New Orleans, also known as the “Big Easy”, is home to the most popular Mardi Gras celebration in the world. This interesting city has French traditions, history, and influence that give it a unique cultural vibe. Situated in the Deep South on the Gulf Coast, “Nawlins” is on the “bottom of the map”. This article will cover the top 10 things to do in New Orleans, Louisiana.
10. Crawfish Feasting
Crawfish, also known as Mudbugs, is a very popular eating option in this southern region. The history of crawfish/crayfish in the Gulf Coast dates back to the Native Americans and Cajun people. Crawfish was the perfect food for the poor because they were so easy to catch and cook. All you need to do is place a netted crawfish trap down in the water, wait for them to bite the bait, and put them in a pot of boiling water. In northern cities, crawfish is difficult to come by because of the cold weather. But, in the south, crawfish is found in shallow bodies of waters and caught very easily. The most popular crawfish restaurants in New Orleans are Bevi Seafood, J&J Seafood, and Cajun Brothers Seafood. After feasting on your crawfish, you can try some oysters, frog legs, crabs, po-boys sandwiches, and BBQ shrimps.
9. Audubon Zoo
Audubon Zoo is a great entertainment option for family fun. They house animals from elephants to tigers, jaguars, penguins, sea horses, sea otters, stingrays, giraffes, frogs, snakes, turtles, butterflies, alligators, crocodiles, birds, gorillas, different primate species, and more! This zoo is open from the late mornings to the early evenings except on Mondays. They have an aquarium, insectarium, and IMAX theatre for all to enjoy. They host many live shows and delicious cuisines. This zoo is in the Uptown neighborhood, and considered one of the most highly desirable tourist attractions in New Orleans.
8. Ogden Museum of Southern Art
This museum has many types of hypnotic artwork pieces and beautiful sculptures depicting life events. Some of the art tells a history about New Orleans and other important events that happened in the south. This museum is nice and small, making it more intimate than larger museums. This would be a great time for bonding with the family. You can get up-close-and-personal with the artwork because they are so close for you to see. This museum is across the street from the WWII Museum, which I will cover later, in the Business District. This museum is open from 10am to 5pm on Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. They reopen from 6pm to 8pm for live events. They’re closed on Tuesdays.
7. Touring The Dead
New Orleans is known for its voodoo culture. Ghosts, spirits, and partitions roam the city on a daily basis around the city. When a body dies, the spirit lives. Sometimes those spirits leave the earth, whereas others stay here. Cemeteries are very popular tourist attractions and interesting places to visit in New Orleans. The cemeteries are aboveground and they’re also known for being haunted. These “Cities of the Dead” have really tall structures with interesting designs on them. If you’re the kind of person who would be interested in visiting these cemeteries, the main ones are St Louis Cemetery and Lafayette Cemetery.
6. City Park
City Park is a great place to take the family for free fun activities. After Hurricane Katrina hit, this park became reinvented with nature paths; botanical gardens; lots of tennis courts; soccer fields and a golf course. This will be the ideal place to spend a romantic weekend wandering and connecting with your loved one. This park has plenty of venues to host weddings, and there are historical 900-year old oak trees in the area that environmentalist can study. Some other activities one can take part in is fishing, biking, and boating. There is even a mini-amusement park for the kids to enjoy. This is a soothing way to spend your time in the city.
5. Frenchmen Street
Frenchmen Street would be a great starting point today for learning about the city. This laid-back street is only two and a half blocks long from Esplanade Avenue to Royal Street. It’s lined with bars, music clubs, art galleries, restaurants, and live music events. It doesn’t have the glitz and glamour of Bourbon Street but is still a nice place to go. This area attracts locals, but is tourist-friendly as well. It is one of the best areas to start getting to know the city. This street starts in the French Quarter, hence its name “Frenchmen”, since the French settled in this city in the 1700’s. This “trendy” street has a cool vibe with lots of things to do.
Streetcars are very popular forms of transportation around the city. They are spacious, roomy, have comfortable seating, and are a part of the public transportation system. These streetcars are tourist attractions within themselves that will take you to important parts of the city. Each time you ride one, the price is $1.25 for one-way and 25 cents for each transfer up to two hours after the first ride. Alternatively, you can buy a 1, 3, 7, or 30-day unlimited Jazzy pass and ride them all day long. The streetcars are mini-trains that creep down the main streets of NOLA. They are like trolleys but have wheels on tracks. Some of the areas they service are Canal Street, Saint Charles, Riverfront, and Loyola.
3. National WWII Museum
This museum opens daily from 9:00am to 5:00pm. It has history on display related to World War II. They have fighter planes, tanks, weapons, paperwork, cars, motorcycles, flags, photos, ribbons, awards, and uniforms from the war. You can hear oral presentations and take part in all types of events happening inside the museum. This place has inspired the award-winning movie “Saving Private Ryan”, and featured on many television shows. Family and friends will be left in awe after seeing a piece of this world history here. This museum is a must-see tourist attraction and is among the top 3 must-visit museums in the world.
2. French Quarter
The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood with lots history and activities to do. This is where Frenchmen Street is. The French Quarter is the heart of the city and anytime you talk about NOLA, this upscale neighborhood comes to mind. This is where the party-central of Bourbon Street is at that attracts hordes of people who come for the Mardi Gras after hours events. When you see people throwing beads and going wild, this is where it’s normally happening. This is not really a place for kids during the Mardi Gras season, but any other time is ok. There are bars, restaurants, and many forms of entertainment taking place on this street any time of the day. This is the party side of the city.
1. Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is one of the main draw for people coming to New Orleans. This festival is held year-round on Bourbon Street. The morning parade is perfect for family and friends and is a filled with lots of excitement, dancing, and Jazz music. However, the evening festivities are more for adults where things can get a bit raunchy. The Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World is the main attraction to learn about the Mardi Gras parade after its done. This place is featured on many popular cable networks such as the History and Discovery Channel. They have many floats, masks, costumes, and beads used in the parade. This place is open from 9am to 4:30pm daily. This is the place to go and learn more about this spectacular event.
New Orleans is a very fun place to visit. It has a very unique culture with deep French history molding the city to what it is now. Many people consider it one of the best cities in the nation. Travel Tip: Keep your family away from Mardi Gras on Bourbon and Canal street at night. The morning parades are family friendly.