Hotels.com asked me to share my favorite things to do and see while traveling in New Orleans, Louisiana. Whether you call it the Crescent City, the Big Easy, NOLA, or New Orleans, there is a good chance that once you visit you may never want to leave — it is that captivating of a city. When most people think about New Orleans their first thought is Bourbon Street, however you would be surprised to know that locals rarely even set foot there. They spend their days dining on creole cuisine and listing to jazz in obscure music venues. When it comes to accommodation in New Orleans, you can find something for any budget, but I highly recommend splurging on something fancy. If you are thinking that you want to head down south, the following are the five best things for you and your family to experience while there:
Ride The Streetcar Along St. Charles Avenue
Be sure to ride the the Streetcar along the beautiful and historical St. Charles Avenue through the Garden District and into Uptown. There is something so mesmerizing about watching the giant Spanish Oak trees pass you by. This is one of the New Orleans highlights you simply cannot miss. A single ride costs $1.25, but you will need exact change, thus stock up on quarters beforehand. Words of wisdom: do not even think about calling it a “trolley”, as those are in San Francisco.
Take A Steamboat Cruise On The Mississippi
Sailing on a steamboat along the mighty Mississippi River is an unforgettable experience. Steamboat Natchez is the only one still plying the waters in New Orleans and they offer daily departures. If you decide on a daytime cruise, you will be treated to stories about the history of the city. On the other hand, if you can, choose the evening cruise, which features a live jazz band on board. It is truly one of the best things to do in New Orleans!
Visit Famous Gravestones On A Cemetery Tour
St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest in New Orleans and is just a block away from the French Quarter. It houses several famous historical figures, including the voodoo queen of New Orleans, Marie Laveau. Unfortunately, the cemetery closed its doors to the public in 2015 to prevent vandalism. So in order to visit, you will need to sign up for a cemetery tour. It is more interesting to have a local guide recounting the tales of the cemetery inhabitants anyway. St Louis Cemetery No. 2 is still open to the public and is just 3 blocks from St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It also contains several famous musicians and historical figures.
Binge On Beignets At Café Du Monde
While visiting New Orleans, you must stop at Café Du Monde for a plate of their famous Beignets and a cup of café au lait. Since it is so famous, be prepared: it is always packed! Take note that the lines are for to-go orders and the bathroom, but the entire restaurant is open seating, hence if you see an open table, grab it. A uniformed waiter will stop by shortly to take your order.
Beignets are deep-fried doughnuts. They are covered in a thick layer of powdered sugar and served warm. Café Du Monde is open 24-hours a day, 7 days a week, so there is really no wrong time to eat beignets. On your way out the door be sure to buy a tin of coffee to brew at home.
Take A Walking Tour Of The Garden District
While most walking tours choose to visit the often-crowded French Quarter, a great alternative is to tour the Garden District. It is much more peaceful and every bit as interesting. You will walk by the most grand and stately houses in the city. You can also stroll through Lafayette Cemetery, which is a stunningly old cemetery. It is easy to take yourself on a self-guided tour with a little bit of online research beforehand.
Please keep in mind that traveling in this moment remains uncertain, thus always make sure your safety and the safety of others is your #1 priority. If you are indeed comfortable with traveling, ensure you travel responsibly and within regulation. You travel at your own risk.
Here are some recommendations should you travel:
- Wear a face mask.
- Bring hand sanitizer and wash your hands on a regular basis.
- Check official websites before your trip for the latest updates on policies, closures, and status of local businesses. Be aware you might have to self-quarantine upon arrival.
- Book a hotel with free cancellation in case you need to change your plans at the last minute.
- Be patient and calm. Remember we are all trying to do our best and are in this together.
There are probably a thousand reasons to visit New Orleans, as it is one of the most eccentric, vibrant cities in the world. It is filled with friendly people, amazing food, awesome live music, and memorable attractions. It is a city where anyone can find something to enjoy and adventures are constantly underway. Make sure to put it at the top of your Bucket List now!