Happy Mardi Gras! Though the famous Mardi Gras parades were cancelled, people are still finding new and creative ways to celebrate while staying safe in New Orleans 2021. If this is your first trip to NOLA, check out The Do’s And Do Not’s Of Your First Trip To New Orleans.

Please note that masks are required in all public places and all activities must include strict social distancing. For the latest COVID-19 updates in New Orleans, click here.

1. Mardi Gras World

If you can’t experience the Mardi Gras parades firsthand in 2021, this is the closest you’ll be able to get to the live action! See the studio where all of the planning and architecture of the parade floats takes place and truly get to know the REAL Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras World is open now and doesn’t require reservations. They offer a free shuttle ride from Canal Street and you can buy tickets online here.

2. Garden District

The Garden District is a neighborhood full of some of the most historic homes in New Orleans. The best way to experience this area is just to wander through the streets and see how many marvelous mansions you can find. For a more in depth look at the history of the area, you can also download tours on your phone and give yourself a self-guided Garden District tour.

3. New Orleans Swamp Tour

It is no surprise that there is a never-ending list of swamp tours you can embark on in New Orleans. From the flowers and the cypress trees to the gators and the exotic birds, a New Orleans Swamp Tour is a MUST when you visit. Check out this list of the Best 11 Swamp Tours in New Orleans.

4. Studio Be

Studio Be is an exotic art studio that always seems to be exploding with lively new exhibits. To get a sneak peak at their latest pieces, check them out on Instagram.

5. Steamboat Natchez

Steamboat Natchez is one of the most honorable pieces of history in New Orleans. Situated on the Mississippi River, you can book two-hour jazz cruises daily and have a look at the French Quarter from a new perspective. To purchase tickets online, click here.

6. New Orleans Pharmacy Museum

For just $10/person (or $7 for students, seniors and military personnel), you can tour the home of the very first licensed pharmacist in the United States. Though there aren’t any guided tours going on until further notice, you are able to do self-guided tours of the first and second floors of the exhibits and courtyards. Click here to make your reservation online.

7. Backstreet Cultural Museum

Backstreet Cultural Museum is a local gallery currently open by appointment only. Like many other businesses at this time, Backstreet Cultural Museum has been struggling to stay afloat, so new visitors and/or donations are highly appreciated! To find out more about the space, head to their website.

8. French Quarter

I’m sure everyone has heard of the French Quarter by now because it’s perhaps the most touristic spot in the city. From food and drinks to music and shopping, you didn’t really go to NOLA if you didn’t hit up the French Quarter.

9. Kayak-iti-yat Kayaking Tours

Kayak-iti-yat has a few different options for kayaking around the bayou. To schedule a tour, click here.

10. Doctor Gumbo Tours

It’s no secret that New Orleans is a haven for foodies, and gumbo is no exception. However, for the ~liquid foodie~ (if you know what I mean), you can also schedule a cocktail tour around the city with Doctor Gumbo.

11. Chalmette Battlefield & Jean Lafitte National Park

Though you can still explore the beauty of Jean Lafitte National Park, they are not doing their daily Battle of New Orleans talk at this time. However, you can attend a virtual talk of this information to truly understand the history of the area before visiting.

12. Longue Vue House and Gardens

Attend a self-guided tour through the gardens or a professionally guided tour through the Longue Due House and the gardens of this historically beautiful venue.

13. Audubon Nature Institute

Audubon Nature Institute is a zoo and an aquarium not for profit. Explore the wildlife of Louisiana all in one place while enhancing the care and survival of wildlife by helping to pay for the research and conservation efforts. Click here to purchase your tickets online.

14. New Orleans City Park

Though New Orleans City Park is not completely open at this time, you can still explore quite a bit of the recreational, food and garden areas within here. To see a more detailed list of what is/isn’t open in New Orleans City Park now, click here.

15. New Orleans Museum of Art

NOMA is currently open from Thursday through Sunday each week with new exhibits constantly opening up in the museum. Click here to reserve tickets online now.

16. Saint Louis Cathedral

The Saint Louis Cathedral is the oldest Cathedral in North America. You can explore this religious spot anytime, but for the full experience, check out the Saint Louis Cathedral Mass Schedule.

17. The Cabildo

The Cabildo is conveniently located within the French Quarter. Built way back in 1795, this space served as the center of New Orleans government for quite some time. Now open to the public, you can purchase tickets to explore the museum here.

18. Cemetery Tours

With a lot of history, comes a lot of deaths. If you’re looking for a thrilling adventure in NOLA, look no further. The list of cemetery tours is almost as long as the list of swamp tours, and you can find a scroll’s worth of the scariest [or the booziest] tours here.

19. The National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum is New Orlean’s number one tourist attraction. The name itself is quite explanatory, but to learn more or pre-purchase your tickets, click here.

20. Old New Orleans Rum Distillery

I love the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery because they’ve been doing their part in this pandemic by diverting rum production to produce hand sanitizer in order to fight COVID-19. Every purchase helps keep their doors open in this community and you can donate or book a distillery tour on their website. Shop local!

I hope this list gives you a good place to start your explorations for New Orleans 2021 and a creative way to get into the Mardi Gras 2021 spirit. If you’ve been to any of these spots, or have any more to add to the list, please comment them below!

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