New Orleans is a lively city in Louisiana that boasts incredible Mardi Gras celebrations, tasty Creole and Cajun food, as well as beautiful French-style architecture. However, instead of visiting Bourbon Street like other tourists, make your trip truly unique by exploring places that only locals know about. Whether you’re looking to see the water and listen to jazz on a steamboat, or grab a bite to eat at hole-in-the-wall restaurants and coffee shops, there’s something exciting for everybody in The Big Easy. Many of these great attractions are located near New Orleans vacation rentals, which offer a cozy and quiet setting in a town known for its upbeat ambiance.

1. Chalmette Battlefield

Chalmette Battlefield is where the Battle of New Orleans was fought over two-hundred years ago. Today you and your family can watch a battle re-enactment, allowing you to teach your kids history in a fun manner. Learn about Louisiana history by taking a guided tour, or check out the Chalmette Monument, a 100-foot-high war monument. After a day of fun, enjoy a plate of Creole-Italian food at Rocky and Carlo’s Restaurant and Bar, or feast on steak at Meme’s Bar and Grill.

2. Coliseum Square Park

If you’re visiting in the summer and want to cool off, head to Coliseum Square Park and relax under the big oak trees or watch the kids splash around in the charming central fountain. Pet parents love the fountain, too, as dogs love to walk and play in the water. The stunning oak trees have large branches that lean down to the ground, allowing you or your kids to climb up and see the park from a new angle. Craving some Creole food after walking all day? Head to Commander’s Palace, or visit Stacks Grilled Cheese and Bar for American food.

3. Alcee Fortier Park

Escape from the hustle and bustle of the city at the small oasis called Alcee Fortier Park. This small park has chairs where you can sit and enjoy the scenery, and there’s even a chessboard, so you can enjoy some friendly competition with the family. Varieties of beautiful flowers are planted around the park, specifically chosen to help draw butterflies to enhance the ambiance. Nonna Mia Cafe and Pizzeria is nearby if you’re craving Italian food, or you can sample French cuisine at Cafe Degas.

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4. Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge

New Orleans vacation rentals near Bayou Sauvage National Wildlife Refuge, which is located northeast of New Orleans, put you next to recreational activities and wildlife viewing. Spend the day hiking, bird watching, fishing, or paddling. Take a self-guided tour to learn about the area, or sign up for one of many educational and interpretive programs. This wildlife refuge features picnic tables, so you can enjoy a cozy lunch outdoors, or you can drive down nearby Highway 10 for fast access to many local restaurants and businesses.

5. Morning Call and City Park

Morning Call Coffee, which is open 24 hours a day is a great place for an early cup of coffee or a late night, New Orleans-style dish such as jambalaya or gumbo. Be sure to bring cash, as Morning Call doesn’t accept cards. However, there’s an ATM on-site for your convenience. Morning Call is located in City Park, a 1,300-acre outdoor urban park. View amazing art at the open-air Besthoff Sculpture Garden, look at the stunning roses in the Botanical Garden, or get your blood flowing on the walking, jogging, or biking paths.

6. Steamboat Natchez

Steamboat Natchez is the only steamboat in New Orleans, but it offers plenty to do. Every day, year-round, a dinner jazz cruise starts at 7:00 p.m., where you can see the lovely New Orleans skyline while listening to music. If you’re more of an early bird, a Sunday jazz brunch cruise runs at 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Spend a few hours listening to the music that New Orleans is famous for while dining on a delicious meal.

7. Paradigm Gardens

Paradigm Gardens grows local produce for restaurants in the city, and you can take a garden tour to see beautiful animals and plants. There are also many celebrations and concerts held outdoors at the gardens, where you can socialize with the locals, enjoy music, and feast on good food. If you prefer to eat away from the gardens, Central City BBQ is located close by. This restaurant serves up wood-smoked barbecue, and the menu features mouth-watering brisket, chicken, ribs, pulled pork, and barbecue sandwiches.

8. Where Y’Art

New Orleans features a vibrant art community, and you can see some of the best art from local artists at Where Y’Art. The local gallery, located on Royal Street, lets you browse collections, meet the artists, and buy a few pieces to take home as souvenirs. To ensure the gallery always contains fresh art, Where Y’Art regularly replaces the collections with a new artist’s work. Nearby, Royal House offers seafood along with a casual ambiance. For a more romantic vibe, head to Cafe Amelie for modern-style Louisiana food.

9. Historic Voodoo Museum

Learn about New Orleans’ voodoo culture and history at this exciting museum, which has been around since 1972. Open seven days a week, this museum offers a walk-through tour where you can view voodoo paintings, relics, and sculptures. If you’re feeling courageous, get a psychic reading or view a ritual or ceremony. After exploring the museum, enjoy fresh Cajun-Southern food at Eat New Orleans, a BYOB-friendly restaurant that offers a tasty brunch on the weekends.

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