During the end of July 2015, me, my parents and youngest brother took a road trip along the Great River Road starting in Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN all the way down to New Orleans, LA. It was an entertaining trip where we passed some great places and cities I’ll write separate articles on, but we all agree on that New Orleans was our favorite place.
We spent one day outside of the city (exploring the plantations and watching the boats on the Mississippi) and two days in the center, but I’m afraid we didn’t get the chance to do all the things we wanted. I suggest you go for at least five days; one doing plantations, one going on a tour out in the swamps and three days in the urban areas.
Here is my top 5 things to do in New Orleans:
- French Quarter and the French Market
New Orleans was founded by the French in the early 18th century and was mainly placed in the swamps because of it strategic place close to the colonies in the West Indies. After the Seven Years’ War, the Spanish took control over Louisiana and during this time most of the buildings we today see in the French Quarter were built, since a great fire burned most of the wooden houses to the ground.
In the quarter you’ll find many shops and restaurants. At the end you’ll find a market were you can get cheep french food and sweets, as well buy local fruits and crafts.
- Magazine Street
If you want to get away from busy French Quarters I recommend you to head to Magazine Street, which is a far more quiet and calm neighbourhood. You’ll still be able to view amazing southern architecture but it in you own pace as well in the shade of trees. Also a few cemeteries are situated here, which also is a must when visiting The Big Easy.
- National World War II museum.
This museum is huge and despite the fact that we had put aside a half day for it, we only got through half of the exhibition. Even if you’re not particularly interested in war history there is something for everyone at the WWII. Planes, boats, tankers, guns, uniforms, maps, film clips, notebooks and letter are just a few of the many, many artefacts displayed and you’ll definitely be touched at least once during your visit. The reason for why the museum is situated in New Orleans is because it was here the LCVP craft (or Higgins-boat) designer Andrew Higgins operated. Without this particular vessel the Invasion of Normandy might never have taken place.
Well, Louisiana is famous for its French and Cajun kitchen and I suggest you try as much new dishes as you possibly can such as the Po Boys (French bread filled with roast meat or seafood) and the beignet (a pastry of fried dough with powdered sugar). Nevertheless, if you want something really good and fast, go to a Popeye. I usually don’t praise fast food chains but the fries here are to die for. Man, I’ve never tasted anything like it and the fried shrimps are the best. I dare you to try it!
- Oak Valley Plantation
If you’ve seen the movie Interview with a vampire (1994) you’re definitely familiar with this amazing plantation built in 1873. This historic house is a fine example of the antebellum; its pink shade with the roof covering the balcony in order to keep the house cool and protect the women from the sun. The most beautiful feature is of course the 240 meter long allée of 300 years old southern live oaks trees in front of it. Nevertheless, the plantation isn’t just bright sunshine as the tour will also show the slave quarters and tell about the hard living conditions on a sugarcane plantation.