My husband and I spent several days in New Orleans being tourists prior to a conference that I attended for work. We did everything we wanted to do and saw everything we wanted to see. We had both been there twice before, but before Katrina, which was in 2005. We noticed the changes, many of them for the better. The city did lose a lot of charm with the enclosed outlet Riverwalk mall. The prices there really aren’t less than in other locations. I miss the cheap strawberry daiquiri’s on the street and the street artists performing on Jackson square in front of the amazing St. Louis Cathedral. Maybe they perform on weekends, or in other seasons when there are more tourists.
There were plenty of panhandlers sitting on the divider’s between the freeway, and on city sidewalks. There is a lot of homelessness in New Orleans. We felt safe there, but we also stayed on main sidewalks (Canal Street, Bourbon Street, Poyadras,) and were together after dark. For demographics about New Orleans, click here.
On previous visits we did a swamp tour, which was a once in a lifetime experience that we thoroughly enjoyed. Alligators, hanging Spanish moss, snakes, oh my! We had also taken part in an evening ghost tour that combined a walk through a cemetery and ended up in a bar. I highly recommend it for those who like ghost tours. There are many to choose from. We spent time on Bourbon street, soaking up the jazz. We wandered in and out of shops selling charms, voodoo items, and saw places offering palmistry and psychic advice. We didn’t even gamble at Harrah’s casino, across the street. What did we do?
This time around we were older and have given up most of our vices. Our late night was an off Broadway theater production of “On Your Feet” at the incomparable Saenger theater followed by a stroll down Bourbon Street at 10:00 on a Thursday night. Lit by neon lights, the music poured from the open doors of various drinking establishments, and the excitement was palpable. It would be a fun place for a bachelorette or bachelor party!
My husband also toured the National WWII Museum, which he highly recommends.
We spent a rainy, foggy morning touring the Aquarium, which we thoroughly enjoyed.
We also too the hop on, hop off bus, although you can buy a 24 hour streetcar ticket for $3.00, and had narrated tours all day. The bus took us to many stops. We got off and explored and walked around the Garden District and then traveled to the French Quarter for lunch and shopping at the French Market, followed by a harbor cruise on the Steamboat Natchez. It was a delightful day. 17,000 steps, for those of you who count steps! There are plenty of paid walking tours that you can take. We studied the areas and walked on our own. There are a lot of free things that you can do in New Orleans.
We ate muffuletta’s at Central Grocery, Ham at Mother’s, and enjoyed meals at the Oyster Bar, G&B’s, and the Palace Cafe. New Orleans is full of fabulous places to eat. Alcoholic beverages are quite expensive in New Orleans. Buy a bottle of wine , or a six pack of beer, or alcohol and mixers at a corner store and make your own is my advice. Of course we had beignets and chicory coffee. We don’t anticipate returning to New Orleans, so we wanted to make sure that we made lasting memories.
New Orleans is a fun place to visit, with a long, rich history (300 plus years!). You can find anything you want to find there. Some people call in the Big Easy, some people call it the Big Sleazy. We had a very tame experience, full of good food, good company, and cultural experiences. It’s all in what you are looking for, like the rest of life.