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New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street – Things to do in The Big Easy Besides Rue de Bourbon

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I went to New Orelans on business about 100 years ago. I made the obligatory trek to Bourbon Street and saw young women flashing their boobies in exchange for shiny plastic beads, watched an elaborate drag show, and rocked out to the acoustic version of “Baby Got Back.” Bourbon Street is good fun, but New Orleans is so much more, as I discovered on a return trip. Here are seven things to do in New Orleans beyond Bourbon Street.

Also? You really haven’t lived your life until you’ve heard the acoustic version of Baby Got Back. Just trust me. 

Jackson Square is a must-do attraction when making your New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street list of things to see and do
New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street – Things to do in The Big Easy Besides Rue de Bourbon

My first trip to Bourbon Street fell into the “cross it off the bucket list” category. I’ve never had a desire for an encore. Unless you’re in the mood to party hearty, Bourbon Street is probably not your happy place.

1. Cemetery Tour

I went on a tour of St. Louis Cemetery Number Three, which is less popular and less crowded than Lafayette Cemetery Number One. Even though Lafayette is more popular, you’re not going to miss anything by opting for St. Louis instead…except maybe crowds.

Put "cemetery tour" on your list of New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street things to do and see
Lots of photo opps at Cemetery Number 3. Gloomy weather not guaranteed.
There are seven public cemeteries in St. Louis and they are free to the public (check hours before you go). I strongly recommend you go with an experienced guide. Learning the hows and whys of above-ground burial was what made the experience so memorable. That, and the gray, drizzly day that made my pictures turn out so perfect
 
 

Put "cemetery tour" on your list of New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street things to do and see
Above ground burial at Cemetery Number 3.

2. Cable Car Through the Garden District

Two words: house envy.

If you like looking at fantastic old houses, a cable car ride through the Garden District is an awesome way to soak things in. Riding the cable car is super easy. You’ll need to find your way to the green line, and ride up and down St. Charles.

If you're looking to experience New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street, the cable cars should be part of your transportation plan
Public transportation in New Orleans is easy to figure out and inexpensive.

Riding the cable car through the Garden District is a great way to relax, get off your feet, and get a sense of this beautiful city. It doesn’t have that “beads and boobs” vibe that Bourbon Street does – at all. 

Don't miss looking at the beautiful homes in the Garden District. There's a lot of New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street
Hello. I live here. (I wish)

3. I ain’t afraid of no ghost

Actually, I kind of am, but I asked the concierge at the hotel I was staying at for recommendations for evening activities. His answer was, “Take the ghost tour.” I took his advice and I’m happy I did.

There are endless opportunities for ghost tours in New Orleans. You can ask for recommendations at your hotel concierge, Google it or just wander around in the French Quarter. You don’t have to find the ghost tours…the ghost tours will find you!

If you're looking to experience New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street, check out a ghost tour
Haunted apartments = higher rent!

I took a group walking tour that gave highlights of “the most haunted places in the French Quarter.” It was fun and informative…a little bit cheesy TBH. I learned lots of non-ghostly factoids about New Orleans.

No two ways about it: there is a creepy vibe to New Orleans. Old buildings, above-ground cemeteries, voodoo culture? Yes. If you’re even just a little brave, have fun and explore the city via a ghost tour.

4. Have a drink on the street just because

I arrived early for my ghost tour. I’m an “arrive early” kind of girl, especially when I don’t know where I am going. I checked in and the tour operator suggested I go next door and get a drink. I’m not a girl you have to tell twice to get a drink. Huzzah!

You can still enjoy delicious drinks when you experience New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street
There’s just something super fun about roaming the streets with a frozen alcoholic drink the size of your head.

5. Visit historic Jackson Square

Jackson Square is the heart of New Orleans. You can’t miss the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, which is the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use within the United States.

Put St Louis Cathedral on your list of New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street things to do and see
Entry into the cathedral is free, although you can give a donation. Also, I got incredibly lucky with this picture since this is typically a very crowded area.
 

The adjacent Ursuline Convent Museum offers an opportunity for more info and self-guided tours for a small fee.

In New Orleans beyond Bourbon Street, we love Jackson Square.
Schedule some time to sit and enjoy the street performers in Jackson Square. I visited in early November and the weather was perfect.

If you wander through Jackson Square, you will find street art, musicians and endless opportunities to people watch. This was my very favorite part of my trip. I sat in the sun and listened to some wonderful jazz. I might or might not have had one of my adult slushies in my hand.

Jackson Square street art in New Orleans is a beyond Bourbon Street experience.
Street art in Jackson Square.

6. Eat beignets

Because if you didn’t, were you really even in New Orleans? Cafe Du Monde seems to be the bucket list place for most people. The original location in the French Quarter has been around since 1862. They’re open 24/7 so, if the urge comes upon you after a night of revelry, beingets and coffee at whatever time you choose. 

I was not a fan. The experience was fun but the beignets were a little overdone and there was too much powdered sugar. Yes, it is possible to have too much powdered sugar. 

Try the beignets - one of our favorite experiences in New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street
Meh.

The atmosphere at Cafe du Monde was fun and lively and it’s a New Orleans bucket list item you shouldn’t miss. But the actual Beignets were meh. If you want better, fresher beignets, go to Morning Call in New Orleans City Park.

There is a lot to experience in New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street. Search for your favorite beignets!
Morning Call offers DIY powdered sugar sprinkling. This is much more my speed.

Important to note that both Café Du Monde and Morning Call only accept cash. If you want to eat beignets, bring your folding money.

7. Eat all the food because YOLO

New Orleans has some amazing food and I wish I’d had days more to experience all the delicious tastes this city has to offer. I walked a lot and saw a lot of restaurants that looked delightfully quirky. I researched a lot online and got recommendations from the locals (always a good idea) on where to eat.

There is a lot to experience in New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street. Try this buttery fish dish!
Lunch at Muriels: Tender, blackened fish served over potatoes swimming in a buttery sauce? I was so tempted to lick the plate.

I opted to eat lunch at the iconic Muriel’s Restaurant. I couldn’t resist the atmosphere and the history (ask to see the ghost table) and the food absolutely did not disappoint.

Include a trip to Muriel's on your New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street list of things to do
Ghost table at Muriel’s.

Eating at Muriel’s was my big splurge and although I have a list of other New Orleans restaurants I want to try, I’d definitely do a repeat meal at Muriel’s. For more info on the story behind the Ghost Table, check this out

There is a lot to experience in New Orleans Beyond Bourbon Street - including the flourless chocolate cake at Muriel's.
Flourless chocolate cake at Muriel’s.

You might think “Bourbon Street” when someone mentions New Orleans. To be sure, the Rue de Bourbon is classic “Big Easy” but this gem of a city has much more to discover. I can’t wait to go back and discover the family friendly NOLA things with my kids.

I think planning a trip back is a true sign of a wonderful trip…don’t you agree?


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5 Comments

  1. I recently visited NOLA for a conference and stayed at The Pontchartrain, the lounge with the Lil Wayne painting was worth checking out. And it’s right in the garden district which I loved!

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