Few cities around the world bring the same thought to mind as New Orleans. Even those who haven’t been to this city will know it well, having heard about the wild parties and city-wide festivals which it is famous for. Mardi Gras is just a small piece of the tourism puzzle New Orleans has to offer, though, and this means that you have an excellent chance to see something new if you decide to visit.
To give you a helping hand on your first time visiting this city, this post will be exploring some of the activities and adventures you can enjoy there. This should make it easier to make the most of your first visit, along with allowing you to plan and make sure that you know what you’d like to see before you arrive.
For many music-lovers, New Orleans represents the homeland of several genres of music. With music like jazz having been born here, it makes sense that some of the world’s greatest jazz artists made their names in this busy city, and it gives you plenty of time to soak up the music on your visit. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival is a great place to start, but you have plenty of other options to choose from too.
Preservation Hall has long been one of the most popular jazz venues in all of New Orleans. With three shows going on on most nights, zero-alcohol policies, and home to some of the greatest names in jazz, this place is ideal for anyone looking to cap off their day with some great music. If you like jazz, you’ve probably heard of Irvin Mayfield, and should probably visit his Playhouse if you’re in New Orleans. Like Preservation Hall, there are regular shows at this venue, but you’ll be allowed to drink.
Having the chance to learn about a new place is one of the best parts of traveling the world. When you’re in an amazing place like New Orleans, it makes sense to take the chance to teach yourself as much as possible about its history, and there are plenty of places to achieve this goal in New Orleans.
The Historic New Orleans Collection is a great place to start and is home to countless items that reflect the varied and exciting past of this city. This will give you insight into the bustling society which is found today.
The National WWII Museum represents a smaller window in history than the spot above but contains just as much as any museum. The US played a significant role in World War Two, and this is one of the best places to learn about its impact.
The New Orleans Museum of Art is the next location on this list. Boasting the largest collection of fine art in the city, this place is perfect for anyone interested in this side of American culture.
A Touch of Nature
Most people don’t expect to find much of the natural world when they visit a busy city like New Orleans. While you won’t find woodlands, deserts, or savannas in a place like this, you can still find plenty of animals. Taking a visit to one of the zoos in New Orleans is an excellent way to soak up something natural when you’re in a place filled with buildings and cars.
Audubon Zoo is the flagship zoo in New Orleans and is home to over more than 2,000 animals. Spread over a really large area, all of the animals in this zoo have ample space, and are happy and playful when visitors come around. Alongside the Audubon Zoo, you’ll also find the Audubon Aquarium, Insectarium, and Butterfly Garden, making a tour of these venues a great day out for families, couples, and even those traveling on their own.
There are also short trips outside of New Orleans where you can see some of the most famous residents of the region, alligators! Catch a swamp and bayou tour just 45 minutes from the city.
In a place with such a rich and eclectic culture, it makes sense that there are a ton of interesting shops. This city is famed for its boutiques dotting its streets along with the host of arty clothing stores. The French Quarter is particularly popular for shopping, with some stores open very late, and others offering unique ways to spend your money.
Mardi Gras is French for “Fat Tuesday”, and is traditionally held on the day before Ash Wednesday; the first day of lent. Originally viewed as the last chance to eat rich foods before going back to a more meager existence for the season, this event has been turned into so much more over the years. Nowadays, Mardi Gras is one of the largest carnivals in the world, with people coming from across the globe to celebrate with one another.
This sort of event isn’t ideal for kids, as there is usually a lot of drinking, and you may even see some nudity along the way, with some taking the festive spirit much further than others. While the main event will happen on the day before Lent, there will be celebrations for more than two weeks leading up to this date, giving you plenty of opportunities to get out onto the streets. You will find street food, carnival floats, and loads of music at events like this, but the experience will be like nothing else found in the US.
New Orleans isn’t the hottest, most populated, or most popular city in the US, but it still holds a dear place in a lot of people’s hearts. This part of the world is filled to the brim with culture, having been one of the most popular cities in the US for immigration for a very long time. You’ll find touches of French, Spanish, and countless other worldwide cultures when you visit this stunning city. With so much on offer, it makes a lot of sense to plan.
An Amazing Food Culture
Gumbo, crawfish Étouffée, jambalaya, red beans and rice, beignets, Po-Boys, and bananas Foster are just a *few* of the local specialties. The food itself is reason enough to visit New Orleans, but luckily there is far more to do than just eat!
How about you? Have you been to New Orleans? Is there something you would like to recommend? Do share!