New Orleans is a city full of personality, rich history, fantastic music, charm and Southern hospitality (yes, this is a real thing!). A city that can be enjoyed year-round, there is no shortage of things to see or do. I visited NOLA for an extended long weekend, focusing most of my time in the French Quarter, and was able to see and do a lot over four days.
Here are our top 5 travel experiences in New Orleans:
I will always remember New Orleans as the place that opened up my eyes to the world of oysters. I tried raw oysters only once before but I didn’t do it right. It wasn’t until New Orleans where I really had oysters. You can’t go home without trying them! Freshly hand-shucked, huge and juicy Gulf oysters abound. You can find them prepared just about any way; there are so many different varieties. These were my favourites:
BBQ Oysters at Red Fish Grill – Their signature oyster is so for a reason. These were so damn good! Flash fried, then coated in a spicy BBQ sauce and a house made blue cheese dressing.
Char-grilled Oysters at Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar – Prepared with butter, parmesan and garlic and a side of garlic bread.
Raw oysters – If you’re going to eat oysters, you have to try them raw at least once! They don’t at all look appetizing, but they are delicious! Place a freshly shucked oyster on a saltine, top it with cocktail sauce, horseradish, a dash of salt and pepper, a squeeze of fresh lemon juice…and voila! I had these for lunch and dinner! You can get these anywhere. French Market is fun place to go and watch as they are shucked right before your eyes.
2. French Market District
In existence since 1791, the French Market is a great place to wander through, grab a bite to eat and shop. There are plenty of shops, vendors and eateries that will appeal to everyone whatever your interest. The open-air market features a daily farmers and flea market, along with a variety of festivals and musical events.
My shopping picks: ReStrung Jewelry (Jewelry made from recycled guitar strings from local musicians) and home decor made from pieces of wood and nails salvaged from old homes destroyed by Hurricane Katrina.
3. Scandalous Cocktail Tour by Historic New Orleans Tours
I absolutely loved this tour! Led by a very knowledgeable guide, this two hour tour left me wishing it was longer. Jam packed with fascinating, historical information, it opened my eyes to a side of the French Quarter I never knew and gave me a new found appreciation for New Orleans. I had planned on taking a French Quarter Tour the next day, but decided to forgo it because I learned so much during this tour.
The Scandalous Cocktail Tour will transport you back in time with vivid stories while visiting various historic buildings and bars and trying their signature cocktails (oh and there are plenty!). Some stops on this tour include the Carousel Bar (known for the Vieux Carre), Pirate Alley Cafe and Absinthe House (try Absinthe with cola and it tastes exactly like root beer!) and May Bailey’s Place (for the refreshing Pimm’s Cup). Cocktails are optional and are not included in the tour price ($25).
4. Live Music
It’s no secret New Orleans is known for jazz and its flourishing music scene. Taking in some live music is a must! Some of the best music I experienced was from street performers. Great places to go for an evening of live music is any club or bar on Bourbon or Frenchman Street. For a memorable evening, visit Pat O’Brien’s and witness their famous copper pianos and dueling piano players…heck, even request a song or two!
5. Riding the Saint Charles Streetcar
Take a ride on the St. Charles Streetcar Line, the world’s oldest continuously operating streetcar. This isn’t the smoothest ride ever, but I felt like I was a part of history sitting in this car. I couldn’t help wondering who sat in the seat before me and what the landscape looked like when they gazed out the window. Get a day pass for $3 and take the St. Charles Line to the Garden District. Stroll under the beautiful, lush oak trees, walk past beautiful homes characteristic to this area and meander through Lafayette cemetery.
The writer was hosted by the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau on the cocktail tour. Neither companies reviewed or approved this article.
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