Drawing millions of visitors from across the globe each year, the Big Easy is one of America’s greatest cultural and historical treasures. However, those visiting New Orleans for the first time should know more about what the great city has to offer. While there’s nothing wrong with taking in the most iconic experiences associated with NOLA, visitors ought to venture beyond the famous sights and sounds and embrace the authentic side of New Orleans.
With this in mind, let’s go over what you should know before booking a trip to the Big Easy:
The French Quarter: More than drinking
The most iconic neighborhood in New Orleans is the French Quarter. Its old-world streets and historic architecture define the city in the hearts and minds of people around the planet. But if there’s one thing folks associate with wandering the streets of the French Quarter, it’s hopping from one bar to another along the appropriately-named Bourbon Street. However, there’s more to the French Quarter than drinking.
For one thing, the neighborhood features some of the most high-end antique shops in the entire city, making it an excellent place for treasure hunting. Whether it’s antique fine jewelry, original artwork, or handcrafted period furniture, a walk down Royal Street will surely lead you to it. The French Quarter is also home to fine dining options, as well as art galleries and museums.
New Orleans History: More than macabre
Like NOLA’s association with alcohol-fueled fun, the city’s history gets frequently tied to scary tales of murder and superstition. Between the antebellum horrors of Madame LaLaurie, the eerieness of aboveground tombs, and how the city is the setting of so many popular horror stories, it’s no surprise New Orleans is commonly thought of as the capital of spookiness.
While the city’s cultural ties to the macabre are undoubtedly fascinating and worth experiencing on your travels, visitors shouldn’t forget about the other stuff. There’s more to New Orleans history than just ghouls, ghosts, and graveyards.
With that said…
This might be the only time you visit the Big Easy (hopefully not, but you never know) so you want to experience the highlight sights and headliner sounds. By all means, go for it! Here’s a basic guide to help you make it happen:
Disneyland for drinkers
The great men and women of New Orleans know their city has more to offer than bars on Bourbon Street. With that said, Mardi Gras celebrations are one of the city’s most cherished cultural traditions. The famous street in the French Quarter aims to provide a Mardi Gras atmosphere for visitors 24/7, so why not give it a try at least once?
As is always the case whenever you choose to drink more than usual in a short amount of time, safety comes first. Luckily, most of Bourbon Street and the adjacent blocks are closed to vehicular traffic, making it less likely for pedestrians to be struck or for intoxicated people to get behind the wheel. The police presence is also substantial, especially at night.
Spooky ghost stories
Who doesn’t like a genuinely scary story? New Orleans is full of them, many of which are either based on actual events or ripped from the headlines.
Take one of the countless walking ghost tours offered throughout the city, or do your research and go on your own spooky landmark scavenger hunt. The Historic Cemeteries of New Orleans are a ghoul lover’s dream, as well as an iconic display of NOLA’s cultural heritage going back centuries.
Don’t forget New Orleans is also home to a top-notch aquarium, world-class zoo, engineering marvels, and architectural wonders. Incredible concert venues, awe-inspiring sports stadiums, and tucked-away curiosities also dot the city’s landscape. It’s a major metropolis with global ties, giving visitors an endless array of things to see and do.