The Best Tips for Visiting the ‘Big Easy’
When my sister said she wanted to spend her birthday in the city of New Orleans, my only response was, “When should I arrive?” NOLA, or the Big Easy, is by far one of my favorite places to visit in these United States. Culture, atmosphere, music and FOOD. It’s a place that should be on every quilter’s Bucket List. Here’s my best tips for planning your next Cajun adventure!
Stay in the French Quarter
On our last trip to New Orleans, our merry band of travelers decided to stay at the Andrew Jackson Hotel in the heart of the French Quarter. It turned out to be the perfect spot for several reasons.
First, it’s close enough to all the shops and restaurants throughout the French Quarter that you can walk just about anywhere. It’s even a short walk to the infamous Café Du Monde for some beignets and frozen coffee. Yes, I said that right. A must try! But if I’m honest, the beignets at Café Beignet on Bourbon St. are better. 😊
Second, the Andrew Jackson hotel itself is a historical landmark. Originally a boy’s public school, then a US District Court, the building now serves as one of the hot spots on the local Ghost tour circuit. Personally, I didn’t experience any celestial apparitions. However, there was a brief incident of the bed shaking like an earthquake at 5:30 in the morning when in fact there was no earthquake. I’ll leave that one to speculation.
Get up with the Chickens
In my not so humble opinion, the absolute best time to see the city is early in the morning. Just look at that sunrise over the Mississippi River!
This is also the best time of day to see the local artists and hear some of the best street jazz as they begin their day of entertaining the tourists. The crowds are small so you can walk the streets at leisure. Then, you have the rest of your day to head out of the French Quarter and take in some tours!
Go for a Walk
I like to walk. In fact, I spend lots of my time on the road just walking the local areas to get a feel for the locals perspective. Nowhere is this more accurate than in New Orleans.
If you’re staying in the French Quarter, you can spend all day (or two) walking up and down the streets looking at the beautiful historic homes, shops and hotels. But, I’d also highly suggest you add a walk along the Mississippi River.
The best way to do this is to head up to the rivers edge near the south side entrance on Dumaine Street or St. Philip Street. Turn right and head toward the city center. You can’t miss it. Just look for the giant River Boat.
Once you reach Canal St, turn right again and look for Decatur St. Then follow Decatur all the way back down and enjoy the French Quarter Market! Keep in mind, between all the shops, restaurants, parks and more along this route, it can take you all day to walk up and back. But what a time you’ll have!!
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Take a Tour
What’s the one thing most people think of when you mention ‘New Orleans’? Besides the food that is. Or jazz. Or art. Well, eventually you’ll end up with “ghosts and voodoo.”
Made famous by the tragic times of yellow fever outbreak all the way to the great Madame Laveau, New Orleans has legends and history for days. The best way to experience them all is through the local tours.
If you’re up for a real adventure, I suggest joining one of the many nightly ghost tours throughout the city. However, if you’d prefer a more relaxed adventure, try one of the cemetery tours during daylight hours. You’ll get more of the history and less of the lore. But this is New Orleans after all, so expect just about anything.
Party on Bourbon Street
Ah the legendary Bourbon street. This is the place you want to be when the sun goes down. Drink in hand and a spring in your step, this walk will have you dancing to a different beat at every turn. It truly is a magical place you want to experience at least once. More if you like it. 😉
A few tips for walking Bourbon street:
- Carry an over the shoulder bag and watch your belongings. Pick pockets are around.
- Keep a few dollars cash on hand for the many fabulous local musicians. They live on tips.
- Pace yourself. They pour a pretty strong drink on Bourbon street.
- Waive to the balconies!
Ride the trolley car
The best way to get around the city (and experience life like the locals) is to ride the trolley cars. On our last trip a full day pass was only $3! Can’t hardly beat that with a stick.
The best way to get route details and purchase tickets is to download the app “RTA GoMobile” on to your phone. Look for the Purple, yellow and gold arrow. It’s free to use and handy to have at your fingertips.
Visit the Garden district
When you hop on the Trolley, take the one out to the Garden District. It’s really not hard to find. Just look for the giant park surrounded by million dollar homes and GORGEOUS ancient trees.
There really is no rhyme or reason to heading out to the Garden District in New Orleans. UNLESS, you’re like me and could spend days just hanging with the trees. These beauties are truly majestic.
I recommend getting off the trolley on the far side of the district near Tulane University. That way you can walk back toward the French Quarter enjoying all the views… and working up an appetite.
Along the way you’re sure to run into Market Street. Here is where you’ll want to stop and grab a bite to eat and do a little shopping. They have some of the greatest little shops including antique and local artists!
STop in to Mes Amis Quilt Shop
Last but certainly not least, make sure to save time to visit Mes Amis (pronounced Mez Ahmee) Quilt Shop! Located just a short drive from the French Quarter is one of the greatest little quilt shops you’ll find.
Denise over at Mes Amis carries a wide variety of fun fabrics including several local artists. You can even pick up a few notions and fun accessories for your Cajun quilting fun!
No matter how you do New Orleans, the best advice is to relax, eat and enjoy. The atmosphere is intoxicating and the locals are friendly. It truly is a destination like no other in the world!
- The Best Food in New Orleans!
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