New Orleans has been on my travel list for a very long time. I’ve been drawn to the city by its history, food, music and culture (okay, my child-like curiosity about the city’s rich tradition of witchcraft, voodoo and ghost stories contributed a little. Or a lot.) Below is my guide to highlights of the Big Easy.
*NOLA is nicknamed the Big Easy because of how easy it was for musicians to snag a gig there.
Beignets at Café Du Monde are a must. These donuts come out fluffy and piping hot. Order their famous Café Au Lait (or a frozen one on a hot day!) with the beignets.
Our best meal during the trip was at Meauxbar, a cute little bistro at the edge of French Quarter. I still dream of their bone marrow with escargot. Every dish we got was fantastic.
We also dined at classics like Galatoire’s and Commander’s Place, though their food was too salty for my taste. However I would still recommend going to people watch. Don’t forget to dress up for these restaurants!
I highly suggest doing tours of the French Quarter and Garden District. These tours give you a great idea of the lay of land and you’ll have an easier time navigating the city on your own. We joined Free Tours by Foot, where you can name your own price for the tours. Both tour guides we had were very knowledgeable on the history of the city. We also joined the extremely energetic VooDoo Bone Lady for one of her famous cemetery tours.
If you or one of your companions is a history buff, stop by the National WWII Museum. The museum is filled with memorabilia, interactive activities and walk through environments that allows you to understand scale and destructiveness of WWII. One of the highlights here was watching the 4D movie, Beyond All Boundaries, narrated and produced by Tom Hanks.
At night if you’re not bar hopping at Bourbon street, make your way to Frenchman Street for jazz. We opted for a performance at Snug Harbor as it seemed more spacious than the adjacent and very popular Spotted Cat.
Definitely buy tickets for a Preservation Hall jazz performance. You can skip the line and have front row seats in the small performance room. Get the famous Hurricane drink at Pat O’Brien’s next door before you head in (but beware of this Category 5 cocktail, it may hit you out of nowhere!).
While there are many outstanding confectionary stores in New Orleans (Southern Candymaker and Laura’s Candies included), my favorite was Leah’s Pralines. They make amazing Bacon Pecan Brittle, which is a great gift to bring back for friends.
KREWE du optic is a sunglasses store that designs its products right in New Orleans. All their unique and edgy designs are made with high-tech acetate, which allows you to easily adjust the frames so it fits your face perfectly (no slippage!).
Meyer the Hatter, founded in 1894, specializes in quality hats and caps of all kind. If you are in need of a fashionable fedora or just seeking shade from the sun, this is the place to go.
Faulkner House Books located on Pirate’s Alley is a beautifully curated bookstore with many rare first editions. Author William Faulkner actually lived in the building when he started to write!
See other souvenirs I brought back from this trip.
We stayed at the French Market Inn for the duration of our trip. It is conveniently located in French Quarters on Decatur St and reasonably priced for a 6 day stay.
When visiting New Orleans expect plenty of walking and for the weather to constantly change. We went through sweltering heat and cold rain in one day. So a couple of things that were essential to me on this trip were:
– Sneakers/walking shoes (I packed my Superga)
– Light cardigan
Laissez les bons temps rouler! Let the good times roll!