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Located along the Mississippi River, New Orleans or “The Big Easy” as it’s known to many; is a vibrant and pulsating city that’s bursting-at-the-seams with jazz and R&B music, southern cuisine, and a lively atmosphere. Whether you visit during Mardi Gras or the French Quarter Festival (largest free U.S. music festival), you won’t be disappointed with this multi-cultural city. Read on to learn more about what you can do and see when you travel to New Orleans.
What To Do and See in New Orleans
Mardi Gras is a New Orleans tradition that should be experienced at least once. It’s about floats, outrageous costumes, parades, floats, and fun. Partygoers dress in purple (represents justice), green (represents faith), and gold (represents power), and wear the long beads they caught from those who toss them from the floats from earlier parades. You’ll see people sitting on the ground eating food, playing music, and having a good time watching the crowds walk by. Families with kids mingle with locals and visitors – everyone has an awesome time. Experienced Mardi Gras-ers bring large bags with them, so they can collect and carry away the beads and trinkets caught from the parades. Great souvenirs!
New Orleans is a fascinating city with a history that goes back to 1718 with much of it still visible. For example, the Louisiana Purchase was signed in 1803 in the Sala Capitular in the Cabildo on Jackson Square. See Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop where buccaneer Jean Lafitte hung out and performed illicit and illegal activities.
If you have a penchant for ghost stories, visit the cemeteries in New Orleans. Most tours take you through the famous St. Louis Cemetery #1, home of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s grave. Lafayette Cemetery, a popular location for movies and television shows, like the CWs The Originals, is located across from Commander’s Place in the Garden District.
New Orleans’ history of dining and drinking include the first cocktail, the Sazerac along with Peychaud’s Bitters, Herbsaint, the Ramos Gin Fizz, the Grasshopper and the Hurricane. Even brunch was invented in the city! Make sure you try gumbo, crawfish étouffée and a po-boy.
Immerse yourself in New Orleans art, culture, and history by visiting some of the city’s 45 museums. For example, the Louisiana Children’s Museum has more than 30,000 square feet of interactive exhibits that beckons children and families to explore art, health, math, music, and science.
At The National World War II Museum, images and artifacts tell the story of the men and women who sacrificed their lives to win the war and transform the world. Beginning in the 1930s to the Normandy Invasion and the battles of the Pacific islands, history lovers can trace America’s part in the war and at home.
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The Backstreet Cultural Museum is located in Treme, the oldest African-American neighborhood in the United States. It is home to Mardi Gras and jazz funerals collectables and other New Orleans traditions. Local artisans hand-make the brilliantly designed Mardi Gras Indian costumes; they cost upwards of $10,000.
Finally, visit historic New Orleans homes and see examples of original French, Spanish, and American architecture. Don’t know the difference between a Creole cottage and shotgun house? Find out by touring some of New Orleans various communities.
New Orleans isn’t short on outdoor and recreational fun. If you like to fish, cast your line on the Gulf Coast, one of the most popular angling destinations. Like to ride horses? Check out the stables in New Orleans, hop on a horse, and ride off into the sunset. Keep in mind that most places require a specific dress code, e.g., blue jeans and hard-soled shoes. Another way to see New Orleans is from the seat of a bike. Ride through Audubon Park or pedal along in the French Quarter past Creole cottages. For a tour of elegant homes, head to the Historic Garden District.
Spend Time in New Orleans
Culturally and historically rich, New Orleans is a destination that will delight your senses and pique your interest. Whether you want to shop, tour the local cuisine, visit the museums, or listen to jazz music, New Orleans is filled with possibilities. To get help planning your vacation, contact your TPI travel agent. He or she can create a New Orleans vacation you won’t forget.
by Amandah T. Blackwell, Savvy-Writer