New Orleans exudes a captivating allure as a city where history and cultural fusion intertwine. From its French origins and brief Spanish occupation to its ultimate acquisition by America in 1803, the city's unique narrative unfolds through its atmospheric streets.
These Are The Things People Get Wrong About New Orleans
Also known as The Crescent City due to its location on the bend of the Mississippi River, New Orleans is a captivating mosaic, blending diverse influences, such as Cajun and Creole, to create an unparalleled tapestry of traditions, flavors and the undeniable spirit that defines this remarkable destination.
Unfortunately, visitors make assumptions about what to expect and often miss out on opportunities to experience more than just the party scene of Bourbon Street. For a truly immersive experience, here are a few things visitors to New Orleans need to know.
Catholicism was the prominent religion for the French and Spanish who settled in the area in the 1700s, and with it, Mardi Gras celebrations followed suit. Some may not realize that the event marks the Catholic holiday of Shrove Tuesday before refraining during Lent.
It's the city's busiest time of year, and locals and visitors love the parades. It's normal for people to walk around in garishly fun costumes, watch heavily decorated floats, and catch beads thrown at them. By the end of Mardi Gras Day, Bourbon Street is ankle-deep in cast-off beads.
At this time of year, hundreds of thousands of visitors vie for expensive hotel rooms, and it is worth doing once to say you've had the experience, but this is a festival city, and there's a festival on offer every other month. However, there's much more to do here, especially if festivals are not your thing.
Partying and Drinking
In particular, New Orleans and the French Quarter have some fantastic bars. In fact, almost the entire length of Bourbon St is a place where bachelor and bachelorette parties converge in droves. Since it's legal to walk around carrying your daiquiris and beers, why wouldn't you?
Just outside the Quarter in the district known as the Marigny is another street dedicated to music and partying called Frenchman Street. You will often find random bands playing in the street, and people block traffic with dancing. This makes Crescent City so much fun, but it's just a tiny part of what the city offers.
The city's rich history, architecture, art, music, and culinary traditions are unique and worth a trip just for these. Exploring museums, taking historical tours, visiting art galleries, and enjoying live jazz music are just a few examples of the diverse experiences New Orleans offers.
The French Quarter
While the French Quarter is the epicenter of New Orleans, it makes up a small portion of the city. Many visitors to New Orleans assume that the French Quarter is the entire city or the main attraction. While the French Quarter is worth it for its historic architecture, lively atmosphere, and iconic Bourbon Street, the city has diverse neighborhoods, such as the Garden District, Uptown, and Bywater, with unique charm and attractions.
The Garden District is an adventure in itself. After the Louisiana Purchase, Americans started to move into this suburb. The area is a time capsule of 19th-century American opulence with streets of iron-work fences, live oaks, and large mansions. The Bywater offers a unique and bohemian atmosphere. Its artistic spirit thrives through colorful street art, quirky galleries, and live music venues.
Uptown contains Magazine Street, a vibrant thoroughfare showcasing trendy boutiques, antique shops, art galleries, and culinary delights. Uptown's oak-lined streets offer historic mansions, charming cafes, live music venues, and a thriving local scene.
When it comes to New Orleans cuisine, beignets often steal the spotlight. While these powdered sugar-covered pastries are delicious, visitors should be open to more than this iconic treat alone.
New Orleans is a food lover's paradise, renowned for its mouthwatering Creole and Cajun dishes such as gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish étouffée, po'boys, and more. Exploring the local food scene and trying various dishes is essential to experience New Orleans fully.
Regarding beignets, visitors often flock to Cafe Du Monde on Decatur Street. While this place is iconic, there are many better places to grab the sweet treat. This cafe only offers outdoor seating, so you don't want to make it your go-to option on a hot, humid New Orleans day.
Skip the queues and try Morning Call or Cafe Beignet.
Boasting a world-class sculpture garden, a historic carousel, and the largest oak grove in the country, City Park is a tranquil retreat that most visitors are unaware of. It's just north of the French Quarter and spans over 1,300 acres. It offers a serene oasis with lush green spaces, beautiful gardens, picturesque lagoons, and an impressive collection of outdoor art.
The park is also home to the Louisiana Children's Museum, the Botanical Gardens, New Orleans Museum of Art, and there's even a Cafe Du Monde so that you can skip the tourist crowd in the Quarter.
While there is plenty of history to absorb in the French Quarter, Louisiana has some amazing historical places just a short drive from the city center. It's worth spending a day exploring the historic plantation houses that were once a way of life in the southern state.
Destrehan Plantation, for example, is one of the oldest plantation houses in the area. It was constructed in 1790 and is only a 20-minute drive from New Orleans. There are plenty of tours from the city center to Destrehan if you don't have a car.
History buffs may way to take the 15-minute journey outside the city to see where The Battle of New Orleans was fought in 1815. General Andrew Jackson led a diverse force to victory against the British army, solidifying American independence and bolstering national pride.
You can check out the museum, walk around the property, and watch as a re-enactment soldier fires a musket.
Most filming in the Crescent City takes place in the cooler months, so if you happen to be here during Winter or Spring, you might see some action around the streets. Writers and filmmakers often fall in love with the atmosphere here, and you can spot locations for favorite TV series or movies. Some of these include American Horror Story: Coven, Green Book, Interview With the Vampire, Runaway Jury, Renfield, and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
One last thing that visitors get wrong that I will never understand — many guides tell you to “pronounce New Orleans as Nawlins because that's what the locals call it.”
I've never heard it once in all my years here. I see “Nawlins” written on signs, but every local pronounces it New Orlens.