I have always been fascinated by New Orleans. From the elegant French Quarter, to the southern hospitality and great Cajun cuisine. Having spent some time there, you will find that the nickname “The Big Easy” is quite appropriate. Whether you are relaxing in a local dive enjoying the jazz of an unknown artist, or traveling through the historical French Quarter to admire a little history, New Orleans has something for everyone. One thing to keep in mind is that New Orleans offers a wide range of activities, restaurants, tours, historical features and fun, so plan your trip accordingly to your preferences and spend a little time researching for the perfect activities and adventures.
Each year thousands of tourist flock to the party mecca of New Orleans to partake in one of the biggest street parties in the world. Mardi Gras features dozens of parades with extravagant floats and costumes. The streets are lined with cheering party-goers who are tossed colored beads and other baubles. The celebration technically begins in mid-January, but the peak time to take in the festivities is the weekend before Fat Tuesday, through Ash Wednesday. Typically, Mardi Gras is not a family friendly event, the parties go late into the night and you can find a bit more risqué behavior tolerated during this occasion. My advice for a family trip to New Orleans would not be during this time of the year.
Another great adult activity when visiting New Orleans is to stroll along the adjacent Frenchmen Street. You won’t find the over active neon lights on this street, but what you will find is a unique choice of music venues and to die for cuisine. Frenchmen street is close enough to Bourbon street so that you can walk to the area, while enjoying where the “locals” hang out when spending time in the French Quarter.
Who doesn’t love a great tour? And with so many wonderful areas to explore, often times a guided tour is the perfect way to find out more information and where you might want to spend a little extra time. There are countless tours in New Orleans ranging from a French Quarter excursion, to Strange True Tours, and even Drink and Learn tours for those looking to kick back and enjoy themselves.
Another keystone when visiting New Orleans is understanding the impact and day to day livelihood of the locals, and what better way to know the region then to take a swamp tour. New Orleans is riddled with gnarled trees, Spanish moss, and extreme wildlife. So if you are tired of listening to live jazz, for whatever crazy reason, and want to explore more of the land, then ask around about the best swamp excursions in the area.
City of the Dead
By far, New Orleans is known for its unique take on the dark side of life, and if you are looking for a more macabre experience, then visiting the local cemeteries are a must for your visit.
There are three popular cemeteries in the area, Saint Louis Cemetery, Lafayette Cemetery 1, and Lafayette Cemetery 2. You can find countless ways to explore these beautiful and frightful attractions from exploring on your own, to joining up with a night tour to add to the mystery and suspense.
New Orleans is no stranger to hard times, and with the devastating Hurricane Katrina in 2009, the occupants of this great city have shown tremendous fortitude and commitment to bringing back the beauty and culture of their beloved home. While the French Quarter and the Garden District escaped flooding, there are still many places suffering from the long lasting effects of this disaster. So, get out there and provide your support to the locals by visiting their timeless city and learn more about the Big Easy.