The "Big Easy" is definitely not lacking when it comes to drinking, folklore, and fun. As someone who has frequented this wonderful city, I can tell you there are so many hidden gems that make this place special and an unforgettable weekend adventure. Here are some great ideas to take your weekend trip to New Orleans to the next level!
1. Cafe Du Monde
It is hard to plan a trip to NOLA without having Cafe Du Monde in mind. This city staple serves up the most decadent beignets and creamed coffee for locals and tourists alike. Always bustling with people, Cafe du Monde is a great place to enjoy the true history and culture of New Orleans.
Insider Tip: Go in the middle of the day on a weekday or be prepared to wait in a very long line on the weekends. They also only have one bathroom on site that aways has a line!
2. St. Louis Cemetery
This eerie spot is the final resting place for some of New Orleans' most notable inhabitants, one of these being Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. With so much history within its walls, the St. Louis Cemetery brings us a little bit closer to the New Orleans of the past.
Insider Tip: You are no longer able to visit the cemetery at your leisure. Make sure to book a tour through one of New Orleans' many tour companies if you want to gain access to this historic location.
3. Arch At Armstrong Park
Located in the Treme neighborhood of New Orleans, just across Rampart Street from the French Quarter, Armstrong Park is rich with New Orleans history. Named after Louie Armstrong, this area is teeming with the history of jazz and the culture of old world New Orleans.
Insider Tip: This is a great picture spot! Take your crew here to read up on the history of jazz music and wander around the beautiful park.
4. Tarot Cards Read In Jackson Square
There is no better experience for a first timer, or New Orleans veteran, than getting your Tarot cards read somewhere in the French Quarter. There is something about a sage old woman reading your chosen cards on the cobble stone streets of NOLA that transports you back to a time when the city was bustling with old tradition and love for Voodoo practice.
Insider Tip: Make sure to have cash on you when you sit down at one of these tables. In true fashion of the old art, they do not accept cards!
5. Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Lafitte's stands as the oldest structure operating as a bar in the entire United States. Once a blacksmith shoppe owned by two of New Orleans' early inhabitants, this location is full of old stories and legends. Like most New Orleans tales, Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop is a gumbo of truth and French, Spanish, African, Cajun and American embellishments.
Insider Tip: You'll have to make two trips to Lafitte's while you are in town; one in the daytime to see clearly the structure itself, and once at night to experience the candlelit ambiance and a local tickling the ivories.
6. Pirate Alley Cafe
Tucked away on a cobble stoned side street, this small establishment is filled with interesting tales and authentic Absinthe. The bartenders are knowledgeable and make sure you leave with an appreciation for this controversial beverage and a new favorite spot in town.
Insider Tip: Seating is limited so make sure to wander over to the Pirate Alley bar at the very end of an evening or right when your night starts, before the rush!
7. Marie Laveau's Voodoo Shop
From rabbits feet to Tarot cards, this shop is a Voodoo queen's dream and a spectators delight. The small shop is stuffed from ceiling to floor with every talisman a heart desires. Paying respect to the practices of Marie Laveau, this shop is definitely worth taking time to stop in and get yourself a little piece of New Orlean's Voodoo history. Insider Tip: The shop gets pretty busy on a nice day so plan accordingly. Be ready to browse!
8. French Market
This open air farmers market is a treat for visitors coming to see not only the eclectic history of New Orleans but experience some of the local cuisine and artists as well. Stalls line the halls of the covered strip, displaying fresh fruits, local crafts and jewelry, and delicious cajun foods to try!
Inside Tip: This is a great way to break up the drinking and see a different side to New Orleans. It is a very bustling setting and a great hidden gem for local trinkets and lunch!
9. Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum
Glass cases full of history and beauty, this is the only way to describe the small hallways that hold the most opulent of Germaine Wells' Mardi Gras gowns. Germaine Wells served as Mardi Gras queen for over 20 years, which is more than any other woman in the history of the Carnival. This museum brings together more than 2 dozen of the queen's most lavish Mardi Gras gowns, speaking to the rich history of the Arnaud family and the New Orleans Carnival.
Insider Tip: This museum is tucked away behind the dining room in the Arnaud's restaurant. It is open and operating anytime the restaurant is open, just ask a server or bartender to point you in the right direction!
10. Hotel Monteleone Carousel Bar
One of the more unique spot in the city, this bar actual rotates slowly in the same vain as a carousel. Inside the famous Monteleone hotel, this bar has seen a lot of well known faces, Tennessee Williams & Ernest Hemingway just to name a few..... The ornate detail of the carousel and delicious, authentic New Orleans cocktails make for an unforgettable experience.
Insider Tip: Be prepared to wait for a seat at the revolving bar, I promise it's worth it!
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