We travelled through the U.S.A. for six weeks and we have to admit, New Orleans was at the top of our list. There’s just something about wandering the streets to the live jazz music, perusing the art galleries and admiring the intricate French and Spanish influenced architecture that gives it a feeling unlike any other U.S. city. We were only visiting for a few days, but experienced New Orleans as both sunny and hot as well as raining and humid, so here’s our recommendations for a day outdoors and indoors in this charming city!DAY 1
Begin your New Orleans experience by staying in the beautiful French Quarter at the Country Inn and Suites on Magazine Street. Enjoy your complimentary breakfast before taking the short walk to Decatur Street and Jackson Square where you’ll find yourself immersed in New Orleans culture, surrounded by live music, local artists and street vendors. St. Louis Cathedral will catch your eye at once, so make sure you take time to admire the beauty of one of the oldest cathedrals in America.
Get some relief from the heat by visiting the numerous indoor art and photography galleries that surround Jackson Square, and then head back outside to wander the perimeter and appreciate the work of the street artists. Get a caricature sketched of yourself on the spot if if you like, or take a break and lay on the grass in the square, relaxing to the sweet sound of live jazz music.
Next, head on over to take a walk down Bourbon Street, infamous for its bars and strip clubs and a hive of activity at all times of the day. Enjoy some people watching, and learn more about the culture of the city as you observe all the different characters of the area. Along the way, don’t forget to stop and look up at the amazing architecture that lines the streets of the French Quarter. We could have spent a whole day (or two or three) just wandering the area, taking photos, popping into shops and galleries and just soaking up the New Orleans way of life.
Finish your day by taking a stroll along the Mississippi River at sunset, or splash out and take a dinner cruise along the river.DAY 2
Kick off a rainy day by heading to Chartres Street (don’t forget your umbrella!). For all our fellow photography geeks out there (and even those that just have a slight interest), A Gallery For Fine Photography is a must-see. From the outside it looks rather inconspicuous, not giving away any clues as to the enormity of what lies within. From Ansel Adams to Henri Cartier Bresson to Annie Leibovitz, this is a photographer’s oasis, with the largest collection of original prints that we’ve ever seen. Boasting an inventory of over 5,000 photographs, you can literally spend hours browsing the collection, in awe of the talent that surrounds you in one little gallery.
If you can drag yourself away from the gallery, we recommend taking a slightly touristy turn to grab a free shuttle to Mardi Gras World (call the number provided on the website and choose the closest pick up point). We generally avoid this sort of attraction while travelling, but a quick Google search recommended it for a rainy day, and it looked like a bit of fun, and that it was! Jump off the free shuttle and buy your tickets for $19.95 each (adult – current as of August 2015), receive your plastic beads to hang around your neck to get you into Mardi Gras mode, and to join a tour group. Tours run every half an hour, are an hour long and are conducted at the actual warehouse that current floats are constructed in. The tour begins with a 15-minute video about the history of the parade followed by the opportunity to dress up in some fabulously flamboyant costumes and pose with oversized float faces (I think I changed costume about three times and made Gavin take 100 photos!). You then move onto a guided tour through the warehouse, which gives an in-depth coverage about the parade and how the floats are constructed and refurbished, all the while wandering through the area where everything is made and if you’re lucky, the artists are at work!
Like anything – it’s all about what you make of it! Many people left quickly after the tour ended, but with the freedom to roam around the warehouse full of old floats and props we thought it was the perfect opportunity to take a heap of silly photos and have a bit of fun on a rainy day! Oh, and you get a free slice of King Cake, what more could you want?! If you’re like us these two spots would have just taken up your entire day so head back to the French Quarter via the free shuttle and finish it with dinner and a drink in this lively city.
Complete your New Orleans visit by sampling some of the best food America has to offer, check out our New Orleans Eats recommendations.