12 Non Touristy Things to Do in New Orleans
With so many things to do in New Orleans—bar hopping on Bourbon Street, taking a tour of the French Quarter and the Garden District, zipping across the swamp in an airboat, stuffing your face at world-class New Orleans restaurants—it’s hard to come up with a comprehensive itinerary for your trip.
Luckily, we’ve surveyed some of our Best of Groupon businesses who helped us figure out how to do NOLA like a local. Here’s our itinerary of non touristy things to do in New Orleans for a quick three-day trip.
Sip Local Coffee at The Silver Whistle Cafe in the Pontchartrain Hotel
2031 St. Charles Ave. | The Garden District
Back in the day, The Silver Whistle coffee shop was a place where some of the most powerful men in the city would gather to discuss politics. Nowadays, it calls to coffee lovers from all walks of life with its Revelator Coffee Company beans and Japanese iced-coffee brewer.
Learn to Fly at Swan River Yoga
2940 Canal St. | Mid-City
This two-story studio has earned praise for its unique location in a former library and its mix of traditional and untraditional classes, such as aerial yoga. Be sure to check out the studio’s Great Depression–era mural, which Swan Yoga’s owners uncovered while remodeling the former public library space. If you skipped The Silver Whistle, before taking a yoga class, grab a healthy plant-based meal at the studio’s onsite Good Karma Cafe.
Relax with a Seaweed Facial or Sleep Treatment at Woodhouse Day Spa
4030 Canal St. | Mid-City
Drop by this Mid-City spot for a facial with freshly harvested seaweed leaves or a less traditional sleep treatment that calms with lavender scents and tea rituals. It’s a quick two-mile trip on the Canal Street streetcar line from the French Quarter, making it particularly easy for those who don’t have a car.
Gobble Up Some Gumbo at Liuzzas by the Track
1518 N. Lopez St. | Mid-City
After the Woodhouse, grab a meal at this low-key joint known to be easy on the wallet. It uses a lot of local ingredients, including locally caught seafood that goes into a renowned gumbo with a dark roux base. NOLA natives often flock here during Jazz Fest to snag po-boys and spicy bloody marys.
Try a Pisco Potion at Catahoula Hotel Bar
914 Union St. | CBD
Like many of the city’s best cocktail spots, Catahoula Hotel Bar is located inside one of New Orleans’ hotels. Yet, Catahoula’s bar stands out with its drinks with pisco, the Peruvian grape-based spirit. Look for it in such drinks as the pisco sour or the Coolest Kid in Class, a pisco drink served in a juice pouch in a brown lunch bag, complete with a snack and note from Mom.
Wake Up with a HIIT Workout at Hour Blast Lakeview
145 Harrison Ave. A | Lakeview
Work off some of the calories you’ve been racking up with one of Hour Blast Lakeview’s high-energy HIIT workouts. According to the Times-Picayune, some of New Orleans' fittest residents work out at Hour Blast, and classes fill up fast. So be sure to book a class online ahead of time.
Reward Your Hard-Working Hands at Sparadise
2929 N. Causeway Blvd. | Metairie
If a post-workout reward is in order, hop in your own car or request a rideshare to the chic Sparadise in the nearby suburb of Metairie. The salon is the epitome of glamour, with tufted chairs, complimentary wine, and a bath-salts bar. But it’s the circular nail bar that catches the eye with its opulent crystal chandelier surrounded by tiny light strings. Beneath the glimmering display lies a cylindrical fish tank illuminated with blue lights.
Pro Tip: The best way to blend in in NOLA is to stand out. One local business owner recommended visitors dress “with flair”, and many said that RuPaul could be the city’s style icon.
Eat Like Bourdain at Willie Mae’s Scotch House
2401 Saint Ann St. | Tremé
After a few hours of sightseeing to ensure your nails are dry, prepare to tear into fried chicken at what is considered to be one of the best restaurants in New Orleans. You may have to wait in line, but locals say it’s worth it for the best fried chicken in the country. On Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations, Bourdain praised the Willie Mae’s poultry and said its red beans and rice were "elevated to symphonic heights."
Take Down a Fearsome Sandwich at Katie’s Restaurant and Bar
3701 Iberville St. | Mid-City
“Look at the size of this thing!” When Guy Fieri visited Katie’s on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, he couldn’t get over the proportions of The Barge seafood po-boy. If you’ve spent your afternoon walking around, the mammoth feast might just be what you had in mind for dinner. In not, gather 1–3 friends and attempt to take down the beast, an entire loaf of french bread topped with fried shrimp, catfish, and oysters.
Spoil a Good Walk at Audubon Park Golf Course
6500 Magazine St. | Audubon Nature Institute
Spend a morning soaking in the sunshine at a course located in a nature preserve just minutes from Downtown. The 18-hole, par 62 course challenges golfers with its Bermuda-grass fairways set among hundred-year-old oak trees and four sparkling lagoons. Afterward, get lunch at the clubhouse cafe and explore the rest of nature preserve, including the zoo and picturesque walking paths.
Discover Local Cuisine at Apolline Restaurant
4729 Magazine St. | Uptown
Apolline may be in the middle of Uptown’s bustling dining scene, but Gambit Weekly said it “still seems like a neighborhood find," perhaps because it’s located in a renovated double shotgun cottage. Enjoy the upscale southern food and cocktails, which are enhanced with herbs and peppers from the onsite garden.
Prep for Your Plane Ride at Balance Spa & Fitness at Loews New Orleans
300 Poydras St., 8th Floor | Warehouse District
Finish your weekend with a trip to Balance, whose guests enjoy access to the hotel’s fitness center, pool, whirlpool, and sauna. Relax with a eucalyptus-enhanced Traveler’s Tonic massage—you’ll be glad you did when you find yourself back in that car or plane seat.
Get inspired with an extra look at some of the stops on our guide:
Colleen is a makeup/skincare junkie who has a serious Sephora problem. She writes about all things beauty and occasionally does hand modeling for work. Her job is strange.