After alternating between the French and Spanish, New Orleans finally joined the United States in the year 1803. This incredibly diverse city has a checkered history and encompasses a myriad of cultures, traditions, and nationalities which has resulted in a city that has an atmosphere that is different in every way to other US cities.
Life can be tranquil in New Orleans with relics of the past still visible everywhere making it an inspiration to many famous movies and books. The tranquility can quickly turn to frivolity as the city celebrates any of the ancient traditions it is known for. The streets can turn into a giant party with revelers dancing and taking part in festivities that have been traditional for years in New Orleans.
The antique French Quarters, colonial-era, urbane bars, and the melody of saxophones filling the air in the city renowned as the Jazz Capital. The role the city played in the slavery era is still vivid while taking a tour of remains of the original 19th-century plantation homes. A little to the outskirts of the city lies an intriguing swampy wildlife. There are so many things to see and do in this amazing city, celebrations and festivities to take part in, you will be heady with stimulation in this heavily romanticised destination.
Exploring Parts of New Orleans – Where to Go
Historic French Quarter
The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city and can be traced back to the very beginning of New Orleans in the year 1718. The government of the United States of America has designated this location as a National Historic Landmark and with good reason.
The streets are surrounded by 18th and 19th century styled buildings with balconies made of cast iron and pastel walls made by the Spaniards that settled there. A local guide is always at hand to give you the low down on the details of previous inhabitants as you tour the remains of the Creole culture.
The French Quarter district is rather famous for its many restaurants and bars and unique foods and drinks which are unique to the region. Take a cocktail tour to get familiar with the bars and speakeasies that flourished during the prohibition era and taste some of the variety of concoctions such as the Sazerac, the official Cognac-based cocktail of the city.
Don’t Miss Wandering the Garden District
The glamorous Garden District was built to accommodate wealthy Americans who migrated into the New Orleans, lured by its opulence. These migrants would rather build their own luxurious colonial mansions rather than mingle with the Creole populace living at the French Quarters and thus, the Garden District was born. You can take a stroll or bicycle to have a close look at some of these streets which remain intact with their signature large buildings and immaculate gardens which earned the district its name.
The Lafayette Cemetery features in books and movies and has a long and incredible history. In this area, you can find a wide variety of shops, and cafes which are located at the intersection of Prytania Street and Washington Avenue. The cemetery has elegant surface graves and white-washed vaults which are styles taken from the city’s French and Spanish cultures. It is interesting to note that the descendants of these deceased still maintain their family vaults.
Lose Yourself in the Jazz Culture on Frenchmen Street
Every evening, several vibrant music scenes spring up to liven up the city of New Orleans which is renowned worldwide as the birthplace of Jazz. Saxophonists grace every available open space, while inspirational rhythms emanate from independent bars and live event venues that promote new talents. Lose yourself wandering this part of the city and inhale the music as you go.
The Frenchman Street exudes a relaxed atmosphere with several jazz clubs and a booming art scene. By day the jazz cafes are known for an easy-going atmosphere where one relax and linger while watching the world pass you by. However, the evenings mark the emergence a different aura where one can choose between a host of unique bars and eating places featuring performances by world-class musicians; you may also choose to take a stroll through the open night market where the local artisans display their artworks and handmade crafts for sale.
Indulge in an Air-boat Swamp Tour
It may not be glamorous, but touring the swamps is one of those things you have to do whilst in New Orleans. While touring the wetlands, you will pass through overgrown swamps and serene bayous covered with cypress trees laden with moss. Be on the lookout for alligators basking beneath the water surface, perfectly still, except for intermittent eye movements. Other animals to look out for are coypu (river rats), snakes and turtles along with birdlife such as brown pelicans, herons. egrets, and ibis.
The Mississippi River
The famous Mississippi river is known around the world, made famous by Hollywood movies and books. From New Orleans, you can easily access the East and West banks of the River Mississippi which is located south of Lake Pontchartrain. New Orleans and Louisiana are separated by the swamps and bayous of Louisiana. There is a wide variety of wildlife inhabiting the wetlands with the alligator one of the prominent species. To learn more about these wetlands and the plants and its plant and animal life, take a tour on an airboat with a local guide.
Tour Louisiana’s Plantation Homes
A horrible and bloody history, the slaves who worked these plantations are forever remembered in modern times. The location of some of the most awful and gruesome days in the history of America can be seen by visiting the original 18th and 19th-century plantation homes in Louisiana.
The extent of the wealthy lifestyle of the cotton and sugarcane plantation owners is evident through the huge rooms with extensive designs within the magnificent eighteenth-century mansions.
Some of the mansions proximal to New Orleans include the Laura Plantation dated back to 1804 which houses the slave quarters which has been restored to be a more like the real-life memoirs belonging to the former owner, Laura Locoul Gore. Another spectacular place is the Oak Alley that was built in the 1830s; it is a peculiar mansion with several 250-year old oak trees lined up in rows
Take Creole and Cajun Cooking Lessons
The Cuisines of the Deep South have been largely influenced by the cultures of the Spaniards, French, Caribbean and West African residents. The food and recipes found in New Orleans also reflect its multi-cultural roots and are unique.
The techniques of the Creole and Cajun cooking are taught at the Orleans School of Cooking. The school features live sessions where you can understudy an expert demonstrate how to make dishes such as craw-fish etouffee, jambalaya, and gumbo.
You also have a choice to join a hands-on session where you can prepare the dishes under the supervision of an experienced chef. Thereafter, you settle down to eat your cuisine with iced tea or an ice-cold local beer.
New Orleans is a place that is both historical and fascinating and must surely be on your bucket list. Airfare and accommodation prices vary so be sure to check out the best time to travel. Bon Voyage!