Consistently rated as one of the top 10 American cities to visit, New Orleans is an absolute melting pot of sights and sounds. Despite the storms that assault this city, you just can’t keep their jazz-loving spirit down – Laissez les bons temps rouler!
One of the peak times for travel to New Orleans is during Mardi Gras. This annual party always takes place shortly before Lent. Incredible colours, outrageous costumes, parades and music take over the city, as alcohol flows and everyone celebrates the beauty of love and life.
Café du Monde is a famous starting point for a busy day in The Big Easy. Enjoy a beignet (doughnut-like pastry) while you make your plans. If you’re not an early riser, fear not. They are open until midnight and the beignets are served all day long. Don’t waste time standing in line; the tables are free seating so you can grab one and then get your treats ordered.
The view of the city from a riverboat is not to be missed. The Natchez steamboat is the last authentic steamboat that operates on the mighty Mississippi river, offering both daytime and dinner cruises. The French Quarter is the heart of the original city. Here you can brush up on the history of the city at the Louisiana State Museum, or just soak up the atmosphere as you meander through the streets. For dinner, head to Saints & Sinners. The restaurant is owned by Channing Tatum and serves up a delicious jambalaya. The French Quarter Festival is a favourite with the locals.
Further upriver, the beautiful Garden District boasts historic homes and Magazine Street is filled with eclectic boutique shopping. Don’t miss some of the fantastic night markets that can be found around the city. Ross wasn’t on this trip, but I found him the perfect souvenir in the form of a handmade wooden bowtie.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without an outing to alligator country – we went with New Orleans Airboat Tours. Whizzing around the shallow waters on an airboat in search of gators is an incredible experience. Who knew they loved marshmallows so much!?
By night, Bourbon Street is alive and the sounds of soulful jazz will seduce you. Drink a ‘hurricane’ cocktail as you enjoy the sultry summer evenings, or visit Donna’s Bar & Grill to listen to some of the best local jazz musicians. New Orleans also has a supernatural vibe, which you can experience at the Voodoo Museum or by taking a guided ghost tour through dark alleyways and cemeteries. For a more personalised other-worldly experience, plenty of ‘psychics’ are willing to do a tarot or palm reading for $10.
With friendly people and activities so diverse, it’s hardly surprising that New Orleans has such an intoxicating appeal.
Have you been to New Orleans? Leave us a comment to tell our readers what you loved the most.