New Orleans is the largest city in the state of Louisiana and one of the oldest cities in the nation, established in the early 1700s. Some of the earliest settlers were French Canadian colonists who had been expelled from their Northern homes by the British. A Spanish influence can also be felt from the time Spain ruled the city for 40 years before returning to the French. It became part of America when Napoleon sold the entire Louisiana territory in one of the biggest land bargains ever.
The city is made up of various districts, the French Quarter being the oldest and most famous with many clubs, museums, restaurants, antique shops and bars. Downriver is the district with the great music scene and a hip Bohemian vibe on Frenchmen Street. Nicknamed “The Big Easy” the city has a great reputation for its Creole food, wide music variety, beautiful architecture and nearby swamps and plantations. Each year the famous Mardi Gras festival and the Jazz Fest bring millions of visitors to the city so if you are planning on visiting during these times, make sure to book your accommodation well in advance!
- New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz, which still immensely popular in the city.
- A submarine sandwich is known as a “po´boy” in New Orleans.
- New Orleans was one of the areas that voodoo was introduced into the U.S.
- Though the culture of the city is mostly associated with the French, the architecture is mainly Spanish in style.
- New Orleans is officially 2 feet below sea level, making it prone to flooding.
Things to Do
Choose from a wealth of options of things to do when visiting this charismatic city! Below are just a few suggestions of many activities available:
1) Taking a Creole cooking class and learn how to make the delectable cuisine for your friends and family at home. Top-class chefs will not only teach but entertain you during the 4 course cooking bonanza.
2) Go on a riverboat cruise down the Mississippi, with jazz, food and drink on board, or opt for the cheaper river ferry, which is the free pedestrian ferry that crosses the Mississippi from Canal Street to Algiers Point and offers great views of the river.
3) Check out some of the museums dotted around the city, eg. the New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, the French Quarter Museum, The Old Mint and many others.
4) Take a walking tour around the French Quarter or the Garden District, or a themed one about the voodoo or jazz scene in New Orleans.
5) Head out of town on a tour of the swamps. The nearby Jean Lafitte Nature Preserve is free to enter and gives a great view of the local swamp flora and fauna.
New Orleans Food Delights
New Orleans has great food on offer, with many local specialities. Try the red beans and rice for some cheap and cheerful comfort food, or the seafood (oysters and crawfish especially), which is fresh and plentiful. The area is best-known for Creole cooking which is made with roux and the “trinity” of green peppers, onions and celery. If you´re a fan of beer, then check out the local brews “Abita”, “Turbodog” and the raspberry “Purple Haze”.
Getting To and Around New Orleans
Louis Armstrong International Airport is located in the suburb Kenner in New Orleans. For cheap transport into the city centre take the Jefferson Transit Airport Express, Route E2-Airport which only costs $2. Many major hotels also have shuttle buses running to and from the airport. You can also reach New Orleans by train, bus and car. Once in the city, use the streetcars or your feet to get around, as the streets in some of the older neighbourhoods often predate the motorcar, with many one-way streets or narrow two-way streets. As most of the neighbourhoods are laid out along the Mississippi River, locals will tend to give directions in upriver, downriver, towards the river and so on, rather than north, south, east or west.
Accommodation and Rentals in New Orleans
There are good accommodations located in the city, with the more touristic centred around the French Quarter and the Central Business District. If you would prefer to have self-catering accommodation, then there are plenty of apartments or other rentals available. Wimdu has a variety of accommodation options on offer, from a room with bed and breakfast to a beautiful French Quarter apartment with balcony.