New Orleans is rich in culture and history. This richness and diversity shines through in every city spot and makes for a wonderfully interesting trip. It’s present in the architecture, woven through the cuisine, and prominent in the nightlife and outrageously spirited music scene that characterises city life. Mardi Gras celebrations will soon ignite the city and we thought this a perfect time to explore what it has to offer.
It wouldn’t be a trip to New Orleans if you hadn’t wandered the cultural hub of the city, known to locals as ‘the quarter.’ The area is buzzing with musicians, artists, writers and all those creative. Soaking up the architecture is dreamy as the area is an exotic blend of French, Spanish, Creole and American. Elaborate ironwork and big balconies adorn the buildings creating great people-watching spots as well as being aesthetically stunning.
A great starting point for architecture is the Cabildo, the former seat of government in colonial Louisiana, the building has a rich history and it’s striking to look at. The building is certainly worth exploring inside with exhibitions and art retelling the past of the city and the building. Continue your amble and make your next stop the St Louis Cathedral, the city’s most glorious example of French architecture. The cathedral was built in honour of Louis IV and soars up in triple spires.
At the heart of the quarter is Jackson square. A beautiful town green spotted with lounging artists, fortune tellers and hopeful traveling performers. Sit and chill here taking in the culture and you’re sure to catch some free live music.
As well as architecture and culture, the French Quarter is a hot spot for shopping and food. Browse the bustling antiques and goods at the French market filled with quirky shops and galleries. Or perhaps wander down Royal Street gazing at the galleries and local artists’ work. Soak in the rich jazz culture on Bourbon Street, known for its nightlife and music. Dining here is the best way to taste some Creole and Cajun cuisine whether it’s fine dining or a casual spot. The iconic Café du Mond serves the famous beignet, French doughnut and is a must-try!
Another wonderful area of the city is the Garden District, filled with some unimaginably beautiful homes. The streets are lined with trees, ivy and lush gardens and offer a relaxing atmosphere from the crowded tourist spots. After wandering the residential areas, explore the equally peaceful section which covers Prytania Street and Washington Avenue, offering shops and cafes.
As well as this the area includes the famous Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. The cemetery includes many tombs or immigrants devastated by the yellow-fever epidemics and makes for an interesting walk. The funeral of Anne Rice in July 1995 took place here and it became very famous. Why were so many expressing interest? Anne Rice actually staged her own funeral here, she hired a horse-drawn hearse and lowered herself into her own coffin wearing an antique wedding dress. Her self-staged funeral was at the same time as her latest novel release.
National WWII Museum.
To delve into the devastating past of the war in New Orleans, visit the National WWII Museum. The space is vast and exhibits an exploration of the biggest war of the century. It displays photographs, oral memory recounts, and offers a walk through the snowy woods of Ardennes. D-Day is covered in four galleries and included restored bombers and the German enigma machine. In an interactive explore, visitors can register for a dog tag which will connect them with the same WWII participant at various exhibits to create a personal and direct attachment to someone’s journey.
Louisiana Children’s Museum.
Another renowned museum, this is an fun option for kids. The museum covers everything from biology to architecture and hosts story times, interactive exhibitions and games. There’s an art gallery, a pretend grocery store and models of the ships that can be found in the port.
Civil War Museum.
This is the city’s oldest and houses a collection of Civil War memorabilia that pays homage to the rebel cause. The displays highlight heroes and soldiers who died in battle fighting for the cause, including uniforms, rebel swords, diaries and a lock of General Robert E Lee’s silver hair.
Nature lovers find a haven of waterways, trees, bridges a lush space. The park is a huge area and is beautifully green and peaceful. There’s botanical gardens, the carousel gardens, mini golf and bike or paddle boat renting. The day could easily be filled here outside, but if you fancy another museum fix then head into the New Orleans Museum of Art. Here, regional and American artists work is showcased.
Often dubbed the ‘greatest free show on earth’, New Orleans comes to life in the two week period of Mardi Gras. The celebrations take place leading up to Shrove Tuesday and the city is ignited by carnival. If you can visit during this time, then do! You will not be disappointed. There’s marching bands, floats, costumes and a hell of a lot of fun.
Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World.
If you can’t make it for the actual festival then certainly visit this fabulous spot. The exhibit offers a behind the scenes look at the celebrations through the floats and costumes. The space is so brilliant because it’s not a museum, but the actual Mardi Gras workshop and therefore all the current floats are being made there. Visitors agree it’s a must-visit, even if just to try on the flamboyant costume.
Jazz is the spirit and soul of New Orleans and where better to experience this than at the Jazz Festival. The festival will be running 28th April-7th May this year and is a truly amazing experience. The line-up includes huge names like Stevie Wonder, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers, Alabama Shakes and Trombone Shorty and Orleans Avenue.
Fight off the shining sun of New Orleans and fit perfectly into the French culture that’s interlaced into the city in a pair of French designer Saint Laurent sunglasses.
Which part of New Orleans looks great to you? Let us know in the comments below.
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