There are many things to do while in New Orleans, and of them, it’s best to choose a handful and stick to them. While the city is full of life, you can very easily get lost in strolling the streets, window shopping, and brainstorming what your next move will be.
My boyfriend and I were fortunate enough to meet my parents in New Orleans, so they had a list full of their favorite NoLa experiences ready to share with us. Since nightlife wasn’t at the top of our list, my trip centralized around the three following things to do in New Orleans.
1. Tour Bourbon St. and the French Quarter
Strolling the French Quarter, you’re bound to find a piece of NoLa you’ll fall in love with. The area is filled with handmade jewelry, art, and antiques that speak to the rich culture and history the city has to offer. As a matter of fact, you’ll hardly find any shops that are owned and operated by major chains, as most have been family owned and operated for generations.
The streets are not only beautiful, they are bustling with jazz and street performers ready to put on a show for anyone that will watch. Once you’re in the moment, you truly do start to feel like you’re in a different world.
Interestingly enough, you’ll find a melange of buildings adjacent to one another - crystal shops are neighbored by private residences adjacent to well-kempt hotels. The entire New Orleans experience hinges on a culture that seems genuinely unaltered from its inception. While many of these buildings have gone through makeovers and updates, the integrity of the French and Spanish roots is surreal.
2. Try New Orleans Fine Dining
New Orleans dining experience is deep rooted in French and Creole cuisine that will quickly make even the most sophisticated palates fall in love. With restaurants like Commander’s Palace and Brennan’s (both founded by the Brennan Family of New Orleans), the fusion between authentic southern recipes and modernized dishes are more popular than ever.
When eating at Commander’s Palace, I had a three course meal that started with their signature Turtle Soup, followed by stuffed quail, and finished out with a bread pudding soufflé. While I don’t drink, the restaurant offers 25-cent martinis with the purchase of an entree during their lunch hour. It really was a perfect experience.
While traditional dishes like gumbo and crawfish étouffée are delicious, treating yourself to a New Orleans fine dining experience will really up the ante on New Orleans has to offer you. In walking through the French Quarter, you’re bound to find a restaurant that speaks to you.
3. Explore New Orleans Cemeteries and Haunted History
While the buildings and food are incredible, it’s cemeteries and haunted history have earned it the title of the most haunted city in the world. The entire city of New Orleans is deep rooted in superstition, voodoo, and the paranormal. With that, comes stories of encounters, as well as tours of some of the most notoriously haunted places within New Orleans.
My boyfriend and I did a self-guided tour through Lafayette Cemetery #1, a guided tour through New Orleans cemetery #2, and a haunted history night tour of three other cemeteries. As expected, these tours didn’t disappoint. While I didn’t see a ghost, I got to surround myself with the likes of Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen made famous in American Horror Story, along with other ornate family tombs.
The cemeteries were all more beautiful and awe-inspiring than scary; more art than cemetery. Of the things I would do again, visiting the cemeteries is at the top of my list. On the same note, every experience in New Orleans was fun, exciting, and created a feeling that leaves me wanting more. While I’m happy to be home where I can eat a little healthier, I am most definitely looking forward to visiting New Orleans again someday soon.