May of 2016 I visited New Orleans. This was not my first visit – in fact, it was probably my 4th or 5th. In the past I had always gone for Mardi Gras, festivals, New Year’s Eve, or any other reason to party. (These were all college trips.) This trip I went to actually enjoy the city for more than just the party and to also learn about the culture.
Magazine Street is a great place to do some boutique shopping, bar hopping and visit some nicer restaurants. I took an Uber ride there and the driver told me this is more of where some of the locals will hang, but I still found plenty of tourist type shops. I found a cute little boutique with a shirt stating, “America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.” -Tennessee Williams
Not far from Magazine Street is the Garden District. My pull to the Garden District was based on the traditional southern architecture of the homes. I was pleasantly surprised to find a walking tour online which included celebrity homes.
Anne Rice‘s home is in the heart of the Garden District.
Right outside of the Garden District is the location of the American Horror Story, Coven house. I am a fan of the show so I definitely wanted to make the stop.
I had always heard that the cemeteries in New Orleans were worth seeing. They are often referenced as the “City of the Dead.” The graves are built above ground because the water table below the city is so high. The tombs are quite elaborate and worth seeing.
While walking Metairie Cemetery, I ran into a local who was walking the grounds for exercise. (Yes, the cemetery is that big!) He told me that the location was built on the former grounds of a horse race track and prestigious club. A wealthy northerner from Baltimore named Charles T. Howard attempted to join the club but was repeatedly denied. The Civil War caused the race track and clubs to decline, so Mr. Howard took the opportunity to take his revenge by buying the land and turning it into a cemetery.
Sometimes you just need to be a tourist and Mardi Gras World offered that opportunity. Having been to Mardi Gras before, I knew that the floats were some of the most amazing creations I had seen. Mardi Gras World walked you through the history and process of creating the floats. The tour guided you through the warehouse where the floats were created and eventually to where many of the floats are stored.
City Park is a must see in NO. The park is at the end of the trolley line and is free to visit. There are sculpture gardens, walking paths, children’s story book themed park, and beautiful scenery.
Additional must-sees in New Orleans:
Jackson Square one of the big tourist areas that includes St. Louis Cathedral, views from the levee, Cafe Du Monde for begniets and coffee, and a short walk to either the French Quarter both including the French Market and Bourbon Street.