of the United States and a great place to throw a party, there’s no shortage of activities and adventures to be had in town. Want to catch live jazz or go shopping for vinyl records? Hit a farmer’s market or browse crafts by local vendors? Tour a cemetery or visit some of the country’s most famed historical sites? You can do it all on-site – here’s a handy guide to many of the best things to see and do in New Orleans that don’t involve chowing down or getting challenged to ride a mechanical bull.

Name Location Description
New Orleans Museum of Art 1 Collins Diboll Cir The Museum of Art is situated in City Park and is the oldest museum in town. The inside collection focuses primarily on regional artists, but also features a solid catalogue of European art from artists like Renoir, Picasso, Gauguin, Braque, Degas, and Pollock, among others. You’ll also find collections of photography, glass, ceramics, portrait miniatures, Native American and Central American Art. Once you’re done, you can take a peaceful stroll through the Sculpture garden and discover some more pieces. Pro tip: If you purchase a 5-day New Orleans pass, you can gain entrance to the museum for free.
Abita Mystery House 22275 LA-36, Abita Springs Abita Mystery House is like the NOLA version of Ripley’s Believe It Or Not, with thousands of trinkets and kitschy décor on display. It’s located a little outside of the city, but worth the drive if you’re into seeing quirky art pieces, makeshift inventions, or experimental taxidermy. The collection of unique folk art is also unparalleled in the region, and you’ll likely never find another museum that is made up of pure random junk where you can visit for only $3. Once you’re in the area, you can also check out Abita Brewing Company, which is less than a mile away.
Southern Food & Beverage Museum 1504 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd The Southern Food & Beverage museum is a multi-sensory experience that allows visitors to thoroughly immerse themselves in the world of authentic Southern cuisine. There are permanent exhibits like the States of Tastes, which showcases food from each Southern state; Dirty Pages, which offers recipes and stories from the state of Tennessee; and Creative Kitchen, which goes in-depth into the life of entrepreneur Al Copeland. Besides this, there are always temporary exhibits rotating and hands-on events, so make sure to keep up-to-date with the calendar. You can also find the Museum of American Cocktails and the Gallery of Absinthe located inside, both of which give background about the history of alcohol in the South.
Island of Salvation Botanica 2372 St Claude Ave #100 At this point, voodoo has become a brand more than anything else in New Orleans, but there are still certain spots throughout the city where its genuine legacy lives on. Island of Salvation Botanica is one of those spots, operated by Sallie Ann Glassman, a renowned practitioner, and a go-to guide for spiritual guidance. Inside, you’ll find all types of paraphernalia like tarot cards, medicinal herbs, incense and candles, in addition to the obscure artworks that span the walls. Psychic readings are also available, so definitely stop by if you’re looking to cleanse yourself of any negative energy, or if you just want to explore a different side of NOLA.
Euclid Records 3301 Chartres St Euclid Records is a New Orleans gem that’s frequently visited by locals, including legendary WWOZ radio hosts, jazz musicians, and anyone else looking to find great tunes. If you’re a music buff or even collect vinyl records, you’ll find yourself spending hours just shifting through this place’s collection, which varies from jazz to classic rock, pop, indie, R&B, and any genre in-between. If you can’t find something you like, ask one of the workers and they’ll do their best to dig it out for you or even order it from somewhere else. Oh, and there’s als’o the occasional live band to be found performing here, so it really is a music lovers paradise.
French Market 700-1010 Decatur St After a day of exploring the French Quarter you can also take a stroll through the French Market, a 6-block long shopping center offering knickknacks galore, as well as food and drink. There’s definitely plenty to do here besides chowing down though, one of the main attractions being the huge open air flea market with vendors from all over the world selling art, jewelry, antiques, clothing, and other craft items. There’s also a farmer’s market on-site, and other independent shops that sell unique toys, gift baskets, Christmas ornaments, sporting goods, and voodoo paraphernalia.
The Cabildo 701 Chartres S It doesn’t get much more historical than the place where the Louisiana Purchase was signed. After numerous fires and renovations, it’s now a museum based on New Orleans history. The Cabildo traces Spanish influence in the area and ties stories back to historical building in which it’s housed. It’s a side of history that’s rarely considered when it comes to the dominance of French culture in NOLA, but nonetheless still worth considering on a visit to the French Quarter. Afterwards, you can check out nearby landmarks like the St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.
Barataria Preserve Marrero, LA Located within Jean Lafitte National Park, Barataria Preserve is one of the closest places at which you’ll get to spot gators. The area itself is ideal for hiking or strolling, but if you show up around 10AM Wednesday-Saturday, you’ll get a free guided tour by a park ranger. That way, you’ll know ahead of time where to catch a glimpse of some of the beasts and probably learn some fun facts along the way. Just be sure to wear comfortable shoes for your excursion.
Whitney Plantation 5099 Louisiana Hwy 18, Edgard Unlike most plantation tours in the area, the Whitney doesn’t try to sugarcoat Louisiana’s sordid past. Instead of omitting less-than-favorable information, the Whitney created an entire site centered upon the history of the transatlantic slave trade and the Antebellum South. The property itself is vast and offers guided tours, where you can visit Antioch Baptist Church (built by former slaves), slave quarters, and the 1790 Big House, but there’s also an inside museum that gives more in-depth information. There are no self-guided tours though, so make sure to book your tickets in advance.
Preservation Hall 726 St Peter St No list of the best things to see and do in New Orleans would be complete without a mention of Preservation Hall. It’s a New Orleans institution, and the first place you’ll want to hit to catch some live jazz music. Tickets are $20 and first come first serve at the door, with shows happening every hour between 5PM and 10OM. It’s a great activity for all ages, considering the venue doesn’t serve alcohol, and a simple thing to do after spending a day touring the city – be sure to take kids here to get a sampling of the city’s signature personality, and sound.

 

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For more on the best things to see and do in New Orleans, don’t forget to check out:

 

Tags: Culture, Top Ten Guides, Travel Categories: Culture, Top 10 Guides, Travel
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Christina Elia

Assistant editor Christina Elia is currently pursuing her BA in Art History Communications at Fordham University, and writes about various topics ranging from arts and culture to practical tips and how-to advice. She has been published on online platforms such as The Odyssey. You can follow her on Twitter via @stinaelia

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