America’s Most Interesting City was a campaign created by the city of New Orleans to attract more tourists. We’d say the nickname was pretty accurate!
There is so much about New Orleans that would be considered weird anywhere else in the world. How do you write about the most bizarre things to do in a city that is so odd? Our free walking tours tell the whole story, but this list summarizes some of the mystery.
Here are a few exciting and weird things to do in New Orleans, some stuff that is off the beaten path:
Finding unique and weird things to do in New Orleans can be as simple as stepping into a museum. NOLA has never been ashamed of its quirky past (or present). These are the strangest museums in New Orleans:
Hidden in plain sight, in the middle of The Quarter, The Pharmacy Museum is a creepy but fascinating stop. The building was originally an apothecary belonging to the first licensed pharmacist in the US.
Weird things to be found at the Pharmacy Museum include:
-vintage bottles of heroin that were sold as painkillers in 1898
-a lovely tank of leeches
-chloroform inhaler originally used for childbirth
-Voodoo artifacts and potions
When you’re ready to feel lucky to be alive, visit the Museum of Death. Not for the faint of heart, this museum is all about outdated medical instruments, Manson family memorabilia, and graphic crime scene photographs.
Note: MOD has a strict no photography allowed rule.
Tiny but mighty, the historic Voodoo Museum has been educating the public about NOLA’s Voodoo culture for over 50 years. This museum is an intimate look at Voodoo, with beads, art, masks, and more! No matter what time of year you find yourself in New Orleans, make time for the Historic Voodoo Museum.
If you’ve never been inside an authentic New Orleans mansion, this is your chance! Located in the prestigious Garden District, the beautiful House of Broel can be toured and contains a museum of dollhouses crafted by owner Bonnie Broel. Today House of Broel is very popular for destination weddings. You can also explore other romantic mansions of the Garden District on your own time with our self-guided tour.
Fun fact: The house of Broel was built in two different periods, Antebellum and High Victorian.
Nola is the city of the strange, and you can find oddities even in seemingly ordinary places like bars or pubs. Once you add alcohol all sorts of things get strange.
Here are fun and weird New Orleans bars:
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is the last bar on Bourbon street, shrouded in mystery and cloaked in notoriety. Named after the 19th-century pirate Jean Lafitte, who allegedly used the bar to cover his illegal smuggling, the bar is a New Orleans icon. If you’re in The French Quarter at night, note that Lafitte’s bar is also haunted by the pirate himself. The building is unique even by French Quarter standards, built in 1750s thought the exact date has been lost. Mostly candle lit. Sit down, get yourself a “Voodoo Daiquiri” and you might be transported back to the era of New Orleans Pirates.
Muriel’s is home to the famous ghost table, set every night for the former master of the house and current spirit, Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan. Less known but equally as weird, you can ask the staff to show you to the Séance Lounge, a hidden room upstairs where Mr. Lepardi is said to spend most of his time.
Dark and dreamy, The Dungeon is a dive bar known for its late-night hours, heavy goth vibes, and classic rock playlist. Photos of the inside are strictly forbidden. Open from midnight to 6 AM, this is the perfect spot for vamps and goths of every genre. Also good for ghouls on a budget because on fridays The Dungeon has 3 for the price of 1 mixed drink specials from 1-4 am.
How to find The Dungeon:
The Dungeon is notoriously hard to find, on purpose. Head down Toulouse and find a small, dark alleyway. The sign above the door reads “The Quarter’s Most Unique Night Spot.”
The famous Carousel Bar in the classy Hotel Monteleone rotates guests on a 25-seat, cheery, circus-themed merry-go-round. This bar was a favorite watering hole for writers like Truman Capote and Tennessee Williams. A glass case near the entrance is filled with memorabilia from famous patrons of the bar including writer Truman Capote.
Here’s a weird assortment of places to go in New Orleans:
Hurricane Katrina flooded 70% of the city, including the former Six Flags theme park. Deemed too expensive to restore, the property is still in its chaotic post-Katrina state, a dystopian playground.
Note: The park is closed to visitors; trespassers, beware.
Besides being a great place to jog or hike in New Orleans, City Park is a little weird. Check out the Singing Oak in City Park. It is a giant oak tree loaded with windchimes by local artist Jim Hart. Painted black to match the natural shadows of the ancient tree, the windchimes at Singing Oak are often missed, hidden in plain sight. The Sculpture garden in City Park (Part of New Orleans museum of art) is also a pretty weird thing, it features beautiful and strange sculptures from well known artists.
New Orleans is home to the famous above-ground tombs, a necessity for a city surrounded by so many bodies of water. Did you know there are also cultural reasons for these above-ground burials? Learning the city’s rich history is another great reason to take a tour!
Elaborate tombs, statues, and rumored haunting helped New Orleans cemeteries evolve into the beautiful, romantic places that Hollywood loves. The two cemeteries most famous ones require a guide, but many are open to the public, check out which cemeteries are open here. You can access one of New Orleans’s most famous cemeteries with one of our free guided walking cemetery tours.
The Music Box Village is a sculpture garden with eclectic little shacks and tiny homes sprinkled in. You can play these homes like musical instruments! Inside each building, handmade musical instruments are built into the walls themselves. It’s great for kids. They also have live music, learn more about where to see live music here.
It was 1988 when Sylvester Francis started collecting Mardi Gras Indian costumes and artifacts in his garage. By 1999, the Backstreet Cultural Museum was born in the historic Tremé neighborhood. Today, the BCM tells the history of Mardi Gras Indians, Jazz Funerals, and Second-Line Parades in powerful exhibits and displays.
Good News: you can skip The Eiffel Tower in France because there’s one right here in New Orleans! Once upon a time, a restaurant existed on the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris, but it was taken down in 1981 for fear it might destroy the structure long term.
Those pieces were shipped to New Orleans and repurposed into a building now considered a historical landmark.
Note: Google currently says the Eiffiel Tower is closed, but you can still see it from the street. The address is 2040 St Charles Ave.
After all of that weirdness, you’re probably feeling hungry. Frady’s is a weird and wonderful stop for a po-boy.
A brief history of the po-boy
Po-boys originated in 1929 during the streetcar strike at Martin Brothers’ French Market and Coffee Stand. The street car workers went on strike, and the Martin brothers gave away free sandwiches to the strikers while shouting, “Here comes another poor boy!”. The po-boy quickly gained popularity and has been synonymous with New Orleans since that time.
Today, Frady’s cranks out delicious po-boys, with a sign that says “no wifi, sit and talk to each other” near the check out. It is definitely worth visiting if you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path.
Easy to miss in Bayou Saint John, one of New Orleans’s oldest neighborhoods is the city’s oldest fire hydrant. Born in 1869, this fire hydrant represents a major turning point in fire hydrant technology, and this model was later replicated around the world. Find this little brass piece of history at the corner of Grand Route St. John and Moss Street. Check out our guide to this off the beaten path neighborhood here.