New Orleans surprised me in so many ways. I did not know I was going to fall in love with this beautiful city and want to come back for more. New Orleans has amazing food options and even though they are heavily influenced with seafood and meat dishes, there’s vegetarian options at every restaurant which was a HUGE plus for me. New Orleans (NOLA) is very quaint with amazing live jazz music playing almost everywhere you go. This city is so unique and charmed me in every way possible.
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Depending where you’re staying, a lot of places are walking distance (10-20 minute walk). Uber, Lyft, and taxi’s are easily accessible. Of course it will be cheaper to take an Uber or Lyft than a taxi, but they’re all pretty comparably priced. If you don’t have an Uber account, you can sign up with my referral link and get a FREE ride. You can also use my referral promotion code: kimberlyp471. If you don’t have a Lyft account, you can sign up with my referral link and get a FREE ride as well. You can also use my referral promotion code: KIMBERLY614857. I have both apps so I typically open Lyft and Uber and see whichever one is the cheapest and then I use that app. If you’re coming from the airport, follow the “ride share” signs and once you’re there, you can request a pick up. If you take a taxi, they will charge you per passenger and per bag so it’s best to take an Uber or Lyft from the airport.
Where to stay:
We stayed at an Airbnb which was super convenient and easy. We stayed at the Carondelet Street Apartment by Stay Alfred. Our place fit 5-6 people. 2 rooms, 1 pull out couch and 2 bathrooms. It was a pretty good location – about 10 minute walk to Bourbon St. It was comparably priced to most of the Airbnb’s in the French Quarter. The place was super spacious – large kitchen, dining area, pantry, etc. It comfortably fit all 5 of us. Depending on where your room is located, it can get very loud if the room is facing the cable car tracks. I definitely recommend bringing earplugs (I always bring earplugs with me wherever I go). If you don’t have Airbnb, if you sign up with my link, you’ll get $40 off your first trip.
What are the top things to do in New Orleans?
National WWII Museum:
The National WWII Museum was hands down the best museum I’ve ever been to. I’ve gone to over hundreds of museums all around the world, but The National WWII Museum in New Orleans is number 1 in my books. It’s also rated as one of the top 10 best museums in the world. When we saw that the recommend/average time spent there was 4 hours, we laughed. We almost didn’t go because we had a packed weekend in New Orleans already. I’m so thankful we went. It was very interesting to learn from the American’s point of view. The whole museum was put together perfectly. It’s interactive, there’s pictures with captions everywhere, a video for each subject, and so much more!
I went 2 days in a row and almost went back for a 3rd day. I still didn’t get to finish it… I definitely want to go back. If you don’t finish and want to go back within 7 days of buying your ticket, the price for your admission is only $7 (*prices subject to change). I recommend dedicating 6+ hours there. Trust me – there’s A LOT to see there and you will be truly amazed at it all. I also recommend paying the additional cost and watch the Beyond All Boundaries movie. It’s 4D and really good. It’s super loud though… I had to plug my ears at some parts… BUT it was amazing and totally worth the extra cost.
I must admit, I really wanted to go on a swamp tour because Tiffany Haddish kept talking about it on the Jimmy Kimmel show. If you haven’t already seen the clip, you must. It’s long, but it’s hilarious.
Anyways… I highly recommend going on a swamp tour if you want to see the bayou, alligators, and some wildlife. There are multiple tours that offer a swamp tour too. Some you have to drive yourself (and it’s far), and some offer transportation to the swamp. We chose the Swamp and Bayou Sightseeing Tour because it offered transportation from the French Quarter to the swamp. We had a baby with us, so we decided to do a tour that allowed babies to come too. I really wanted to go a speed boat because it looked really fun, but I’m actually really glad I went on the boat tour.
It was a big boat and you’re able to freely move around the boat as well. It’s also shaded which was AMAZING. It’s so hot, humid, and sunny… the last thing you want to do is sit on a boat in water for an hour with no shade. We had the opportunity to hold a baby alligator. Her name was Alli Gator, and that was so awesome! The tour guide will throw marshmallows in the water to draw the alligators close and you can take pictures of the alligators in the water. I recommend bringing food and water. The tour is 4 hours long, and there’s no where to get actual meals. The bus drops you off at a place that sells water, chips, and sodas though.
Mardi Gras World:
Mardi Gras World was an interesting experience. The first tour is at 9:30 am, and the last tour is at 4 pm. There’s a free shuttle that picks you up and takes you there, but make sure you specify where exactly they’re picking you up! We waited 30 minutes at one of the pick up locations and we were on the wrong side of the hotel entrance so we ended up taking a Lyft. There are student and military prices too.
It’s about a 1 hour long, 30 minutes of a movie and 30 minutes of a tour. It was actually really interesting to learn the facts about the Mardi Gras floats and the production of it all. Our tour guide was not very knowledgeable… the group kept asking questions and he wouldn’t know the answers. He also would start speaking when everyone wasn’t there… so it was hard to even hear him at times. This is definitely a nice activity if it’s raining or if you have kids. If you don’t have that much time, I’d probably skip this.
Walk around Bourbon Street. You’re bound to see some crazy things on the street. It’s usually packed with people and some live music on the street too. Get a hurricane and walk around. Hop into multiple bars. Get a ‘huge ass beer.’ People watching is the best there too!
Frenchman Street is a less touristy, but great street to walk down. There’s 2 side streets that have art and little things that you can buy. The jazz music is amazing there! The Spotted Cat Music Club is a popular place to go to listen to jazz music. There’s a cover charge though. There’s a lot of places to go to. I recommend walking up and down the street and if you hear something you like, then go inside! There’s a rapper named The Real Unscripted who freestyles on the street. He’s really entertaining and always has a crowd around him!
I am indifferent to this. My family liked it, but also didn’t like it because it was so early to be eating such heavy food. We chose New Orleans School of Cooking because it had more vegetarian options (so we thought). They had rice and beans, but the beans were cooked with meat. They had dessert (pralines and another dessert) and that was all I was able to eat. They provide cornbread for each table, beer, water, and tea. It’s nice learning how to cook each dish, but you can probably skip this. If you decide to do this, I recommend booking it in advance.
I recommend looking up if there are any festivals going on while you’re there. The Beignet Festival and Oktoberfest Festival were both going on while we were there. It’s a nice little outing and something different that you can do.
You can walk around French Market where there’s food booths of all different kinds of cuisines: seafood, vegan food, vegetarian food, crepes, beignets, etc. There’s also a flea market area where you can buy random things.
Ride in a streetcar:
You can ride in a streetcar and take it from French Quarter to the Garden District (or vice versa).
What to do in New Orleans if it’s raining?
If it’s raining, I recommend going to The National WWII Museum, Cafe Du Monde, Mardi Gras World, or hang out in a jazz club.
Places to eat:
There’s so many good places to eat and it’s hard to choose which ones are the best. I broke it down to where to eat, what to eat, and when to eat in my Best Restaurants in New Orleans post.
I hope you enjoy New Orleans as much as I did! If you have any questions or comments, comment below! What was your favorite part about New Orleans?