I’m not sure there’s another American city that’s quite like New Orleans. There’s no doubt that it’s the unique sights, sounds and soul that draw people from all over the country and tourists from around the world to New Orleans. But for me, it was the people. Specifically, one person – one of my best friends who’s currently studying at Tulane Univerity who showed me all around her new home!
I spent a few weeks in New Orleans, most days were spent wandering the French Quarter, other days were spent sampling the city’s infamous delicacies or exploring the nature in and around the city.
1. Spot some alligators on a swamp tour
Go swampin’ on a Louisiana bayou and spot some gators. My friend and I took a cruise with Cajun Encounters, where a knowledgeable guide taught us all kinds of things about mythology, Cajun and Creole cultures and the inhabitants of the swamp.
2. Take a creepy tour of New Orleans’ infamous burial grounds
Get to know more of the city’s voodoo and mythological history on one of the more haunting tours New Orleans has on offer, a cemetery tour! One of the stops will most likely be the Louis Cemetery No. 1. It is the oldest and most famous cemetery in the city as it is the burial ground of Marie Laveau, who was a renowned Voodoo priestess. It is also believed that Nicholas Cage has purchased a tomb in this cemetery to be his final resting place.
3. Stroll (if you dare) down Bourbon Street
Did you really go to New Orleans if you didn’t walk through the city’s infamous Bourbon Street? It might look a little different during the day but at night, the neon lights line the way for drunk-happy tourists and locals bar-hoppers to make their way to the next bar and the next.
4. See the ever-vibrant The Veteran’s house on St. Ann
I fell absolutely in love with this house when I ended up accidentally wandering down St Ann Street in the French Quarter. Not only is the house painted with bright, happy colours, it has been decked out with florals and wreaths.
5. Cool down with a Hanson’s Sno-Blitz
These ice-based deserts are a really big deal in New Orleans. So much so that we waited in an hour-long line just to get out hands on what is basically shaved ice with flavoured syrup topped with canned cream and a cherry.
6. Shop along Magazine street
There’s plenty of spots to shop in New Orleans, but Magazine street is lined with funky boutiques if you’re looking for something a little different to what you’d find in stock standard chain stores.
7. Ride a street Car down St. Charles
The streetcars are another New Orleans quirk and I recommend you take at least one ride while you’re visiting New Orleans. The best route is down St Charles, where you can look out the window at all the beautiful houses and tree-lined streets.
8. Jackson Square
Probably one of the most touristy and most photographed spots in New Orleans’ French Quarter is Jackson Square. Sitting right on the banks of the Mississippi River, the historic park was declared a National Landmark in 1960 and is always lively with live jazz singers, artists and street performers.
9. Head to a rooftop bar and look over the city of New Orleans
If you want to change things up from the Bourbon Street experience, head to one of New Orleans’ rooftop bars! I can recommend Monkey Board Bar, which has a relaxed vibe with sweeping views of the city. You could also head up to Hot Tin Roof, which is another local favourite!
10. Explore some of the 1,300 acres of New Orleans’ City Park
City Park is home 30,000 trees most of which are oak trees. In fact, City Park is the oldest grove of mature live oak trees in the world, with many of the oaks aged between 750 – 900 years old. City Park’s oaks are characterised by the greeny-grey stringy grass-like plant that hangs from their branches, which is called Spanish Moss.
11. Eat your weight in Beignets at Café du Monde
These are pure delicious, sugary, doughy goodness. You have to try this New Orleans delicacy at least once while you’re in the city, and the beignets have to be from Café du Monde.
12. Listen to live jazz on the New Orleans streets
Jazz is all about soul and the live jazz played out on the streets of New Orleans certainly sets the vibe for the city. If you’re not a jazz fan, you might be after you’ve been to New Orleans.
13. Wander the French Quarter streets lined with colourful houses
The houses in the French Quarter are an attraction in their own right, and the city knows it. In the effort to preserve the historical and architectural heritage of the Quarter, the owners of these houses are required to upkeep the vibrant facades but may only repaint the houses with the original colours.