8 Hours in New Orleans

How to make the most of your day in the Big Easy.
by 1149

If there’s one thing New Orleans excels at, it’s celebrations. The French Quarter is packed with entertainment and nightlife.


New Orleans is known for its French-style architecture, bayous, Cajun cuisine and multicultural history, which often comes to life best through the city’s famous year-round celebrations. Probably the most popular is Mardi Gras, a time when locals and travelers alike line the French Quarter for a colorful Carnival celebration.

No matter what time of year you travel, the city is brimming with culture and stories waiting to be uncovered, from the cobblestoned streets of its oldest neighborhood to the endless culinary options.

Read on for a list of things to do that are quintessentially New Orleans on your next Royal Caribbean cruise vacation:

Jambalaya is a New Orleans classic, packed with seasoned meat, onion, celery, bell peppers, seafood and hearty tomatoes.


If you’ve got cravings for Creole…

An Evening of Dinner and Jazz

Time it takes: 4 hours

Recommendation: Come hungry

Dine in a 19th-century French Market warehouse, just feet away from local musicians as you feast on an authentic, three-course Creole dinner. You’ll also savor Dixieland jazz, also referred to as “hot jazz” or “traditional jazz,” a native style of music from New Orleans that’s been around for more than a century.


French Quarter Pub Crawl

Time it takes: 3.5 hours

Recommendation: Wear walking shoes

Stroll through the French Quarter and visit some of the most popular bars in town with complimentary drinks—try a local favorite like the Sazerac, a potent rye-based drink rumored to be America’s oldest cocktail, accompanied by live jazz and a history lesson of the district. Who says drinking and learning don’t mix? Cheers!


On Your Own

Time it takes: It’s up to you

Recommendation: Make a “must-eat” map

Make sure to indulge in some renowned Big Easy staples, including shrimp, fried oysters, BBQ and catfish po-boys served on French bread. Find the fluffiest beignets any time of the day or night at the legendary Café Du Monde, and flavor-popping seafood boils with crawfish and shrimp.


Declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960, Jackson Square is located in the heart of the French Quarter of New Orleans and faces the Mississippi River.


If you’re a history buff…

The National WWII Museum

Time it takes: 4 hours

Recommendation: Book it before you purchase your flight; includes airport transfer

Transport yourself back to the time of World War II at the recently renovated National WWII Museum, which has a stunning collection of military trucks, airplanes, tanks and uniforms. For the full museum experience, don’t miss the 4-D interactive film “Beyond All Boundaries,” which brings the experience of the war to life through the use of fog, moving chairs and other elements.


Grand City Tour

Time it takes: 3 hours

Recommendation: Wear walking shoes and bring your camera.

The scenic French Quarter will mesmerize you; buildings adorned with intricate ironworks influenced by the French and Spanish line the historic streets. After your stroll, visit the St. Louis Cemetery No. 3, also known as the “City of the Dead” for its countless tombs.


On Your Own

Time it takes: It’s up to you

Recommendation: Bring a sketchbook (if you can’t pack your trombone).

Be sure to check out more than 40,000 pieces permanently on display at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA), located in the sprawling City Park. If music is more your thing, hit the New Orleans Jazz Museum to hear the full story of how the city shaped this great American art form.


The swamps of Louisiana are an important ecosystem. Just a short drive from New Orleans, there you can spot alligators, herons, pelicans, boars and more.


If you’re seeking adventure…

Louisiana Swamp Tour

Time it takes: 3 hours

Recommendation: Get ready for way more than just alligator watching.

Venture into the heart of bayous and swamplands in a boat as you meander past cypress and tupelo trees and all sorts of wildlife, including alligators, egrets and mink. As you drift through the waters, you’ll also hear tales of how the swamps have been used as a transportation hub, food source and local economy for centuries.


Ghost and Vampire Walking Tour

Time it takes: 1.5 hours

Recommendation: Bring courage to explore the other side.

Visit the afterlife and tour America’s most haunted city. Learn about the legends and lore of New Orleans, as you make your way through the darkened streets of the French Quarter. Be wary of souls returned from the dead!


Look here for more inspiration for a future trip to the Big Easy.