New Orleans is known for its great Jazz music, delicious Creole food, and beautiful architecture surrounding the entire city. New Orleans is one of my favorite places to visit and is rated as one of the best destinations in the U.S. With many influences, this city has developed a culture all of its own and is unlike any place in the world. This is my travel guide to New Orleans, Louisiana.
We stayed at The Pelham Hotel during out trip to New Orleans. The hotel is in an excellent location for sightseeing, recreation, and dining. We decided we wanted to stay outside of the French Quarter, in order to avoid the craziness/loudness of Bourbon Street. The staff was friendly and the room was clean. Although our room did not have windows, we barely noticed because we spent most of the time out in the city and came back later on at night.
Other hotels worth checking out:
Wander the Charming French Quarter
The French Quarter is the oldest and most well-known area in New Orleans, famous for its beautiful buildings, shops, restaurants, hotels and bars. The streets are lined with street musicians and artists at every corner and the atmosphere is just so fun! Grab a drink and enjoy exploring the streets of the French Quarter.
Explore Bourbon Street
Known for its bars and strip clubs, this street is in the heart of the French Quarter. Spend a night or two walking down the street with a giant drink in your hand and let loose. Some bars and clubs can have a bit of a slimy vibe to them but there are some bars that offer great drinks, live music and a good time! Even if this is not your scene be sure to walk down the infamous Bourbon Street at least once on your New Orleans trip.
The Country Club
The Country Club hosts a Drag Brunch every Saturday and Sunday, that cannot be missed if you are in New Orleans. This beautiful restaurant serves bottomless mimosas, amazing food and fabulous fun! Make sure to bring plenty of $1 bills as you are able to tip the queens, as they perform for you right at your table! I recommend making a reservation well in advance, as space is extremely limited and the event is usually booked out 6 months in advance. Fortunately, we were able to get in through a cancellation!
Jackson Square/ St. Louis Cathedral
Jackson Square is the center of historic New Orleans, and one of the best places to see historic architecture, and meticulous landscaping. Located right next to the river you can get an incredible view of the park from the platform across the street, this is one of the most famous New Orleans attractions in the French Quarter.
Fun Fact: This is also the spot where the final version of the Louisiana Purchase was signed!
Hotel Monteleone is a 4- star luxury New Orleans hotel in the French Quarter. The revolving Carousel Bar & Lounge located inside the hotel is a long-time favorite New Orleans hot spot. For decades, it has lured guests in to take a spin on the 25-seat, bright, circus-clad Merry-Go-Round. I recommend trying to find a spot at the bar early evening, as the bar can get quite full!
New Orleans Botanical Garden
On our last day we decided to take an Uber out to the New Orleans Botanical Gardens. Whether you are a local or a tourist, make sure to take a leisurely stroll through the many vibrant gardens filled with flowers, lush greenery, sculptures and statues. Tickets cost $10 per adult and $5/ child.
Garden District / Buckner Mansion
The charming Garden District is a neighborhood lined with oak- shaded streets and gorgeous antebellum mansions and homes. It almost feels like you are in a movie walking down these streets, and it's probably because many movies actually have been filmed here! One familiar mansion in this area is the beautiful and eerie, Buckner Mansion, notoriously known as the main location for the FX horror TV show, American Horror Story season 3: Coven. The Garden District is one of the top things to do in New Orleans, and you can see why as the mansions themselves are an attraction all on their own.
Colonnade and the French Market.
If you’re ready for some shopping, head to the Colonnade to browse the shops and the French Market. Plenty of souvenirs from t-shirts and pins to Mardi Gras masks!
Visit a Voodoo Shop
Check out the unique items for sale in the store and learn more about Voodoo as a religion. Voodoo incorporates both white and black magic, with intense spirituality at its center. It was through Louisiana Voodoo that "Voodoo dolls" were introduced into the American lexicon. The stores offer a variety of items to help in both learning and practicing spiritual and religious ceremony. From tribal masks and statues to charms and talismans, visiting a Voodoo store is a must in New Orleans.
Try a food Tour!
New Orleans is known for its authentic, creole cuisine and a food tour is the best and most cost effective way to try it all! I recommend picking a tour in the French Quarter or Garden District.
Here are a few dishes to look out for:
Beignets – deep fried donuts covered in powdered sugar. This sounds simple, but world famous Café du Monde makes them like no other (pictured below).
Oysters – often gulped down raw (I prefer cooked oysters)
Gumbo – traditional thickened soup, often full of seafood and served with rice.
Alligator – It is very chewy and kind of tastes like chicken
Po’boys – the New Orleans sandwich, typically with roast beef, gravy, fried shrimp, oysters, and mayonnaise (delicious!).
Crawfish – boiled and served spicy. Often you are expected to crack open the shells, and suck the head out.
Saint Louis Cemetery
Due to the lack of elevation, cemeteries are above ground in New Orleans. Unlike any place in the world, all the graves in New Orleans are visible and beautifully decorated. The St. Louis cemetery is the city's oldest cemetery and one of the most famous being the final resting spot for Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau and home to the future pyramid tomb of actor Nicholas Cage. This is a definite MUST- DO experience if you are in New Orleans.
Traveller tip: the cemetery is not accessible to the public, so you must enter with a tour guide.
The LaBranche House/Royal Street
This street is one of the most picturesque streets in New Orleans. It is filled with beautiful, antique shops, art galleries, boutiques and hotels. Royal Street was definitely our favorite street to walk down. So pretty!
Take a Riverboat Cruise
A riverboat cruise is a beautiful way to experience the Mississippi River and see the New Orleans skyline, all while enjoying a delicious buffet and listening to live Jazz music. Unfortunately, we ran out of time on our last trip to New Orleans and were not able to do a riverboat cruise, but I would definitely like to when I visit again!
Traveller Tip: New Orleans allows people to carry an open container of alcohol in the French Quarter, so long as the container is not glass.
This local coffee chain has some of the best brew around! Look out for it as you explore the streets!
One of the top things to do in New Orleans in the Garden District is dine at this famous southern restaurant. Come here for an authentic southern dining experience and Creole dishes.
We recommend coming at lunch for their famous $.25 martinis. It’s an unforgettable experience!
Traveller Tip: There is a dress code required for this famous restaurant. Men need to wear covered shoes and a button-down shirt. Women are encouraged to dress in business casual attire.
This glamorous brasserie located in the heart of the French Quarter cannot be missed! I recommend making a reservation before- hand, as we were only able to get bar seating.
As mentioned above, The Country Club serves a delicious brunch with the most beautiful environment! Each part of the restaurant is decorated in different vibrant patterns and is definitely a MUST- SEE.
Known for their infamous beignets, Cafe du Monde is a MUST- TRY in New Orleans. I would recommend getting up early, as it gets very busy, very quickly. Also keep in mind that it is cash only, so come prepared.
Traveller Tip: The main location on Decatur Street is open 24 hours and is very, very busy. If you don't care to take the iconic beignet photo inside the cafe, then you should definitely check out the take-out line.
Notorious for its very large slushy's, Big Easy, can be found in many different locations in New Orleans. If you are in the city in the summer, I recommend grabbing one and walking along the streets... so refreshing!
Recommended: Peach Bellini Slushy