Want to visit the best New Orleans sightseeing attractions? And save money doing so?
Read on because we have some great tips down below on how to make your New Orleans vacation great value whilst taking in all the best sites NOLA has to offer!
I totally geek out on discounted attraction passes.
Why? Because I love tours. They offer you insight into the local history and culture that you may not necessarily pick up on your own. Sometimes you can.
You can spend hours wandering and reading plaques, but that can be an exhausting experience.
Depending on your mood for the day you may only take some of it in. And you don’t get the local lore and myths woven in – those stories that leave you wondering if you’ve just been had, or the story was warped by the Chinese whisper effect, or they really did happen.
And parents, you know the truth. You ain’t got no time to be reading plaques. In 60 seconds flat there’ll be a tap on your leg, a pull of your sweater and a screech for “Mooooom, I’m hungry.”
So I love tours as I learn so much in an effortless way. I’m a great listener and can take in so much more.
Plus, there are far fewer taps and screeches from my children. They tend to listen and love what they learn as a process of tours as well. It usually amazes tour guides how well behaved they are.
It’s just what they’re used to!
Without these city attraction passes, I wouldn’t necessarily spend money on a bunch of tours as it works out to be expensive.
But, when I have a sightseeing pass and they are included, I do as many as I can.
Some end up being so interesting and I would have missed the opportunity to learn so many cool things without them.
3-Day New Orleans Sightseeing Pass
We loved the Sightseeing Pass in New York and it’s a huge value for saving you money and time and were curious to check this one out to see if would do the same.
I think the NYC Sightseeing Pass is the MacDaddy of all and it’s hard to beat that value.
I’m not sure this one from New Orleans had as much superpower, HOWEVER, it does depend on what tours you want to experience.
AND, as I outline below in a couple of different scenarios, with some careful planning it will save you money, which is what you and I both want.
One thing to remember with these Sightseeing Passes is that you can often skip the queues, which will save you lots of time, especially during the busy seasons.
That makes them worth it alone. I hate queues!!
For New Orleans discount passes, there is also the New Orleans Pass. It works in pretty much the exact same way. I have outlined in a section below some significant differences including price.
Do your due diligence to choose which is better for you and what you want to see and do in New Orleans.
What’s Included in the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass?
The Sightseeing Pass is a city discount attraction pass that allows cash free entry to over 20 attractions.
It has the biggest choice of New Orleans attractions and offers a 1-Day Hop-on Hop-off Bus loop with over 18 stops.
Plus, the city attraction pass also has extra bonus inclusions such as retail and dining discounts.
Top New Orleans Attractions On the Discount Pass
As we had visited New Orleans previously there were some top New Orleans attractions included on the pass that we did not take advantage of.
I have included them in this list as they were terrific and really worth doing.
For each of the top attractions, I have included a link where you can buy tickets for them individually if you wanted to do them but decided the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass wasn’t valuable to you.
It’s the best sightseeing package you could have to explore New Orleans.
These are the 8 best New Orleans Attractions to visit with the Sightseeing Pass.
Mardi Gras World
Mardi Gras World was awesome!
Strange that we didn’t visit earlier this year when we attended Mardi Gras, but we were too busy catching beads.
I’m so glad we did the tour this time as it was wonderful to see the creative design and work that goes into building those decorative, vibrant, and artistic floats.
Yes. This is a year-round production experience that brings in billion dollars each year. Mardi Gras is a phenomenon!
Kalyra has taken quite the interest in art recently, so I loved how she could learn a few artistic techniques on this tour. The tour also includes a sampling of King Cake, and a short video to learn the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
And if you didn’t think Mardi Gras was for kids, read our posts sharing how you can experience Mardi Gras in a kid-friendly way!
- Cost of the Mardi Gras World tour: $21.50 adult, $14.95 child
- You can buy individual entry tickets here.
New Orleans Jazz Cruise Aboard the Steamboat Natchez
If the idea of cruising down the Mississippi River eating good food and listening to jazz is your thing, then you might like the Paddle wheeler Jazz Cruise dinner included in the Sightseeing Pass.
I was happy to see it on the New Orleans attractions list and immediately made a booking.
Unfortunately, it wasn’t as good as I anticipated. I thought it would be jazzier, but the music was pretty low key and in the corner of the restaurant.
In true New Orleans fashion though the food was delicious! I couldn’t believe how good it was for buffet food. I’m not a big meat eater yet I went back for thirds for the brisket.
Food and drink are not included in the ticket, you have to upgrade for that. Only the cost of the cruise is covered.
I don’t think it would be as good without the food. Perhaps in the summer months when it’s warmer to sit outside, but then you may not hear the music.
- Cost: $49 adult, $25 child
- Cost of the buffet upgrade is $30 adult $10 Child
- Buy individual tickets for the cruise here
Hop on Hop off Bus
I’m not sure if you can get more touristy than a hop on hop off bus tour. I enjoy them and am always happy when they are included in discount tourist passes.
I probably wouldn’t pay for them otherwise, but always get a lot of value out of them.
I love how you can just sit back, relax, watch the city go by, and learn lots of cool things. You usually get history, culture and a few insider tips and local stories.
It gave me a wonderful overview and deeper insight into how rich the New Orleans culture is.
There really is no place like it and this incredible melting pot of cultures has bought a delicious experience of music, food, celebration, art, and culture unlike anywhere I have been.
The hop on hop off bus tour also lets you see places you might want to go back and explore more of. We learned more about Marigny, the eclectic, artists local community. (Which we also learned about on the cemetery tour.)
Thankfully, we managed to visit briefly a couple of days later for breakfast with friends, and discovered a delicious local restaurant within the neighborhood.
For those wanting to rent an Airbnb, this may be a good area for you to do it. It’s quite close to the French Quarter and has an abundance of cute cottages.
- Cost of the Hop On Hop Off Bus $39 adult, $10 child
- You can buy individual tickets here.
Top New Orleans Tip:
Park your car at the Basin Welcome center which is a Hop on Hop off stop. It’s the cheapest place to park in the city. $5 for 10 hours $10 for 24. You can read more about it in our weekly wrap post.
You can then jump on the hop on hop off to get to the other attractions so you don’t have to worry about driving and more parking fees (more savings!).
Or, you can walk into the French Quarter. It’s only 5 minutes away!
The hop on hop off bus is only valid for one day, but you can upgrade for more days.
I recommend going to the places that aren’t within walking distance on your Sightseeing Pass so you only have to use one day with the Hop on Hop Off. I think one day is plenty, although we have spent time in NOLA before.
Cemetery Walking Tour St Louis 1
Cemetery tours are a thing in New Orleans.
The most popular and well known is the self-guided tour of Lafayette cemetery in the Garden District. That is free to do.
The Louis 1 cemetery, however, the oldest in the city, is not free, nor open to general walk-ins. You can only visit on a tour. This was in order to protect the graves that were subjected to vandalism, especially of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau.
I knew little of voodoo, or this lady, and was fascinated to learn more on this tour. I quite enjoyed it. Kalyra and Savannah did as well, which surprised me although Kalyra is quite fascinated with ghosts.
We enjoyed learning more about Bernard de Marigny who got into gambling debt and had to sell off small lots of his plantation, which is now the community of Marigny – I can’t imagine how much he must have made selling off all those parcels of land as it’s a big community.
We also enjoyed seeing Nicholas Cage’s pyramid tomb. Yes. He is not dead yet. But, he wants to leave his spirit in New Orleans. I told you this city is good!
It was here I also learned about the Battle for New Orleans, and how the pirates helped the Americans win in return for a pardon.
Help the government meet their objectives and you can get away with anything!
- Cost of the cemetery tour is $20 adult, $10 child
- You can purchase individual tickets here
French Quarter Walking Tour
You can definitely walk around the French Quarter on your own, soaking up the atmosphere and appreciating the unique French and Spanish style architecture, pausing to listen to the jazz buskers on Royal Street as you are meandering. (Perhaps exploring Bourbon Street if you AREN’T visiting New Orleans with kids.)
However, a French Quarter walking tour is a fantastic way to learn more about the history of the first city of New Orleans.
I absolutely love the French Quarter and have spent hours walking around, with many pit stops for beignets at Café Du Monde, not to mention fancy and delicious meals at many of its restaurants.
Oh, and a jazz concert or theater show or two!
This trip was the first time we dove a little deeper into the culture and history of the area on this tour.
I didn’t know much of it at all from my own wanderings. I wouldn’t have done this tour without the New Orleans sightseeing pass and I really enjoyed it.
We even went to areas I hadn’t been to before and have noted places to go back and explore more.
If you love beignets, don’t miss the ones at Morning Call in City Park as well. The locals argue they are better. Let us know in the comments what you decide?
Jean Lafitte Swamp Tour
We did not do the swamp tour on this visit to New Orleans but did when we visited for Mardi Gras.
I highly recommend it as the bayous are unique to the New Orleans area and story. We did a swamp tour through Honey Island Swamp so this one is slightly different.
It goes through the heart of Southern Louisiana swamplands in the protected Jean Lafitte National Park and Barataria Preserve.
Tours are on private property, which means no competition in the area, less boat traffic to scare the animals.
- Cost is $52 adult, $26 kid (includes transportation from NOLA)
- Get your individual tickets for the swamp tour here.
Houmas House was another delightful surprise we only discovered as a result of the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.
Id’ always wanted to experience the New Orleans plantations – you know those spectacular avenues of oaks that you see pictures of. Houmas House is not the one you have most likely seen, that is Oak Alley.
Houmas House is just as beautiful though and I thoroughly enjoyed the house tour.
It was educational and super interesting. Kalyra was quite entranced especially when she learned that a husband could challenge another man to a duel if he saw his wife’s ankles!!
Houmas House has magnificent oak trees and if it wasn’t raining I would have been hugging every single one. They were gorgeous!
We stayed for lunch in the cafe after which was delicious – a pumpkin crabmeat soup.
Oh my, Louisiana you’re food is off the charts.
The National WWII Museum
Although I would really love to see the National WWII Museum in New Orleans, as it gets rave reviews and is massive, we skipped visiting on both trips to New Orleans.
We’ve had so many different war experiences over the past year, with Gettysburg, Franklin, Pearl Harbor, and Williamsburg and while we loved all of them, even the girls did, we were a bit exhausted by the story of the war.
I am typically fascinated by museums like this and have explored war history a lot in my global travels. I am just a little worn out with negativity and hatred at the moment.
I don’t think my psyche at this point can deal with any more stories of how awful the human race is. Although within those stories you do also learn of the courageous, triumphant spirit of the human race.
For now, I’m looking for it in everyday moments instead.
But the WWII museum is absolutely a top New Orleans attraction and well worth a visit, especially if you have the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.
Why not? It will save you money on it.
- Admission to the museum costs: $28 adult, $18 kids
- Individual tickets can be purchased here
Other New Orleans Attraction Included in the Pass
- Audubon Aquarium
- Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
- Audubon Zoo
Again, we do so many of these type of experiences on our travels, we tend to bypass them now unless they are super unique and extraordinary.
We did go to Audubon Zoo for the evening Christmas lights which were fantastic. and many people recommend the Insectarium which we attempted to go to, but unfortunately, it was on the day it was closed)
How Much does the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass Cost?
You have two different options with the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass.
You can either purchase a flex ticket or day passes. It depends on how many New Orleans attractions you want to visit and how much time you have.
Be sure to do your research and planning first so you can purchase the right NOLA sightseeing pass and maximize your value and time with it.
Be sure to check out operating times and how to claim your tickets, as for some you may need to phone ahead first or go to a different location to check-in.
The New Orleans Sightseeing FLEX Pass
The Sightseeing FLEX Pass, you select the number of attractions you would like to see and then build a custom itinerary to fit your exact interests as you go.
This option is recommended for visitors who have already been to New Orleans and want to enjoy a more customized experience on their subsequent visits.
It’s great for those who are short on time or have a limited sightseeing budget.
- Visit 3, 4, 5 or 6 Attractions
- Choose as you go from 25 top spots
- Pass valid for 30 days
- Save 54% or more
Flex PAsses start at $54 for 2 attractions
The New Orleans Sightseeing DAY Pass
The Pass can be used for 1, 2, 3 or 5 consecutive calendar days.
It becomes activated when it is used at its first attraction, then expires at midnight of its last valid day
The Sightseeing Pass is recommended for first-time visitors to New Orleans, as well as active travelers who like convenience and visitors with an open itinerary who like to control their sightseeing budget.
Pay one price, then visit as many attractions as you wish with The Sightseeing Pass.
- Unlimited sightseeing
- Choose a 1, 2, 3 or 5 Day Pass
- See all you can for one low price
- Save up to 56%
Day prices start at $79 for a 1 day, The more days you purchase the better value the pass is.
How the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass Save You Money
Let’s look at how much each of the tours above would have cost us if we paid individual admission.
For ease, I’m just basing it on the adult price. If you save with the adult Sightseeing Pass you will with the kids.
The cost of the 8 attractions above was $255.50
The 3-day Sightseeing Pass costs $169. Currently, there is a sale for 20% which means it’s $135. (They frequently have sales)
So that’s a savings of $120.50 at the sale price, or $86.50 at full price.
We had plenty of time over the three days to see all these attractions and could have easily fit more in.
Although we did not do the WWII Museum or the Lafitte swamp tour so if you do all of the above it probably would take up the three days.
If you wanted to add an extra day on, the next level would be the 5-day flex pass @ $207 $165 (20% off)
Now, if I didn’t have the Sightseeing Pass I wouldn’t necessarily pay for all these attractions. So let’s look at what I think are must-see attractions for families in New Orleans.
These are the most popular tours and attractions. The others are just bonus attractions you get to experience because of the pass.
So I’d say:
- Mardi Gras World: $21.50
- WWII Museum $28
- Swamp Tour: $52
- Houmas House $26
For a total cost of $128
The 4 attraction Sightseeing Pass would cost you $109, saving you $19.
Not a huge difference, but the Sightseeing Pass will be cheaper. If it were me, I’d buy the 2 day Sightseeing Pass instead at $110.
Same price but you’ll get access to 25 attractions so it’s a way better deal.
You never know what you may enjoy and discover simply by visiting an attraction you otherwise wouldn’t have just because it’s on the pass.
Benefits of the Sightseeing Pass
- Most popular tours often sell out. Sightseeing Pass online purchase confirmation allows you to secure your place. There are over 10 tours you can book in advance with Sightseeing Pass.
- Sightseeing Passes can be purchased up to 12 months before your New Orleans trip. Should your travel plans change, Sightseeing Pass insurance gives peace of mind, offering a full refund on non-activated Passes. No questions asked.
- Your Pass gets activated in New Orleans the moment you use it at an attraction or service. It is then valid for the number of consecutive days it was purchased for or number of attractions selected.
- You can use the pass on your smartphone. You can show the pass on your mobile, which makes it easy for those on the go and don’t have access to a printer, or just don’t want to bother!
- Allows you to plan in advance (they have a handy itinerary planner). A lot of time and money is wasted from a lack of planning and organization. I love how the Sightseeing Pass forces me to plan and run off a daily schedule. It makes for a better experience when exploring a city.
- You have access to the Hop On Hop Off bus. The Hop on Hop Off Bus ticket is a great way to get from one attraction to the other without fussing about with traffic and parking.
Visiting Other United States Cities?
Check out our review of the NYC Sightseeing pass vs New York Pass
If you’re traveling to multiple cities over a 30 day period, you may be interested in the USA Sightseeing Pass. Choose from over 300 Attractions in 12 USA destinations saving you up to 70% on attraction fees.
New Orleans Sightseeing Pass vs New Orleans Pass
I have not had personal experience with the New Orleans Power Pass, which is very similar to how the New Orleans Sightseeing Pass works.
Research the New Orleans attractions included in both passes and list out which ones are your must-sees.
From there you can work out, which pass will give you the best access to those at the best price
From my quick research on the New Orleans Pass website, here’s what I have found to be the most significant difference.
The New Orleans Pass seems to have a greater variety of attractions included, but it does depend on what you’re interested in seeing. The New Orleans attractions and tours that grabbed my attention the most was:
- Oak Alley Plantation (normally $25) – as this is on my dream list, I’d possibly lean more towards this Pass.
- 2-hour bike rental – although we have our own bikes. If you didn’t this could be a cool way to see the city.
- New Orleans School of Cooking Demo – learn how to make dishes like gumbo and jambalaya and taste them!! Yes please
Both passes may have separate attractions you want to do.
In that case, choose the card that will give you the most value and savings and then purchase individual admission tickets for the others. Yes.
It will involve a little bit of math for you but it will be worth it to save money on New Orleans Attractions.
Where to Stay in New Orleans
New Orleans has an abundance of accommodation options from hotels to apartments and
We’ve previously stayed at The Whitney Hotel located in Downtown New Orleans on the corner of Poydras Street and Camp Street.
It’s a converted bank building and a National Historic Landmark and the location was very convenient for us and we could pretty much walk anywhere:
We appreciated that our room was spacious and divided into two separate bedrooms.
They offer a complimentary continental breakfast, WiFi, and in-room bottles of artesian water. This is an affordable New Orleans accommodation and great for families.
The Mercantile Hotel
This 3-star hotel is situated in the New Orleans Central Arts Warehouse District, in the middle of New Orleans.
The Arts -Warehouse District is a great choice for travellers interested in restaurants, culture and sightseeing. This location is great for couples.
Bourbon Orleans Hotel
Bourbon Orleans Hotel offers hotel in the French Quarter within walking distance to the Louisiana State Museum, St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square
French Quarter (Vieux Carré) is a great choice for travelers interested in live music, history, and jazz.
This 5-star hotel is the dream hotel for Christmas with their photo-worthy and popular Christmas decorations.
The New Orleans Roosevelt Hotel is off Canal St a short walk to the French Quarter. It features restaurants, bars, and live jazz.
Some other New Orleans hotels you may want to try
Is New Orleans a Good Place to Take Kids?
You’ve probably heard about how New Orleans has epic bars or is a party town. So is it a place you can take kids? Definitely! Bring the entire family. In fact, read about all the different things to do in New Orleans with kids.
More New Orleans Tips
- How to enjoy Mardi Gras with kids
- Best things to do in New Orleans with kids
- 11 Places to Eat in New Orleans to Taste Some of the Most Delicious Food in the US