How To Spend a Perfect Weekend in New Orleans
The great thing about New Orleans is that you can experience two different versions of the city – one from the guidebook and one off the beaten path. The touristy version of New Orleans tells you to experience the riverboats, sip on some coffee at Cafe Du Monde, and possibly take a chance at the floating casinos. But for those seeking a more authentic adventure, there’s another side to this charming river town that can’t be found in any travel guide – it’s only for those brave enough to explore its dark alleys and mysterious corners! From Cajun restaurants with mudbugs and jambalaya to tiny speakeasies hidden from plain sight, discovering its hidden gems is an eye-opening journey beyond expectations.
Why you Should visit New Orleans
New Orleans is the ideal city for sneaking away and taking a break. You don’t even have to feel guilty about lounging around because of its laid-back reputation and steamy climate. Heck, they even renamed it “The Big Easy” in honour of all the time you can spend idling there! Whether you’re planning to trace through the ancient passages of the French Quarter or browsing down Royal Street for one-of-a-kind antiques, not to mention doing some Christmas shopping with a refreshing drink in hand – New Orleans has it all!
The guidebook might take you to a few typical spots you might associate with the city, like a music hall, or a voodoo shop. There’s certainly nothing wrong with picking up a Justin Wilson cookbook on your way out – hey, who doesn’t love pralines? – but if you really want to get the full experience of New Orleans then it pays to have someone in the know show you around. On a weekend you can drink silly in the French Quarter, explore hidden courtyards where mystery lingers in even one of the oldest cemeteries in town and dine on some of the best and least known eateries. Don’t leave without taking a tour of Jazzland or riding an old-style streetcar. Who knows what kind of crazy adventure awaits? Let New Orleans show you how it’s done!
Get a taste of the Big Easy
Make sure to pack your appetite with you as you explore: sweet beignets from Cafe du Monde, twice-fried crispy potatoes smothered in garlic, and jambalaya overflowing with briny shrimp will challenge your willpower. Everywhere you look, there is something picturesque or romantic to discover. See the best of it all while meandering along the quiet cobblestone streets past stunning Creole architecture, swaying riverboats along the “crookedest” river in the world, and towering 19th-century mansions in the Garden District — a treat for anyone in search of an unforgettable adventure!
This legendary city didn’t gain its notoriety for nothing – it’s brimming with some of the most delicious dishes waht gastronomy has to offer. And when it comes to po-boys, you can’t wrong ordering yours “dressed” – whether it’s topped with fried oysters, shrimp, catfish or garlicky roast beef.
New Orleans could quite easily be called the Oyster Capital of the United States, given the amount of variety available in this Louisiana city. Whether you’re looking to enjoy them chargrilled on the half shell, deep-fried and piled high on a po-boy, or just raw – there’s an oyster recipe to suit every palate!
Exploring the oyster culture in New Orleans is an experience unlike any other. Don’t miss out on the unique opportunity of tasting one of these succulent delicacies, chargrilled on the half shell, deep-fried and piled high on a po-boy, or even raw. So if ever you find yourself in New Orleans, you’d better believe that adding some oysters to your ‘to-eat’ list should be your top priority – if it isn’t already!
You probably know the saying that you should only eat oysters in months that contain the letter “r” – and here, it’s no joke! Either way, when done right, scoring some fried or raw oysters in NOLA is like receiving a gift from the sea gods themselves.
Get your walking shoes on!
From the infamous streets of Bourbon and Royal to the hum of St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans is a city without beautiful architecture, sights. It sounds designed for all the walker-lovers out there! Even Mark Twain himself couldn’t deny all the curated rambling opportunities in NOLA as he called the Mississippi crookeder than ever before.
Whether you’re meandering around searching for beads for Mardi Gras or just trying to take in the historic charm, this city will surely welcome you with open arms!
Get your beignets at Café Du Monde after hours for a true NOLA experience
Café Du Monde is practically a rite of passage for any New Orleans native. You simply can’t visit the city without indulging in the signature beignets and Café au lait. But if you’re really in the know, like the locals, you’d hit up this establishment during odd hours of the night – nothing beats having beignets with your coffee and gazing at the stars! It may have been around since 1862 but don’t let that fool you, Cafe Du Monde has aged like a fine wine and still stands today as one of the most popular tourist spots in all of New Orleans.
For almost 160 years, the Original French Market Coffee Stand has been pleasing the taste buds of New Orleans locals and tourists alike. A true-blue landmark of the city, it resides on the very picturesque Jackson Square; could there be a better view while enjoying a plate of Beignets? Perhaps not.
Shopping in New Orleans
If you love to shop, New Orleans is a dream come true! Its Magazine Street has undergone a complete revival, with rustic shotgun houses and commercial properties becoming antique stores, art galleries and chic clothing outlets. From swanky high-end boutiques to cozy bookshops, there’s plenty of retail therapy on the street that never sleeps. Plus, with its tree-lined sidewalks and Victorian architecture, Magazine Street offers great scenery. At the same time, you hunt for those perfect purchases – now THAT’S a shopping holiday worth planning!
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum
The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is like a little slice of life in the bustling Crescent City. Tourists can be taken back in time and learn about the shops, potions, and remedies of old – think voodoo, absinthe, and opium!
But for those who’d rather indulge on the more legal stuff, the museum also holds rare tobacco called ‘Perique’ which can be purchased at the nearby Cigar Factory (where it’s definitely free of hexes). Who said history class had to be boring? Perhaps by perusing this town house you can gain a unique insight into traditional Cajun culture – though you may want to steer clear of that old hangover remedy.
A step back in time: the New Orleans Pharmacy
Imagine visiting back then and being served “medicinal” bottles filled with snake oil or tinctures made up of who even knows what. The pharmacy must have been pretty well equipped for the time given all the unsanitary conditions and nasty diseases running rampant. Thankfully it looks like things have come a long way since cholera, smallpox, malaria and yellow fever were striking terror into the hearts of local folks in 1853. Just remember that at that time about 1 in 15 people died in the summer – if you headed out off to the more rural parts of town those numbers would only go up!
Explore New Orleans Architecture
New Orleans is an architectural paradise, which really shouldn’t be a surprise considering the city’s eclectic history. Spanning three distinct eras of colonization, this peculiar American place is notable both in cultural and building diversity – think Baroque, French, Spanish and Modern just to scratch the surface. But let’s not forget why the world has their eyes on lively NOLA too: its vibrant economy driven by all manner of merry-making. From big beautiful weddings to wild bachelor/bachelorette parties and Mardi gras celebrations worthy of kings, New Orleans has long called tourism its bag of liquid gold.
New Orleans Bicycle Tours
Many bikers in the city have discovered the cycling trails of New Orleans’ Garden District and Audubon Park. Here, riders are presented with a charming view of historical architecture; it’s almost enough to make you forget that you’re biking while dodging sports cars full of day-tripping teenagers!
Through Audubon Park’s grand oak trees, the bike path takes cyclists to gorgeous wildlife and exotic birds, unless they arrive on one of those perfect Sundays when all you can hear are eagles…winging their way down to Mardi Gras!
New Orleans Hidden Gems
The Audubon Zoo in New Orleans is often forgotten, yet it is truly a hidden gem. You can explore various habitats hosting exotic and native species, from the giant bamboo jungles of South America to the African savanna. Even the local wildlife is represented – with alligators, nutria, snakes and black bears lurking around for visitors! And suppose the beasts are not enough for you. In that case, there is also a vast aquarium – where you can learn more about all sorts of common aquatic species like crawfish, crabs and catfish – not to mention admire them from up close.
Cemetery Tours: Ready to explore the spooky side of New Orleans?
Explore the unique cemeteries across New Orleans! Commonly referred to as “cities of the dead”, these elevated tombs are mazey reminders of centuries that have come and gone. Pay a visit to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 for an especially memorable experience; ranger-led tours help bring the cemetery’s history to life in a way you won’t find anywhere else.
Just be sure to bring a friend or two – not only is it much more enjoyable with company, but it’s also wise for safety reasons since these tombs provide ample opportunities for nefarious types to hide out!
How to get around New Orleans
For all its eccentricities, New Orleans is a city for walkers and lovers of old streetcars. It’s a small enough city that getting around is surprisingly easy. You definitely won’t feel like you’re lost – unless you get caught in one of the city’s many delicious food spots and lose track of time (it happens!). As they say, locals know where to go, but if you’re looking for a ride, plenty of Ubers and taxicabs are zipping around every corner.
The Mighty Mississippi
The Mississippi River has been an attraction for centuries. Still, the warehouses that sprung up over time nearly blocked any views of it. These days, however, river strollers and watchers are rejoicing as city development is making a U-turn that leads back to the picturesque old waterfront. The open vistas along the Lower Mississippi allow folks to appreciate some majestic sights on their strolls – from fast and intimidating rapids to cargo ships passing by from around the world! Talk about a thrill! It’s no wonder why this 250-mile stretch from Baton Rouge to the Gulf of Mexico earns its title as one of the busiest ports in all of America. So take a break and reunite with nature at this beautiful riverfront paradise that is New Orleans.
Why you should visit New Orleans
New Orleans is the ideal city for sneaking away and taking a break. You don’t even have to feel guilty about lounging around because of its laid-back reputation and steamy climate. Heck, they even renamed it “The Big Easy” in honour of all the time you can spend idling there! Whether you’re planning to trace through the ancient passages of the French Quarter or browsing down Royal Street for one-of-a-kind antiques, not to mention doing some Christmas shopping with a refreshing drink in hand – New Orleans has it all! This fall is a great time to explore if you want to truly prove The Big Easy motto.
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