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Things to Do in New Orleans: Before or After Your Cruise

While the cruise from New Orleans to the Caribbean or Mexico is the highlight of your vacation, you might also want to extend your stay in port before or after. This gives you time to take in shopping, dining and sightseeing that can be found only in New Orleans. This beautiful city offers sights, sounds and tastes delivered with Big Easy style.

visitors and locals in the streets of the french quarter in new orleans

Shopping in New Orleans

If you love to shop, head for the French Market in the French Quarter. This shopping district describes itself as “covering six blocks of shopping and three centuries of history,” so you know you’ll be in shopping heaven. Along with stores carrying unique gifts and other treasures, you’ll find:

  • The Farmers Market hosts daily sellers in the Pavilion plus two weekly markets: Wednesday’s Crescent City Farmers Market for local farmers and Saturday’s Artisan Market for local food, art and crafts.
  • The Flea Market offers items from all over the world, including art, jewelry, crafts and antiques.
  • Jackson Square showcases works of art by the Jackson Square Artist Community.

world famous french market in new orleans

If the French Market doesn’t satisfy your appetite for shopping, check out these other great shopping areas:

  • Close to the French Quarter, Royal Street specializes in art galleries and antique shops alongside an eclectic mix of upscale and thrift stores.
  • Magazine Street stretches from the Central Business District through the Garden District to Uptown, and the area exudes small-town charm. Visit the many shops and restaurants here, especially at the intersection of Magazine and Felicity, and the intersection of Washington and Jefferson.

Dining in New Orleans

Everyone in New Orleans takes food seriously. It is, after all, home to several world-famous chefs. The Crescent City is renowned for its signature dishes that have grown out of its Creole, Cajun and French roots. Sample the gumbo, jambalaya, andouille, crawfish étouffée or po’boys; there are over 1,000 restaurants of all types and sizes from which to choose. Be sure not to skip dessert; this is your chance to try the bread pudding, beignets or Creole pralines.

crawfish boil with potatoes and corn in new orleans

Sightseeing in New Orleans

New Orleans is unique in America because of its history and culture. It was founded in the 1700s and inhabited by French, Spanish and African settlers, among others. All these cultures mixed and blended into the New Orleans that exists today.

The French Quarter

This area is New Orleans’ oldest neighborhood — established by the French in 1718 — it captures what is so unique about New Orleans. Marvel at the intricate ironwork balconies, beautifully-sculpted fountains and historic buildings such as the St. Louis Cathedral and the Presbytère. The Cabildo, a former city hall which houses the Louisiana State Museums, and the Pontalba Apartments, the oldest apartment buildings in America, are also here.

night time on bourbon street full with people

The French Quarter is where you’ll find what makes the Big Easy most famous — its music. Listen to live jazz on Bourbon Street, or travel to the latest live-music hot spots on Frenchmen Street in the nearby neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny to see local and visiting jazz bands and performers. On a Saturday night, Frenchmen Street is alive with buskers showing off their talents for your entertainment.


If you only have a short time to fit in all you want to see and do in The Crescent City, take a tour so you don’t miss the best of the best. These are just two to consider:

  • Ghost Tour: If you love spooky, paranormal phenomena, New Orleans is right up your alley. Known as the most haunted city in America, New Orleans celebrates its ghostly reputation by offering guided tours of its haunted streets and cemeteries. Don’t miss the grave of the Queen of Voodoo, Marie Laveau, in St. Louis Cemetery #1.
  • Garden District: Take a leisurely streetcar ride from downtown via St. Charles Avenue. Wind your way slowly through this historic residential district with its 19th-century mansions among the live oaks. Look for architecture unique to New Orleans, such as the American townhouse, raised center-hall cottage, shotgun house and double-gallery house. If you’re not sure what these are, take an architectural walking tour and find out.


The streetcars don’t just run on St. Charles Avenue. You can travel the riverfront to the Quarter’s French Market or journey along Canal Street to the Metairie Cemetery. These classic cars move slowly, so you don’t miss a thing.

an iconic red streetcar in new orleans


If you’re lucky enough to be in New Orleans during one of its festivals, take advantage! Whether it’s during the weeks of carnival season leading up to Mardi Gras or one of the smaller music festivals, New Orleans knows how to celebrate. Or, consider attending a jazz fest in April at the French Quarter, which hosts a who’s who of music legends.

new orleans skyline at dusk

Food lovers should make time to attend one of the dozen food festivals, such as the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival in November. Or drop into Soul Fest in March; it’s the perfect combination of African American food, music and culture.

Whether this is your first trip to New Orleans or it’s a city you love to revisit, take advantage of the time before and after your Carnival cruise from New Orleans to sample all this port of call has to offer.