Parks - Audubon Park and City Park are both awesome. Walk the loop around Audubon park before you check out the zoo perhaps, and there is also the tree of life, and the fly great view of the Mississippi River. City park has a lot to offer. South side of 610 (highway cuts city park in half), you have mini golf, beignets, a free must do outdoor sculpture garden, you can rent boats or bikes, and a great walking path around the lake. Also, NOMA. North side for biking, golf, and long distance run/walking. Love Crescent Park for view of the city. Louis Armstrong Park, go during day only, it's ok.
Museums - The new kids museum in city park is going to be awesome (not open yet). The D Day museum is really incredible, the 4d movie is worth it too. It is a little pricey, but the exhibits are incredible, lots of reading. The southern history museum across the street, is ok. NOMA is ok too.
Touristy stuff - Take the trolleys, they are cheap, and fun, and for the most part pretty safe. You can take the trolleys all the way up town, which I recommend to look at all the houses on St Charles. The trolley up canal is a good way to check out the mausoleums and maybe city park. Parkway bakery is close to there too, top 5 po'boy shop for most New Orleanians. I love all the walking tours, ghost, history, graveyard tours. I think they are all fun. If you drink, don't try to duck in and grab a drink from a bar during the tour, they will lose you, or you them. Take a back pack with a few beers. I really enjoyed the steamboat ride too. The aquarium is ok. The shopping in the Riverwalk is ok. Mardi Gras world is kinda neat, you get to see floats, it should be free.
Festivals - Most of the best times I've had in Nola were free. Festivals always have live music and food. You can get beer and booze everywhere. I take off work for French Quarter Festival every year, it's the best festival in Nola, hands down, better than Jazz Fest in my opinion, 100% free. Check the calendar here.
Food - Yelp is really solid in NOLA, if you don't use the app, download it. If it has 4 stars it's good. 3 is edible. I've never heard any bad reviews about uber or lyft here. Flying in and out of MSY is pretty easy, an hour before you board is more than enough time typically, even for the planner, you know who you are. I love hole in the wall places. These are my current favorites. Most of the good restaurants you get in the french quarter you can get in other parts of the city for half the price, the exception being the famous places. Food List Below:
Parkway - Po'Boy Sandwiches; fried shrimp, roast beef, hamburger, fried oyster, meatball etc.... MAP
Acme - Gumbo, Charbroiled & Raw oysters, fried seafood, po'boy.... MAP
Deanie's - Fried seafood, boiled seafood, boiled potatoes as appetizers, bbq shrimp... MAP
Ruby Slipper - Breakfast/brunch, best mimosa in town... MAP
St. Roch - 10 food trucks under one roof. Great atmosphere, something for everyone... MAP
Good Karma Cafe - best curry in Nola. Vegan .. MAP
Sneaky Pickle - best vegetarian restaurant I've ever eaten. They make all plants taste amazing. Kinda sketchy part of town, I go for lunch... MAP
Satsuma Cafe - high quality affordable breakfast and lunch, best pressed juices in the city... MAP
Pizza Delicious - name says it all. Best pizza in Nola.... MAP
The Joint - Best BBQ. I'm picky about BBQ, this is the only place that's close to good. Memphis style. Peanut butter pie is close to perfect .... MAP
NOLA - Emeril food for everyone. It's pricey, but you can go casual... MAP
Commanders Palace - if you want the best and you have a sport coat... MAP
Bars & Music
Jazz Playhouse - Cool place, most don't frequent because the entrance is in the entrance of the hotel. You have to buy a drink, but no cover and the jazz is solid.... MAP
Bombay Club - Solid club too. Good drinks too.. MAP
DBA - Amazing booze, usually great music, has cover. Marigny till 2, then bourbon till 6am... MAP
Blacksmith Bar - Oldest bar in the US... MAP
Preservation Jazz Hall - worth the money. This is New Orleans... MAP
The thing that makes New Orleans, New Orleans.
WWOZ LIVE WIRE. Music lineup for every day of the year, or at least a place to start. Be careful about venturing toward Claiborne St, or the ninth ward late.
If you're into cocktails, New Orleans has some amazing absinthe bars.
Orange Couch has great lattes
HI-Volt is a solid coffee shop and breakfast stuff
Pj's Iced Coffee with Cream is what I drink all day every day.. MAP ... but they are everywhere
French Truck is the best local roasted coffee, there is one in the quarter too.
Local Food You Should Try
Beignets - French doughnuts. You can go to the river walk shops and get them, no line. You can go to the famous Cafe Du Monde, also there is a to go window on the back side of the building you don't have to wait. You can eat them on the sidewalk, they are messy everywhere.
Oysters - eat in the cold months that end in er; October, November, December... You can get them year round, but that's when they are best.
Crawfish - Spring crop, pond and river taste the same to me. Early summer they are big and hard to peel, before Easter they are expensive and hit and miss. Don't eat imported crawfish....
King Cakes - Are a carnival season sweet, basically an airy cinnamon roll with filling, and all have icing. If you get a piece with a little plastic baby, you have to buy the next king cake.
We are truly lucky to have amazing health and wellness services. Lots of yoga, and pilates, and even community services. Mindbody app works well. My favorites are Grace (pilates and yoga), Pilates Loft (pilates and yoga), Uncle Joe's (classical Pilates), Swan River & Wild Lotus (bhakti flow), Reyn (power flow, most beautiful studio), Yoga bywater (iyengar bywater), Audubon Yoga (Iyengar junior teacher), Nola Seva (free community yoga, me), Jai Bhakti Yoga (community yoga sliding scale donation), and Community Pilates.
You can run the levee starting a little past Audubon park. You can run the lakefront in Metairie, or the other side. You can run the perimeter of City Park. Happy's Running Club, November Project, and the New Orleans Track Club are all super active organizations locally.