New Orleans – In one sentence
What do you get when you mix the music of Nashville, the party from Vegas, and the architecture of Charleston? New Orleans…add in AMAZING food choices and you have the best city in the nation for the foodie, the partier, or the historian in all of us! As a bonus, getting to New Orleans is not all that expensive by plane if you shop around. Even better with discount carriers.
We spent 4 nights and 5 days in NOLA and had a blast. Are parts of the city dirty, as in filthy, oh yes. Partly because there are more historical buildings in New Orleans than any other city in America. The outsides are beat all to hell at many places, even with the beauty of the design and attention to detail in an architectural sense, but walk in and most places have been refurbished and updated. Very nice inside, sometimes, not much to look at outside. Just like “people” say, “don’t judge a book by its cover”!
In my opinion, and I think many would agree, New Orleans is the food capital of America. You can get almost anything and the flavors are bold, robust, and electric. Some of the MUST eats are: Beignets, Poboys, Gumbo & Jumbalaya, Creole Turtle Soup, Raw & Grilled Oysters, Deep-Fried Soft-Shell Crab, Crawfish.
You have many accommodation options. We stayed at the Blake Hotel located in the Central Business District. We booked that hotel for many reasons, close to the Super Dome, on the Mardi Gras parade route, our travel club uses that hotel for DreamTrips, and we saved $189 over the four nights we stayed using our travel club…and lets be honest…I am thrifty, so that was the deciding factor!
There are many “districts” in New Orleans, 13 planning districts and 72 distinct neighborhoods. We spent most of our time in the Central Business District, Garden District, and the French Quarter. Someone could spend weeks in New Orleans and never get around to all the sites that New Orleans has to offer, much less tasting all the food!
Canal Street feels like the “hub” of New Orleans with all the constant activity, but there is so much more to do than just Canal Street. Of course, EVERYONE has heard of or has an idea of what Bourbon Street is all about. The vibe on Bourbon Street varies wildly from day to night. Some find it unique, some find it filthy, some find it overwhelming, some find it exciting….bottom line, Bourbon Street is one of those places you have to experience and make your OWN decision about what that area of New Orleans!
We spent an equal amount of time in the French Quarter, Garden District, and the Central Business District. New Orleans is VERY walkable and like any other city there are areas to avoid on foot, especially at night. No different than any other city!
Our favorite part of the city was the Garden District and the French Quarter part beside the Mississippi River. The favorite part for us was Jackson Square & St. Louis Cathedral. Beautiful, open, large, and always full of activity in or around Jackson Square. Away from the party scene of Bourbon Street and loaded full of restaurants, shops, and entertainment. At Jackson Square you will find Beignets & Café Au Lait…..the best beignets you will EVER eat….and more powder sugar you can EVER imagine!The French Market Collonade and French Market & Flea Market is just down the street from Café Au Lait and if you have been to Charleston’s Flea Market you will not be sure if you are in New Orleans or not!
I would recommend purchasing a Hop-On, Hop-Off 3-day ticket. The city is extremely walkable, but the Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tour gives you an excellent history lesson about the city and the various areas you will have access to. 19 stops to be exact with something to see and do at each stop. We have found that is the best way to take in a city. We usually hop on and travel the entire loop and then decide where we want to explore more. This is especially helpful if you are limited in time. An adult 3-Day ticket is $49 per person and a 1-Day ticket is $39, but is well worth the cost in the convenience alone. Children tickets are only $10 per child for 1-Day or 3-Day and that is a great deal! The buses are clean and have inside and outside seating on the double decker buses. The onboard travel guides are always friendly, helpful, and extremely knowledgeable. You WILL learn about the city if you pay attention and every guide is different. There are many buses and the longest wait at a stop will be less than 30 minutes…usually around 20 minutes or less depending on when you arrive at a stop. Just show your receipt and you are ready to go!
Cable cars are still operational in New Orleans, one of the few cities that still operate them. New Orleans electric cable cars started in 1893. If you are into that interesting part of New Orleans I have included a link for more information here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Streetcars_in_New_Orleans
There is so much history to New Orleans that one blog post will ever do the city justice. New Orleans is definitely a city to visit and beaming with history, fun, and excitement. I have heard many people say that New Orleans is “dirty” and unsafe to visit. We found that not to be the case. We did not feel unsafe, even once. Parts of the city is “dirty”, but not anymore than any other city we have visited. One must always us good judgement in visiting any city or country. Educate yourself on safe and unsafe areas. Locals will tell you! Don’t venture into unsure or unknown areas late at night. Go in a group. In other words, use some common sense and be aware of your surroundings.
Overall, I would highly recommend a trip to New Orleans. Go hungry! Plenty to do and explore. Amazing food choices, plenty of heritage, and a full-time party awaits you. Just depends on what you like to experience. If live music and particularly Jazz is your vibe, you can’t go wrong with a visit to the “big easy”! Let’s pack your bags!