Friday, June 10, 2016

Things to do in NOLA

Known for its fantastic history, unique culture, jazz music, French Quarter and of course, Mardi Gras, New Orleans is also the largest city in Louisiana and is a major port in the United States.  The city was named after France’s King Louis XV, the Duke of Orleans, who reigned from 1715 to 1723, when the king came of age.

New orleans at Night

The architecture and culture in the city have a heavy European influence which has combined for a distinct French and Spanish Creole look and multilingual, cross-cultural heritage.  Beyond the history, music and tremendous festivals and celebrations, the food is another delightful contributor to this “most unique” city in the country.

It’s clear that this is a gorgeous, exciting city but what’s even better is that there are always things to do for both visitors and residents of the Orleans Parish region in the southeastern part of Louisiana.  While this had been the most heavily populated parish in the state before Hurricane Katrina, it now holds the third rank as recovery from the devastation continues to this day.

Whether a local or a guest, here are some fantastic things to see in NOLA that you just won’t want to miss:

  • The Garden District – whether you’ve never seen it before or have been there dozens of times, the aristocratic 19th century mansions throughout this area can never fail to astound and enchant. Take in the big old live oaks, the porticos, pillars and the wrought iron along with the smattering of architectural styles ranging from Gothic to Greek Revival. It’s hard to think of a more photogenic place.
  • Insectarium and Aquarium of the Americas – both of these attractions from the Audubon Nature Institute are worth seeing at least once.  The butterfly garden makes you feel as though you’ve stepped into a fantastical land, while the largest museum devoted to insects provides a fascinating educational experience about creepy crawlies.  The truly adventurous will love the Bug Appétit snack bar with insect-based ingredients.
  • Jackson Square – the very core of the French quarter is surrounded by historical wonders, such as the former city hall where the signing of the Louisiana Purchase took place, the Presbytère and the St. Louis Cathedral, among others.
  • Live Music – head down to Bourbon Street and it will be difficult to miss the fantastic opportunities for live jazz music from bands and solo performers.  Clubs from The Blue Nile to the DBA and Snug Harbor are always a hit, as are restaurants like the Marigny Brasserie and The Three Muses which play well into the night.
  • Magazine Street – Royal Street may have the draw for tourists but when it comes to window-shopping in the Quarter for locals, Magazine Street can’t be beaten! Don’t miss Hemline, Derby Pottery, Mignon Faget, Perlis, and Dirty Coast, among many others.
  • New Orleans Streetcars – For the tiny price of an adult fare on one of the two major streetcar lines in the city, you’ll get one of the best tours of the city you could ever have! The St. Charles Line’s green cars will take you Uptown, while the Canal Street line’s red cars head to City Park and Metairie Cemetery, among other historic cemeteries.
Don’t forget to stop along the way for some amazing drinks and unbeatable meals.  Whether it’s an afternoon or a full vacation, NOLA never fails to be unforgettable.