New Orleans For first-time visitors

Our most recommended New Orleans For first-time visitors

From New Orleans: Whitney Plantation Ticket & Transportation

1. 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: Mardi Gras World Behind-the-Scenes Tour

2. 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: Ghosts, Vampires, & Voodoo French Quarter Tour

3. 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: Oak Alley Plantation & Swamp Cruise Day Trip

4. 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.

New Orleans: The National WWII Museum Ticket

5. 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.

French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour

6. French Quarter Walking and Storytelling Tour

Take a walking and storytelling tour through New Orleans' famous French Quarter. See famous landmarks and learn about local history as you make your way from the jazz fountain to Jackson Square, hearing fascinating stories along the way. The night before the tour, your guide will send an email with their photo, contact information, and directions to the meeting spot. The tour begins at the jazz fountain at the intersection of Decatur and Dumaine Streets in the historic French Market district. These are small-group tours, making for a more comfortable, customized experience.  After a brief overview of New Orleans history, your guide will lead you around the oldest neighborhood in the city, and point out the locations that have made New Orleans famous: St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square, and the Mississippi River - and lesser-known treasures such as the French Market, an almost 300 year old convent, and courtyards hidden behind the 18th and 19th century buildings. Your guide will also be an enthusiastic storyteller, and the stories about this neighborhood are like no other. Established as a French colonial outpost in 1718, its earliest inhabitants were the quirky, gritty, fascinating types who are still attracted to it today. Every block has a story which will be shared with you. The tour concludes in or next to Jackson Square, but it is by no means over. Your guide is full of recommendations for enjoying the neighborhood and the city further. When you finish the French Quarter tour, you will be energized to go out and explore this jewel of a neighborhood even further, and the knowledge you gained walking with your guide will only deepen your understanding of New Orleans, and  stay with you long after you have left its quaint streets and alleys.

New Orleans: Bayou Tour in Jean Lafitte National Park

7. 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 or at one of the 8 pickup locations in New Orleans (if transportation option is selected), and travel to the swamp. Tours pick up daily from convenient hotels at 8:30 AM, 10:30 AM, and 12:30 PM. You’ll be taken on a 1.5-hour 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 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 or pickup location you have selected.

New Orleans: Haunted French Quarter Carriage Tour at Night

8. 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.

New Orleans: Cemetery Tour

9. New Orleans: Cemetery Tour

This 2-hour walking tour takes you inside the walls of New Orleans’ oldest and most interesting burial grounds. In the company of a local guide, you’ll explore the ancient maze of above-ground tombs and learn about fascinating local burial practices. After meeting your guide at the Morning Call Coffee Shop, you’ll walk to the cemetery to explore curiosities and hear tales of some of the city’s personalities. You’ll see the final resting place of many of New Orleans’ most notable celebrities. On this tour that’s been recommended by the Travel Channel, A&E, and the History Channel, you’ll learn the history of voodoo and its connection to the French Quarter on a journey back through time.

New Orleans: High Speed 16 Passenger Airboat Ride

10. 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.

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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!