The Big Easy. Sin City. The City of the Dead. Saints Country. There are so many names for the big southern sprawl that is New Orleans, which is fitting because the city defies many expectations and categorizations. You’ll undoubtedly hit the French Quarter, where there’s an ATM in every bar and likely a decent band inside as well. The architecture was largely preserved despite Hurricane Katrina, so the wrought-iron work is still as dazzling as it was in the 1800s. You can hit up Cafe DuMonde for your requisite beignet, but lines start early. Similarly, Jackson Square has plenty of artists and local fortune tellers lined up to offer you some voodoo-lite type Nawlins experiences, but you’re better off hitting the voodoo shops if you want more authenticity. On that note, I was told that there’s no restaurant worth standing in line for in NOLA – they’re all good – but it is worth hanging around the end of Jackson Square to watch the oyster shuckers work their speedy magic on some of the freshest shellfish around. Take the Canal Streetcar (see if you can find the one named “Desire”) out of the city’s main drag to the New Orleans city park, which has a sculpture garden and plenty of fun for kids or kids at heart, and the park’s layout is beautiful and takes into account the tiny St. John’s Bayou, so you can get a feel for the swamp surrounding NOLA. Around the corner from the park (which also houses a museum) is the famed St. Louis Cemetery #3, where voodoo priestesses and NOLA’s various notable citizens are buried in the spooky yet fascinating above-ground tombs. The New Orleans aquarium is great ($3 and you can feed parakeets) as is its modern art museum, and history lovers shouldn’t miss the wonderful World War II museum near Lafayette Square (say La-fee-yet). Taking the St. Charles streetcar will put you in the Garden District, a beautiful antebellum neighborhood where the ceilings of porches are painted light blue to ward off the evil spirits, as is the custom in much of the deep and deeply superstitious South. The Lafayette cemetery is here, as well as the wallet-busting Magazine Street, a spot full of art, antiques, boutiques, and great eats. Heading up to Frenchman’s Street in the lesser-tourist-frequented Marginy area means more jazz and blues music, but in a decidedly less-loutish atmosphere than the French Quarter, but this area of New Orleans borders Treme and the Ninth Ward, areas where crime is high and Katrina rehabilitation remains incomplete. Mid City offers some neat places to shop and eat, but there’s really no place in New Orleans that wouldn’t offer the average tourist some interest – so head south, grab a drink, and, as the locals say – Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Filed under: North America | Tagged: art, beignets, Bourbon Street, Cafe DuMonde, Canal Street Streetcar, cemeteries, French Quarter, Frenchman's Street, Garden District, Jackson Square, jazz and blues music, Lafayette cemetery, Lafayette Square, Laissez les bons temps rouler, Louisiana, Magazine Street, Marginy, Mid City, museums, New Orleans, New Orleans Aquarium, New Orleans City Park, Ninth Ward, NOLA, oysters, St. Charles Streetcar, St. Louis Cemetery #3, tombs, Treme, voodoo, World War II museum | 1 Comment »