Ah, New Orleans.
I had hoped it would live up to all my dreams and expectations, and I am pleased to say – spoiler alert – it did by a landslide. Over the course of our time there, we had so many adventures that all added up into one of my all-time favourite trips. In 2019, I turned 30, and I knew I wanted to celebrate New Orleans-style, so my best friend Brit and I hopped on a flight, took a side trip to Houston, and then spent several days wandering the Crescent City streets. This post actually covers most of what we did, in mostly random order, over the course of our 5 nights there. Without further ado, here’s what we got up to in New Orleans!
The day we got back into New Orleans from Houston, we dropped our stuff off at the airbnb, returned the rental car to the airport, and then decided to just wander around the main downtown area, beginning with recreating a snapshot from the opening of Live and Let Die before heading into Jackson Square.
Nestled in the heart of the French Quarter, the Square sees millions of tourists annually as it is one of the most centrally located areas. At one end is St. Louis Cathedral, and surrounding the square you can find countless artists displaying their wares. With a mix of residential and business locations surrounding it, you can find plenty of places to dine, including the famous Cafe du Monde (but more on that later!).
During one of our days, we made our way to New Orleans Garden District, where we stopped to snap pictures of a home any fan of American Horror Story: Coven would recognize. This home was absolutely stunning to see in real life, even though you could only go to the fence. Buckner Mansion, as it is actually known, was once used as a school – though not for witches, as it is in the show. Nowadays it’s a residential home you can actually rent!
Buckner Mansion isn’t the only home worth seeing in the Garden District, however, as the area is full of grand homes and mansions. It’s worth it to explore either by foot or by streetcar, as the homes truly are magnificent.
The area was settled by those who wanted to distance themselves from the French Quarter, and so the entire Garden District gives off an aura of richness. I’d definitely recommend a stroll along its streets.
One of my favourite things about New Orleans was how varied the different areas were. Canal Street, for instance, as pictured below, reminded me a bit of the Vegas strip in appearance. For Canal Street, we didn’t have too many stops we made, though we did eat at the bougie-est IHOP I’ve ever seen, and we did take the time to ride the red streetcars up and down.
The streetcars were a ton of fun, despite how similar they are to buses/trains. Something I found beyond interesting, though, is that at the end of the streetcar line, the backs of the seats slide forward so that you’re automatically facing the other direction.
Ahhh Bourbon Street, where countless songs mesh to provide a non-stop party atmosphere and people gleefully walk along with their drinks in hand. Even if the party atmosphere isn’t your scene, Bourbon Street is worth checking out for the historical aspect. Established in 1718, the main stretch extends for 13 blocks, leaving you plenty of opportunities to mix and mingle with other tourists and countless choices for where to get your drink – though you’d best try the hand grenade!
Of course, I had to take tons of pictures of New Orleans’ balconies, even along the city’s most famous street.
So if Bourbon Street isn’t your cup of tea for the party scene or the history, maybe you’ll enjoy it from an architectural standpoint.
To change things up a bit, we hopped a bus over to take a look at the Tree of Life. Located in Audubon Park, its location next to the zoo makes for an easy pit stop if that’s your planned destination. We chose to skip the zoo, but thankfully were treated to some giraffe faces anyway, as the tree is on the other side of the wall from the giraffe enclosure.
Though the exact age of the tree is unknown, experts say it could be up to 500 years old!
Another of our stops, and a place on our trip we came multiple times, is Louis Armstrong Park. Located a short distance from the French Quarter, the park finds its home in Treme neighbourhood – one of cultural significance for Black people. Within this location is Congo Square, a spot of historical significance where slaves once gathered to dance and make music.
The park itself is 32 acres, and full of bridges, water, and various birds. It actually makes for an excellent photo shoot background, something we took full advantage of on one of our visits to the park. Located near the French Quarter, it’s also an easy place to get to via walking.
Ah, Café du Monde, how I fell in love with thee.
I have a feeling this particular café needs little to no introduction, as it’s very well-known. Some would argue there are better cafes to buy beignets, but you can’t beat the downtown core location, in my opinion. The historic café doesn’t have the biggest menu, but let me tell you this – they are very good at what they make. The beignets were to die for and my iced coffee was beyond refreshing.
Established in 1862, this particular café has been around for a long time, and with how popular and busy it is, I doubt it’s going anywhere anytime soon.
Circling back to Jackson Square, this centrally located park was established as a National Historic Landmark in 1960, most notably for being the site where the Louisiana Purchase was fortified into being. Its history isn’t all good news though, as it was once the site of public executions during the 18th and early 19th centuries. In present day, however, you’ll mostly find the surrounding gates boasting artists paintings and wares, making for a fascinating place to buy local goods.
St. Louis Cathedral was breathtaking to enter. Still in use today, it is the oldest continuously in use cathedral in the US. The original church was built in 1718 and is dedicated to St. Louis, aka King Louis IX of France.
On our last evening in New Orleans, we found ourselves sitting along the waterfront watching the Natchez boat as a piano player played songs from it. As it turns out, you can do an evening cruise, a daytime cruise, or even a Sunday brunch cruise, which I think I would like to partake in should I be lucky enough to return to New Orleans. It is the last authentic steamboat on the Mississippi River, and as such would be a once in a lifetime sort of experience.
I still have more New Orleans posts to share, but for now, I hope you’ve enjoyed this virtual tour of a city that completely captured my heart.
New Orleans, thank you for sharing the magic that makes you so wonderful. Until we meet again!
Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favourite thing to do there?