With it’s elegant European heritage and cool Caribbean vibe, there truly is no other place in the world like New Orleans. While most people associate The Big Easy with raucous Mardi Gras celebrations, that’s only a small portion of all that the city has to offer visitors. Look beyond the colorful feathered boas and rowdy bars lining Bourbon Street and you’ll discover that there are plenty of great reasons to visit New Orleans any time of the year.
Frenchmen Street Art Market. The incredibly atmospheric Frenchmen Street Art Market showcases a wide array of independent artists and their unique crafts. Local finds include handmade jewelry, voodoo artworks, NOLA-themed framed photography, unique home furnishings, and many more, most of which would make unique gifts and souvenirs to take home.
The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival. No doubt the music scene in New Orleans is off the hook every night of the year, but the annual New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is a two-weekend long cultural feast held during the end of April/early May that highlights the best of indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana. Expect thousands of musicians, chefs, artists, and craftsmen to help you experience the very best of NOLA.
Marigny and Bywater. The two neighboring districts of Marigny and Bywater are chock full of gorgeous homes, independent boutiques, small theater spaces, cool vintage and thrift shops, inviting cafes, candlelit bars, and a host of international restaurants. The area has a strong sense of community and the locals are likely to stop you for a friendly chat.
Artisanal cocktails. Sure, everyone knows that boozin’ is one of the favorite past-times in New Orleans, but they don’t just drink any old moonshine. It’s all about the cocktails here in the birthplace of famous mixed drinks like the Hurricane, Vieux Carré, and Sazerac. Be forewarned, the bartenders in NOLA pour their alcohol with a heavy hand so have the phone number to the taxi company on your speed dial before you head out for a sampling.
Swamp tours. Although there’s plenty in the French Quarter to keep you busy, get out to the nearby swamps and bayous for a day seeped in breath-taking wildlife and nature. The Swamp and Bayou tours from Gray Line include the minibus ride from the heart of the French Quarter to the picturesque Jean Lafitte Barataria Preserve where you’ll enjoy a few hours exploring the backwaters.
The Voodoo Music and Arts Experience. Another top music and art festival in NOLA, the Voodoo experience is held on Halloween weekend and features a stellar lineup of top international bands (past headliners include Metallica, Lauren Hill, Muse, Outkast, Tiesto, KISS, and Artic Monkeys), as well as top local musicians from Louisiana.
World-famous food. New Orleans has been awarded with a dizzying number of culinary accolades and all for good reason! Southern cooking further perfected with French culinary traditions and blended with Caribbean and Creole flavors lends itself to some of the best food in the world. It’s definitely one factor that will bring me, and many other visitors, back to NOLA again and again.
Amazing local art. All along the French Quarter and Frenchmen Street, local artists showcase their talents and unique creations. Day in and day out, you can expect to see amazing works of art for sale (most at extremely affordable prices), musicians jamming on the streets, and occasionally a head-scratching performance piece. Whether or not the art is of your tastes, you can’t deny the creative energy and bohemian atmosphere that takes hold of the streets.
Float down the Ole’ Mississippi. As cheesy as it may sound, floating down the Mississippi River in an authentic steamboat Natchez is a great way to experience NOLA. The narrated cruise, with optional brunch or dinner, provides a wealth of history of the surrounding area and the live jazz band might just inspire you to kick up your heels.
Mardi Gras. Come on, Mardi Gras is what New Orleans is known for. Of course it’s a top reason to visit!
Take heed of these great reasons to visit New Orleans and get yourself to N’awlins as soon as possible to “laissez les bons temps rouler,” or, let the good times roll!
If you need help planning your trip to New Orleans, visit the information NOLA Convention and Visitors Bureau.