A little rain doesn’t have to ruin your trip to NOLA. The good news is, there’s lots of fun activities to do in New Orleans that are indoors, from live music and great food to taking a cooking class - there’s always something you can find to do. See below for several picks of what to do in New Orleans when the weather doesn’t go your way! Did I miss a great activity? Let me know in the comments so I can add it to the guide!
Spend the Afternoon at a Museum
New Orleans has many museums to explore all over the city, the most popular being the National World War II Museum. If history isn’t your thing, try art instead over at the New Orleans Museum of Art. Or, if you’re looking for something eclectic, check out the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum in the French Quarter. While it’s small, this quirky and unique museum is an ode to medical oddities of the past and questionable 19th century medical practices. The museum is in a real 19th century apothecary, and admission is only $5, so it’s great for those on a budget. Make sure to plan your visit to attend their daily guided tour, only at 1pm each day, so that you’ll get an in-depth explanation of the “medical instruments” (more like torture devices) and “medicines” (with lead and arsenic in them?) that they have there. It’s well worth it to be there for the guided tour, and it’s included in the price of admission. Please also note that the museum is closed on Sundays and Mondays.
Go Beignet Hunting
Don’t let the bad weather get you down! Stuff your face with delicious local beignets instead. You can’t visit New Orleans and not go to the famous Café du Monde in the French Quarter, so make that a top priority. Then, make your way over to another classic, Café Beignet, and decide for yourself which of the two is better in the battle of the beignets. Still hungry? Go off the beaten track to other lesser-known beignet spots, like The Vintage in the Garden District or LUCA eats. And check out the Ultimate New Orleans Beignet Guide for more beignet-hunting tips!
Experience Mardi Gras Year-Round
Ever wonder just how those extravagant Mardi Gras parade floats were created? Wonder no more! Instead, spend the afternoon touring Mardi Gras World and get a behind-the-scenes look at how the floats are designed and created each season. At first glance this place may sound like a museum, but it’s actually a running workshop! The 300,000 square foot warehouse is where the magic happens and the floats are made every year for the event, so when you visit for a tour, you’ll get the chance to see work-in-progress floats and extravagant Mardi Gras costumes. And a good thing to know when it’s raining - they offer a free shuttle for visitors. Check out their website for more info on how to call the shuttle and where pickup locations are.
Scavenge for Antiques
If you’re an antique aficionado, New Orleans is just the place for you. In a city with such a rich historical past, there’s bound to be good finds if you scavenge the antique shops around the French Quarter and Magazine Street. From 19th century French furniture to skeleton keys to voodoo charms, you don’t know what exotic things you might find. Some great antique shops to trip include Secondline Arts and Antiques on Decatur Street, M.S. Rau Antiques and Royal Antiques on Royal Street, and Magazine Antique Mall on Magazine Street.
Drink a Vieux Carré at the Carousel Bar
No trip to NOLA would be complete without a Vieux Carré cocktail from the fabulous Carousel Bar located inside the historic Hotel Monteleone. The bar features a 25-seat revolving, circus-style merry-go round and was constructed in 1949. This famous place has been frequented by many celebs, including literary giants Truman Capote, Ernest Hemingway, and Tennessee Williams. It can also be seen in several Hollywood movies, the latest being the 2016 film Girls Trip starring Queen Latifah, Regina Hall, Tiffany Hadish, and Jada Pinkett-Smith. The bar is open daily beginning at 11am. Please note though - the bar tends to get very busy, so if you’re looking to get the perfect shot for your Instagram, make sure to get there right when it opens!
Enjoy New Orleans’ Live Music Scene
Another must for any visit to New Orleans is experiencing their live music scene for yourself. Frenchmen Street is the best place to go for a night out featuring authentic local music. Make sure to swing by some of the jazz clubs there, including the Spotted Cat and Snug Harbor. Other music spots around the city that need to be on your radar include the famous Tipitina’s and Preservation Hall. Or, if you’re in New Orleans on a Sunday afternoon, perhaps attend at jazz brunch like the ones at Mr. B’s Bistro, The Court of Two Sisters, Palace Café, Commander’s Palace, SoBou, and more.
Learn to Cook, New Orleans-Style
Calling all foodies! Why not head home with a collection of traditional Creole recipes under your belt? Take in the aroma of simmering Cajun spices as you learn the secrets to preparing crawfish étouffée, seafood gumbo, jambalaya, bananas foster and bread pudding. The New Orleans School of Cooking, voted #6 Experience in the World in the first-ever 2018 TripAdvisor Travelers’ Choice Awards, offers demonstration classes as well as hands-on sessions most days of the week. Head here to check out all of their offerings. If you’re looking for more cooking class options, you can also check out the class schedules over at The Bakehouse and Crescent City Cooks!
Shop at the French Market
The French Market is not just any old market in NOLA… it’s literally an OLD market. Actually, it was originally a Native American trading post that predates the colonies (since 1791!), and is the oldest public market in the United States. If you’re interested in learning more about the history of the French Market District, you can read up on it here. While shopping at the French Market District, you’ll find everything from Café du Monde to Aunt Sally’s Pralines. In the open-air public market, they have weekly Farmers Market and local craft vendors on display, and don’t miss the daily Flea Market from 9am-6pm.
Disclaimer: This post is in collaboration with Visit New Orleans. As always, all opinions are my own.
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