Have you ever visited a US city that managed to totally capture your imagination with its vibrancy, and colourful history? This Trinidadian girl fell harrrrd for New Orleans (NOLA) during a week-long visit in early April. My newfound obsession with Louisiana’s cultural capital has resulted in withdrawal symptoms and real cravings for the city’s fascinating sights, sounds and tastes! I invite you to read on as I share my experience of spending one week in New Orleans, an enchanting American city with a magic that remains with you long after you leave, and compels you to return!
Why spend one week in New Orleans rather than a few days?
I believe that spending a week in NOLA will allow most visitors to take their time and really enjoy the city’s offerings. While New Orleans is not a major metropolis, it is a city abuzz with activity and entertainment. Previous travel experience taught me that cramming too many items into my itinerary within a short time frame is not necessarily the best idea! Hustling from one attraction to the next in a desperate attempt to do it all, led to irritation and not fully appreciating the locations. I felt drained at the end of the day and just wanted to crash at my hotel. Not going for a night on the town because you’re tired? Lame!!!
Handy Travel Tip: Fit a weekend into your week’s stay to add extra days and maximize your time! Sigh…if I only had the time!
1st Day Monday: Bourbon Street of course!
I give myself props for selecting this beautiful AirBnB, superbly located just off trendy Magazine Street. Our hostess Kira, also doubled as our airport Uber driver…woot woot!
A 3 minute walk from the AirBnB, was where I enjoyed my first taste of Louisiana. A late breakfast of shrimp and grits at Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar , Magazine Street really hit the spot!
Hit the town
After a long rest to combat jetlag from the 2 flights I needed to reach NOLA, a 7 minute walk through the gorgeous Uptown neighbourhood takes you to the famous St. Charles Streetcar line. While you wait, look up at the trees along the car route. Beads from last Mardi Gras still hang from the branches! Ride the car for a small fee of $1.25 until it’s last stop on Canal Street and cross over into Bourbon Street. This world famous French Quarter street is an awesome line up of bars, restaurants and cabarets all thronging with tourists looking have a fun evening out, as wild as they like! It truly embodies the city’s motto Laissez le bon temps rouler! – Let the good times roll!
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This iconic street, also called Rue Bourbon, dates all the way back to 1718! Located in the heart of the #FrenchQuarter, it’s in #NewOrleans oldest neighbourhood! •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• Come join me in reliving my awesome vacation to one of America’s most colourful and fascinating cities! •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #bourbonstreet #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #instagood #nola300 #louisianagallery #nawlinsbaby #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #amournola #louisiana #bigeasy #thebigeasy #bourbonstreetbound #bourbonstreetlife #bourbonstreetready #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #bourbonstreetnola #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #mytinyatlas
2nd Day Tuesday: Riverfront Walk and The French Quarter
Question: what does a Caribbean girl love more than anything? Answer: her belly!!! Sensory overload the night before on Bourbon Street led to waking up around 11am, just in time for a longstanding Southern tradition…Brunch! Apolline on Magazine Street serves a delectable brunch spread complete with bottomless mimosas and Bloody Marys!
After brunch, go downtown and walk along the New Orleans Riverfront. I guarantee, the cool winds from the Mississippi River will help calm the buzz from the drinks! Once you’ve sobered up, exercise your limbs and make your way to the French Quarter. Stop and take in stunning views of Jackson Square and street arts from Washington Artillery Park. Then, make your way to tourist hotspot Cafe du Monde and wait in line to savour soft pillows of fried sugary goodness…beignets! Say it with me…ben yaes! Afterwards, walk around to take in exciting musical and street performances!
Culture Tidbit 1: NOLA is described as America’s Caribbean city.
Why? Like the Caribbean (my home country Trinidad & Tobago included) the state of Louisiana:
- was colonized by the French and Spanish
- has conditions conducive to planting sugarcane
- built its economy on sugar production using African slave labour
Culture Tidbit 2: Mardi Gras & Carnival
The French ruling class brought their cultural traditions with them to the New World. This included masquerade balls with lavish costumes and disguises on the 2 days before Ash Wednesday. Like NOLA’s Mardi Gras, Trinidad & Tobago Carnival was born out those elaborate French balls coupled with African and native influences. While you’re visiting New Orleans, go to the Crescent City Mask Company off Jackson Square to try on and purchase your own embellished Mardi Gras mask!
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When you think of New Orleans what immediately comes to mind? Yup…Mardi Gras!!! The Crescent City Mask Company 🎭 in the #FrenchQuarter has tons of gorgeous handmade creations that you can buy as souvenirs! Confession…I saw the No Pictures sign too late, buried under a pile of masks! Doh🙈 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #neworleans #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #culturetrip #igersnola #nola300 #amournola #exploreneworleans #mardigras #globalite #onlyinneworleans #showmeyournola
Culture Tidbit 3: Voodoo
Just like in the Caribbean, African religious traditions and practices were brutally repressed by the European colonists and slave owners. Forced migration, displacement and conversion to Catholicism resulted in the names and aspects of Voodoo spirits taking on parallels in Christian saints. The Voodoo religion only survived due to syncretization with Roman Catholicism! If you have the time , visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on Dumaine Street, French Quarter, for an intro to the religion.
Napoleon House on Chartres Street was the choice for a quick dinner before our walking tour. It’s is a popular spot for moderately priced New Orleans fare in a historic building, meant to house Napoleon Bonaparte himself! However, he never stayed. Despite the restaurant’s popularity, I admit that I was not too impressed with the food. The jambalaya was over dry and their famous shrimp remoulade – stuffed avocado was just… ok. However, I’m willing to give it another chance when I visit in the near future.
Haunted History Walking Tour
When you think of New Orleans what pops into your mind? Mardi Gras, wild parties and swinging jazz no? NOLA also has a dark past filled with tragedy, murder and countless deaths by diseases like yellow fever. Residents and visitors over the decades have reported seeing apparitions in locations all over the city. The numerous sightings sealed NOLA’s reputation as one of America’s most haunted cities! We decided to learn more about the city’s grisly past from top rated Haunted History Tours. We chose the 5 in 1 tour to get the entire rundown of macabre tales of ghosts, witches, vampires, voodoo and unsolved mysteries!
3rd Day Wednesday: Steamboat Cruise, Jazz and…Crawfish with Channing Tatum!
How about a relaxing change of pace with a cruise? The Natchez Steamboat is America’s last remaining authentic steamboat that cruises the mighty Mississippi river! Skip breakfast and enjoy a lunch cruise, as well as views of the Crescent City (aka NOLA) from the water. Walk off the heavy meal and explore the engine room to see the inner workings of the boat and enjoy drinks along the decks!
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The Natchez is America’s last remaining authentic steamboat 🚢 cruising the mighty Mississippi River! Do you remember seeing it in Interview with the Vampire? • 📸: @henrysugar777 ************************************* #steamboat #natchezmississippi #natchezsteamboat #natchezsteamboatcruise #neworleans #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #nawlinsbaby #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #culturetrip #igersnola #nola300 #amournola #exploreneworleans
More French Quarter!
C’mon you can’t not go! Disembark from the steamboat and walk to Jackson Square in the French Quarter. Enter and experience the grandeur of the historic St. Louis Cathedral, (remember it from Disney’s The Princess and the Frog?). Beer lovers can refresh themselves with craft brews from Jackson Brewery on Decatur Street and watch fresh oysters being shucked right there! The banana flavoured beer was my favourite! Don’t leave the city without enjoying some green space. Louis Armstrong Park is a serene place for a relaxing walk and a rest from the noise of the French Quarter across the way. It is named after one of the most influential figures in Jazz music. A statue of this famous son of New Orleans is situated inside!
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Jackson Square on a hot afternoon in the #FrenchQuarter. I was walking towards the St.Louis Cathedral, one of #NewOrleans most notable landmarks. Originally built in 1727, it’s the oldest cathedral in the USA 🇺🇸! Disney fans, remember seeing it on The Princess and the Frog 🐸? 📸: @henrysugar777 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #neworleans #jacksonsquare #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #globalite #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #indiantraveller #igersnola #stlouiscathedral #nola300 #amournola #exploreneworleans
Culture Tidbit 4: Jazz!
New Orleans is the birthplace of Jazz music! In most parts of the city, you’re bound to see performances from musicians of all ages and races day and night. A rest in Louis Armstrong Park preps you to wait in line for an authentic and delightful jazz performance at Preservation Hall on St. Peter Street, French Quarter. Built in 1961, it’s role is to preserve and promote authentic New Orleans jazz music, and trust me… I was not disappointed! Tip: Check performance times and cement your spot in line AT LEAST 45 minutes before. Yes, you read that right…those lines snake around the corner! Note: no photos or recording is allowed inside, so put your smartphone down and soak in the ambience!
Crawfish with Channing Tatum!
Ahaaa got your attention didn’t I! April is crawfish season in New Orleans, so enjoy a succulent crawfish boil for dinner at Channing Tatum’s restaurant Saints & Sinners! Strike a pose with the Magic one after you eat! Well…..a cardboard cutout at least!
4th Day Thursday: St. Louis Cemetery Tour, French Market and Swamp Tour
Morning Walking Tour
Walking tours are an excellent way to learn about a city’s historical and cultural sites from local or resident guides. It’s also a chance to get some exercise and meet people! I chose Free Tours by Foot for a 90 minute, 9am tour of the St. Louis Cemetery. Book online and meet the group at a designated location. Please do the honourable thing and tip your guide for his/her time (as your budget allows)! The cemetery is the location of the tombs of many prominent New Orleans personalities, among them, the famous Voodoo Queen, Marie LaVeau. You can also see the FUTURE pyramid tomb of Hollywood actor Nicholas Cage!
Morning – Afternoon, French Quarter – New Orleans Pharmacy Museum and French Market
You don’t have to be a pharmacist to enjoy the NOLA Pharmacy Museum. Learn all about early medicines, remedies and health practices from the early 19th century onward. The early tools and bottles in the apothecary could very well have been the site of a Hogwarts potions class!!! Yes, I’m a Potterhead! I also loved the small gothic courtyard and fountain at the back of the museum. American Horror Story fans will recognize it as a film location from Season 3 – Coven, which was filmed entirely in New Orleans! In the show, Jessica Lange (Fiona) freed Kathy Bates (Delphine LaLaurie – notorious NOLA socialite and reputed sadist) from her tomb right where I stood!
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#AmericanHorrorStory fans! Do you remember this location from #Coven, Season 3? It’s where Jessica Lange (Fiona) freed Kathy Bates (Delphine LaLaurie) from her tomb! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ New Orleans is a popular shooting location for Hollywood films and TV series. This small courtyard at the back of the NOLA Pharmacy Museum has a gothic ambience to it, even on sunny days! 📸: @henrysugar777 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #americanhorrorstorycoven #louisianaentertainment #louisianafilm #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #bigeasy #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #mytinyatlas #indiantraveller #exploreneworleans #nola300 #ahscoven
The French Market on Decatur Street is a flea market where you can buy souvenirs, trinkets and local Cajun food. I loved my voodoo string doll Scarecrow from The Wizard of Oz!
Late afternoon/Evening – Swamp boat tour
Take a break from the French Quarter bars and experience Louisiana’s much wilder side with a swamp tour! Our AirBnB hostess organized an airboat tour for us with Airboat Tours by Arthur, Des Allemands. We zipped through the swamp lands and saw a wide variety of animal and plant life, including hanging Spanish moss, bald eagles and Louisiana alligators (the non-jazz playing types!). It’s a fun activity for all types of travelers, whether solo, couples, family, or adventure.
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Take a break from drinking at the Bourbon Street bars and experience Louisiana’s wild side with an airboat swamp tour! This activity is so much fun for all types of #travelers whether solo, family, couples or adventure! ••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #neworleans #louisianaswamp #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #globalite #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #indiantraveller #igersnola #louisianaswamptour #airboat #nola300 #amournola #exploreneworleans
5th Day Friday: Plantation Day Tour
Experience Lousiana’s past by visiting a historic sugarcane plantation and Great House. I chose a tour of the spectacular Oak Alley Plantation, named for it’s double avenue of live 300 year old oak trees! It still works today but without the labour from enslaved persons of course! Before our guided tour of the Great House, guests sipped on cool mint juleps outside. Our tour involved viewing the plantation owners’ priceless heirlooms as well as devices used in the subjugation of the enslaved. Touring the grounds, I was reminded of identical scenes in the old sugar plantations of my home region.
Oak Alley Plantation is a popular Hollywood film location. Many TV and motion picture scenes were filmed there either in whole or in part, including Brad Pitt’s Interview with the Vampire!
Dinner at Cafe Amelie
This enchanting courtyard restaurant on Royal Street was the day’s chosen dinner spot in the French Quarter. The restaurant lies within the 150-year-old Princess of Monaco Courtyard and Carriage House. My favourite feature was the romantic cast-iron courtyard fountain. I was happy to get a table right next to it!
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New Orleans has the most romantic and historic courtyard fountains! Made of cast iron, they can be found in antebellum home gardens, parks and patios all over the city. 📸: @henrysugar777 ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I was overjoyed to get a table just 2 steps away from this beauty at the enchanting courtyard restaurant Cafe Amelie! Located on Royal Street in the French Quarter, the restaurant is nestled within the 150 year old Princess of Monaco Courtyard and Carriage House. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ #cafeamelie #neworleans #frenchquarter #ironfountain #neworleansfood #neworleansrestaurant #onetimeinnola #nola #iloveneworleans #louisianagallery #globalite #igneworleans #igersneworleans #currytraveler #louisiana #bigeasy #thebigeasy #louisianatourism #neworleanstourism #visitneworleans #jj_louisiana #nolalove #loveneworleans #followyournola #nolalife #lovinlouisiana #louisianatravel #mytinyatlas #indiantraveller #exploreneworleans
6th Day Saturday: Garden District Tour and Dinner
Morning walking tour
Another great walking tour from Free Tours by Foot! A short streetcar ride from our AirBnB, the Garden District is one of the most desirable neighbourhoods in the city and one of the most beautifully preserved in America. It’s a magnolia and jasmine lined area where you view glorious antebellum homes owned by many a Hollywood celebrity and other famous personalities. The District is also home to the Lafayette Cemetery #1. Unfortunately, a funeral was in progress so we didn’t get to go inside. Tip: Watch your step! The pavements are uneven and broken in many places by powerful oak tree roots!
The Commander’s Palace restaurant in the Garden District is a New Orleans institution for award-winning Louisiana Creole/Cajun cuisine. Enjoy 25 cent martinis with the lunch menu! I’ll let you know, dinner at this restaurant is a decadent and wonderful way to enjoy your final night in the city! I highly recommend the boudin-stuffed quail, Louisiana fish. The creme brulee was the best I’ve had in a long time!
Tip: Dress code is business attire. Ladies, pack a suitable dress or separates. Gentlemen, a pair of slacks and collared shirt. Please have some pride, no flip flops and shorts!
7th Day Sunday: Last minute Souvenirs and Departure
Shop for souvenirs before your flight
I love getting unique souvenirs that reflect the culture of the destination I visit. The Garden District Bookshop is a one-stop shop for New Orleans and Louisiana specific literature! At the airport, I picked up these Creole pralines seen below to satisfy my sweet tooth. Tip: Don’t pay high prices at the airport and the touristy French Quarter. Save $$$ and buy your fridge magnets, key rings and other small souvenirs at pharmacies like Walgreens, Rite Aid and CVS. They’re cheaper!
I hope I’ve inspired you to spend one week in magical, delicious, jazzy, swampy, and spooky New Orleans! Let me know of your experience in the city in the comments below!
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