7 Things to Do in New Orleans: Our Tips for Louisiana Fun
New Orleans has its very own genre of 'crazy' and a visit there is unforgettable. Make it all the more fun with this short list of awesome activities!
1. Visit Jackson Square
Jackson Sqaure proper is a small park in the French Quarter facing the Mississippi river, with a big bronze statue of Andrew Jackson, the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, on a rearing horse in the middle of it. It's not much in itself, but around Jackson Square there is much to see. Museums, local artists and performers, restaurants, the St. Louis Cathedral and other historic buildings surround the park, and the park itself is a great first stop on your New Orleans adventure. I recommend checking out the Big Muddy river across the street- the size, speed and smell of the Mississippi is truly remarkable.
Jackson Square: http://www.experienceneworleans.com/jackson-square.html
2. See Live Blues Music
Even on a Wednesday night, a walk down Bourbon St. after dark is a thrilling experience: Dozens of bars have live bands playing through their open doors, and by passing each one, you get the impression that a band is playing in every other building in New Orleans. Which is almost true.
Take a walk down Bourbon tonight to find your next favorite band, or just head on over to the Funky Pirate Blues Club to hear resident musician "Big Al Carson" belt it out with his Blues Masters.
The Funky Pirate: http://thefunkypirate.com/
3. Swamp Boat Tours!
Have you ever wanted to strap into an 'air boat' (one of those vessels with a big propeller-like fan on its stern) and take off over an alligator-infested swamp? If you find yourself in New Orleans, then this dream of yours can become a reality.
There are acres and hecta-acres of swamp around New Orleans where swamp-boat companies take people on wild-life tours in the bio-diverse Bayou. Go see the exotic plant-life and encounter fearsome alligators with one of the experienced guides of these companies:
Jean Lafitte Swamp Tours: www.jeanlafitteswamptour.com
Swamp Tours New Orleans: www.airboatadventures.com
4. Go Voodoo Shopping
"I Put a Spell on You" is one of those ubiquitous blues songs you'll hear on the bar-strung streets of downtown, its local popularity no doubt informed by the inseparable association we have between New Orleans and Voodoo Magic.
One of the most exciting things to do in New Orleans is to go check out some of its Voodoo shops. Store proprietors will be more than happy to explain the function of each magical item, the proper technique to every spell and provide bizarre anecdotes to assure you of the efficacy of Voodoo. I myself bought a pouch of rattlesnake skin for good luck from Voodoo Authentica in 2010, and since nothing really bad has happened yet and everything has been pretty much OK, I don't regret it. Some things are worth believing.
Voodoo Authentica: www.voodooshop.com
Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo: www.voodooneworleans.com
5. New Orleans Street Food
Mudbugs. Beignets. Po' Boys. Muffuletas. Oysters.
New Orleans is the sort of pedestrian city where you can sample delicious, traditional food on-the-go. Vendors line the streets of of the French Quarter hustling beignets and muffuletas, and, in the mid-March to late June crawfish season, boiled mudbugs.
New Orleans has recently eased up on requirements for food truck licensing, and a new surge of mobile dispensers of 'yum' have taken to the streets. Go out and try a beignet or a mudbug- you won't be disappointed.
Food Truck Location Website: http://roaminghunger.com/nol/
6. Check out Street Performances in the French Quarter
You won't go far in the French Quarter before you run into a street performer. What is a 'street performer', you ask? Well, it's anyone with a 'performance': Musicians, artists, mimes; dancers, magicians, impersonators; New Orleans has got 'em all.
There's even this guy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c054rTeKXzY
7. Visit a (haunted?) Cemetery
New Orleans is world-famous for its gorgeous cities of the dead. Most cemeteries are above-ground (it's swampy down there) and their tombs are covered in expertly carved marble, much of it dilapidated and/or covered in graffiti, a trait which gives the New Orleans Cemetery a unique aesthetic of its own. Cemeteries are the perfect place to take a peaceful stroll or read a book in the otherwise bustling New Orleans (that is, if you aren't afraid of ghosts...)
St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery
The St. Louis No. 1 Cemetery is the oldest and most famous cemetery in New Orleans, and is claimed as the world's 'most haunted' cemetery. This is the burial site of the Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau, who is said to manifest as a black cat and hurl audible voodoo curses at disrespectful visitors around her grave.
St. Roch Cemetery No. 1
The St. Roch Cemetery No.1 is perhaps one of the strangest cemeteries in New Orleans. In the center of this cemetery is a small building, filled with (get this) prosthetic body parts, notes, and fake money intended as offerings to St. Roch, a saint who spent his life caring for victims of the plague and is invoked against sickness. This cemetery was built in the Holy Trinity parish in the late 1800's, where parishioners prayed to St. Roch during the nasty Yellow Fever epidemics of 1867, an epidemic which devastated much of New Orleans but mysteriously spared those in the Holy Trinity.
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