New Orleans is a mix of magic, mystery, and romance. NOLA is a diverse city full of culture which combines the histories of the French, Spanish, and Caribbean people who made the Crescent City the gem she is today. There's something for everyone in New Orleans, including ornate architecture, rowdy Bourbon Street, and the ghosts and ghouls roaming the Mississippi Riverfront. Your life is incomplete if you haven't been down to New Orleans. The Spanish Moss hanging from centuries-old trees, the friendly smiles of locals, and the exquisite restaurants will ignite your imagination and nourish your soul.
The Vieux Carre is a historic New Orleans district and is the city's oldest part. The French Quarter was founded in 1718 by Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville. The old square stretches across 85 blocks extending from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. The French Market began in 1781 and is still in business today. The outdoor mall is the oldest in the United States, which provides mouth-watering restaurants, unique shops, and live music. Bourbon Street is infamous for its year-round Mardi Gras atmosphere year-round. You'll find massive to-go adult refreshments you can sip on as you walk through the charm of the old quarter.
In the French Quarter, you'll find touristy souvenir shops, bars pumping out bass-heavy tunes, and pretty girls trying to lure unsuspecting visitors into 'live performances.' Unique shopping requires a visitor to venture beyond the worn path and explore the darker parts of the Vieux Carre. Here you'll find the Boutique du Vampyre. It's served mortals and vampires alike since 2003. You can even get a bespoke set of fangs made just for your teeth.
New Orleans is a unique environment. The city was built entirely on swampland, complicating how people bury their dead. The inability to bury people in the ground has created some of the most magnificent cemeteries in the world. St. Louis No. 1 is a short stroll from the French Quarter and is the resting place of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Legend states that if you bring Queen Laveau an offering, like a candle, a piece of fruit, or candy, and mark three Xs on her grave, she may help you manifest your deepest desires.
Throughout the majority of New Orleans' history, the riverfront was inaccessible to residents due to the industrial nature of the area and the busy harbor. Recently, the industrial section was razed to make way for Woldenberg Park. Woldenberg Park honors the memory of a local philanthropist. The park helps attract almost ten million visitors every year. The riverfront is an excellent place to grab a Po' Boy and explore the sights and sounds of New Orleans at leisure.
America's worst natural disaster occurred in 2005 when Hurricane Katrina ravaged the southeast United States. Hundreds of thousands of people were displaced, many lost their lives, and our government shamed itself with a less-than-efficient response to such a horrible crisis. There are many different types of tours to account for the horrors of Katrina. See where the levee broke, which caused chaos and tragedy. Familiarize yourself and your family with the link between dwindling wetlands, levee reinforcement, gas, and oil pipelines, and hurricane destruction. Examine for yourself the hard-hit neighborhoods of the Ninth Ward, St. Bernard, and Gentilly. It's vital to remember these catastrophes to prevent them.
The St. Louis Cathedral proudly overlooks Jackson Square. The cathedral is the oldest functioning parish of the Roman Catholic Church in the United States. Construction began in 1724, but the cathedral underwent two significant restorations, including after a fire and after Hurricane Katrina. The church dedication occurred in 1794. The parish is a functioning cathedral; visiting the church is possible during periods without regular religious services.
The Mississippi riverfront is an exciting place with lots of things to do to stimulate all your senses, and is a great place to cool off from the humidity of a Big Easy summer. The mile-long riverfront hosts an annual 'French Quarter Festival' that draws visitors from all over the world to enjoy the Crescent City. The Steamboat Natchez sails thrice daily, with a dinner service in the evening. Park in the city and take an iconic, red streetcar to the boat. The steamship will transport you to another time when these vessels brought cotton, gambling, and jazz up and down the mighty Mississippi.
The Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, along with the Laura C. Hudson Visitor Center, provide extensive exhibits about many of the oldest protected historic districts in the nation. Ask about the swamp tours to see reptiles in their natural elements. The visitor center is east of the French Quarter. Exhibitions mean to educate visitors on how New Orleans was shaped by cultural, environmental, and sociological aspects that still impact residents today.
Since the 18th century, Voodoo and New Orleans have remained connected to one another. The Voodoo Museum attempts to unravel the mysteries and magic of the culture of New Orleans, Louisiana. The museum provides a unique perspective on the history of the Big Easy with entertaining and educational exhibits. They can also help book ghost tours and other hunts for paranormal creatures.
Two iconic coffee shops in New Orleans have operated since the mid-1860s: Cafe du Monde and Morning Call. Locals tend to split into Morning Call devotees or they're loyal Cafe du Monde customers. Both shops are open around-the-clock and offer delicious chickory coffee with traditional French doughnuts covered in powdered sugar, which are known as beignets. Go ahead, dig in!
The Bywater is a neighborhood with a lot of character and a young, artistic vibe. Besides the colorful street art and murals that adorn many of its buildings, there are plenty of trendy bars and restaurants where you can get a taste of the local nightlife scene.
If you're interested in the paranormal, a ghost tour is a must-do activity in New Orleans. Consider booking a tour that takes you through the city's haunted cemeteries or one that focuses on the supernatural history of the French Quarter.
Crawfish boils are a staple of Southern cuisine and a fun way to bond with friends over a shared meal. Try getting your hands dirty at a local restaurant or join a local family for a backyard crawfish boil.
This museum is dedicated to preserving and celebrating African American culture in New Orleans. In addition to Mardi Gras Indian suits, it also features jazz funerals, social aid and pleasure clubs, and other aspects of the city's unique cultural heritage.
This eclectic neighborhood has some of the city's best live music venues, art galleries, and cafes. Wander through the streets and soak up the lively atmosphere, or hit up one of the area's many jazz clubs for a night of live music.
For a unique and thrilling experience, consider taking a swamp tour. Glide through the bayou and see alligators, turtles, and other wildlife up close while learning about the history and ecology of this vital ecosystem.
The Ogden is a must-visit destination for art lovers, particularly those interested in the American South. Its collection includes works by contemporary and historical Southern artists and rotating exhibitions that showcase the region's rich artistic heritage.
This iconic sandwich is a beloved staple of New Orleans cuisine. Whether you prefer fried shrimp, oysters, or roast beef, you're sure to find a delicious po'boy at one of the city's many eateries.
With its long history of cocktail culture, New Orleans is the perfect place to learn how to mix a drink like a pro. Take a class and learn the secrets of classic cocktails like the Sazerac or the Ramos Gin Fizz.
If you're looking for a truly unique New Orleans experience, consider visiting the Mardi Gras World. You'll get an up-close look at the elaborate floats and costumes used during Mardi Gras, as well as the chance to watch skilled artisans at work creating new designs.