With the Essence Festival around the corner, New Orleans will be crawling with people from all over the country, especially its famed French Quarter District. Bourbon Street, along with its surrounding glory, will be descended on with thousands of people looking to have a good time. Although this is one of the liveliest time of year to be in New Orleans, let's face it, who wants to deal with the hassle of an overcrowded city? But don't let this deter you from visiting New Orleans during high travel season, there are plenty of awesome places outside of the French Quarter just waiting for you to explore.

1. Go on a Swamp Tour

No visit to Louisiana is complete without visiting the bayous. A 15 minute drive outside of New Orleans will take you to Jean Lafitte Park where tours of the swamp run up to four times a day. You’ll see a plethora of alligators, turtles and even some bald eagles during the hour and a half tour of experiencing the natural beauty of the Louisiana bayous.

2. Take a Tour of the Cemetery

OK, so it’s not as morbid as it sounds. Almost any other place in the world would deserve a side-eye if someone suggested you visit a cemetery for leisure, but wait until you see the ones in New Orleans. Most of New Orleans cemeteries are above ground, and each one has a unique structure and design. The city’s oldest cemetery, Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1, located on the outskirts of the French Quarter, is the burial site for the famous Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, and the future home of Nicolas Cage. Yes, even Nicolas Cage has fallen for the intrigue of the cemetery and shelled out some serious cash for a jazzy burial.

3. Visit a Historic Plantation

Venture about an hour outside of New Orleans to visit the breathtaking historic plantation home, Oak Alley. The plantation, first built in 1837, boasts jaw-dropping oak trees that are over 200 years old. These trees were transported from another location and planted by slaves, using their bare hands and wagons. Because of this, we can pay our respects to the legacy they left behind.

4. Go to Frenchmen Street

Within a 15 minute walk from Bourbon Street, Frenchmen Street is a great place to experience live music on any given night of the week. Its two-block stretch consists of clubs and bars filled with everything from blues singers, to reggae music and everything in between. Similar to Bourbon Street, every street corner is filled with the sounds of talented musicians, often playing with a full second line band. In addition to the live music, Frenchmen Street is known for its night art market. Although the art market recently moved to a new location, artists from all over the city still set up shop on Frenchmen Street and sell their original art and handmade goods. Buy anything from custom-made jewelry to soaps and original paintings, or browse around in wonder of the creative souls of New Orleans.

5. Check out Bacchanal for Happy Hour

Maybe one of New Orleans best-hidden gems, is this charming place located just outside the French Quarter. From the outside, it looks like a rundown abandoned building, with a barely visible sign signaling its location. But inside, is a small shop with tons of wine in stock, where you can pick out a bottle to enjoy with an accompanying cheese plate. And if you’re looking for a drink by the glass, head upstairs to the bar, then sit in the garden area to enjoy some live music.

6. Take a Walk Through Crescent Park

After you’ve thoroughly enjoyed yourself at Bacchanal, take a walk along the Mississippi River, through Crescent Park, to burn off some of those calories. The mile and a half trail will give you a full view of the French Quarter and some good photo-ops. Make sure to climb the arch to get a panoramic view of the city.

7. Go to Dooky Chase for the Lunch Buffet

If you’re looking for authentic Creole cuisine, this restaurant is the place to be. This renowned restaurant has visitors from Barack Obama to Beyoncé and Jay Z, and with good reason. The historic restaurant is owned by Leah Chase, who is known as the Queen of Creole Cuisine. If you do decide to check this restaurant out, make sure you go during the week, as the restaurant is not open on the weekends.

With plenty to do in and around New Orleans, there is no question you’re in for a good time!