I love doing these lists. They are a good way to sum up some of the extra stuff I did in a location that is good enough to share but does not warrant a full blown post.
So here's a bunch of photos with descriptions about stuff I did that's totally worth doing in New Orleans. This includes going to the French Market which was full of all kinds of excellent treasures (and giant watermelons) as well as taking my Atheist self to church on Sunday morning. Say what?!
You'll also recognize some emblematic experiences I've talked at length about elsewhere. Enjoy!
1. Look around Jackson Square
There's always something happening around Jackson Square. It's a hub of art and culture and excellent people watching! If you don't go there deliberately, you'll probably end up there accidentally.
Either way, stick around, take a look at people's wares, and engage in all the random culture going on!
2. Have your Fortune Told
While in Jackson Square, you'll most likely stumble upon a fortune teller—or six. Pick one and get your palm read. New Orleans is the place to do it in the United States where it'll at least have a little bit of historic authenticity.
The Bottom of the Cup Tea Room is a good spot to try—they've been conducting psychic readings since 1929!
3. Ride the St. Charles Street Car
For only $1.25, you can hop the St Charles street car at the corner of Carondelet St and Canal St to glimpse some of the other neighborhoods, notably the Garden District.
Along this ride, you'll spot awesome mansions, beautiful gardens, and two of New Orleans' biggest universities—Tulane and Loyala. Hop off at Audubon Park to have a look around but be sure to look overhead for falling golf balls!
You can also take the street car to get to several museums, such as the new The National WWII Museum that everyone seemed to be raving about!
4. Dance to the sounds of Hot 8
Hot 8 is a Grammy-nominated brass band that is loud and quintessential New Orleans-style brassy jazz. Get an earful and get your dance on at the Howlin' Wolf on Sundays for $12.
5. Drink on Bourbon Street
Yes, you'll be a typical tourist on this street with a drink in your hand, hopping from bar to bar. But leave your "I'm too good for this scene" mentality behind and give it a whirl at least once!
Jono and I spent a night at the Cat's Meow and probably would have returned if we had been in town longer. This karaoke bar has a live Earth cam you can watch anytime (here). We were in tears laughing so hard at drunken people making utter fools of themselves at this venue. It was an excellent time!
6. Listen to live music on Frenchman Street
Take reprieve from Bourbon street on this street with more of the local hangouts (but it's slowly getting more touristic). Check out Snug Harbor, Cafe Negril, the Spotted Cat, among others.
7. Take in the Frenchman Art Market
While you're on Frenchman, check out the little Artist's Market we came across hidden behind the Spotted Cat. Even if you're not looking to buy, look to look!
They've set up some really nice little displays and the LED string lighting was set up the way I would set up outdoor space in my dream back yard. It was extremely inviting and really fun atmosphere to walk around!
8. Stuff Yourself on Dooky Chase's Buffet
Why are you even in New Orleans if not for the food? The 93-year old Leah Chase of Dooky Chase Restaurant in Treme is one of the most famous chefs in the city, cooking up traditional Creole and Cajun cuisine.
I felt so lucky to get a glimpse of her as she was being filmed for a Chicago webinar while I was there. She's cooked for former and current presidents alike.
And her fried chicken is so good I would have chowed down all day if not for the flight I had to catch!
9. Find and Eat Crawfish Broil
There's so much to eat in this town and so little time. But if you're there in the months of March to June, you won't be able to avoid a crawfish boil—and you won't want to! Yum!
10. Cool Down in the Ace Rooftop Pool
New Orleans gets HOT. Sticky, sweaty, nasty hot. As long as it isn't raining (it was closed when we tried during a storm), you can make your way up the elevators to the top floor of the Ace Hotel to swim for free! The pool is shallow, and the bar will tempt you, but it is totally cool to take a dip for no charge.
11. Check Out the Voodoo Shops
As I spoke about in my last post, there was a time when voodoo was regarded as a legitimate practice that improved people's health.
What remains of it today is a bunch of kitschy sort of souvenir shops sprinkled around the city. Regardless they're fun to pass through, especially if you're into this sort of thing!
12. Visit the LeLaurie Mansion
The actual LaLaurie mansion is at Royal Street and Governor Nicholls Street. This is not to be confused with the Gallier House Shop which was where the filming took place for Season 3 of American Horror Story.
Whether a fan of the show or not, I dare you to go press your ear against the outer wall and have a listen.
Why? You might hear tortured slaves from the 1800s calling out for help! Read more about the history behind this haunted place in my previous post.
13. Go to Church
Yes. You read that right! I actually went to St. Jude Catholic Church on a Sunday. It was so worth it, as an atheist, to experience the multi-piece jazz and and choir singing. I was totally feeling all the positivity and love there. That's what religion is supposed to be - Not filled with hate and fear.
14. Eat All of the Beignets
Named the official state doughnut of Lousiana in 1986, beignets are a symbol of New Orleans.
I tried two of the most famous beignets in the city – the light, fluffy ones at Cafe Au Lait and the massive, crispy ones at Cafe du Monde. Both were excellent. I recommend whichever cafe you come across first!
15. Browse the French market
The French Market is a permanent fixture in New Orleans off Ursulines Ave down near the Mississippi River in the French Quarter. There is tons for sale here; everything from jewelry and clothing to smoothies and oysters. And you can most definitely haggle! It's open daily but gets hopping on the weekends.
16. Join a Second Line Parade
Unless you're there at the worst time of year like I was, you can absolutely find a second line to join on a typical Saturday. Head to Treme in the morning. Keep an ear out for the sound of brass instruments blaring and your eyes peeled for bright, Mardi-Gras colors and costumes. When you hear or see it, hop on the bandwagon and join in the fun!
17. Try some Nawlins-Style BBQ
New Orleans has turned into a mecca of expertly seasoned and smoked BBQ everything. Pulled pork, wings, and ribs are the top three must-eats in this food genre, but don't forget your side of mac! Bother the short ride outside the French Quarter to taste these options at The Joint or Blue Oak BBQ.
Planning to visit New Orleans in April? Try to time it for the annual French Quarter fest. They close the entire French Quarter off from traffic and set up booths and music stages over a 4 day weekend. It's the best chance you'll have at trying as much food and hearing as much music as you can in New Orleans. (Thanks to Eric Gamble for this tip!)
Well, that's officially everything from my trip to New Orleans! There was so much to tell from this southern city with its rich history, unique cuisine and music, and stylish neighborhoods. There's no place I've been in my travels that comes close to anything like it!
I look forward to sharing my experiences from another domestic travel adventure I went on this summer—the Florida Keys! After New Orleans, Jono and I hopped on an hour-long flight to the south of Florida for some primo diving and other water-centric activities. Look out for these posts in the coming weeks!