Sometimes I get so caught up with my desire to travel the world and go far away that I forget that there’s a myriad of places to see within my home country. So while I can’t wait to embark on the 20+ hour flight to Australia one day, I can also take a 3 hour flight from New York and get to the vibrant city of New Orleans in Louisiana.
Like most people, when I think of New Orleans I think of Mardi Gras, the French influence, the cuisine and vibrant colors. My sister went to New Orleans years ago in high school on a class trip and loved it. On the trip they went to several cities on the east coast and New Orleans was her favorite. I compiled a bucket list of things I’d like to do or see when I get myself to New Orleans one day. If you’d like to find out what’s on my list, keep reading.
I need to ask, how do you pronounce “New Orleans?” Are you a New OAR-leeenz, New OAR-linz, or N’awlins kind of person? Personally, I pronounce it like OAR-leeenz (lean rhyming with “mean”). Now, I’m not saying this is correct. Actually, I think OAR-linz (rhyming with “pins”) is technically correct. But instead of getting into a debate, can we all agree that the “N’awlins” people are just so, so wrong?
Now, on to the bucket list…
1. Take photos of/in front of the colorful houses
If you noticed earlier I described New Orleans as “vibrant.” And it’s not just because of all the colorful masks and costumes you’ll see during Mardi Gras festivities. Throughout New Orleans the Creole culture is apparent, especially with the colorful homes. Architecture and home design/decor really interests me. But I HATE the current trend of all white everything. It’s so boring and basic. Now I’m not saying I envision my future home as these rainbow homes, but they’re amazing to look at, even in photos. Esplanade Avenue and Bywater are two popular parts of the city to view such homes.
2. Party on Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street is arguably the most notorious part of New Orleans and definitely a must for any bucket list. The street is filled with shops, bars, clubs, you name it. Although I’m not the biggest party person, I know I’ll have to experience New Orleans nightlife for myself. There seems to always be something to do, no matter the time, kind of like New York. Thus, this is a must for any trip to this Louisiana city. Old Absinthe (pictured above) is a popular bar that is popular with tourists that has been around a long time.
3. Chill out on a balcony over Bourbon
Let’s stay right on Bourbon for a moment. When I think of an awesome night in New Orleans I picture myself peering over the balcony onto the people filled streets.
4. Visit during Mardi Gras
New Orleans and Mardi Gras. Need I say more?
5. Visit the Audubon Park
Perhaps you’ve seen photos of those beautifully spooky trees with curved branches. Well you’ll find those in Audubon Park. The park has plenty to offer like jogging trails and relaxing scenery. However, there’s a lot more like a tennis court, a golf course, pool, horse stables and more. Check out their website to read more about it.
6. Check out the French Quarter
The French Quarter is more or less the hub for all tourist activities. You have the previously mentioned Bourbon Street. But then there’s also Jackson Square, Decatur Street (shopping), museums, St. Louis cathedral and more.
7. Do a ghost & vampire tour
I’m pretty sure if I told my sister I’d want to do this she’d look at me like I was insane. Even though she’s really into scary movies and TV shows. But for me, I just want to feel like I’m in an episode of the Originals. So a vampire & ghost tour seems like a fun addition to add to my New Orleans bucket list. All I can think about is when Sabine/Celeste was giving tourists a tour and then Monique busted out of her tombstone. Plus it seems like a fun change from your average walking tour.
8. Listen to Jazz Music
When I think of classic New Orleans music I picture saxophones blaring in a jazz club in the 1950s. Don’t ask me why, but that’s what I think of. So listening to jazz music in New Orleans seems like a no-brainer when I make it down there. New Orleans has an annual jazz musical festival, Jazz Fest. This takes places in late April to early May. So keep that in mind if you’d rather make it to New Orleans then instead of during Mardi Gras (early March).
What’s great though about New Orleans is that there is an abundance of street performers who perform for FREE. Of course tips may be appreciated, but if you’re strapped on cash you’ll still be able to enjoy some classic jazz music.
9. Go on a Steamboat Cruise
The steamboat cruises are great for a chill time out on water. Most tours I’ve seen go for around $35 to $50 depending on the length of the tour and the company you book with. On these tours you’d be able to listen to some live music, have food and drinks (usually at an extra cost) and get information on some of the sights you pass by.
Another alternative boat ride would be the equally iconic airboat ride. They usually go for the same price as the steamboat cruise. So you can choose either or depending on your preference, or even both! Either way, spending some time on the swampy waters is a must to add to your New Orleans travel bucket list.
10. Visit the Plantations
New Orleans is rich in history. On plantation tours the guide will provide plenty of background information about the Civil War era and everything that took place in New Orleans, including the plantations you will see. One of the most famous plantations to see in New Orleans is the Oak Alley plantation. The estate’s grand architecture and scenery surely can’t take away from the heaviness visitors feel when learning about what took place here, especially when seeing the slave quarters.
Although visiting “darker” or “heavier” places such as this may not seem fun, I think it’s something that’s important to do when traveling. Travel should be more than about getting drunk or partying in whatever city. You should also take time to appreciate the place you are by discovering its history, both good and bad. Whether that be visiting Auschwitz in Poland or the D-Day sites in France.
I’m sure there’s a TON of fun things I’ve missed to add to my bucket list for when I travel to New Orleans. Let me know in the comments below if you’ve been to New Orleans and what I should add to this list. Thanks for reading!