New Orleans is a city that smacks you in the face with it’s boldness but kisses you full on with it’s friendliness. Always interesting, never boring, New Orleans has brilliant effervescent style, a vibrant spirit and amazing traditions. Here are our 5 reasons to visit New Orleans.
1. For The History
New Orleans was founded by the French, ruled for 40 years by the Spanish and bought by the United States in 1803. Its population is made up of decedents of the French, African, American, Creole French and Creoles of colour. This brings a mix of culture, religion and food to the city for everyone to enjoy.
Africans from Haiti that came to New Orleans as slaves or free people of colour brought over voodoo and if you visit New Orleans you can find out about this misunderstood religion by visiting the voodoo museum, the voodoo shops and doing a voodoo tour which I found fascinating.
In recent history, New Orleans has been known for its jazz music, Mardi Gras and the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005. It is worth exploring the Presbytere museum in the heart of Jackson Square for an insight into how Katrina broke the city and for some light relief after, visit the exhibition to Mardi Gras in the same museum.
2. For the Architecture
New Orleans is visually different to most cities I have ever visited, reflecting its multicultural heritage.
From the elaborate above-ground European cemeteries to simple creole cottages, to the historic mansions of the Garden District and the wrought iron balconies of the French Quarter, the architecture is different to most of the US and very beautiful.
3. For The Music
Known as the birthplace of jazz, New Orleans was the only place in the New World where slaves were allowed to own drums. When these were mixed with European horns, music from the churches and music from the bars, the result was that jazz was born.
Jazz can be heard in many bars and clubs in New Orleans, and one of the best places to hear live jazz is on Frenchman street. Jazz is celebratory in life as well as death and New Orleans is also known for its jazz funerals as seen in the film ‘Live and Let Die’.
4. For The Food
The Creole and Cajun cuisine is what makes eating in New Orleans a real pleasure. In basic terms, Creole food is more refined whilst Cajun food is a simpler more rustic cuisine.
Famous food of Louisiana and specifically New Orleans include shrimp and grits (a maze-like porridge), po’ boys (a french bread sandwich), beignets (a fried donut covered in powdered sugar), and a muffuletta (a huge sandwich made of flatbread, similar to focaccia, filled with meat, vegetables and olive salad)
Bourbon Street is known as the partying area of New Orleans. Whilst there stop by in Pat O Briens for a hurricane cocktail, or for more sophisticated tastes, walk around to the cool Bombay Club or the chic Montelone carousel bar for a Sazerac or a Pimms cup, drinks for which New Orleans is known.
5. For The Museums
As well as the Presbytere museum mentioned above, New Orleans has over 45 other museums and galleries. Of particular note is the Mardi Gras Museum, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art and the National WWII museum.
The National WWII museum is particularly excellent. Opened in 2000, it was designated by U.S. Congress as America’s official National World War II Museum in 2003. With a great selection of planes, a submarine exhibit and ‘Beyond All Boundaries’, an amazing 4D experience narrated by Tom Hanks, it’s certainly worth taking a morning out to explore. You can follow a real soldier’s story through a barcode imprinted dog tag – an eye-opening and touching experience.
There is nothing quite like a trip to New Orleans, I hope you get the chance to visit one day, you won’t be disappointed.