As a city that lies within the Southern state of Louisiana, and along the waters of the Mississippi River, New Orleans has grown as a major port as well as a commercial and economic center for the better part of the Gulf Coast region. A testament to its strategic location is its vibrant culture of the Southern United States mixed with strong Spanish and French Creole influences.
For visitors who have stepped foot in one of the oldest and most historic cities, there are virtually limitless possibilities – from partaking in the local cuisine, to enjoy the nightlife, to immerse in the rich history that New Orleans has to offer. To get your fair share of this rich and diverse Louisiana heritage, here are the top things to do and must-see destinations in New Orleans.
The oldest and definitely its most famous neighborhood, the French Quarter of New Orleans has served as the city’s heart on all fronts. Built from the rich and higher lands on the banks of the Mississippi River, this section of the city now offers the same classical and historical ambiance with its buildings mostly in the French Colonial architecture – art galleries, music clubs, and small shops.
For a bit of culinary history, be sure to check out Antoine’s. It is one of the oldest restaurants in New Orleans, being established around 1840 and is still currently managed and operated by relatives of the original founder. Boasting their authentic French- Creole cuisine maintained at the highest standards paired with excellent customer service, guests are treated to a slice of life in this former French colony in the 1840s.
For a memorable evening experience, there’s no other place to go but the one and only Bourbon Avenue. Extending 13 blocks in the French Quarter from Esplanade Avenue to Canal Street, Rue Bourbon is famous for its bustling nightlife thanks in part to a lot of pubs, bars, and strip clubs. Bourbon Street is one of the must-see destinations in this part of town.
National World War II Museum
Formerly known as The National D-Day Museum, this large memoir of one of the largest war ever fought draws close to a million visitors every year. It was formally founded in the year 2000, the 56th anniversary of D-Day – the day Allied forces landed on the beaches of Normandy which signaled the first step toward the liberation of France and in the long run, the victory of the Allies over the Axis powers.
The museum houses memorabilia and artifacts from the war – from military documents, newspaper articles, uniforms, weaponry, to boats and aircraft restored to their original state. A British Supermarine Spitfire and American Douglas C-47 Skytrain are examples of actual aircraft used in the war which are then recovered, restored, and currently on display at the museum suspended from the ceiling.
Visitors looking for a more immersive experience are in luck at the National WWII Museum with the Dog Tag Experience. Guests are handed out RFID “dog tags” which register guests and track their progress as they follow the lives and efforts of actual people who served in the war. Both physical and digital exhibits further provide guests with a closer look at the key events of the second world war. Afterward, guests can select a character whose life they would like to watch and follow as they ride on an interactive train.
This small neighborhood is a hub for the arts and crafts. During the Mardi Gras in New Orleans, the procession headed by the Society of Saint Anne starts early in the morning from the streets of this neighborhood before marching onwards to the French Quarter and reaching its climax at Canal Street.
Focusing more on the local streets, visitors will find street murals giving an unexpected facelift on most buildings. The larger street murals are found on the length of St. Claude Avenue. For a relaxing afternoon experience, head off to Bacchanal Wine, tagged as New Orleans’ backyard party venue. Explore the wines of the world with Bacchanal’s Old World wine shop and find a rare spirit that suits your taste – with assistance from their highly knowledgeable staff. After finding your match, take your wine and dine in the open-air backyard as you enjoy serenades from in- house and guest jazz musicians.
For your memorabilia and collectibles, go straight to Royal Street. Browse through period items and antiquities from any of the family-owned antique shops and galleries showcasing, and selling, artworks by local masters. Most restaurants in the street also retain the 19th century feel with crystal chandeliers, absinthe glasses, and ornate silverware. Even private residences add to the feel and are often inviting for a candid photography session.
City Park at Navarre
For guests who are not natives from the city or the state of Louisiana, City Park is a neighborhood covering 1,300 acres in the Lakeview District Area. The historic block offers both man-made and natural attractions for guests from all walks of life.
The New Orleans Museum of Art, or NOMA for short, is the city’s oldest fine arts museum. NOMA traces its origins from philanthropist and art collector Isaac Delgado in 1911 and houses a lot of classical works from the Italian Renaissance to modern artworks, most coming from Delgado’s own collection. Its Wisner Education Wing was later added to the museum and skyrocketed NOMA’s importance and value as an art institution. Guests can also wander around the 5-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden behind the main building and enjoy the rare and breathtaking sculptures and installation artworks
Tourists can also take a gander around the nearby Dueling Oaks, straightforwardly named so. The century-old oak trees have borne witness from the early Creole days when disagreements and arguments would often lead to duels. For the early settlers of New Orleans, sword fighting was an art and honor is quite an expensive commodity. Duels to the death often started with small offenses, such as a misspoken word or an untoward glance.