New Orleans is as unique a city as they come, boasting French, Cajun, African, Caribbean and European influences all mixed together to create a lo-cal full of life with a deep-rooted history and one-of-a-kind culture. I visited The Big Easy with a few girlfriends and had the time of my life!
The first impression of New Orleans is largely Spanish, with beautiful, colorful houses sporting terraces often seen in Spanish settlements.
The popular streetcars are an easy way for tourists to get around New Orleans and a fun blast-from-the-past form of transportation. The St. Charles Avenue streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world and the longest of the New Orleans streetcars. My friends and I just took a ride around the city enjoying this tram with our to go drink cups. The open-container laws allow people to wander the street from bar to bar with drinks in hand.
Most tourists can’t resist a night out on Bourbon Street and I definitely think this is something that must be experienced by every visitor at least once. Bourbon Street is even crazier than you’ve heard. At bars you’ll find live music, sugar-sweet drinks called Hurricanes. Check out Pat O’Brien’s for a neat dueling pianos night!
I recommend coming back during the day for a stroll you’ll likely remember a bit better than a wild night out. If you’ve ever had a Beignet, try the one at Cafe Du Monde for the real experience and sit by Jackson Square to just chill for the evening. Most likely, there will be street music in the air.
For a more authentic downtown New Orleans experience, venture past Bourbon Street to Frenchman Street. Music-lovers will appreciate the cultural influences found in each bar, from traditional jazz to reggae to acoustic guitars to Latin salsa music. It’s in this two-block stretch, which I loved. Check out The Maison and try The Spotted Cat for some great live music and dancing. Do visit the bathroom, there was a piano in there.
There is a large local flea-market place that offers unique souvenirs for bargain prices, including custom paintings, jewelry and trinkets from local vendors.
It’s tempting to spend all your time in New Orleans in the French Quarter, but after you’ve had a chance to walk Bourbon and Frenchman, nibbled on beignets and sipped Cafe Au Lait at Cafe du Monde, and possibly had your fortune told or caricature sketched by a street vendor in front of the St. Charles Cathedral, it’s time to head to eat the spiciest sauce you’ve ever had! Experience the Pepper Palace! It was a challenge that we did where we all had a drop of it but trust me, out guts were burning for the rest of the day but a unique experience indeed!
After my first visit to NOLA as an adult, it has become one of the few destinations I am thrilled to visit again and again.