1. New Orleans
What can be said about New Orleans that hasn’t already been said. It’s like no other city in the world. Just about everyone knows about the French Quarter, the most popular district in the city, and Bourbon Street, where all kinds of nightlife and debauchery ensue. Jazz is also a staple of New Orleans which hosts an annual New Orleans Jazz Festival. The food is some of the best I’ve ever had, including Creole, French, Southern, Seafood, and a variety of other cuisines. What you might not be aware of is the urban parks, cemeteries, bayou, and live blues music, the quality of which can only be found in this part of the country. The only other places even remotely like it are Austin, TX and Memphis, TN. My first trip was just a couple days and focused on the French Quarter and a trip to see alligators in the swamps. My second trip was a a bit longer, where I was able to revisit the French Quarter and also branch out into the other districts to get a feel for the non-touristy parts of this wonderful city.
See & Do
- French Quarter. Most popular area in NOLA. Tons of shops, restaurants, art, people watching.
- Jackson Square. Main square to find restaurants, art, and street performers.
- Crescent City Farmer’s Market. Food and souvenirs.
- Frenchman Art Market. Local artists. Lit up at night.
- New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. Learn more about voodoo in NOLA.
- Warehouse District. Next to the French Quarter.
- Garden District. Lots of interesting houses and mansions.
- Magazine Street. Good local restaurants and shops away from the hustle and bustle.
- City Park. Beautiful park with a lake, ducks, and grass to relax, exercise, or chat with friends.
- Masonic Temple Cemetery. Impressive cemetery of the famed secret society.
- Ghost Tour. Lots of haunted walking ghost tours around the city.
- Riverwalk. Indoor shops along the river.
- Swamp Tour. Super fun boat ride through the swamps for some alligator spotting. Check out Cajun Encounters. You can drive yourself or catch a van in the French Quarter. Not too far outside the city.
Food & Drink
- Cafe Du Monde. World famous for its beignets and coffee.
- Coterie Restaurant & Oyster Bar. Unassuming, casual place for exceptional oysters.
- Another Broken Egg. Excellent for breakfast.
- Slim Goodies Diner. Healthy options.
- Red Dog Diner. Good for breakfast or lunch.
- Sucre. French treats to indulge your sweet tooth.
- Superfood Bar. Healthy eats.
- Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar. Healthy eats.
- Oysters, Crawfish & Catfish. Nowhere else will you find fresher, tastier selections. Maybe even try some alligator bites (tastes like chicken nuggets).
Music & Nightlife
- Bourbon Street. Tons of bars and entertainment. Most notoriously known for Mardis Gras.
- Frenchman Street. The best area for live music, namely blues and jazz. Walk around and see what catches your ear. I liked Vaso and Rare Form (towards the end of the strip). Also great for people watching and street performances.
- Tourism Center. On the “backside” of Jackson Square (or just search Google Maps), you will find a tourism center with maps and pamphlets for various attractions around the city. Worth stopping in and asking what’s around. NOLA is a big place!
- Cafe Du Monde. The line will be huge as you arrive to line down the main street. What most people don’t know is that this is the line to order and sit down. However, there is another, WAY shorter line around the back for takeout orders. You get the same options, so eat wherever you like and save the extra wait time to wander the city. Expect to wait about 45 minutes to an hour in this “shorter” line.
Alligator Swamp Tour