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Embracing The Big Easy: A Guide to New Orleans

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Posted on June 08, 2023

Steeped in history, buzzing with life, and decorated with a fascinating blend of cultures, New Orleans invites visitors into its vibrant world. Known for its music, food, and celebrations, this charming city near the Mississippi River delta offers an array of exciting activities. Here is a guide to some must-see spots and things to do in the Big Easy.

The Heartbeat of New Orleans: Jazz

Jazz street musicians in New Orleans

At the top of any list, experiencing the city's famous jazz scene is a must. The birthplace of jazz, New Orleans reverberates with live music. Frenchmen Street in the Marigny neighborhood is arguably the best place to start. The Spotted Cat Music Club and d.b.a. are known for their dynamic jazz performances that keep the spirit of New Orleans alive.

For a more educational experience, the New Orleans Jazz Museum celebrates the genre's history, from its birth in the city to its worldwide influence. Located in the Old U.S. Mint, the museum boasts an impressive collection of instruments, artifacts, and interactive exhibits.

A Culinary Expedition: New Orleans’ Food Scene

New Orleans crayfish

New Orleans is a gastronomic wonderland where Creole and Cajun cuisines are unmatched. From the classic gumbo and jambalaya to the iconic po'boy sandwiches and beignets, the city offers a culinary journey that's as rich and diverse as its history.

Begin your day at Café du Monde, famous for its beignets – pillowy squares of fried dough dusted with powdered sugar – and chicory coffee. For lunch, enjoy a muffuletta sandwich from Central Grocery on Decatur Street. Dinner calls for a visit to Commander’s Palace, a landmark restaurant that has been serving haute Creole cuisine since 1893.

Going Back in Time: Historic Districts and Landmarks

Jackson Square in New Orleans

History enthusiasts can't miss the French Quarter, the city's oldest neighborhood, where you'll find historic buildings with Spanish and French colonial architecture, intricate ironwork balconies, and vibrant façades. Take a leisurely stroll down Royal Street for its art galleries and antique shops, or head to Bourbon Street, famously known for its lively nightlife. 

Remember to catch a carriage ride from Jackson Square to relive how the early residents rode through town.

The Garden District provides another layer of New Orleans' rich history with its antebellum mansions, majestic live oaks, and the hauntingly beautiful Lafayette Cemetery No.1.

You may be surprised to find the National WWII Museum, located in the Central Business District, which provides an interactive exploration of the war that changed the world. This immersive museum is consistently ranked one of the best in the country.

Art and Culture: Museums and Galleries

If you're a lover of art, New Orleans offers a rich tapestry of art and culture. The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is home to a vast collection of European and American art, along with a Japanese garden. The Contemporary Arts Center in the Warehouse District provides a space for artists and is dedicated to the presentation and promotion of contemporary art.

For an immersion into local culture, explore the works of local artisans in the bustling art markets, like the Frenchmen Art Market, where you can buy handmade jewelry, paintings, and other crafts.

Festivals and Celebrations: Mardi Gras and More