This month, I visited New Orleans, and it was the first time I was in the city with no obligations or agenda – a truly relaxing getaway where I could do anything I wanted. So I asked ChatGPT to recommend the top five things to do in and around NOLA, and here is what was suggested:


  • Visit the French Quarter: I had spent a lot of time in the Quarter on previous trips, so while I made it a point to stop in to my favorite places along Bourbon and Frenchman Streets, Jackson Square, and of course Cafe du Monde, I chose to spend a majority of my time elsewhere in the city. However, the beautiful architecture, good eats, and vibrant nightlife are a must-see for anyone visiting for the first time.


  • Take a swamp tour: I opted for an airboat tour that explored the swamp, marsh, and lake areas near Lake Salvador and the surrounding bayous. Not only did I see dozens of alligators but also bald eagles and other water birds, and I was educated on the diverse ecosystem and the life that inhabits it.


  • Attend a jazz concert: Several years ago, I attended Jazz Fest, which was a highlight of my experiences in NOLA. Even when there’s not a world renowned music festival happening, there is an incredible energy in the air as live music spills into the streets from restaurants, bars, and other venues. One afternoon, I enjoyed live music at Bacchanal Wine in the Bywater neighborhood. It felt like an oasis away from the busier parts of the city where one could unwind with good food and beverages.


  • Visit the National WWII Museum: Learn about the history of WWII and the role that New Orleans played in the war effort. Unfortunately, I did not squeeze this in during my trip, but it’s on my to-do list for next time.


  • Indulge in local cuisine: With numerous restaurants to choose from, there is no shortage of delicious eats, including beignets, Creole dishes, and seafood. 


There are few more suggestions I would add to ChatGPT’s recommendations:


  • Visit the Garden District: Walk or take the streetcar down St. Charles Avenue to view the lush gardens, historic mansions, and beautiful oak trees that line the street. Head over to Magazine Street to check out the unique restaurants and shops.


  • Enjoy the green space: Take a stroll through Audubon Park, visit the Botanical Gardens at City Park, or wander the trails through the Barataria Preserve at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.


  • Book a cemetery tour: One of the most interesting outings on this trip was touring the city’s beautiful and historic cemeteries. The guide shared about the burial rituals used and drove us around to several cemeteries to explore, ending at the Katrina Memorial.


I’m already planning my next visit to NOLA (not during the summer, of course). What else is a “must-do” for next time?