We arrived in New Orleans at night and I quickly fell in love…which is saying something, because how can you even tell at night? We checked into our hotel and headed out for some gumbo and jambalaya (just jumping right in). A lot of people made NOLA sound really sketchy and dangerous but I never once felt that way. Honestly there are a million ghost tours every night through the French Quarter so there are always so many people around. My food guide is here if you are interested because this post is all about what we did! I’ve said it before but my favorite thing to do is walking tours in a new city. Do this first thing!! The reason for this is because you can completely pick your guides brain about anything and everything. Take complete advantage of restaurant recommendations, things to do and any other questions you have, it’s part of their job! A couple places on my food guide were from the guides. You also pass a lot of things and places that you wouldn’t find on your own that you can then add to your to do list and if you wait til the end of your trip you won’t have time. We used Free Tours By Foot and I love them! This is not sponsored at all either. We went on three different walking tours in New Orleans and I loved every one of them. The first one we did was the French Quarter tour and if you can only do one I would suggest that one just because it’s easy access and you get a feel of everything. The best thing about these tours is you can pay whatever you want so they fit all budgets. Bring cash for this, they really do an awesome job! We also did a ghost tour which was really cool. These are super popular and some companies charge a ton so you are really getting a good deal with Free Tours By Foot. They take you past the Lalaurie mansion. The final tour we did was the Garden District Tour. This was Lyle’s least favorite but I LOVE beautiful homes and architecture so I loved this tour and if you have time I think it’s fun to do!
Some other fun things to do are to wander Jackson Square which is in the center of New Orleans. Its a beautiful park with benches to have a picnic and if you walk straight towards the steps behind it you have some beautiful views for pictures. The picture below is taken from up there! Then you can wander Royal Street for some shopping. The best street for live music is Frenchman street so around 4:30 and on you can wander in and out listening to some awesome music! We also did the Historic Voodoo Museum which I think was only $5.00. It was really small but it had a lot of cool information and it was interesting to see how wrong I was about Voodoo ha. Another thing you have to do is do a Bayou Tour! I was really overwhelmed because there are SO many tours to choose from. If you have a car I recommend Cajun Pride Tours. Our guide was seriously the best. He knew everything there was to know and we even got to hold a small alligator! It was really relaxing to take a boat out on the water for a couple hours. My favorite part though was all the raccoons! If you don’t have a car though, don’t worry, you can book tours that can pick you up from your hotel but it will be more expensive. This tour was one of the more reasonable ones and even though I initially wanted to do an airboat I am glad we didn’t because it wasn’t so loud. This will take up at least half of your day though, so plan accordingly!
I also recommend taking the trip out to Oak Alley Plantation. It is BEAUTIFUL (my pictures will be in the next post, I couldn’t fit them). I have seen a good amount of plantations and this one if my absolute favorite. The inside isn’t really much compared to the grounds but there is also a cute little restaurant that you can eat at for lunch as well. Depending on where you are staying it is about 45mins to an hour outside New Orleans but you can do a combined Swamp Tour/plantation tour and see both! Both were really fun and some of our favorite parts of the trip! Another really popular thing to do in New Orleans is to check out the cemeteries. This sounds really odd but they are all above ground and it is really unique. Everyone loves to check out Nicholas Cages’ burial site and you will hear a lot about why the people of New Orleans don’t really like him ha. You can also see Marie Laveau, the famous voodoo priestess resting spot if you are into all the voodoo stuff too. If you take the Garden District tour they take you through one of the cemeteries and give you a lot of background information on things you wouldn’t know if you wandered it yourself.
I also loved the pharmacy museum! This was recommended by our tour guide! It’s only $5.00 per person and they have guided tours at 1 pm from Tue-Fri. He said that there is always someone that faints because the guide goes into detail about how they used to do amputations and diseases that plagued New Orleans so if that interests you then check it out.
Things we didn’t get to do:
Another museum that looked interesting was Mardi Gras World. The Free Tours by Foot also does a culinary tour and a Literary Greats walking tour so I would love to do those next time! Here is the link if you want to check any of the tours out: Walking Tours. I also really wanted to do the Steamboat Natchez boat ride. You can board it from the French Quarter and it is huge. We have friends that did it and they said not to pay for the food on board because it isn’t good, just a heads up! If you can’t do a swamp tour this would be a cool alternative. Its a beautiful, grand steam boat and I would have loved to do this. You can also take a horse and buggy tour around the city with a guide as well. They are right by Jackson Square. The Chalmette Battlefield outside of New Orleans also looked really cool to me or you can go gator spotting at the Barataria Reserve. Whenever we go to a new city I like to look into the sporting events, concerts, festivals and holiday events that are happening because sometimes you come across the best stuff that way. If you go to google, most cities have calendars and websites that show fun things happening such as outdoor movies or Summer events.
In New Orleans we stayed in a Marriott since my dad works for them but we also like to use Expedia or Airbnb when we travel in the U.S. Expedia is awesome because we have an account and get loyalty discounts and sometimes we will get on and have money stored so we have $10 off our next hotel booking so that has a lot of great perks. I like airbnb because you get to feel what it is like to be a local and truly experience the city. For New Orleans if you are wanting to stay right near or in the French Quarter your best bet is Airbnb because it is much more affordable than most of the hotels. There are private rooms for $46 a night! There are so many good deals and it’s cool because you can meet the host/hostess and get the locals point of view. I am honestly cheap with hotels because you are never even in them and I would rather use our money elsewhere. I was pretty nervous using Airbnb the first time but you can read all the reviews and pick a place that best suits your needs! New Orleans was pretty cool because they have whole apartments you can rent for $1000-$116 a night. This is really hard to find and if you are traveling with a large group you will save tons of money. It is pretty easy to access everything in New Orleans, you probably won’t even need an uber or anything. They have public transportation and you can use the cheap trolley cars to get around. You will probably only need to use this to get to the Garden District. If it is your first time you will quickly realize how little time you have and you won’t need to venture too far out.
I really hope this helps. If there is anything you want me to be more thorough about or if you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask! Besides writing these for memories and helping me remember my favorite spots for when I return to places I really want to make traveling more affordable, easier and less stressful so everyone can not only do it, but enjoy it. Lyle always thinks the most stressful part is the planning and that is the part I happen to love the most. This city is so fun and unique and I hope you have the best time and see it for how truly amazing it is!