It’s hard to think about New Orleans without immediately conjuring images of the French Quarter in your mind. The Big Easy’s historic hub is picture-perfect: Creole-style buildings railed with ornate iron balconies line the streets while roving jazz bands and happy party-goers join in a colorful parade of humanity.
It sounds like a great place to visit, and it is. But Louisiana’s largest city shouldn’t be defined by the 422 acres comprising the French Quarter.
To show love for the Big Easy’s underhyped hot spots, here’s a look at 7 places outside the French Quarter you should check out the next time you visit New Orleans.
Art lovers have a special place in the Big Easy at the Ogden Museum of Southern Art.
Billed as the largest and most comprehensive collection of art from the American South, this must-see museum boasts over 4,000 works donated by collectors and private owners.
In addition to the permanent collection of paintings, photos, and sculptures, the Ogden hosts frequent lecturers and film screenings about the art showcased here. The museum’s rotating exhibits guarantee you’ll see something new with every visit.
We suggest coming on a Thursday evening to enjoy free live music from 6-8pm. The Ogden Museum of Southern Art is located at 925 Camp Street.
The Fair Grounds Race Course dates back to 1872 and is the third-oldest thoroughbred racecourse in the US. Whether you’re a seasoned horse racing fan or have never set foot on racetrack grounds, this is your destination for a fun evening out Thursday through Monday during racing season (mid-November to the end of March).
Despite the venue’s age, The Fair Grounds received a modern facelift following Hurricane Katrina. The grounds boast several dining and drink options ranging from upscale to casual. An on-site casino keeps the excitement roaring even when you step away from the racing action.
The Fair Grounds is also home to the famous New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival each spring. You can find the Fair Grounds at 1751 Gentilly Boulevard.
A gem of the Garden District since 1880, Commander’s Palace is a time-honored New Orleans staple for power lunches and epic dinners.
While diners have flocked here to see and be seen for generations, being a cool place to hobnob won’t alone keep a business running for almost 140 years. The secret to the longevity of the Commander’s Palace is the food and music. The culinary experience is amazing, and jazz music fills the air. Our favorite time to visit the Commander’s Palace is for the weekend Jazz Brunch. Enjoy delicacies such as the Truffled Crab and Eggs or Crawfish Boudin and Eggs. Jazz musicians roam about the restaurant during brunch, providing a perfect musical accompaniment that could only happen in New Orleans.
Commander’s Palace is located at 403 Washington Avenue.
We’ll be honest upfront—the Honey Island Swamp Tour isn’t for the faint of heart. There’s a chance you might find yourself up close and personal with an alligator, red wolf, or even a Florida cougar.
Unlike the many airboat swamp tours available around New Orleans, the Honey Island Swamp Tour lets you actually traipse around in the wetlands. Licensed guides accompany the tour, so you’ll always have an expert pointing out animals and swamp facts while providing safety instruction.
But as with everything else in the Big Easy, be ready for a twist. If your touring party doesn’t see alligators right away, the guides will summon them on command from the swampy depths by making a special noise. The gators are then fed a marshmallow treat for their public appearance.
The Honey Island Swamp Tour is located at 41490 Crawford Landing Rd. in Slidell. Round-trip transportation is available from New Orleans hotels.
You’re committing a grave injustice if you don’t visit lush Audubon Park while in New Orleans. One of the most unique green spaces in the country, the park is filled with hundred-year-old oak trees, expansive lagoons, and beautifully dripping strands of Spanish moss.
While the scenery is breathtaking—you could easily spend an entire day just relaxing in nature here—John James Audubon’s namesake park offers awesome activities for recreation-seekers.
Walkers, joggers, and bikers will enjoy exploring the more than four miles of paved and dirt paths lining the park. Catch lunch under one of the charming picnic pavilions before heading over to the Audubon zoo to spend the afternoon with animal friends and hands-on exhibits.
There’s even an on-site Par 3 golf course that’s a hit with scratch players and duffers alike.
Audubon Park is located at 6500 Magazine Street.
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome might be the most iconic of the old domed stadiums in all of the sports.
Since opening in 1975, the 76,468-seat behemoth of event space has hosted everything from Super Bowls to Wrestle Manias and concerts by the likes of Beyoncé and the Rolling Stones.
The NFL’s New Orleans Saints are the resident football team of the Superdome, and they regularly play some of the best football in the NFL. In 2019, the team is dominating the NFC South and stands as a Super Bowl LIV odds leader to win the league title.
A trip to see the Saints play in the friendly confines of the Superdome is a winning experience for football fans and casual sports watchers.
One of the city’s oldest and arguably funkiest areas is St. Claude’s Corridor. This vibrant neighborhood is brimming with vintage clothing stores, international cafes, ethnic dance centers (who doesn’t want to take a belly dancing class?), and food co-ops.
The architecture around St. Claude’s is warm with old world-charm and worth the trip alone. Fortunately, most buildings survived Katrina intact.
Head to local hangouts Siberia and Hi-Ho Lounge for entertaining comedy shows, poetry slams, and music. Your inner hipster will be glad you did.
Find the corridor along St. Claude’s Avenue in the Marigny and Bywate neighborhoods.