New Orleans has an atmosphere all of its own!
We arrived for Mardi Gras season and it was definitely a bonus – the city was buzzing! If it’s on your bucket list, I highly recommend you get there sooner rather than later.
New Orleans pronounced ‘Nawlins’ sits on the banks of the Mississippi River which begins at Lake Itasca in Minnesota and travels down the Louisiana Delta Region into the Gulf of Mexico. The city is famous for round the clock nightlife, the vibrant music scene, delicious food and the diverse cultures which really influence the unique identity the city captures. New Orleans is a must visit city, I’ve never been anywhere like it, and I can’t imagine there is anywhere quite like it in the world.
See below for information on the activities we got up to!
Exploring the French Quarter:
The French Quarter is the oldest and one of the most well-known neighborhoods in America. It is hard to believe that you are visiting a US city with all the European vibes. Most of the French Quarters architecture was built during the 18th century and the period of Spanish rule over the city. While exploring the French Quarter be sure to stop by Café Du Monde for a café au lait and some beignets – the café sits on the Mississippi River and was worth the queue in the rain! It opens 24hours a day and only closes on Christmas Day.
Directly across from Café Du Monde is Jackson Square. You can enjoy a horse-drawn carriage tour around the park but we decided to keep wandering by foot and explore some more of this amazing city. The streets are lined with artists and tarot card readers thus creating an air of times past. Both Sean and Rachel got their cards read and I enjoyed standing back and capturing the moment.
The Voodoo shops along the streets are quite eerie, but it is fun to take time to explore them. The French Quarter has endless amounts of beautiful architecture, cafes, museums, and shops – so take time and enjoy it all!
The Ghost Tour:
New Orleans is one of the most haunted cities in the United States. From the yellow fever epidemic wiping out the majority of the local population and the horrific slavery stories you can expect a lot of crazy ghost stories while on a walking tour of the city. For example, At Ryan’s Irish Pub the ghost of a confused African American man in workman’s clothing is said to show up at the pub, near the back wall. He is thought to be a warehouseman that perished in the areas great fire.
Lots of the houses along the tour are so haunted that they are vacant due to strange paranormal things that occur. Many of the vacant houses are in the most prestigious parts of the city, but are inhabitable due to strange things that have happened in them – some say they are cursed. There are so many haunted places in New Orleans that it can terrify even the most skeptical of tourists. The tour has some haunted hotels on the route so be sure to research what hotel you are planning on staying in if you don’t want to be rooming with any ghosts 😉
The night time walking ghost tour was a great way to see and get to know the city! The company we went with was French Quarter Phantoms.
Check out the photo below – the second “window” from the left-hand side on the top row – it never had a glass window, and people have their suspicions as to whats behind it! This is one of the inhabitable residences along the tour! It is supposedly cursed!
The Mardi Gras Parades:
There are so many parades around Mardi Gras – from Krewe of Barkus to Super Krewes, there is something for everyone to enjoy. There are many locations and varieties all through the city so the best thing to do is download the app “Mardi Gras Parade Tracker’’ and organize what ones suit you by your location and time. We got to check out the last part of one in the city and it looked really cool. We also went to one out in Metairie which is more out in the suburbs. I don’t think it matters which ones you get to as they are all meant to be great! Try to get to one before heading into Bourbon Street as all the free beads you get at the parade will come in useful on Bourbon Street.
Whenever you mention NOLA to anyone, the first thing they say is you have to go to “Bourbon Street.” The street alone is the craziest place I have ever been. From Voodoo shops, live music along the street to people throwing beads from balconies all while everyone has a drink in hand. It is legal to walk the streets with alcohol. The funny part about it was most people go into a bar, buy a drink and walk back out onto the street to party. We started at Tropical Isle for some hand grenades – delicious and definitely recommend. We walked the street and enjoyed the bead throwing and joining in with everyone partying on the street. We made our way down towards Pat O’Brien’s Irish bar – I know typical Irish heading for an Irish bar on holiday, but it was recommended to us for the Hurricane drinks. I’m not surprised why they are famous for the Hurricane cocktails; they were very tasty! Although they taste good – be careful, they are strong! The rest of the night we went bar hopping and enjoyed the live music in the bars and had a great night! If you get the drinking munchies – hit up Willies Chicken, it won’t disappoint!
Tip: Be careful with your belongings, pick pockets are known in the city and when we got chatting to the NOLA locals, they warned us about this so just be aware!
The Swamp Tour:
Missed the Boat!!
We had hoped to get a Groupon and go on one of the larger boats which would have cost about $40 but we had missed the last tour. We then decided our only option was to take a private boat. The cost of this was $300 and unfortunately, there were only 3 of us, so it worked out $100 each which in the end wasn’t bad for a private boat and tour guide/captain. The boat seats up to 6 people so if you have 6 people I would HIGHLY recommend going with this option. We passed some of the bigger boats out on the swamp, and the people looked a little board and uninterested (that might have just been that particular crowd on that boat either). Our captain was flying around the swamp, and we had to hold on for dear life!! He went into places the larger boats wouldn’t fit and we even got up close to some alligators in the murky waters. It was really cool. Definitely check Groupon the prices range from $20 for the larger boats and then go with what’s best for the size of your group and what you would like. If you want Tame and easy – go on the bigger boat or if you want Fast and adventurous rent a private boat. I wouldn’t highly recommend the company we went with the customer service wasn’t great but our captain was great and he made the whole experience a fun one!
The Swamp Tour we went on was with Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours. It was 40mins from the city and about a $30 Uber ride.
Tip: Don’t bring valuables – Just bring what you can hold in your hands. Speeding around the swamps doesn’t mix well with trying to hold onto valuables!
Go on a street car even if it’s just for a few stops – there are very few left around the states and they are really cool. Be sure to bring cash as it doesn’t accept card payment.
Parkways Bakery – go here for a Po Boy! Roast beef or Shrimp – both were delicious!
Felix’s Restaurant – Alligator for appetizers and craw-fish for mains, definitely worth the stop!
Bars to see:
The Carousel Bar, in the Monteleone Hotel
Where to stay:
I traveled with 5 friends so we decided to go with an Air BnB in the city – just off Canal Street in Mid City. We paid $69 each for two nights. It was a great choice and I would highly recommend trying an Air BnB. We were a 5 minute Uber drive into Bourban Street.
I really hope you guys enjoyed reading this blog post – Happy traveling ✨