Looking for the best activities in the New Orleans area? Check out some of our top ideas for a short New Orleans getaway.
Looking for the best things to do in the New Orleans area for a 2 to 3 day trip? We recently visited the New Orleans area for a few days and found sooooo much to do! We can’t wait to go back and cross more activities off of our bucket list. However, if you are short on time, we highly recommend the following activities for a wide variety of experiences in NOLA. P.S. if you are a foodie and want to try out some of the best places to eat in and around New Orleans, check out our blog post here!
A swamp tour was high on our list of things to do while we were in the New Orleans area. We looked at a few different ones, but Cajun Encounters seemed the most legit and offered local pick-up for an additional fee. Since we weren’t familiar with the area, we asked the woman on the phone which pick-up location would be the most convenient to the French Quarter. She said they picked up at the French Quarter Suites and we could wait there. We agreed. Come the day of our tour, we found ourselves in a rough looking area. The French Quarter Suites had boarded up windows and grafitti on the side. It appeared to be closed. We quickly did a search for other pick-up locations within walking distance and found Homewood Suites. We called and asked if we could change our pick-up location and Cajun Encounters graciously agreed.
After walking a few blocks to the Homewood Suites, we were pleased to find ourselves in a much safer area of town in front of a new hotel. We were welcome to wait inside the plush lobby and use their super clean bathrooms, which are tough to find in the French Quarter. Point being, we highly recommend the Homewood Suites as a pick-up place for your tours of the New Orleans area.
We boarded the air-conditioned Cajun Encounters tour bus for our 30 to 45 minute trip out to the swamp. The building where we landed offered clean bathrooms, a gift shop, and snacks and drinks for sale. There are tours offered at various times during the day. We selected the 2:45 departure time. The total for our tour was $124.09 for two people. It was not cheap, but it was one of those bucket list items we were willing to shell out for.
We boarded our boat which was similar to a pontoon with a glass panel between the two sides (due to Covid). During our two hour tour, we saw a total of seven alligators, many raccoons, some birds and snakes, and even some wild pigs! The highlight of the trip was seeing a battle of wits between an alligator and a raccoon both going after the same treat. We also saw the wild pigs come right up to the boat (in truth, there might have been some corn involved). We both agreed this was a highlight of our trip and definitely a top thing to so in the the New Orleans area. They also offer a night tour, which is on our list of things to do during our next NOLA trip.
The History and Haunts Tour by Royal Carriages is an activity not to be missed when in New Orleans! The tours begin at night time, and we selected the earliest tour at 7:00 so we were out of the French Quarter before it got too late. The total for our tour was $106 for two people and they picked us up just in front of Jackson Square. From there, we began our horse-drawn carriage tour of the French Quarter. We saw some amazing architecture that only became more fascinating as the sun went down. In addition, we heard some wild and true haunted tales of buildings in the area, including a haunted home previously owned by Nicholas Cage. If you are into history and ghost tours, be sure to check this tour out.
A plantation tour is a must-do activity when in the New Orleans area. We chose the Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, LA based on a recommendation from a friend (shout-out to Annie if you are reading this!). Tickets were $25 a person for a narrated tour of the “big house” and an informative lecture on the back quarters. Oak Alley got its name from the huge oak trees that line the entrance to the “big house”. The grounds are absolutely beautiful. We recommend grabbing a mint julep from their drink stand and taking a walk around to take it all in. There is also a restaurant, gift shop, and rental cottages on the grounds if you want a serious trip back in time.
In an effort to cram the most experiences into our trip possible, we decided to take a city bus tour offered by Cajun Encounters. The tour was $99 for two people. We each received an $8 discount as it was our second excursion through Cajun Encounters. The bus will pick you up at one of their many offered sites. We once again waited at Homewood Suites as we had a good experience waiting there previously. The tour is 2.5 hours long with a mid-way stop at the Cafe du Monde in the park for a chance to grab donuts and use the restrooms. The tour includes a narrated drive through the French Quarter, Garden District, St. Louis Cemetery, and the 9th ward. We were actually able to get out and walk around the cemetery, which isn’t allowed on many tours at the moment. Our bus driver gave us a great tour and provided a wealth of knowledge about the different areas we toured, including some fascinated tidbits about the cemetery and how the tombs work. (Hint: there’s ALOT more people in there than you think!) We highly recommend this tour if you want to see a lot but are short on time.
If you have an hour to kill and have even a mild curiosity about New Orleans voodoo roots, you may want to check out the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in the French Quarter. The museum is $10 a person and takes about an hour to go through if you read everything. The history of voodoo in the area was interesting to read about and there were a variety of voodoo artifacts. We personally thought the museum was slightly over-priced for how long it took to tour, but it may be worth it if you need a good filler activity.
What did we miss?!?! Feel free to comment below with your favorite NOLA activities!