THE BEST OF NEW ORLEANS – THINGS TO KNOW AND BEST THINGS TO DO

New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana with a population of 343, 829 as of 2010 census. The people are lively and very friendly. The town is located in the southeastern part of Louisiana and lies on both sides of the Mississippi River. The humid subtropical climate makes it suitable for you to visit all year round. It is characterized by short mild winters in January and hot humid summers in July and August.

The town is famous for its French and Spanish Creole and multilingual heritage. The town gains its fame from its cuisine, jazz music, and the celebrations and festivals that take place annually; the most notable one is the Mardi Gras.

Culture

The towns’ culture is greatly influenced by the European culture and this can be seen from the city’s famous cemeteries which are above the ground. This practice of burying people in the richly adorned tombs located above the ground originated from the Spanish who once ruled the town. You can visit these popular �cities of the dead’ and be amazed.

Marie Laveau’s grave is a much-visited site representing a culture of voodoo which was a fruit of slavery and the many different cultures merging together at that time. Marie was considered an undisputed Queen of Voodoo in the 1830s. While you might not be so lucky to witness the ceremonies and rituals, voodoo is very much still apart of the Residents Spirituality.

Where to stay

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From classy Hotels filled with Antiques to Haunted historic properties; New Orleans is never short of interesting places you can stay. You can get accommodation in the French Quarter; it is very convenient especially if you plan to frequently visit the Bourbon Street which has a very active nightlife. In the Golden District, lodging options available are inns and Bed and Breakfasts with most located in historic homes. The Central Business district has the cheaper options and the hotels are located close to the tourist attractions.

Where to Eat

New Orleans is known for its sophisticated dining and drinking culture that started more than 200 years ago. Because of this culture, there are many bars, restaurants, and other eateries ready to cater for you. Sample the local delicacies like batter-fried seafood or roast beef with lettuce and pickles. Elizabeth’s, La Petite Grocery and Atchafalaya are some of the best-known places to find something to eat. Don’t forget to visit cafe du Monde, it’s popular and worth to visit while you are in New Orleans.

How to get around

Navigating New Orleans is easy because there are many transportation options that you can choose from to experience the scenic streets and the lovely tree-lined avenues. The streetcar is my number one choice because it is very convenient and it goes through the essential routes: ST. Charles, Loyola Avenue, Canal Street and River Front. It is advisable that you should have the exact change for the fare. You can also opt to hire a car or take a Pedicab or the public Bus.

After dark taking a taxicab is the best option. The city is also pedestrian friendly and you can opt to take a stroll to hit the shops on Magazine or just to take in the exciting boozy bliss of the Bourbon Street. The flat terrain is also perfect for biking if you want to see the sights on two wheels and lose some calories at the same time. Bikes can be rented in one of the many bike shops around the town. Sail on the Natchez, This authentic steamboat has a calliope and cruises from one end of the city to the other end twice daily.

What to do in New Orleans

New Orleans is a perfect destination with numerous activities that will keep you busy throughout your vacation. Here are some of the major activities that most tourists enjoy.

• Mardi Gras (French for Fat Tuesday’)

The carnival is one of the main attractions in New Orleans; it officially begins on January 6th. The carnival has pagan and some elements of Christianity and was legitimized by the Catholic Church as a celebration before the season of Lent. As a result, the Mardi Gras occurs 46 days before Easter and can come as early as February 3 or as late as March 9. The celebrations can stretch out into two weeks. During this time, the town becomes full of costumed spectators to watch the spectacular parades, entertainment, and festivities.

• Visit the world-renowned French Quarter and the Treme Community

Originally the colonial-era city, the French Quarter contains popular bars, hotels, and nightclubs. The major tourist stops here include the Bourbon Street, French Market, Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral and the Preservation Hall.You can also visit the New Orleans Mint museum which was a former branch of US Mint. Located close to the French Quarter, it contains the Jazz National Historic Park and the African American Museum.

• The city park

This is the perfect place families with kids. The park lies on over 1,300 acres of land and contains a botanical garden, sculpture garden, a museum of art, an amusement park, Storyland, a water park, tennis courts, an 18 hole golf course and much more attractions.

• Night Life

New Orleans has a very active nightlife with casinos like the Harrah’s casino where you can try your luck. The music clubs are also a major hit with places like the jazz club where you can find live jazz music anytime. The Bourbon Street which is world renowned is the best street for club hopping because it is filled with clubs, restaurants, and other attractions. You can also check out the numerous Dance Clubs and Late Night Eats.

Shop for elegant hand smocked dresses on Magazine Street and then move on to Royal Street where you can shop for art. The next stop is the French Quarter where you will find unique boutiques and galleries. Last stop is the Antique shop where you will find interesting items.

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