I was lucky enough to take a trip to New Orleans this past week and see what it has to offer. It had always been one of the top places on my bucket list, as I’m sure it is for many others. The food, the music, the French influenced architecture, and of course, the rich history, bring people to this delectable melting pot of a city. Although many warned me of the smothering August humidity, I seized my opportunity to go regardless of the temperature. Plus, it was no secret among my friends that I loved being blanketed by humidity, to their chagrins.
We stepped off of the plane and taxied our way over to the French Quarter, only a half hour away. The small cobblestone streets and hidden alleyways alluded to the city’s age, which was built during a time where a horse and buggy were the main mode of transport. The French Quarter is definitely the place to stay if you are visiting NOLA. You soon learn that it is the perfect walking city, with shops at every turn and street musicians on every corner. While Bourbon St. is known as party central, there is much more to New Orleans, and a couple days can let you become familiar with the art galleries on Royal St. to the happening beats on Frenchman St.
Frenchman St. was by far one of my favorite parts of our trip. It’s where the locals go to listen to live music, which inhabit the various bars that line its sidewalks. With the amount of live music and cool smoky bars, I literally felt like a kid in a candy shop. Loud brass bands with energetic tempos, sultry blues beats that made you want to melt, traditional jazz that let you sit back and relax, and even some gypsy jazz to get you in a roaring 20’s mood. Even when you weren’t in the bars, there were musicians that serenaded the crowds on their in-between-bar jaunts. There was even one guy playing a sitar and rocking out!
When you’ve filled your ears with nightlife you work up an appetite, and NOLA is known for its world famous Creole cuisine. Gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish, oysters, and Andouille sausage are available everywhere you go, along with other Southern delicacies. I had the best oysters Rockefeller around at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar and the most amazing eggs benedict in a breakfast to-die-for at Stanley’s near Jackson Square.
Of course, everyone has to make a pit stop at the world famous Café Du Monde right along the Mississippi, which is the place to go when you are craving something sweet. The only thing on the menu to eat are beignets, a New Orleans delicacy which put our version of a donut to shame.
To make the most of your time you can combine sights, food, and music with a New Orleans Steamboat Dinner and Jazz Cruise and ride along the Mississippi while listening to Dixieland’s finest on the historic Natchez Steamboat.
The best way to work off all that food is to take a historic stroll to Jackson Square where you’ll find the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. Want to take a walk on the wild side? You can always go voodoo shop hopping, as they dominate the French Quarter—you might even get your fortune told. A New Orleans Ghosts and Spirits Nighttime Walking Tour can also give you a spooky glimpse into the city’s gloomy past.
If you’re looking to go beyond the borders of the French Quarter, you can experience some of Louisiana’s other gems like the awe-inspiring Oak Alley Plantation, where Interview With a Vampire was filmed, or go deep into the Bayou swampland and catch yourself a gator.
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