I hope everyone is well and dealing with the end of summer Ok.
It’s been about a week that my sister, a friend of hers and I ended our road trip throughout the American Deep-South, where my favorite destination was definitely the bautiful New-Orleans. We spent 3 days in the city nicknamed the “Big Easy” due its relaxed atmosphere and since my experience there was so fun, I thought I’d write a little guide for y’all to know what to do there!
What to visit?
The French Quarters
New Orleans and Louisiana were originially founded under French occupation in the 18th century and have proudly maintained this heritage up to today, despite havong been passed around the hands of many countries. The French quarter, NOLA’s most touristic neighborhood and also home of the famous “Bourbon Street”, is a good example of the various cultural influences in the city.
Take a stroll through its historical streets and you will witness a mix a French street names, Spanish architecture, voodoo stores and beliefs brought in by the Carribean slaves and an overall rich history!
Located to the West of the Garden district, which is full of historical plantation houses, you will find the beautiful Audubon Park as well as its zoo. This park, created in 1871, is the perfect place to see gloomy Louisiana Cypress trees covered in Spanish moss and take in a little freshness during a warm, humid day in the city. Ideal for a jogging, a stroll or a day out, there is also a zoo located in the park.
Mardi Gras & Mardi Gras World
There are few places in the world that celebrate Mardi Gras (fat Tuesday) like New Orleans does. Maybe not quite as famous as Rio’s Carnival, their celebrations which start on King’s Day, on January 6th and last until Ash Tuesday, in March are incredibly decadent.
For the 2019 schedule, you can check out this link.
Yet, if you do not make it to New Orleans, you can still see some of the floats and learn more about these crazy traditions by checking out Mardi Gras World – the warehouse of the 1947 company building floats for over 40 parades each year. There, you will witness the different steps involved in organising the traditional Mardi Gras celebrations, discover the concept of “krews” and learn how the parades are financed every year. After the guided tour is over, you can hang out in the warehouse and take a closer look at the different pieces for as long as you wish!
The Voodoo Museum
Maybe a little disappointing by its size, the Voodoo Museum is still pretty unique and a good way to learn about this pretty mysterious religion. The visit is quick, there are only 2 rooms and a corridor, but the price is fair and you will get an opportunity to ask a voodoo divinity to grant you a wish or even leave a little object there!. It is located in the French quarter, along with other querky small museums such as the Pharmacy Museum or even an Irish Cultural Museum.
Take a tour
New Orleans is very developped in terms tourist activities and there is pretty much a tour on anything available. From Voodoo tours, Ghost tours, Historical and Architectural tours to Swamp Tours, you will have an opportunity to sign up on any corner in the French Quarter.
We personally took a Swamp tour, but from somewhere else in Louisiana and if New Orleans is going to be your only opportunity to navigate the Bayou, don’t miss it!
We also did a tour a the St. Louis #1 cemetery which was interesting but could maybe be even better as part of a more general tour. However it was a free tour, and the guide was very good, so I’ll leave you their link. These guys offer so many different tours and also recommend paying ones, so it’s definitely worth checking out!
A little more expensive but also apparently a nice option is to take a Mississippi boat tour!
Go listen some live music on Frenchmen Street or spend a wild night out on Bourbon Street.
The American South has historical ties with many music genres and remains today a great place to listen to some live music or discover new bands. New Orleans is no exception, and Frenchmen street is probably the best place to wander out in search of some good tunes. The street is lined with music venues, sometimes hosting multiple bands a night, and you might even cross the path of a band playing in the open air of the night!
If like me, you are under 21, this is an issue in most places but there are a few venues that will let you in. The Maison is one, but make sure to be there before 10PM, which is when they start carding.
If you feel like continuing the night, Bourbon Street is within walking distance of Frenchmen street, and you can even take a beer for the road as public drinking is legal in NOLA. There, you will find a more decadent atmosphere and will be able to dance the night away in the many bars and clubs around, downing decadent daiquiris and lavish cocktails while collecting Mardi Gras beads as you go…
Ride the Streetcar Named Desire
“They told me to take a street-car named Desire, and then transfer to one called Cemeteries and ride six blocks and get off at — Elysian Fields!…” – Blanche, A Streetcar Named Desire
Made famous by Tennessee Williams’ masterpiece, various trolley line run through NOLA. A ride costs $1.25 and is a good way of crossing the city. The green one named St Charles car will take you from Canal Street to Audubon Park through the Garden District in half an hour, offering nice streetviews through the open windows. Please bare in mind that the trolleys are pretty slow, so they won’t be the best option if you are in a rush.
What to Eat?
Louisiana is home to a very unique type of food: Cajun cuisine, originally brought about the French-speaking Acadians deported from Canada. Gumbos, Jambalayas, Bisque, Crawfish, Po-Boys and Seafood are regional staples and New Orleans is a great place to experience that!
Not a big seafood fan myself, this style wasn’t my favorite so I can’t actually tell you much about where to eat great Cajun food, but here THE place I would recommend.
- Café du Monde: present in the French Market since 1862, this is an Institution. In terms of the menu, you won’t get much choice: beignets are the way to go, as well as their chicoree coffee. It might feel a little bit like a factory because it is really big and busy, but you’ll understand why when you bite this scrumptious fried dough. One portion contains 3 beignets, so if you’re not very hungry, one between 2 people is enough 🙂
Tip: many places offer an Oyster Happy Hour which can be a very good deal. For example, at Luke’s Diner, in the Warehouse District, not only are oyster 75 cents each between 3pm and 6pm, but cocktails and beers are half off as well!
Where to Shop?
New Orleans is a little different from a lot of American cities when it comes to shopping because, just like for most things, it is quirkiest and embraces its originality. There are soo many independent shops around which are in my opinion great places to find gift ideas and souvenir. But don’t worry, you will also find chains, perfect for cheaper clothes and mainstream shopping! Here are a few areas I would deem worth a visit for the shoppaholics in town:
One of my favorite places in New Orleans, Magazine street runs for over 6 miles, from Lafayette Park to Audubon Park. I think the most interesting bit lies in the Garden District and is a great itinerary paired with a visit to Audubon Park. There are many Antiques shops lining the street in this area, as well as little restaurants, cafés, bakeries and even supermarkets. If you get hungry, I absolutely loved the food and service at LemonShark Poké but it is not your typical Cajun food or American favorite!
Tip: Be careful if you go for shopping, many of the shops shut by 6 PM.
The French Quarter
On top of being a main tourist attraction, the French quarter is also full of quirky stores where you can find “typical” New Orleans objects such as Mardi Gras masks and beads or Voodoo dolls but also classic souvenirs like branded t-shirts and hats. You will find most shops around Royal and Toulouse Street.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk
In this mall you will find both outlets and normal stores such as Fossil, Forever 21, Nordstrom Rack, Levi’s…
There are also some dining option and a Café du Monde with a terrace on the river – great for anyone looking for nice deals not too far from town!
That’s it for this little guide of New Orleans! I hope you guys are all well and not letting getting back to school or the end of summer deter you from travelling. I am back home now and will be heading back to university, but have loads of post ideas in mind, so don’t hesitate to follow the blog and give me any suggestions in the comments. See you soon for more adventures xx