If I were to sum up New Orleans in one word, it would be unique. Whether you have a week or longer this is plenty to do for those with a few days below is a Nola travel guide and perfect if you are doing New Orleans in 36 hours. New Orleans has its own special vibe, it is an eclectic mixture of French, Spanish, African, and American Southern, each showing their own influence on the city. Once you visit New Orleans and start to peel away its layers, you will find yourself immersed in incredible food, an awesome music scene, fascinating history, and a lively culture that loves to celebrate life. There is so much to see and do in New Orleans, you will only get bored if you want to! Our guest authors; Michell of The Texas Couple takes us on a tour of New Orleans In 36, through food and sights.
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- 1 What To See And Do | New Orleans In 36 Hours
- 2 New Orleans Riverboat Cruise | New Orleans Katrina Tours
- 3 Getting Around New Orleans
- 4 Where to Stay In New Orleans
What To See And Do | New Orleans In 36 Hours
Take a Cemetery Tour
Cemetery tours in New Orleans are a major tourist attraction (I told you this city was unique). In New Orleans, the deceased are buried above ground due to the fact that the entire town is built on a swamp. The cemeteries are full of elaborate mausoleums, gorgeous statues, and incredible stone crypts.
One of the most famous cemeteries, St. Louis Cemetery #1, located right outside of the French Quarter, is the burial place to the famous “voodoo queen”, Marie Laveau. Believers and non-believers flock to the St. Louis #1 to view her resting place and pay their respects. You are only allowed entrance to the St. Louis #1 with a guide, so be sure and sign up for a tour.
Admire the Architecture of The French Quarter
Historical architecture is abound in New Orleans, and the city fully embraces it. Roaming around the French Quarter is a relaxed way to see the many architectural styles of this great city. I was amazed to learn that there are 20 historic districts on the National Registry that are located right in New Orleans.
While walking the streets of the French Quarter, notice the French-inspired balconies, the hidden courtyards, and the brightly colored houses.
Listen to Live Music In NOLA’s Music Scene
There is no shortage of music here in the Crescent City. Head to Frenchmen Street at night, and you will hear music seeping out of every doorway just beckoning you to come inside. There are clubs blasting everything from reggae to heavy metal.
Whatever your preference, you will find it in New Orleans, but pay special attention to the jazz scene. Plan to spend an evening in the historic Preservation Hall to have a true New Orleans jazz experience.
Don’t overlook the street performers in New Orleans either. You will find them everywhere, especially around Jackson Square. Some of my most memorable experiences in New Orleans have been centered around the street performers.
Eat | Where To Get The Best Food In New Orleans
Really, eat! New Orleans is a mecca for great food. There are several world-famous chefs that call New Orleans home, but don’t just focus on the famous names, find the little “mom and pop” shops that are popular. Make it a point to talk to the locals and go where they go. Trust me, you won’t be disappointed.
It really doesn’t get any better than starting your day with beignets and a cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde. Then grab a po’boy from Central Grocery for lunch. After walking around the city for awhile, and earning some calories, treat yourself to some true cajun food for dinner. Try Jacques-Imo’s or Commander’s Palace. For dessert, try a delicacy created right here in NOLA, bananas foster. For the best restaurants in New Orleans check out Eater.
Drinks and Best Bars In New Orleans
New Orleans is known for a party atmosphere, the city is notorious for celebrating, so it only makes sense that drinks are associated with this environment. You have to go to Pat O’Brien’s and have an original Hurricane, a drink that originated right here in New Orleans. Another local favorite, the Sazerac, not only originated in New Orleans but was America’s first cocktail! Of course, you should have it at the world-famous Sazerac bar. While we are on New Orleans’ originals, let finish out with one last drink, the Ramos Gin Fizz. The Ramos Gin Fizz is hard to find outside of New Orleans so you might as well go ahead and taste it while you’re here. For more on the best bars in New Orleans check out CNTraveler’s list of cool hangouts.
Shopping In New Orleans
Shopaholics will not be disappointed in New Orleans. Start by visiting the French Market, which is located riverside in the lower French Quarter. The market stretches for several city blocks, but my favorite area is the outdoor flea market. Here you will find vendors selling everything from sunglass to unique New Orleans souvenirs.
After visiting the French Market, walk down to Royal Street, also located in the French Quarter. I love shopping on Royal Street because I always seem to find a diamond in the rough. Just being on Royal Street itself is a unique experience. Notice the beautiful wrought iron balconies that overhang the street, and the street performers that are entertaining the crowds on the corners. The street is lined with antique shops, art galleries, thrift stores, cafes, and courtyards.
Magazine Street, in the Garden District, is another great shopping area. Antique stores, boutique clothing shops, design studios, and great restaurants line Magazine Street, just inviting you to come in.
Visit a Plantation
Once the mainstay of the southern economy, plantations were abound in and around New Orleans. Today, many have become popular tourist destinations.
There are several plantations within driving distance of New Orleans. One of the most popular, Oak Alley Plantation, contains a beautiful antebellum-style home sitting on 25 acres which can be toured daily. Houma’s House is another tourist favorite with its restored mansion and gardens showcasing life in the 1800s. You can easily book tours right out of the city that includes transportation and entrance to the plantations. A definite must for history lovers.
Tour the Garden District
A short street car ride from the French Quarter will land you in one of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Louisiana, the Garden District. Suddenly surrounded by Greek Revival homes, take time to just roam around the neighborhood admiring the palaces of the south. There are several self-guided tours online, or you can hire a guide to explain the history and beauty of the area. Don’t worry, you’re in good company in the Garden District. Celebrities such as Sandra Bullock, Beyonce, and the Mannings all own houses in this area.
As you can see, New Orleans a city full of life and culture. Take the time to truly get a pulse for the life that’s around you, and I bet you will fall in love with New Orleans just like we have! Even with 36 hours in New Orleans you can still experience the essence of the city.
New Orleans Riverboat Cruise | New Orleans Katrina Tours
While you are in New Orleans, a riverboat cruise is a must! Experience the dazzle of New Orleans at night with a romantic dinner cruise aboard the famous Steamboats. Journey through time on this 2-hour float along the mighty Mississippi. Stroll the deck, cozy up with family and friends and delight in the sparkle of the urban shoreline at dusk. This excursion includes a Creole‐inspired dinner and live jazz music. Another tour worth exploring is the Katrina Tour. Many people who visit New Orleans are interested in visiting areas that were affected by Hurricane Katrina. There are stand-alone Katrina Tours or those that combine it with other city tours. There are also self-guided tours like that of Free Tours On Foot so that you can use your car or bike to visit. Immerse yourself in the culture, history, and landscape of vibrant New Orleans on half-day tours. Tours combine several elements focusing on architecture, the Garden District, historic cemeteries, the French Quarter, and recovery from Hurricane Katrina. For these and more click here to compare reviews and get the latest tour prices.
Tours In New Orleans
Getting Around New Orleans
New Orleans is a relatively easy city to get around in. The tourist areas are walkable and are connected to the other neighborhoods by an easy to navigate trolley and bus system. There are also taxis in New Orleans, but they are pricey. I would recommend using Uber or Lyft in lieu of a taxi.
Airport Transport | New Orleans Airport shuttles and Taxis
There are several ways to get from the airport to hotels. From Share-a-ride, to chauffered rides and airport shuttles. If booking airport Shuttles make sure you read the reviews on Trip Advisor as some have less than satisfactory reviews. You can also opt to use taxis or Uber which are super quickt and reliable. Also, use the shuttles if you are in a large group but bear in mind that most won’t leave until the bus or shuttle is full. If you can’t stand to wait then arrange a private car or book a large car when ordering Uber.
Where to Stay In New Orleans
Like most cities, New Orleans is divided into several neighborhoods, each with their own style and flair. Personally, we always stay in the French Quarter, right off of Canal Street. Staying around Canal Street allows you to be within walking distance of everything in the French Quarter while giving you easy access to the street cars that allow you to easily tour other neighborhoods. To get the latest prices on New Orleans hotels and other accommodation options click here.
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