In New Orleans, the question of “What do you want to do today?” is a bit more loaded than in most places. It is just such a hard question to answer, and not because there isn’t anything to do, but because there is so much to do. With so many options, people find themselves overwhelmed and unable to decide. The result? Decisional paralysis, a serious condition which results in sitting around your house or hotel room doing absolutely nothing. The good news is, I’ve got your cure right here. When you feel a bit of decisional paralysis coming on, just pick an item from this list of New Orleans attractions you have to see and experience in 2014!
14 New Orleans Attractions for 2014
1. History Comes Alive – History can be a difficult subject to learn in school — a whole bunch of stuff that happened long ago to a bunch of people you’ve never met. No matter how important the event, it can seem very hard to connect. The World War II Museum changes all of that. The expansive museum takes the monumentally important stories of World War II and presents them in an interactive, informative and exciting way. Check out actual WWII vehicles, help plan the D-day invasion, and relive the final battle of the U.S.S. Tang. After the war is won, celebrate with a classic milk shake or fountain drink at the Soda Shop.
2. Historic Haunts – Speaking of history, don’t forget to swing by one of New Orleans’ historic restaurants and bars. Galatoire’s has been serving great food off of Bourbon Street since 1905. Antoine’s? Open since 1840. Want your history a little more casual? Grab a drink at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, which is located in a building built in 1722 that is believed to have served as the headquarters for the Lafitte brothers’ pirate operations and holds the distinction of being the oldest building used as a bar in the U.S. Or head down to Napoleon House for a muffuletta, Pimm’s cup and great weather on the patio. Napoleon House is so named because it was offered up to Napoleon as a refuge during his exile in 1821.
3. Theaters Galore – Did you know that the first opera in North America was performed in New Orleans? Well it was — on May 22, 1796. And for the following 200 years, theatre arts have been alive and well in New Orleans. You’ll certainly be able to find something of interest between the Mahalia Jackson (which hosts the Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra), the Civic (which hosts numerous musical acts), Le Petit (host to stage plays, such as one of my favorites, Death of a Salesman) and the recently renovated Saegner Theatre (your destination for Broadway shows).
4. Green Refuge – City Park has firmly established itself as one of the greatest spots in the city, with miles of trails and tracks, sporting fields galore, the New Orleans Museum of Art, bayous, a lake, botanical gardens, and a dog park. But that’s not all. In 2013, they added a miniature golf course and concert grounds to boot. Word on the street is there are more great things to come in 2014 and I can’t wait to see!
5. Take a Tour – Want to make sure you’re not missing something special? Hop on a tour. No matter your interest, I can just about guarantee there is a tour for that. Want to delve into New Orleans’ haunted history? Check. Bike your way through New Orleans History from 1718 to the present? Oh yeah. Visit the famed Cities of the Dead? Yes, and then some. Or perhaps you are just a cocktail geek like myself? There’s a tour for that!
6. Mardi Gras – Carnival season is here and Mardi Gras is coming up. Catch a parade, eat some king cake, and check out the extravagant costumes. I’m not sure you need more enticement than that, but if you do keep your eyes peeled for our forthcoming Mardi Gras posts.
7. Relax on the Bayou – Bayou St. John gently rolls from Lake Pontchartrain on down past City Park before ending a few blocks from the Red Streetcar line. The lazy body of water is great for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing. Don’t forget to duck under the old Cabrini Bridge, though!
8. Blow Your Mind – The Contemporary Arts Center is a sprawling arts complex in downtown that features a little bit of everything, from art exhibits to concerts to lectures. Many of the performances at the CAC are mind-blowingly awesome. One such exhibit currently ongoing is photographer Edward Burtynsky’s “Water,” which uses large scale photographs to depict “a global portrait of humanity’s relationship to water.”
9. Rule the Animal Kingdom – Thanks to the tireless work of the Audubon Institute, you now have the chance to hang out with amphibians, fish, birds, mammals, invertebrates, and reptiles. Head to the Audubon Zoo Uptown for animal time; check out the Audubon Aquirium for all the fish you can handle; or, check out insects galore at the Audubon Insectarium on Canal Street.
10. The Bywater – Head to the Bywater to check out one of the fastest growing neighborhoods in the city. It seems almost every day you’ll get a new restaurant, bar or shop popping up in this revitalized neighborhood. If you head down that way, be prepared to enjoy the Bywater’s fresh and funky beat and bohemian culture.
11. Yuk It Up – In need of a little laughter? Head to any one of the shows put on by The New Movement, a comedy theater in the Marigny. In addition to comedy classes and regular shows, the New Movement also hosts Hell Yes Fest and Megaphone Marathons. They’ve also got regular stand up shows at the Howlin’ Wolf Den and the Hi-Ho Lounge to keep the laughs coming.
12. Jump From the Top Rope – Do body slams, suplexes and sleeper holds sound like a good time? You’re darn right they do! So make sure you head out to the Superdome for the WWE Wrestlemania XXX on April 6, 2014, with professional wrestling superstars and a ton of great fan events.
13. Celebrate Food – I can’t imagine a better place for a museum celebrating the food culture of the South than New Orleans. And apparently, neither could the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (SoFAB). SoFAB recently moved to a new location that has allowed them to grow, housing more exhibits, talks and presentations on the history, understanding and celebration of southern food and drinks.
14. Find Endless Fun – Harrah’s and Fulton Street is so jammed packed with things to do, but what you do will really depend on your mood. In the mood for some amazing steak? Look no further than Besh Steak from celebrity chef John Besh. Want to catch the big game? Head on down to Manning’s and enjoy a meal in a recliner in front of one of the largest projection screens I’ve ever seen. Or if you are feeling active and hip, roll on over to Fulton Alley for “craft food and drink” and “boutique bowling.”