New Orleans. Oh, what can I say? A place that speaks for itself with it’s warm, friendly, and magical culture? One of my favorite places to visit for all the energy, history, food, music, and people. There is no way you can do it once. You go once and get hooked. A very seductive place that offers so much, it makes it hard for not to treat yourself to everything that offers. And one time is not enough to see and explore it or feed enough on its energy.
So culturally rich, no matter how many times you go, you can find something new and interesting to learn and see. So vibrant you start feeding on its energy as soon as you step your feet on Canal, St.Charles, Magazine, or the Quarter. People here are so warm and friendly, you start wondering if they know you from somewhere. Or mistaken you for somebody they know. So easy going, you forget about all your worries.
I am going to say that I have always felt connected to old places. I don’t even know what is it. Is it that I am born and raised in one of the oldest cities in Europe. Is it my old soul seeking places and cities from its times. Or is it just personality preferences? I don’t know, but New Orleans is one of the places that fills my soul just by walking on its streets.
If it’s your first time in New Orleans, you need to start somewhere. They call it the Crescent City because it’s built along the bend in the Mississippi River in a crescent shape. This is where the old part of the city is. French Quarter is the MUST and from there you can extend and explore the city more and more. As a first-timer, I would suggest starting from those 16 places in the French Quarter that perfectly represent New Orleans in its style and culture.
This is the starting point of exploring the French Quarter. You can get a beignet and cafe au lait from Cafe Du Monde. Explore all the beauty of Jackson Square. With the view of St.Louis Cathedral, you can find everything like street performers, artists, street musicians, and fortune tellers.
2. Royal Street.
Royal Street is Burbon’s classier, art-loving sister. (If we take Burbon as the drunken, sloppy,party-loving brother.) Royal is the fancier version a parallel to Bourbon. A few feet away and has completely different, quieter but still very very New Orleans vibe. Find some of the following MUST SEE places in New Orleans like Antoine’s and Hotel Monteleone. Wonderful antique shops and art galleries, historical architecture, boutique shops, and fine dining.
St.Ann Street takes you from Louis Armstrong Park to Bourbon. Passing Royal to Jackson Square and Cafe Du Monde. Straight to Washington Artillery Park and Mississippi river. It’s definitely worth seeing! Charming allies and Marie Laveau’s first house and birthplace. If you are a fan of CIS series the NCIS New Orleans set is based on St.Anne between Bourbon and Royal. Also an interesting view of old, historical houses, apartment buildings, and hotels.
If you have never been to New Orleans you should definitely pass by Bourbon street at least once. Not only for all the bars with countless drink deals, music, and nightlife. If you want to see people who express themselves freely, street bands, and the endless party energy. It gets a little overwhelming for me sometimes. But you haven’t been to New Orleans if you haven’t been to Bourbon. You need to go and check it out for yourself and at least do some people watching.
Food is one of the best parts of New Orleans. Being ranked as one of the top 5 food cities in the USA is no joke. Local diners and restaurant owners are taking food seriously for many, many years. Home of famous recipes, known and loved all over the country. A restaurant will not survive in New Orleans if the food is not good. Not even a few months, no matter how much money has been invested in it. That speaks a lot and it’s very hard not to treat yourself to all this deliciousness when you visit. There are so many options and places that are must try. Here I am going to list only a few of them.
(713 St Louis St, New Orleans, LA 70130 )
Established since 1840. Antoine’s is the oldest French-Creole fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. The oldest family-run restaurant passed through 5 generations. It’s the birthplace of the famous Oysters Rockefeller and has 14 different decorated dining rooms. It’s a definite must-visit while in the French Quarter.
(417 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130 )
Another old, traditional very New Orleans restaurant established in 1945. The restaurant’s recipes haven’t really changed much since 1948, because good creole food has no need for change. This is where Banana Foster was first invented. “The dish was originally invented at Brennan’s Vieux Carré Restaurant on Bourbon Street, across from The Old Absinthe House.” The restaurant moved to Royal Street in 1956.
7.Pat O’Briens.(718 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, USA)
To visit an Irish Pub, when New Orleans has so much French, Creole, and Cajun culture?YES, FOR SURE!!! Home of The Hurricane, lounge with Dueling Pianos shows reminding of Prohibition Era Speakeasy. Huge beautiful patio with fire pit that gives you the comfort of a friend’s backyard party.
8.Hotel Monteleone.(214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130, USA)
One of the oldest and hunted hotels in the French Quarter built-in 1886. Grab a drink at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge. The bar is very cool and slowly moves in a circle. Most of the time it’s hard to get a seat as it’s a huge attraction and landmark for New Orleans. Even if you cannot sit at the Carousel Bar, go to the Lounge and enjoy some good live jazz or blues.
9.French Market. (700-1010 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 )
More than 200 years old historical building hosting a big covered market. Find anything from a quick bite(good local street food like seafood boil, oysters, crawfish, gumbo, crepes, and jambalaya). Grab a drink, souvenirs, handmade crafty gifts. Just 2 blocks from Jackson Square it’s a fun thing to do if you get caught in the rain and still feel like walking around.
10. Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar.
One of my all times favorite places in the world. The oldest bar in the country. Almost at the very end of the crowded part of Bourbon, there is an old cottage house. The house is there since 1722 with no electricity and a piano in the middle. Only candles on the tables and whatever can get in from the streetlights. Escape the loudness and crowd of Bourbon. Enjoy a Sazerac in traveling back in time atmosphere and piano sounds in typical New Orleans style.
11.Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo and Museum.
Those are two different locations but in 4 min walk from each other. Learn more about New Orleans Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s life. Mysteries and rituals of the streets of the French Quarter.
Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo (739 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116 ) This is the shop where you can find all kinds of interesting voodoo figures, herbs, and potions and everything to clear the bad juju. Cool and unusual souvenirs and merchandise.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. ( 724 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116 )The museum is small and takes about 30 minutes to see. It has very interesting displays of rituals voodoo culture and altars. The entrance is $7 and $5 for students. If you are interested, the museum has a list of practitioners that provide special services such as psychic readings, consultations, special gris-gris, rituals, and ceremonies.
(514 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130 )
Another small museum in a house that takes about 30-40 minutes and costs $5 to get in. If you are studying in medicine or just want to see what old pharmacies looked like back in the days. Wonder what medicine was in the 19th century? Check this one out. A mix of European medicine, Native American herbalism, and even voodoo potions. This is the pharmacy of the first certified pharmacist in the USA. There is also a creepy story behind it. (You can learn about it if you go on some of the tours).
13.Voodoo and Witch Tour.
I am sure that whichever tour you choose will be worth it. It will be interesting since there is so much to be said about the French Quarter and New Orleans. All the mysticism and creepy stories are represented differently from each guide. Some of them born and raised in New Orleans, with a rich family history. Seeing the storyline and representing it with their own style. Walking tours are long around 2 hours and definitely worth doing. You can get some other local tips and stories from your tour guide since most of them are local, very friendly, and fun.
If you are looking for live music bar hopping, this is it. F
15.Frenchman Art Market.
A hidden gem in a kind of backyard style market located at
619 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116. Check it out in the middle of your bar hopping on Frenchman. Cool and inspirational local craft arts, photographs, and paintings. Find unusual artsy gifts and decorations.
16.Go Swing Dancing with the Jitterbugs.
Are you a professional dancer or you dance just for fun?If you are up to try something new or dance with some well experienced dancers and learn swing jazz and lindy hop go to The AllWays Lounge & Cabaret
2240 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117
(few blocks away from Frenchman Street) on Sunday night at 8.00pm and get a free swing class and stay for the dance party after that.Cool cabaret vibe with live music and energetic dancers.
If you miss the Sunday dance, there is another one on Monday night at the Dragon’s Den
435 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116 starting with a free class at 8.00pm. The swing bands might be found on different days around Frenchman street bars, but the dance parties and class are so much fun.No partner or experience needed, just have fun.
Bonus: 5 Places You Can Go in a short walk from the French Quarter.
- Happy Hour Oyster Bar at Luke’s.
- Mississippi River Ferry.
- World War 2 Museum.
- St.Louis Cemetery 2.
- Louis Armstrong Park.
Staying in the French Quarter will give you more time to explore it and help you experience it to the fullest