I’ll admit that before visiting New Orleans I mainly visualized it to be Bourbon Street. I pictured a fun and festive street lined with bars and restaurants in two storied buildings with wrought iron balconies. What I didn’t picture was the filth, the homeless, the rats (quite miraculous that Mama Bug left the hotel again after that sighting!) and a general feeling of being unsafe – but thankfully there is much more to New Orleans than Bourbon Street. So while we recommend a visit to New Orleans, you may want to think twice about a stroll down Bourbon Street.
Maybe because we were spoiled with the transportation system in Georgia just a few weeks before, but getting from the airport to downtown New Orleans by taxi was a little shocking with a flat rate of $36 each way (almost as much as our flights!) There was an airport shuttle for a little bit less but on a short trip we just want to get to our destination rather than stopping at several other hotels. Public transportation by streetcar within the city was an easy and affordable way of getting around (tip: you can purchase an all day streetcar pass for just $3.00)
When researching a trip to New Orleans, almost everything seems to revolve around food and jazz music, and there is no shortage of either. One of the top things on our list was to try was a world famous beignet from Cafe Du Monde
Yum!!! This place is open 24 hours and often has long line ups – only $2.75 for a plate of 3 (served warm) – and so good! You can sit and be served or you can get them at the take out window.
Jackson Square is a great place to stroll around. A beautiful park, surrounded by artists and live musicians, be sure to make some time to explore this area.
We absolutely loved the Garden District. This pretty neighbourhood is full of gorgeous mansions and also included the funky shops and restaurants along Magazine Street and St. Charles Street.
Probably a weird attraction to want to visit, but we were really interested in visiting a cemetery. There are several throughout the city, and they are really neat to walk around (they are above ground due to frequent flooding.) There was something beautiful and peaceful about these cemeteries and we chose to visit the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District, for two reasons; it was free and it was the one shown in the movie Double Jeopardy. Another popular choice to visit is the Saint Louis Cemetery, however you must have a guide and pay an entrance fee to enter this one. Note: There are many different guided and self-guided cemetery tours that you can purchase where you will get some interesting history and background.
A definite highlight of our visit to NOLA, was a stop at Mardi Gras World. This massive working warehouse not only stores many of the Mardi Gras parade floats and props, but this is also where they are created. Artists work all year round prepping and preparing the gigantic styrofoam and paper mâché floats for the many different parades during Mardi Gras season (January 6 through Fat Tuesday). Great guided tour with free time at the end, and they also offer a free shuttle that picks up and drops off at different points throughout the city. Cost is approx. $20 per person.
These floats are massive – and they even have restrooms on board!
One problem with squeezing in a quick trip is that there is never enough time to see everything. We regret not being able to spend time at the World War II Museum, we have only heard great things about it – but unfortunately it will have to wait until next time.
Another attraction that looked like a lot of fun (and another thing we ran out of time for), was a cruise on the Mississippi River. The Steamboat Natchez offers a few different options including a Jazz cruise, as well as Dinner Cruises.
All in all it was a great trip, not totally what we were expecting – but happy to have visited. The “highs” outweighed the “lows” but like any destination – do your research to know what you want to see and do, always have a back up plan (in case of weather) and stay safe!