New Orleans is one of those towns with something for to peak everyone’s interest. Whether you are into people watching, history, food or nature; there is surely something in NOLA you will enjoy. I have been to New Orleans a few times and each visit I tend to add a new activity/sight. Below are at the top of my must dos while in the Crescent City.
Bourbon Street/ Jackson Square/ French Quarter
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street is exactly what you think of when you think of Mardi Gras. The smell of booze, sounds of music, and enthusiastic street performers; quickly have you realize why many deem this street the party capital. Many make this town their spot for bachlorette/bachlor parties for that very reason. Drinking on the street is legal here so it makes for bar hopping extra fun. The street itself is blocked off to vehicle traffic and is lined with bars a plenty, peep shows, and shops. One bar we hit called “The Old Absinthe House” seemed straight out of a movie. Local patron next to us ordered their Absinithe and wow, what an interesting cocktail to have seen made. Make it a point to stop in here. I had a bloody mary and it was enough to knock you to the next morning!
Just off of Bourbon Street is a REALLY cool cooking store called “Crescent City Cooks”. They have some really great NOLA gifts all having to do with FOOD! They also offer cooking classes where you can learn to make a gumbo or other NOLA traditional foods. The prices are not bad and this is on our “to-do” list for next time!
While you are strolling through the old streets of the French Quarter please do yourself a favor and make sure you stop at The Roosevelt Hotel, owned by Waldorf Astoria, and find The Sazerac Bar. This is one of my top 3 bars in the entire country. The craftmanship of the cocktails are out of this world. My personal favorite is the Ramos Gin Fizz. Watching the bartender make this cocktail is an absolute show. The super high pour of the eggwhite concotion creates a massive foam top. Superb!
Another thing I recommend you do while in the Quarter is to dine on a balcony. Preferably on a beautiful sunny day. You won’t regret it! Fresh air sitting high above the folks strolling thru the old town is fantastic. We dined at Tableau and as you can see from the photo it was absolutely gorgeous.
As you venture closer to the mighty Mississippi River you will run into one of our US National Historical Landmarks, Jackson Square. A beautiful 2.5 acre park and where in 1803 Louisianna was made a US Territory. Here you can take a load off an listen to some street performers, or grab a bignet and a cafe a laut from Cafe Du Monde. There are also a ton of local artist selling their artwork. Stroll along the historic river front where so much history took place.
The Garden District
Away from all the boozing and partying of New Orleans, you will find a wonderful, quiet, historic neighborhood to stroll through. The streets in the Garden District are lined with old oak trees and beautiful single story cottages and large grand historic mansions. No two homes here are the same. I could spend hours walking thru these streets gawking at these gorgeous homes.
Nestled in the Garden District is the renowned Commanders Palace. This restaurant is a MUST when visting New Orleans. Whether for Brunch or Dinner you will not be disappointed. Additionally I highly recommend that you make reservations in advance. They have a dress code as well, men are required to wear a jacket. The restaurant is located directly across the street from Lafayette Cemetary.
Check out a few Cemeteries
I know, rather morbid. However you have to understand that the cemetaries located in New Orleans are unlike any you have ever seen! Honestly straight out of Interview With a Vampire if you know what I mean…Why are these cemetaries so cool? First off they are super old, 18th-19th century old. They are also above ground due to New Orleans being below sea level and the amount of flooding that occurs. The most noteable cemetaries are Lafayette Cemetery, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, and St. Louis Cemetery No. 2. For the most part they are all free entry and you can self guide, this is not the case at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. You can ONLY tour St Louis Cemetery No. 1 with a guide. This is due to rules set by the Catholic Church to prevent vandolism and due to the high foot traffic at this particular cemetery. This cemetery is believed to be the resting place for Maria Laveau, the mother of voodoo.
Visit a Plantation
Located in what is known as the German Coast, about an hour outside of New Orleans, lies several old historic plantations that offer tours. These plantations contain Antebellum style mansions and were the domestic centers for the cotton, rice and sugar cane production of the south. To reach these plantations you will either need to rent a car or take a tour from town. My husband and I opted to rent our own car so that we could take our time heading to Plantation Country. There are a few different planations to pick from the most noteable ones are the Whitney Plantation and Oak Alley. They are both different in the sense that one plantation focuses on day to day life on the plantation, while the other focuses more on the day to day life of the enslaved workers of the plantation. ***Click here for my full review on the plantation we visited ***