I’ve wanted to visit New Orleans for quite some time before I went with my husband and a friend with the same interest in this vibrant city back in 2017. I had almost everyone one I told I was going ask me why. I couldn’t believe they were asking me that. “Well why the hell not!” I would say. I just knew before I even started my research on this diverse and famously historical city along the Mississippi River, that I would fall in love. In love with the architecture, culture, history, and the delectable comfort food of the south.
Did you know New Orleans was the home of the now Utah Jazz basketball team?
Hello! Makes sense. New Orleans is the home of Jazz music! I’m not a fan of Jazz music but when you’re there and having a good time, you just have to boogie!
If after reading this you don’t have a desire to go, then I have failed. I have some recommendations, some must-do’s, and don’t do’s along with the story of my trip.
In hopes maybe more people can learn there is so much more to New Orleans than Mardi Gras.
What to know
- It’s pronounced New or-lins not new or-leens.
- There’s no East, West, North or South. It’s Downtown, Uptown, Lakeside and Riverside as far as directions go there.
- When conversing with locals, don’t ask about Hurricane Katrina. It’s rude. Only talk about it if they bring it up first.
- Everyone jaywalks in New Orleans except the tourists.
“Y’all better learn!”
Oh this city has the most delicious food! Everywhere I ate it was always so damn good.
You couldn’t go wrong. I think I ate most of the time I was there. Their cuisine consists of a lot of seafood, and the special mix of spices in Creole and Cajun food.
When people hear cajun, they think spicy, but creole dishes can also be very spicy. Creole cuisine is more complex in the way it’s prepared, and in the variety of sauces and spices. But that doesn’t mean Cajun is lacking in flavor. Just try everything, it’s all good! If you don’t understand something on a menu or don’t know how to pronounce it, just ask. The locals are more than happy to explain it to you and you’ll more times than not get told a good story too!
Dishes you must eat
- Jambalaya – Come on you’re in New Orleans! You have to try both creole and cajun varieties.
- Gumbo – Do it! Both varieties!
- Red Beans & Rice – Sounds simple but it really is a must eat.
- Po’boy – This is a sandwich on French bread usually with sausage or shrimp. Make sure you get it “dressed”
- Muffuletta – An Italian inspired sandwich with ham, salami, cheese and an olive dressing. These are huge so plan on sharing with someone if you can.
- Beignet – This is a French style donut with piles of powdered sugar on top. You have to eat these with a cup or two of Cafe au Lait.
There’s so many other great things to eat but the list would go on. Seriously!
Where to eat
Commander’s Palace Restaurant
Everything I ate here was so delicious! Mostly Creole style. You can get a pretty spectacular Sazerac cocktail here. Dress code enforced. Ladies, just wear a dress. It’s okay, it’s just long enough to enjoy a damn nice meal. Gentlemen, a nice button up shirt or a jacket, okay?
Cafe Du Monde
This is where you get the best beignets and Cafe au Lait. It’s usually busy so be prepared to wait in line, and also to use the bathroom.
Creole & Cajun – good home cooking. You can get anything here really.
Get your muffuletta on here! Remember, be prepared to share or have leftovers. Too good to waste!
This is one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants. This is the only place I ate where the portions weren’t huge.
These are only a few of the many great places to eat in New Orleans. I really doubt you can go wrong.
There are so many bars to choose from. It’s a little overwhelming to decide but I went to a few and I’ll give the lowdown on what I experienced.
Pat O’ Brien’s
This bar was my favorite. It’s kind of like three bars in one. A patio bar, the main bar, and piano bar. You can get their famous hurricanes and the glass it comes in for an extra charge. If you don’t want to keep your glass, you can turn it in and get the glass fee amount back. They had a super friendly and helpful staff and they also send you out the door with little souvenirs. The dueling piano bar was too much fun and the patio bar has a water fountain that’s lit up at night with fire and color changing lights.
We went to this bar a few times because it was right next to our hotel.
We went in for the first time on a Tuesday night and that place was hoppin!
They have a pretty good sized menu with, in my opinion, the best appetizers I’ve had at a bar! There’s the arcade games, a giant Jenga game, giant Connect Four game, trivia games and there’s even a dance club in the back.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
We stopped in here as part of a haunted history tour we took. It was way packed when we went in but from what I could tell it was a neat bar. Apparently haunted but we didn’t get to experience anything spooky because of all the people.
This is the bar where we stayed at in The Old 77 hotel. I really liked it here, especially the decor and all the artsy stuff. Right up my alley! Plus, however they did it I don’t know, but the lobby where you walked in through the front doors, smelled so fantastic, always! Like a really lovely light perfume. If I ever go back, I will have to ask them how they did that. Amazeballs!
We tried to go here, but on our way we hit a block party that had blocked traffic from going through. So we ended up on foot and just walked around on Frenchman Street which was a little more than we could handle on a Friday night.
Of course I wanted to get out and try more bars but I really think I always just ate too much food and couldn’t catch a buzz no matter what.
Things to do
There are more things to do in New Orleans besides eat and drink. I’ll let you know what I did. What I wished I would’ve done, and probably someday go back and do.
Check out the Mississippi River
Check it out by foot or by boat. I didn’t go the boat route because I tend to get a little sea sick and didn’t want to ruin my good time and waste my yummy breakfast/lunch.
Hopefully while you’re there if you go on foot, you can check out the steamboat Natchez. There was a lady on top that played an extremely loud steam organ.
Head down to Magazine Street with all the many different shops to choose from. Or to Jackson Square for art markets and booths. Voodoo shops are all over so don’t worry about not being able to pop into one real quick.
Visit a cemetery or two
I went to the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. But if there’s time in your schedule, head over to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 as well.
Stroll through French Quarter and Garden District
Just walk around and marvel at the old-world architecture of the French Quarter.
I just loved the mansions and huge oak trees down the Garden District.
Take a haunted history tour
You’ll learn quite a bit about the history of New Orleans as well as a lot of folklore and story telling. It’s all very entertaining!
We spent a good chunk of an afternoon in the Museum Of Death. This place has all the serial killer memorabilia you could ever want to look at.
I wish this was the section of this post where I fill the page up with gorgeous pics of giant weeping Oak trees and towering plantation buildings. But alas, it is not. This is what I planned on doing and never got to. I would go back for this. Someday I believe I will!
A word of advice – don’t plan on booking one of these the day before you go even if it’s in the middle of the week. They book up fast! (whaa!)
There’s so much more to do in New Orleans than what I have listed here. Actually there’s so much to see. But be careful and be smart. There are a lot of friendly people there but you may get some looking to swindle you out of a few bucks. I had a man walk up to me and ask, “I bet you $10 I can tell you where you got your shoes”. To which he would reply, “You got them on Bourbon Street!” Ha ha ha very funny. My husband had this doozy, “ I bet you I can tell you exactly how many grandchildren your grampa had” The answer is none people! Grampas can’t have children!
As you could probably guess, New Orleans is very humid. Especially when a hurricane is approaching. Yeah, that happened. We were so scared, we almost tried for an early flight home. Luckily we waited and it was reduced to a tropical storm and started coming in heavy after we got in the airport. I thought takeoff was going to be so super nausea inducing but it wasn’t bad at all. I wished I would’ve snapped a pic of the windows from inside our hotel. It looked like it was raining outside but it wasn’t yet. That’s how humid it was that day. It condensed on the windows so much the moisture was running down the glass! I would go back to New Orleans if only to eat!