Want to know which New Orleans souvenirs to look out for? Here are the best souvenirs from New Orleans to bring home for yourself and your loved ones.
I loved my time in New Orleans. I spent a few weeks there one year, to take in the New Orleans Jazz Festival and as much NOLA food as I could possibly fit. It’s such a cool city, with so much to do – you’re definitely going to want to buy a few treats to commemorate your trip there.
Well, what can you expect from a city founded by the French in 1718? Nothing less than a never-ending party of music and pizazz. New Orleans also boasts a collection of unique architecture and spooky history; just enough to keep it that ‘mysterious city’ in your memories.
With so much character in one city, you bet souvenirs from New Orleans range from homey to whacky. To help you choose the knockout piece on your trip, here are some of the best souvenirs from New Orleans
The Best Souvenirs from New Orleans
Just so you know which New Orleans souvenirs you can expect to be bringing home!
1. Masks in New Orleans
The riot of colours and excess during Carnival has become an iconic New Orleans staple. The city becomes a banquet of madness! One of the most amazing things to see in New Orleans is how far people go in creating elaborate costumes.
Like all costumed parties, the right mask makes a huge difference in character. Even if you’re not diving into the thick of things, pick up one of these characterful masks. The French Market features cheap feather ones, but you can customise and upgrade with a porcelain mask from The Mask Store on St. Ann’s.
2. Hot sauce
Tabasco is everywhere in the world, but when I say hot sauce here, I mean Louisiana-made sauces and mixes that feel a little more home-inspired.
Locals would recommend Crystal for the table, but there are plenty of other vinegar-based sauces, salsas and garnishes to taste. Pepper Palace is a great store for any chef (they even do shipping); farmer’s markets usually offer unique goods too.
A gift pack of hot sauce makes for one of the best souvenirs from New Orleans for sure.
3. Voodoo Dolls
New Orleans is known to embrace the mystical; sometimes this means the darker aspects of witchcraft. Voodoo dolls aren’t the most traditional souvenir from New Orleans, but they sure stand out.
Cheap, easy to pack and even come blessed, consider picking one up at Voodoo Authentica. You can also grab a Gris Gris potion bag to help deal with life’s nuisances.
4. Mardi Gras beads
Apart from masks and elaborate costumes, Mardi Gras souvenirs like beads are available year-round. Look for the green, purple, and gold combo – they’re markers of a great time. Symbolising faith, justice and power, these beads are integral to the event.
Interestingly enough, this carnival jewellery was first thrown into crowd during late 1800s! Now, they come in various styles, shapes and designs, easily found at any NOLA specialty store.
5. King Cake
Homemade food and knick-knacks for special holidays are great, but commercialised goodies do make convenient souvenirs!
Another New Orleans souvenir to bring home during Carnival season is the King Cake.
Easily found in grocery stores and random bakeries, they’re perfect for your own party back home.
6. Fleur de Lis
If you’d like something symbolic from New Orleans as a souvenir, get something with a fleur de lis motif. Representing the Royal House of Bourbon and Louisiana, it’s literally everywhere. On flags, earrings, paperweights – you’ll have an easy time finding something you like.
For something functional and decorative, I suggest buying household goods or accessories. Feeling peckish? You may spot some lis-shaped snacks too.
Music defines New Orleans. I recommend reading up on the city’s musical legacy before your visit, so you can fully appreciate the depth of its history.
From jazz to bounce to blues, from vinyl to CDs and everything in-between; the best New Orleans souvenir comes from record stores. Music-themed apparel, posters and other merchandise are great alternatives too. Local favorites to shop at include Peaches Records, Mushroom New Orleans, and Skully’z Recordz.
A well-chosen USB / CD from a street artist makes for one of the best souvenirs from New Orleans for you, or a friend.
8. Creole Cookbook
Food in New Orleans is as legendary as its music, with several cuisines fusing together to form its famous Creole food scene.
Spanish, French, West African and more cultures bring an abundance of herbs, butter and shellfish to the kitchen. Cookbooks pave the way for these tastes to invade your home, whether its shrimp and grits, gumbo or jambalaya.
9. Antiques and vintage finds
Antique hunting is a must when you’re in one of the oldest cities in America. Given the mixed cultures that have inhabited New Orleans, this treasure trove sure looks interesting!
The French Market is particularly fond of vintage fashion, pharmacy bottles and postcards. Maybe that strange bit of taxidermy or that creepy Louisiana Voodoo will be the newest conversation starter in your home.
10. WWII Memorabilia
History buffs also have a fair share of history-themed souvenirs from New Orleans. I highly suggest touring the New Orleans World War II Museum, which houses real aircraft from the war.
When you’re done browsing the immersive displays, drop by the gift store. The massive store is stocked with collectibles like dog-tags, posters, metal signs, replica military canteens and more. You might also find an interesting piece of retro fashion.
11. Books from Faulkner House
New Orleans is famous for its parties, but it has produced a fair share of literary legends as well. Case in point; the Faulkner House is a tiny bookstore tucked away by St. Louis Cathedral. It was once the home of William Faulkner.
The selection of books is mesmerising. Multiple editions of Faulkner, Hemingway, Dickens, Austen and more classics are available; these come in new and old. Not a fan of the period? There’s also new fiction, poetry and carefully curated essays to choose from.
12. Souvenirs from Local Markets
New Orleans does love its arts and crafts; as do I. Home to countless artists and artisans, the city always has marketplaces up and running.
– The French Quarter is especially fanciful, with an entire craft wing within The French Market.
– The Palace Market rotates through a series of local crafters.
– The Shops at 2011 Magazine shakes things up with an indoor bazaar that offers antiques and regional art. You’ll definitely find an artist whose style inspires you.
13. Beignet Mix
Food has been one of my go-to souvenirs since I could remember. There’s just something about bringing local delicacies home. If you don’t know what a beignet is, imagine deep-fried choux pastry with a very generous heaping of sugar! A New Orleans signature snack, it pairs well with coffee.
Café Du Monde is the undisputed place to go pick up beignet mixes; this old-timer has been around since 1862.
14. Jean Lafitte merchandise
Speaking of hoarding treasures, one of New Orleans’ local celebrities is none other than a French pirate called Jean Lafitte. A rather infamous bad-boy in the 18th century, he was pater pardoned of his crimes by participating in the Battle of New Orleans alongside Andrew Jackson. No one was surprised when he then turned to spy for the Spanish and grew his fortune by attacking merchant ships.
Look for his mustached face on printed t-shirts and coffee mugs – perfect for unique souvenirs from New Orleans.
15. Spooky stories
Cities with such long history tend to be some of the spookiest – New Orleans is no different. You’ll hear stories of haunted plantations, haunted cemeteries, haunted mansions (where a 1800s wealthy couple actually hid a torture chamber) and other haunted sites. Ghost tours are an extremely popular thing to do in New Orleans, and Halloween reaches a whole new level of spooky.
If you’re into supernatural happenings, you’ll be thrilled with the local tales. Find a copy of these spooky local legends in any bookstore or occult shop.
Also, go out and visit the Oak Alley Plantation nearby – so much fascinating history there!
16. Bourbon Street Sign
What am I doing with a street sign? Reliving great memories along Bourbon Street during Mardi Gras season. It makes for a perfect souvenir from New Orleans for you.
Named after the French royal family, Bourbon Street is a known host of the Mardi Gras Parade run every year. In fact, street performances and live music occur year round thanks to its neat line of clubs and restaurants. Even if you’re not here for festivities, you’ll most likely end up sipping cocktails at this street and watching impromptu conga lines.
Why not take home something fragrant? Yes, food items can taste and smell good, but those are usually polished off in a jiffy. Perfumes come personalised and last a much longer time.
While there’s no single ‘scent of the South’, there are certain New Orleans’ perfumes that you keep coming back to. One such parfumeur is Hové at 434 Chartres. Tea Olive and Vetivert are well-loved classics but you can find more modern fragrances too. They also sell soaps for those seeking cheaper gifts.
18. Hats from New Orleans
People down south do like their headgear so pick one up for yourself too!
Hats come in all shapes, sizes, colours and design; you’re bound to find the perfect one. Not only do they look great in your photos, but you can always stash them on your head if there’s no space in your luggage.
For a well-established head-adorning shop, visit Meyer the Hatter for some 100-years-plus expertise.
Souvenirs from New Orleans
New Orleans is full of quirky souvenirs, whether it is voodoo dolls or t-shirts with a pirate’s face on it. Celebrate this character-filled city with inventive gifts to bring home!