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Five surprisingly fun things to do in New Orleans

Updated: Aug 29, 2022

A view of St. Louis Cathedral with two spires showing and partially covered by an Andrew Jackson statue with palm trees in Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA.  ©AlonzoWright
The oldest cathedral in North America, St. Louis Cathedral sits in Jackson Square in New Orleans, LA. ©AlonzoWright

Looking for some fun activities in New Orleans? Having a good time is practically synonymous with visiting the Big Easy. There is no other city in the United States (and maybe even the world) quite like NOLA, and you’ll feel that the minute you step foot onto the storied streets. From the historic French Quarter to the banks of the Mississippi River and the Garden District, there are some surprisingly fun things to do in New Orleans. After all, the city’s Cajun French mantra is “laissez les bons temps rouler,” or “let the good times roll.” If that’s not a good indicator of what to expect, what is?

**Check out more things to do in the south.

A long row of decaying marble mausoleums decorated with flowers and in the shade of oak trees in Lafayette Cemetery No.1 in the Garden District in New Orleans. ©AlonzoWright
Strolling through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 in the Garden District of New Orleans, Louisiana. ©AlonzoWright

Walk through a historic cemetery

This is where that “surprising” factor comes in. Most people don’t think of cemeteries as fun, but most places aren’t like New Orleans. This city is steeped in more than 300 years of history and the dead are very much part of everyday life for the locals. The cemeteries are stunning landmarks, filled with towering shade trees, elaborate marble statues and above ground mausoleums. The land is too soggy to bury the dead in the ground, so the thousands of mausoleums (which are small walled cities in their own right) stand as sentinels over the deceased. The oldest of the cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, opened in 1798 and is the final resting place for some of the city's most famous (or infamous) residents.

Another piece of that history centers around this being the birthplace of jazz music, so it is sometimes woven into the funeral processions as a jubilant send off for loved ones. A second line, which is essentially a parade of dancing revelers with a brass band in tow, is a regular site for jazz funeral processions entering a cemetery. Where else are you going to find live music in a graveyard? It goes without saying to be respectful, but it's so unique and extremely New Orleans that you can't help but admire the way death becomes a celebration of life. You will be in awe of the history, the size and the character in these cemeteries, which are all a reflection of the vibrant culture for which New Orleans is known.

A view down Bourbon Street in the French Quarter, with a Pa O'Brien's bar sign, an American flag, and double gallery balconies in the background.  ©AlonzoWright
Pat O'Brien's and its infamous Hurricane cocktail are mainstays on Bourbon Street. ©AlonzoWright

Go on a cocktail crawl

Lots of people are willing to debate that cocktails were actually invented in New Orleans. While that detail remains to be set in stone, there is no doubt the city has an affinity for making delicious mixed drinks. So much so, that many historical bars have signature cocktails they’re famous for all over the world. Take for instance, the sweet, red hurricanes you get at Pat O’Brien’s or the frozen purple Voodoo Daiquiri at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. You’ll also see everyone walking around Bourbon Street with a neon green Hand Grenade that you can order at a few walk-up windows.