How do you define a New Orleanian? The time they’ve spent in the city or the experiences they’ve had while they are there? It’s hard to say, but here we’ve created a list of all the things anyone who wants to claim New Orleans as their home should try before they die. Without these, some may question your New Orleans cred. These are some of the best things to do in New Orleans. See how many you’ve done!
1) Have Beignets at Café Du Monde
The iconic Cafe Du Monde, just upriver from Jackson Square on the Mississippi River waterfront, is much more than just a tourist trap. A 24 hour cafe, the
2) Share a Beer With Friends At the Lakefront
Drive down Wisner until you reach Lakeshore Dr. and spend a day at the shores of Lake Pontchartrain. The Causeway Bridge will stretch out in front of you for 27 miles as sailboats, jetskis and fishermen relax by the shores. It's one of the best places to watch the sunset in New Orleans.
3) Eat Charbroiled Oysters from Drago’s
While charbroiled oysters are now available throughout New Orleans, it's Drago's that originated the dish. They simply make the best oysters in New Orleans. Try the downtown location, in the Hilton New Orleans Riverside at 2 Poydras Street or their original Metairie spot, 3232 N Arnoult Road.
4) See Rebirth Brass Band Play at Maple Leaf Bar
Yes, there is a reason that the Rebirth Brass Band is widely considered the best brass band in New Orleans. Plan for a late night during the week--it's Tuesdays that the Rebirth Brass Band makes Maple Leaf Bar, 8316 Oak Street, their home. Hang out between sets in their cozy outdoor patio as you rest your legs--because you want to be ready to dance as soon as Rebirth turns the music back on.
5) Buy a Lucky Dog on Bourbon Street
In order to truly savor what Lucky Dog has to offer, it's probably a good idea to have a few drinks first. There's just something amazing about the classic dog paired with a few beers and of course the incredible characters who man these booths.
6) See the Sunset at the Fly
This one has a clock on it so you might want to savor it while you still can---Carrollton Boosters is proposing a new sports complex that will reduce public areas in the park. But the ingredients of a great day at the fly are still there--green grass, the MIssissippi River, and all of your favorite people.
7) Stay Up All Night on Lundi Gras and Make it Past Noon on Mardi Gras
To really earn your Mardi Gras stripes, it's important to spend at least one year refraining from sleep those last few days. Try camping out on St. Charles Ave. or dancing the night away at one of the shows (Quintron at One Eyed Jacks or Galactic at Tipitina's comes to mind...). Either way, make sure you do what you need to do to make it through 12 noon on Mardi Gras Day.
13) Go to Free Fridays at Tipitina’s in the Summer
As the weather gets hotter, the steady river of tourists dies down and the opportunities to catch free live music multiply. The amazing line up that Tipitina’s, 501 Tchoupitoulas, offers Fridays in the summer is a concert series that is absolutely worth the crowds.
9) Stand In Line for a Hansen’s Snowball
While in general I would reccommend never standing in line as a New Orleanian, Hansen's,
10) Drink a Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle on Bourbon Street
Ah, the hand grenade. What do they put inside of it? How do they make it both fairly drinkable and capable of rendering you instantly and profoundly intoxicated? No one knows exactly how Tropical Isle, 600 Bourbon Street does it, and even though this drink is the definition of a tourist trap, any legitimate New Orleanian has to have this initiatory experience at least once.
11) Take a Hike in Jean Lafitte National Park
While the refrain of, “there’s no good hiking in New Orleans” can be heard repeatedly by newcomers to the city, the reality is, Jean Lafitte National Park, 6588 Barataria Boulevard, Marrero, is a short drive outside of the city and offers some incredible walks and hikes. You will see alligators, watch the Louisiana irises bloom, and just general soak up the incredible and luscious swamplands we call home.
12) Visit Christmas in the Oaks in City Park
Christmas in the Oaks, while it has never been restored to quite the scale it was before Katrina, is still an iconic New Orleans experience found in City Park. The lights allow attendees the opportunity to soak in the largest collection of Live Oak trees in the country decorated by a beautiful light display. Plan an outing with the whole family or just bring the one you love as you stroll along the paths and soak in all the park has to offer.
8) Have a Hot Sausage Po-Boy from Gene’s
To be sure a more extensive exploration of where to get the best po-boys in New Orleans is on its way on this blog,, but Gene's, 1040 Elysian Fields offers something special in its combination of atmosphere and delicious food. The hot sausage po-boy in particular is an often overlooked masterpiece of New Orleans cuisine.
14) Spend a Night Bar-Hopping on Frenchmen Street
While many bemoan the loss of what Frenchmen Street used to be before tourists ‘discovered’ it as the place to let a night unfold, as a New Orleanian, you can still enjoy it for what it is now. There’s still something magical about the street and even on an off night the sheer number of amazing musical performances you can catch within 4 hours is astounding. The more recent addition of an art market makes it even more enticing.
15) Walk Around Metairie Cemetery
There are quite a few New Orleans cemeteries that are well worth a visit but Metairie Cemetery, at the junction of I-10 and Metairie Road, in particular showcases the history of this amazing city and the unique style New Orleanians have always brought to all aspects of their life—including their tombs.
16) Get Your Palm Read in Jackson Square
While a reading from one of the palm readers in Jackson Square may not answer the exact question that was on your mind, you can guarantee you’ll receive some nugget of wisdom that will guide your way…towards something. Regardless, it’s a New Orleans experience worth having.
17) Relax Under the Tree of Life
When the stresses of living in New Orleans have got me stuck in the rut, it’s the amazing trees that call this place their home that always give me the sustenance I need to keep going. The Tree of Life, found at the end of Zoo drive on the Riverside of Audubon Park is of course one of the most beautiful and powerful of all these trees, and a quick nap under its branches is sure to charge your batteries for days to come.
18) Take A Walk Under the Crescent City Connection
There’s something truly special about the view between these two bridges, connecting the East Bank with the Westbank and offering an amazing perspective on the city.
19) Get a Zulu Coconut
To truly call yourself a New Orleanian, you need to capture that elusive prize—the Zulu coconut. To achieve this, having a plan is key—and being ready to wake up pretty damn early is essential. Costumes, signs, and just plain persistence can help—but it’s that stroke of luck that turns a casual inhabitant of this city into a full blown New Orleanian in an instant.
How many of these have you done? What do you think are the best things to do in New Orleans? What did we miss? What things do you think people in New Orleans should do before they die? Let us know your thoughts! We love to hear from you here at Only in New Orleans!