New Orleans – famously known as “The Big Easy”- immediately conjures up images of jazz musicians, food, and of course Mardi Gras. It is a fascinating blend of cultures, history, and music that definitely rings true to one of its many monikers “The Most Unique City in America.”
That being said here are my Top Five Things to do, if you’re ready to let the good times roll….
1. Visit Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral
Located at the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square is a staple of New Orleans, aptly named after the three bronze statues of Andrew Jackson located on the square. It is a great place to walk around and people watch, eat, and shop, and you will be treated to a beautiful view of St. Louis Cathedral…
St. Louis Cathedral faces Jackson Square and is an impressive site. Originally built in 1727, it is the oldest continuously active Roman Catholic Cathedral in the USA. (Who knew?) Whether you are religious or not, the cathedral is worth well an interior visit. It is free to the public, and you can do a free self-guided tour, granted there isn’t a mass or wedding taking place. It has a beautiful altar and stained glass windows.
Fun Fact: The cathedral was dedicated to King Louis IX of France, who was later canonized by the church – hence the name.
2. St. Louis Cemetery
Okay, let’s be honest, a trip to New Orleans will not be complete without some sort of ghost/cemetery tour; St. Louis cemetery is the perfect one to visit, as it is the most famous and oldest cemetery in New Orleans. It is famed for its ornate family tombs, its oven like vaults, and it is the burial place of some of the most illustrious characters in New Orleans’ history; the famed voodoo queen Marie Laveau is buried here. And if you’re lucky you might see a ghost. It is reportedly haunted, and really what’s better than some scary fun?
Note: If you plan to visit, you will need to do so by a guided tour, as it is the only way gain entry to the cemetery.
3. Visit a plantation
While there are no shortages of plantations in New Orleans, I would recommend visiting “Oak Alley.” It is famous for the stunning double row of oak trees that makes it look like an alley – hence its name.
The plantation has been on the site since the 1830’s and was a sugar cane plantation. Despite its beauty that will no doubt leave you in awe, one cannot forget its purpose or how it was built – slavery. So please do take the time to walk the grounds after your visit; there you will see how slaves at the time lived, and their stories.
4. Go to Café du Monde
Eating your way around New Orleans is a great pastime that even locals enjoy. My personal favorite – I went there every night on my trip to New Orleans- is the world renowned Café du Monde, they’ve been serving beignets and café au lait since 1862. It is open 24 hours a day, and seven days a week.
Tip: Café du Monde does sell their beignet mix and brewed coffee. If you plan to buy them do so at the actual Café du Monde. You’ll see them sold throughout stores, and shops, which sells them at least 50% more.
Honorable mentions: For breakfast go to Café Fleurs-de-Lis located on Chartres Street.
For dinner I recommend NOLA Restaurant, which is a blend of Creole and Southern cuisine, and is located on St. Louis Street.
5. Walk around New Orleans
New Orleans is definitely a walking town, you can choose to drive or call a taxi, but you’ll be missing out on New Orleans’ incredible architecture. New Orleans has pretty much been left untouched since the 1700’s. It looks like a cross between a French and Caribbean town.
Walking around you’ll get to explore cute little candy shops, vintage boutiques, voodoo shops, among other things. You’ll also be able to glimpse famed sites like the LaLaurie Mansion (it’s not open to the public), and maybe stumble upon a jazz concert on Bourbon Street.
Honorable mentions: Go to Frenchman Street; it’s quieter than Bourbon Street, and is known to have an artsy side to it, with many art galleries and live music.
Also, stop by the Hotel Monteleone, and go have a drink on their famed carousel bar – it spins around the bar, like a carousel- usually accompanied by live jazz.
New Orleans is a fascinating city unlike anywhere else in the USA; it’s easy to see why it has attracted artists, musicians, and writers alike. It has a lot of character and it can be downright charming at times, making it a fun getaway.
Analicia Austin is from Miami, Florida and is obsessed with all things travel and lifestyle. Which means she's always down for an adventure. Analicia runs travel & lifestyle blog Coffee and a Suitcase, where she shares all the lovely things that interest her. Go over and say hello. email@example.com.