New Orleans’ French Quarter and beyond
New Orleans is one of the country’s most interesting cities. With its French, Creole and Cajun influences, New Orleans is a stunning mosaic of different cultures. No where else is this evident than in the city’s French Quarter.
As the city’s oldest section, and one of its most famous, the French Quarter is easy to access. The French Quarter also suffered minimal damage from 2005 Hurricane Katrina, giving it a look and vitality unique to the city. Public transportation is available via streetcar as well as bus. The French Quarter is also highly walkable, making it a prime tourist attraction.
For newcomers though, using a guided tour is still a recommended way to experience the district. Tours can introduce you to new restaurants, swamp and plantation visits as well as all the best stores and shops to visit.
Drago’s Seafood Restaurant
Considered one of the best seafood restaurants in New Orleans, Drago’s has two locations, one downtown and one in Metairie, located north of the city. Most famous for their oysters, there is a little something for everyone (and the service is New Orleans-friendly).
The Camellia Grill
Fortunately, The Camellia Grill opened a second location in the French Quarter, which means you no longer have to drive up St. Charles or hop on the streetcar to get to this NOLA institution. Stop at this diner early in the morning (before the crowds convene) for a couple of scrambled eggs that’ll set you back just $3.50, and grits for less than a dollar!
Cafe du Monde
It’s cliche, but you really shouldn’t go to New Orleans without stopping for beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. This pairing is iconic and delicious. Three beignets and a cuppa joe will set you back about $5 (cash only).
Little needs to be said about this famous area that comprises 78 blocks along the Mississippi River. Meander day or night and you’ll find plenty of shops, cafes, hotels, architecture, and, of course, bars and music venues. There’s truly something for everyone.
Though it’s been more than a decade since the hurricane struck, the hurricane has still deeply affected the city. A tour is a great way to understand the legacy and impact of Hurricane Katrina. This will give you some deep insight into what happened during this natural disaster of unimaginable proportions. You’ll get to see the rebuilding firsthand, including the “Brad Pitt” homes, which are eco-friendly houses built high on stilts, meant to prevent some of the damages that occurred during Hurricane Katrina.
Take a drive (or book a tour that offers a free shuttle) and head out on a boat ride into an alligator-filled swamp. Your captain will likely be a Cajun through and through, with long tales of voodoo and sorcery to share.
To really get in touch with the roots of New Orleans, get out of town for a guided plantation tour. Learn about the history of local sugarcane plantations and the roles they served during the slave era. The Laura and Oak Alley Plantations are two of the top ones to visit for their beautiful grounds and storied histories.
Located in the heart of the French Quarter, this hotel is reportedly haunted, though I didn’t experience any ghosts while I stayed there. The service was impeccable and I really felt like royalty with red regal bedspreads and beautiful brick walls in the room.
Located on Canal Street, this is an affordable choice that’s within walking distance of the French Quarter and conveniently close to the Convention Center.
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