New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating cities. Steeped in a history of influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Africa and beyond, it’s a brilliant mosaic of culture, food and music. You’ll find brimming bowls of gumbo, late nights in jazz clubs, strolls through historic neighborhoods and tantalising festivals throughout the year.
A heady confluence of the haughty European and the boisterous third-world, New Orleans is often referred to as the northernmost Caribbean city. Precious architecture stands alongside careening overloaded junk trucks, sumptuous delicacies tickle palates while offal in the streets offends the eyes. Never be in a hurry as at any time the locals like to chat.
Things to do
New Orleans is a great place to walk around, anchored by the beguiling French Quarter and the adjoining faubourgs (originally, ‘suburbs’). Despite the city’s bawdy reputation, it’s the moment when things are quiet – late afternoon when everyone is at the hotel getting ready to go out, early morning when the light explodes on the city and work crews come out to spray away last night’s sins – that New Orleans reveals its subtler charms.
Thanks to the wealth of cultures it encompasses, New Orleans is a city of many flavors and is a truly fascinating place to visit. There is the Old U.S Mint, which is now a museum devoted to jazz and Mardi Gras and the Old Ursuline Convent, the only standing building from the old French colony. If you would like to see more of historical buildings, there are several noteworthy old homes to visit in New Orleans such as the Gallier House, the LaBranche House and the Hermann-Grima House.
If old buildings aren’t your thing, there are aquariums, zoos and even a garden district to explore. There’s one thing for sure in New Orleans, you won’t be short of places to explore.
New Orleans is a great place to pick up antiques and local arts and crafts. The French quarter is lined with boutiques and shops selling anything from furniture to a pin. Art galleries are spread out in the Warehouse District and you can pick up a good print or two here. There are several malls in the Central Business District with loads of shops and restaurants.
As the locals say “Laissez les bons temps rouler” (Let the good times roll) and splash your cash!
New Orleans’ vibrant, old-school panache lends a certain dignity to otherwise debauched activities. Revelers throw strings of beads from cast-iron balconies in appreciation of beautiful strangers passing below. The sonorous echoes of unbelievably sweet jazz, funky brass, R&B and blues beat from unexpected corners, and dancing becomes a reaction, not a choice.
In New Orleans, you can party all night and all day if you wish — most establishments have 24 hour drinking licenses. Also, it is perfectly legal to drink on the streets in New Orleans, a privilege no other city in the U. S can claim. The effervescent live-music scene just adds to the partying spirit. Jazz originated in the city and there are plenty of bars and clubs where you can listen to some really good jazz.
Blues, Cajun, zydeco, pop and rock also make their appearances in the nightclub scene. Bourbon Street is where the action lies so do not miss putting in an appearance in one of its many bars and nightclubs, if you want to savour the true flavour of New Orleans.
If you want to sample spicy and exotic Cajun and Creole cuisine, head for New Orleans. ‘Gumbo’ and ‘jambalaya’ will soon top the list of your favorite food. Scooping out a steaming pot of gumbo is as central to New Orleans life as listening to jazz, zydeco or swamp blues, or chomping on the sugary pastries called beignets. This Louisiana favourite is essentially a hearty broth of seafood or smoked meats thickened with okra or a wheat-and-fat mixture called roux before being splashed over a mountain of rice. But New Orleans serves up countless variations of the basic gumbo recipe, from classic Creole to pungent Cajun.