Stepping into New Orleans is like stepping into another world. With true southern hospitality, a lively jazz culture, haunted mansions, amazing food and even a bit of French influence and I had myself an interesting few days.
As soon as I landed, locals were offering to help lift my heavy bags on and off the bus and were more courtesy than the majority of people I had met elsewhere in America. I instantly fell in love with the people and just as quickly, I fell in love with the city.
I took about a million photos here, in the oldest part of NOLA. Everywhere I turned was so beautiful. The homes in the quarter ooze Spanish charm, with colorful facades, shuttered windows and stunning metal laced balconies. It’s easily walkable and there’s a lot to see. Here’s some of my favorites spots.
– Beignets from Cafe du Monde (800 Decatur Street)
One of the first things people would ask us when we arrived was “Have you tried the beignets yet?”. Delicious sugary donuts and cheap French coffee, a great stop for afternoon tea.
– A burger from Clover Grill (800 Bourbon Street)
This became our favorite place to eat with probably the most delicious burger I have ever had. Open 24 hours and located on the famous party street, it’s a little piece of true American dining.
– Muffulettas from Central Grocery (923 Decatur Street)
The NOLA famous sandwich is a must while you’re in town. But they are so big, me and a friend shared HALF (so we had a quarter each), pictured right.
– Fried Chicken from Willie Mae’s Scotch House (2401 St Ann Street)
Unfortunately this is the one place I didn’t get to try but met many travelers who did and fell in love with it. If you want to try some real southern fried chicken, try this place.
– Dat Dog
A funky hot dog shop with creative topping combination and crazy names to match. They have three different locations. I went to the one on Frenchmen Street (601) in the French Quarter, but they also have stores at 5030 Rue Freret Street and 3336 Magazine Street.
I’m sure you’ve already heard about it, but this street did not disappoint. Every door leads into a new bar on this street and you can walk from bar to bar with your drink in hand. Free entry into most places and cheap, deadly drink deals everywhere you turn. Make sure to try the famous Grenade and Hurricane drinks. Have just two and you will be set for a good night.
Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral
This square holds a lot of history and was designed in the 17th century. It is also an outdoor art space where local artists display their work.
The Mississippi River
Walk along the famous river and the largest river system in all of North America, responsible for draining water of 31 U.S states and 2 Canadian provinces.
Check out the cool shops and get a psychic reading
New Orleans has a huge history of ghosts, voodoo, witchery and psychics as well as the yearly Mardi Gras celebrations that bring the city to life every February. This makes for some exciting and unique store items and a lot of shops have their own psychic readers. When in NOLA.
Head to the Carousel Bar
Walk into the Hotel Monteleone to discover this treasure. The carousel was transformed into a super cool bar, that actually moves (although very slowly).
Tours to do in NOLA
Okay, enough about the French Quarter, as there is plenty more to see in this wonderful city. Starting with some exciting tours.
Louisiana is a unique landscape, being one of only a few American states to contain swampland and Alligators to match. I got to hold a baby Alligator our guide kept as a pet. It was winter when I arrived and I was unlucky enough to be there in abnormally cold weather, even for winter, so that was the only Alligator I saw. But rest assured, just days before some were seen and they are very common in the warmer months.
I didn’t have time to go on a plantation tour, but the photo says it all. See the beautiful mansions, stretches of Oak trees and hear a lot of history behind them, including the rise of slavery in the south.
There is a lot of haunting history in this city, especially the French Quarter. We took a spooky ghost tour, and we didn’t have to see anything for it to be a freaky experience (although I do believe I got something in the form of a purple orb in the photo of the front door). The chandelier was also flickering whilst in that home and the true stories the tour guide told were enough to give me goosebumps.
Walk down Magazine Street & To St Louis Cemetery
See how the residents of New Orleans live by walking down this street. It starts just near the edge of the French Quarter but the further it gets out of the city, the more beautiful homes and communities you see. It’s quite a long walk so have your walking shoes on, but absolutely beautiful. From there, you can make your way to one of the three St Louis Cemetery’s in the city. The graves are all above ground due to the swamp-like nature of the ground and digging too deep will run you into water. This is also why the homes don’t have the traditional american basements and are usually raised with front steps and a porch. How southern!
City Park and the Sculpture Grounds
Catch the tram from Canal Street straight to City Park. The park in itself is beautiful and then add the amazing (and free) sculpture gardens and you could spend a whole day there.
Canal Street borders the French Quarter and is where you can find many stores. The tram stops are all here to take you to many places across the city.
I think that pretty much sums up NOLA in a quick and simple way, unlike the city itself. I loved every minute of this unique place, and I think you will too.
What else did you love about New Orleans? Let me know.