Wanderlust: New Orleans, not just a Mardi Gras destination

By Megan White

Megan White
Megan White

New Orleans is truly a city like no other. It has the endless fun of a city like Las Vegas, with the deep history that comes with a place like Washington D.C., all mixed with the incredible food and laid back feel you’ll only find in the South.

How could you not love New Orleans?

And for those that dream of going to Mardis Gras, I’d definitely suggest you don’t limit your travel aspirations for this amazing place to just those few days out of the year. New Orleans makes a great vacation destination practically any time of year.

Recently, I traveled there for a little getaway and soaked up many of the best things the city has to offer. Considering heading to The Big Easy sometime? Here are some top picks for food and fun in this amazing town.

Eating
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The options are endless when it comes to food in New Orleans. If you are sticking to the French Quarter, make sure and visit the historic Café Du Monde for beautiful beignets and a cup of chicory coffee or Cafe Au Lait. This culinary landmark is open 24-hours, 364 days a year (they close for Christmas) so you can literally make this a stop at any time during your trip.

The Royal House Oyster Bar in the heart of the French Quarter will give you a real feel for the best that New Orleans has to offer. Make sure to order the Taste of New Orleans, which includes chicken and andouille jambalaya, crawfish etouffée, and chicken and andouille gumbo. The oysters are also ridiculously good – chargrilled, royale, and Rockefeller varieties are perfection on the half shell.

Looking for something a little more upscale? Try out Tableau. You can enjoy dinner in their beautiful restaurant, on the balcony, or in the private courtyard. All the food is wonderful, but make sure you save room for dessert. They are known for their date night skillet. It’s a dense cake served in an iron skillet with a side of brown sugar ice cream. It’s uniquely southern and absolutely amazing.

Strolling Around the French Quarter

NOLA4The French Quarter is known for Bourbon Street, which of course conjures up thoughts of open containers, bead throwing, and dancing in the streets. All that is true, but that’s just a part of what this section of the city has to offer.

Walking down the street you can enjoy the talents of the street performers and musicians. You should also make time to shop – from voodoo shops to art galleries, they have a little bit of everything. And definitely take in the colonial architecture, hidden courtyards, and historical landmarks.

House of Blues

NOLA5The world famous House of Blues is located in the French Quarter. While you can find the House of Blues in other cities such as Las Vegas, there is nothing like Gospel Brunch on Sunday morning at the New Orleans House of Blues.

This city is known for its music, soul, and food. They all come together during this combo of concert and Southern brunch that will have you swaying in your seat.

Take a Tour

NOLA1Hearing the history of this town will make you fall in love with it even more. One way to do this is by going on a tour. And you have your pick. New Orleans has more than 100 tour companies offering guided tours.

So what do you want to learn about? History, ghost stories, food, architecture? Pick your interest and book that tour. And a little tip for those walking tours- leave the cute shoes at the hotel. Those cobblestone streets can be tricky!

Events

Want to experience something uniquely New Orleans? Before you book your flight, consider planning it around one of the countless events the city offers up throughout the year.

Love football? Consider a Saints game. Have a sweet tooth? Make sure you go there in late January for the King Cake Festival. Love music? Don’t miss the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival in April. Pairing your trip with one of the countless events will make your trip even more memorable.

NOLA6Need some more suggestions? Check out Laura Braden’s top picks from her trip a few years ago. While some cities are always changing, New Orleans’ charm is timeless.

If you haven’t been, add it to you travel bucket list. For those who have made the trip, let me know what I missed in the comments below. It’s never too early to plan the next trip!

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