New Orleans is one of those places that I could visit again and again. It is without a doubt an American treasure. Dripping with southern charm and French-creole ancestry, this city is unlike any other. It’s European, it’s Caribbean, and it’s also deeply Southern. It’s the birthplace of jazz and French-creole cuisine. It’s beloved by artists, musicians, and poets, alike. And its traditions are deeply engrained in the hearts of the locals, such as the infamous week-long Mardi Gras celebrations.
This town has seen tragedy, but nothing can kill her spirit. She rises up with pizzazz and flair. All the while chanting the New Orleans expression, Laissez les bon temps rouler. Cajun French for, let the good times roll. Plan on visiting New Orleans? Alright then let’s roll, shall we? 🙂
The Ultimate Guide to Visiting New Orleans
New Orleans is located in America’s deep south, in southeastern Louisiana. It’s nicknamed the Crescent City because it was originally built on the crescent-shaped sliver along the bend in the Mississippi River.
Where to Stay
There is no shortage of fabulous accommodation in New Orleans. Whatever your price range, you’re bound to find something. You can splurge on a fancy boutique hotel, or easily find budget accommodation. Or for kicks, stay somewhere that’s haunted! Wherever you choose to stay, just don’t expect to sleep much that night. You have to enjoy the New Orleans nightlife, here it’s practically part of the culture (keep reading for some recommendations!). 🙂
- Hostel: City House Hostel – Located right in the French Quarter, this hostel has a great location and it’s friendly and clean.
- Boutique: Bienville House Hotel – Located in the heart of the French Quarter, I love Bienville’s courtyard and pool. Try to get a room with a wrought iron balcony!
- Luxury: Hotel Monteleone – If you want to travel New Orleans in style, look no further than Hotel Monteleone. It’s historic, classic, and inviting with its white-marble lobby and revolving Carousel Bar.
What to Eat
The cuisine in New Orleans in fantastic! It’s a melting pot of French-creole, Cajun, and southern soul food influences. Because of its location, seafood also plays a large part in the cuisine.
New Orleans Classics:
- Jambalaya – Traditional rice-based dish. (similar to Spain’s paella)
- Gumbo & Rice – Traditional soup or stew in Louisiana.
- Étouffée – Made from one type of shellfish (crawfish or shrimp) that’s smothered in a thick sauce and served with rice.
- Red Beans & Rice – Trust me when I say, you would have never thought something so simple could taste so good.
- Muffuletta – Traditional Italian-style sandwich invited in New Orleans.
- Po’boy – Traditional sandwich invited in New Orleans that’s served with meat on a French baguette
- Crawfish – Everyone gets excited when it’s crawfish season. Eat ‘em boiled, pinch the tail, and suck the head.
- Charbroiled oysters – AMAZINGGGG. Traditional oyster dish with garlic, butter, and parmesan cheese.
- Beignets – French-style pastry that’s deep fried and sprinkled with powdered sugar. Must try it with Chicory coffee!
Where to Eat
Eating in New Orleans is an experience. Dine at any of the below restaurants and enjoy some of New Orleans’s finest!
My Favorite Restaurants:
- Dragos – Must get charbroiled oysters here!
- Johnny’s Po-Boys – Goes without saying, must try the po’boy
- Acme Oyster House – There will most likely be a wait, but the food’s delicious
- Commander’s Palace – Famous New Orleans restaurant with award-wining food
- Court of Two Sisters – Beautiful courtyard to enjoy your meal
- The Old Coffee Pot– Come for breakfast, you’ll thank me
- Willa Jean– The most adorable bakery
- Café du Monde – Must eat beignets here!
New Orleans Nightlife
It’s not hard to figure out why New Orleans is nicknamed the “Big Easy”. It’s its round-the-clock nightlife is famous. Here’s some places to check out:
- Bourbon Street – Bourbon Street is famous, and it’s the place for nightlife in New Orleans.
- You can pop into a local bar, or just walk the street.
- Jazz/Piano Bars – My favorite is Pat O’Brien’s, home of the Hurricane.
- Carousel Bar & Lounge – This revolving bar has been named one of the Top 20 Bars in the World. Come to Hotel Monteleone and enjoy a cocktail where the likes of Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, and Tennessee Williams also threw a few back.
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – Riddled with folklore and legend, Lafitte’s is a unique bar that makes you feel like you’ve stepped back into the 18th
PRO TIP: Remember that in New Orleans you are allowed to take alcoholic beverages to go!
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is truly the heartbeat of New Orleans. You could spend hours wandering down cobblestone streets and admiring the French and Spanish architecture. The French Quarter is most likely where you’ll be spending the bulk of your time.
- Bourbon Street – This is the infamous New Orleans party street
- Royal Street – This classy street is where you’ll find upscale hotels (such as Hotel Monteleone) and pricey antique shops
- Chartres Street – This street is great for boutique shopping and has lots of nice cafés for lunch
- Decatur Street – This street is the last major street closest to the Mississippi River. It has lots of tourist shops, as well as commercial shopping such as H&M and Urban Outfitters.
There’s so much more to see and do here, so I’ve put together a few recommendations to start off your trip! I’m not going too in-depth, only because I wrote another blog post all on the French Quarter.
Read more: 10 Things you Must Do in the French Quarter
- Jackson Square – Be sure to explore this square and visit St. Louis Cathedral
- Old French Market – Wandering through this market is a must!
- Ghost Tour – Learn about haunted New Orleans by taking a ghost tour
St. Louis Cemetery
I know it sounds weird, but touring cemeteries in New Orleans is a thing. If you plan on going, I’d recommend St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It’s the oldest and most famous in New Orleans! Wander around and find some famous New Orleanians who are buried here, such as the voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
You can visit on your own, or take a cemetery tour.
Frenchman Street is known for its live-music venues. Many refer to Frenchman Street as what Bourbon Street used to be before it became tourist-focused. It’s where the locals come to party, and has a more authentic, musical feel.
Apart from the French Quarter, the Garden District is my absolute favorite! If you were impressed with the French Quarter’s architecture, you ain’t seen nothin’ yet. The Garden District is one of America’s most beautiful neighborhoods. It’s oak-shaded streets are filled with drool-worthy Victorian mansions. Many celebrities own homes here. This includes my personal favorite, vampire novelist, Anne Rice. She sold the mansion years ago, but you are still able to view it.
Anne Rice’s Mansion (Google Maps)
1239 First Street
New Orleans, LA 70130
If you’re in the Garden District, Magazine Street is a must. Let’s just say you haven’t truly “done” New Orleans until you’ve taken a stroll down Magazine Street. With more of a local flare, discover where New Orleanians like to hang out. Here you’ll find anything from boutique and antique shops, to smoothie bars and fine-dining restaurants.
- District Donuts Sliders Brew – Come for amazing donuts! They even have King Cake donuts during Mardi Gras and other “krewe” themed donuts.
- Creole Creamery – Voted best ice cream in Louisiana!
- 10 Things you Must Do in the French Quarter
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Where do you like to go when visiting New Orleans? Love to know in the comments below!