We visited New Orleans as part of an organised 3-week camping road-trip with Trek America. Aside from our major flights, this was the only thing we booked and paid for before our gap year. Click here if you want to know more about the route we took.
We will be doing a post our time in the US, and organised vs independent travel in the future. Stay tuned!
Nicknamed the Big Easy (or NOLA), New Orleans is one of the oldest cities in the United States and the largest city in the state of Louisiana. It is home to a diverse mix of people, food and culture and of course, jazz.
For those of us who don’t live in the US, it is most commonly known for Bourbon Street, Hurricane Katrina (2005), New Orleans Saints and NCIS: New Orleans.
WHY WE LOVE NEW ORLEANS:
Like Nepal, one of the biggest reasons we love New Orleans is because it’s so different from home. Why travel or visit anywhere if you don’t want to experience something different to what you are accustomed to, otherwise? Diversity is important to us, as travellers and as individuals, as it gives us the opportunities to learn, explore and broaden our minds and experiences. (If you didn’t notice, we’re all about discovering the meaning of life…)
When we’re not sleeping, we’re eating. Like many, our lives revolve around eating, cooking and what our next meal will be. We’re ‘foodies’ if you need to give us a label. We’ll try anything once (despite my tolerances), and we’re keen to eat on the street to the supermarket to fancy fine dining. Since most of our entertainment is now digital, cookbooks are the only books that line our bookshelves.
New Orleans is perfect for food exploration. With its diverse people and cultures (such as French, Spanish, Creole, Vietnamese, just to name a few), there is a plethora of foodie experiences and dishes to try.
Traditional New Orleans food include gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, red beans and rice, mufulettas, beignets, po-boys, bananas foster and king cakes.
We recommend: Mother’s Restaurant (traditional New Orleans food at a reasonable price. Try the gumbo! Delicious!), Dreamy Weenies (Hot dogs New Orleans-style, also caters to vegan, kosher and halal eating), and Cafe du Monde (beignets galore! This place gets really busy but it’s worth the wait!)
Bourbon Street (French: Rue des Bourbon). Enough said.
Literally a street that extends 13 blocks filled with live entertainment, karaoke, shopping, dancing and parades. We even had a proud Australian moment when a live band played ‘Thunderstruck’ by ACDC! Personally, we’re not big drinkers (takes money away from other experiences) but Bourbon Street’s Tropical Isle is home to the Hand Grenade; a green drink served in a yard glass with grenade-shaped bottom which, apparently, copyrighted by Tropical Isle. It’s a shame the staff were rude to our friends, and we ended up moving on further down the street to a much more friendly atmosphere (Unfortunately, the name of the place escapes me – I’ll do some research!), where we spent dancing and singing the night away.
With some Googling, you can usually find a daily schedule for where jazz is being played around the city. From buskers on the street to organised concerts in museums and studios, jazz might not be your thing but we highly recommend checking one out. Jazz is not one homogeneous sound with variations to appeal to whatever your taste. Learn a little history, a little bit of music, maybe discover a new musical sensation (the hipster in you is dying to find someone not ‘mainstream’) and the best part, it’s free!
Practical tip: Cities love to advertise and advocate for cool things to do in their city, so duck into tourism centres and scope out the local noticeboards for fun things to do! You’ll be surprised how many things are offered for free!
We spent a whole day wandering around the French Quarter. Asides from finding a bullet shell (a little disconcerting when you’re from a country with very strict gun laws), there were streets and alleys filled with fancy architecture, local eateries and bars, historical monuments, markets, music stores, souvenir outlets as well as an extensive range of costume shops. Don’t forget to walk along the Mississippi River. Or even take a ride on the Steamboat Natchez.
We recommend: Looking up! Yes, literally looking up! The locals love decorating their balconies with colourful flags, sporting memorabilia, plants, even a knight or two.
If you’ve ever wanted to see an alligator in the wild, go on a Honey Island swamp tour! Small boat tour with a fun, knowledgeable guide who gives you the opportunity to see alligators, wild pigs, birds and crawfish in the wild. Get in a short history lesson including how the locals and their homes were affected by Hurricane Katrina. Bet you didn’t know alligators like eating Frankfurt sausages and marshmallows!
Hot sauces galore! A full spectrum of hot sauces that are guaranteed to test your tolerances! If you’re not game to have a taste, check them, even if only for their names and packaging.
Louis Armstrong Park
Formerly known as Beaureguard Square. This public park boasts sculptures and duck ponds ideal for a stroll or chilling out.
Practical tip: Best to visit during the day only.
Films and TV shows
Dubbed the ‘Hollywood of the South’ (experienceneworleans.com), films and TV shows are always being shot in New Orleans (in particular, The French Quarter). Since returning home (and catching up on my film and TV watching), I noticed that NCIS: New Orleans and Now You See Me (starring Mark Ruffalo and Morgan Freeman) were shot in the French Quarter, which in turn, gives me great memories of our time in New Orleans. Check out experienceneworleans.com for a list of other films and TV shows that have been shot there by clicking here. You never know, you could get some star-spotting when you’re there too!
Annual carnival season between January 6 until Shrove Tuesday (also known as Pancake Tuesday), which marks the beginning of Lent (season before Easter). Activities include carnivals, floats, masquerade balls and king cake parties.
The New Orleans Saints are an American football team based in New Orleans. During the NFL season, New Orleans is known as ‘Who Dat Nation’. ‘Who Dat’ referring to a Saints fan, as well as their chant. Their home stadium, Louisiana Superdome (also known as Mercedes-Benz Superdome) became well-known for the role it played hosting displaced people and their families during Hurricane Katrina.
Have you been to New Orleans? Did you love it as much as us? Tell us why!
Disclaimer: This post has suggestions made by Bag Most Travelled, it is ultimately your own decision and responsibility to partake in whichever activity you see fit. Be respectful of people and the environment. Enjoy responsibly and safely.