I always imagined I would love the big Easy aka New Orleans and I was right. It’s a city that’s beautiful, a little bit gritty and it has a rich history! I wrote a list of my favorite things to do in New Orleans to help you enjoy New Orleans as much as I did!
1. Visit the abandoned six flags theme park
I’m starting the list of with something a little bit unconventional. I probably shouldn’t be recommending this, but it was my favorite part of the trip. The theme park was destroyed by Katrina and is now closed to the public. It is however a great place for urban exploring and photography. (It’s illegal to trespass and you can get caught!!) I myself went to explore the abandoned six flags park twice and even at 4 in the morning there was a guard waiting at the entrance.
2. Join a second line
For those of you who haven’t heard of a ‘second line’, it’s basically a brass band parade. They do it after weddings, but also after funerals. You’ll be able to see a second line basically every day. The ‘main line’ are the members and the Brass band and the ‘second line’ are the people that follow the band and are enjoying the music. Once you see one of the bands hit the streets and get your moves on. Just join the parade and enjoy this wonderful tradition.
3. Go to Frenchmen street instead of Bourbon
Although both streets are sort of touristy, every local will tell you to head to Frenchmen for the local experience. Bourbon street is a lot of overpriced drinks and people throwing beads from the balcony’s while Frenchmen street is more laid back. It has a few really cool places and you’ll be able to find some good music there too! If you enjoy jazz music you might want to visit the spotted cat. It’s an intimate jazz venue that’s famous for the great live acts. I do have to admit I spend one night in Bourbon st. for some karaoke, which can also be enjoyable sometimes 😉
4. Have $0.25 lunchtime martini’s at Commanders palace
This was actually the best lunch I had during my entire stay in Nola. That you can get $0.25 Martinis with you lunch is an added bonus. I had the catfish which was absolutely delicious, but you also can’t go wrong with the gumbo. You have to eat gumbo at least once if you’re in New Orleans. I know that on those humid Nola days wearing shorts is very tempting, but there is a dresscode!
5. Eat an authentic beignet
Everyone will tell you to go to Cafe du Monde, but I won’t! They are not that great in my opinion. Try the ones at the bakery at the end of Frenchmen street or at the morning call coffee stand!
6. Visit Whitney plantation
New Orleans has an interesting history, but it’s also a painful one. If you’re interested in learning more about the time of slavery I recommend visit the Whitney plantation as this plantation focusses on telling the story of the slaves. A lot of other plantations focus on the stories of the plantation owners.
7. Explore the garden district
I would recommend taking the street car into the garden district. A ride only costs $1.25 and a day pass only $3.00. I joined one of the free walking tours in the garden district and had a great time. Our guide was really funny and knowledgable and as a bonus he pointed out some celebrity houses. I now know where John goodman and Sandra Bullock live. The area is stunning and has an interesting history as well.
8. Visit lafayette cemetery
For me one a visit to this cemetery was included in the free walking tour that I did. I would say it was the most beautiful cemetery I visited. You can visit a lot of cemeteries in Nola and some other ones are more famous. This was by far my favorite though. It’s a bit run down and has plants growing over the graves, but I think that’s what gives it it’s charm. If you’re fan of the originals you’ll love it, because they recorded a lot of scenes here!
9. Go antique shopping on Magazine street
So I obviously couldn’t buy anything as I would have to take it back to the Netherlands. Nonetheless, I love browsing these kind of shops. There are tons of antique stores on this seemingly never ending street, but also some lovely boutiques.
10. Explore the French quarter
You can’t visit New Orleans without visiting the French Quarter. There is Jackson Square with St. Louis cathedral, the French Market, lots of great music, voodoo shops and much more. It has become the main tourist area, but the quarter has an interesting history and there are a lot of historical places to visit. Or you can visit the bar that is featured in the originals.