In terms of culture, music and ultimate diversity, absolutely nowhere in the whole world could possibly compare to the mighty New Orleans.
The one-of-a-kind New Orleans nestled in the state of Louisiana is a major port and widely considered to be a commercial and economic hub for the Gulf Coast. So, whether you are planning a long weekend city break or a longer vacation, continue reading for a complete guide to vacationing in New Orleans.
Best Areas to Stay in New Orleans
When planning your trip to the city and looking for things to do in New Orleans, it is important for you to be aware of the five neighborhoods which are all fantastic areas to use as a traveler’s base. These top five neighborhoods consist of The Garden District, Bywater and Marigny, Mid-City, the Central Business District and the French Quarter.
The Garden District actually encompasses several different neighborhoods and is a much quieter and indeed a more residential area of New Orleans to stay than the hustling, bustling French Quarter. Moreover, if you are traveling to New Orleans with your family and small children, The Garden District is the ideal location from which to experience all that the Mardi Gras celebration has to offer.
New Orleans’s Central Business District (the CBD) is adjacent to the French Quarter and is usually the location for commuters and travelers who have work to pursue in the city. Bywater and Marigny are two neighboring areas of New Orleans which starts across the edge of Esplanade Avenue and are the trendiest and most ‘happening’ of areas not only in New Orleans, but across Louisiana state.
Mid-City is a much smaller area of New Orleans located by Lake Pontchartrain and is the perfect location if you are passionate about walking, hiking and general outdoor pursuits.
As with any other city in the United States, as indeed any city across the world, there are certainly better or worse areas to stay if you are wanting to get the most from your visit. Remember too that the weather may be different to the type you are used to if you go at certain times of year.
A Brief History of New Orleans
The territory of Louisiana was claimed for the French by a man named Rober de La Salle, before the King of France commissioned the development of a new colony in the area. In 1718, New Orleans became a city in its own right with the actual streets being constructed just four years later. Most of the streets throughout New Orleans are therefore understandably named after Catholic Saints and notable French aristocrats.
Just under a century later, in 1803, the Louisiana Purchase was devised which turned New Orleans over to the American people. From then on, the magnificent New Orleans has gone from strength to cultural strength.
The French Quarter
It would be decidedly tricky for anyone, even a long-time resident of New Orleans, to narrow down the best attraction of all in the city – the decision is likely to change daily. However, the French Quarter of New Orleans is certainly hard to beat, New Orleans’ French Quarter is both the heart and at the historic epicenter.
It would be churlish to assume any semblance of an exhaustive list of everything there is to do in New Orleans’ French Quarter, but the following iconic activities are certainly worth a look:
- Historical Sights Walking Tour
- Airboat Ride
- Steamboat Jazz Cruise
- Whitney Plantation Tour
- Ghost, Murders and Cemetery Tour
- National WWII Museum
- Swamp Tour
- Horse and Carriage Ride
You would have to have been living under that infamous proverbial rock to have never heard of Mardi Gras.
Mardi Gras is an incredibly popular and endlessly colorful festival which has its core origins in fertility rites, pagan spring festivals and Christian celebrations. Mardi Gras festival is also often alternatively referred to as Carnaval or Carnival. Mardi Gras is forever associated with New Orleans, as the fundamental origins of the festival embedded in and around the city.
The tone, colors and out-and-out celebratory nature of Mardi Gras was positively changed way back in 1857. That year, a group of New Orleans-based businessmen, named the Mistick Krewe of Comus, organized a cacophony of marching bands, rolling floats and the throwing of trinkets and beads with proverbial gay abandon.
Oak Valley Plantation
No vacation to the wondrous city of New Orleans would ever be complete without a fascinatingly informative and educational visit to (and tour around) Oak Valley Plantation.
Oak Valley Plantation is a historic plantation just outside of New Orleans, on the west bank of the Mississippi River, built in 1837 and designed in the style of Greek Revival by French architect Joseph Pillie. Oak Valley Plantation is a beautiful place in terms of both the house and grounds.
Top Landmarks in New Orleans
Finally, in this comprehensive guide to vacationing in New Orleans, it is important that you are aware of the top landmarks in and around the city. As New Orleans is full to the brim with experiences and adventures, you should always choose and even buy tickets to your most-wanted attractions well in advance of your visit, to both avoid disappointment and to ensure you are not left wanting. You could even download some app tours to help you explore the city.
Aside from experiencing the sensory experience of Mardi Gras in New Orleans and wining and dining the evenings away in the French Quarter, there is also a wide plethora of other activities and landmarks to consider visiting.
If you are passionate about music, then no visit to the iconic city of New Orleans would be complete without spending an evening along Frenchmen Street. Running adjacent to the hub of the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street boasts a myriad of live music venues, with performances from bands and musicians well-versed in every musical genre, from jazz to reggae.
Other notable landmarks in New Orleans which have not been previously discussed here include Magazine Street, which is essentially six miles of stores, City Park which has its very own forest, New Orleans Museum of Art, and for some real culture and to expand your knowledge base, the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience.