Mary Steele is an avid cruiser and writer hailing from the Port of Boston. She primarily covers cruise port destinations and helps her readers decide what to see, what to do, and best of all – what to avoid.
New Orleans serves as a cruise port for many major ships heading to the Caribbean, Bahamas and Mexico. With its scenic neighborhoods, rich history and stiff drinks — it’s worth spending a day or two soaking up the charm and southern hospitality of this unique American city.
If you have some time spend in New Orleans, here are some of the sites you shouldn’t miss.
The oldest neighborhood of New Orleans, the French Quarter is made up of 78 square blocks of colorful Creole and Spanish style buildings with beautiful laced balconies and shuttered windows. Bourbon Street is the epicenter of the French Quarter, lined with bars, jazz clubs and watering holes. It’s loud, it’s rowdy and it’s a wild, no-holds-barred experience—and that’s not even during Mardi Gras. Stop in a storefront where the frozen drink machines are lined up and ready to dispense your favorite libation—I speak from experience when I say choosing one from the twenty or so choices was not an easy task. Even more of a surprise was the live alligator in the glass tank just below the machines. But that’s New Orleans. Expect the unexpected.
Apart from Bourbon Street, the streets of the French Quarter are surprisingly quiet and charming, lined with gas lamps, cozy restaurants, quaint pubs and boutiques. If you have any hope of sleeping during your visit to New Orleans, book a hotel a block or two away from Bourbon Street. Some good options are the historic AAA 4-Diamond Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street or the newly renovated W New Orleans – French Quarter on Chartres Street.
As the birthplace of Jazz, every night dozens of clubs throughout the Big Easy offer live music. If you’re lucky, you might stumble upon a band playing in the street for a free show. For live music, a good area to head to is Frenchmen Street in the 7th Ward of New Orleans. Just steps from the French Quarter, the two-block long entertainment district is where the locals hang out to listen to jazz, reggae, blues, or anything.
Ride the Rails
A word of caution about Louisiana: It’s hot. Even at midnight. A humid, heavy, hang-in-the-air kind of heat still persists, and it will leave you weak and weary in no time if you try to overdo it. But, if you want to get out and about in the daylight hours, there’s more than a few things to see and do without traveling too far. A relaxing and breezy way to tour the city is by trolley. Take the trolley through the lush Garden District and view all the exquisite Victorian houses. You can hop on/hop off along the way to check out specific sites.
Other Daytime Attractions
Set on the riverfront, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is a great place to take kids. My son especially enjoyed the rare white alligator that is one of only eighteen ever found in Louisiana.
Or how about a tour of a local cemetery? Visit St. Louis, the oldest burying ground in New Orleans. Many of the original citizens are there, along with Marie Laveau, the legendary voodoo priestess. You will see many “X” marks on her crypt, which many visitors have carved believing it promotes good luck. But remember, this is a final resting place, and thus should be given the proper respect.
Back in the French Quarter you can visit the St. Louis Cathedral dating back to the 1700s where crooner Harry Connick was married.
When hunger strikes, New Orleans offers many solutions. Try a muffaletta, an Italian cold-cut sandwich spread with a chopped olive salad. Or maybe a beignet (ben-yay), a deeply fried piece of dough sprinkled with powdered sugar. Wash both down with a hickory coffee at the original Café Du Monde, a New Orleans landmark. The hickory coffee is not for the faint of latte; it’s a harsh, bitter concoction posing as coffee. But the caffeine will come in handy for another evening of New Orleans’ nonstop nightlife. After a long night out, hit up the legendary Mother’s restaurant known for their “morning after breakfasts,” dripping po’ boys and no frills atmosphere.
Fly.com Expert Tips
How To Get There: Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is approximately 15 miles from the French Quarter, and is serviced by 11 domestic and international airlines, including American Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines. Information regarding area transportation is available here.
Best Time To Visit: Is there any other time to visit New Orleans other than February for Mardi Gras? Or maybe in late-April to early-May for Jazz Fest or late-October for the Voodoo Experience music festival? Or maybe indulge in the local cuisine in the Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival, also in October? One thing is for certain, a visit to New Orleans is definitely tied to what festival you want to experience. More information regarding all of NoLa’s festivals are available at the Tourism Site of the City of New Orleans.
Sample Fares: Calendars display lowest roundtrip fares over the next 90 days to New Orleans from:
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