NOLA is a city packed with adventures at every turn and should be on everyone’s ‘must-visit’ list. Still need a reason to check it out? Here’s 20…
1. New Orleans is one of the most international cities in the U.S
Once the biggest port city in the American South in the 1800s, New Orleans was founded by the French, which is why you’ll see many street signs still in French today.
It also has strong African, Caribbean, Irish, German and Sicilian influences.
2. The amazing boiled crawfish
It’s crawfish season from late January through early summer, and there’s nothing better to eat than freshly peeled hot boiled crawfish.
Try them in a traditional gumbo or eat ’em straight out of the bucket.
3. It’s a haven for live street music
The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B, soul and many mixes fill the air as you wander through New Orleans.
Make sure to walk down Frenchman Street for a legendary curb-side concert.
4. It’s home to Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is about a month or so of parties named for just one day, Fat Tuesday, the last day before Lent.
There’s no other carnival like it – party, eat, dress in costume and catch beads at parades as you soak up the incredible NOLA spirit.
5. You can legally walk around with a ‘to-go’ cup cocktail
One of the best things about New Orleans? The beauty of their “booze-to-go”.
You can carry an open container in the French Quarter on public streets, sidewalks, and parks once it’s not glass, so sip away on cocktails while you explore.
6. The beautiful architecture
Drive, walk or bike through the neighbourhoods of the Crescent City –Uptown, the Garden District, the Marigny, the Treme, the French Quarter, Algiers — every neighbourhood is a living architectural museum.
7. Its Cajun, Creole, and Southern cuisine
New Orleans is famous for a lot of foods, and high among them is the traditional rice dish known as jambalaya.
You’ve also got to try gumbo, a French/West African stew made with celery, peppers, okra, onions chicken, sausage and/or seafood.
8. The famous French Quarter
Often called the Crown Jewel of New Orleans, the French Quarter is one of NOLA’s most historic neighbourhoods.
It’s the historic heart of the city, famous for its vibrant nightlife and colourful buildings with cast-iron balconies.
9. You can cruise down the Bayou
Discover the mystique of the swamps and bayous (a low-lying body of water) as you explore the Mississippi River Delta.
Keep an eye out for alligators and other animals who call it home.
10. New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz
Great jazz can be heard all over this town – in the French Quarter, the Marigny, the Treme, uptown on Oak Street and on St. Claude Avenue.
You’ll find talented musicians on street corners, dive bars and lively jazz clubs that will have you dancing all night long.
11. The city hosts a yearly National Fried Chicken Festival
Fried chicken is a staple in New Orleans, so it makes sense that they’ve an entire festival dedicated to it.
Every September, the free, outdoor, two-day festival has food from more than 35 restaurants, lots of music on two stages from bands.
There’s also cooking demonstrations, family-friendly activities as well as a fried chicken finger eating contest.
12. …And the legendary Jazzfest
New Orleans Jazzfest draws close to half a million people to hear famous artists from around the world.
Past performers have included Stevie Wonder, Maroon 5, Snoop Dogg, Sting Kermit Ruffins, Tank and the Bangas and many more. Not to be missed.
13. You’ll experience Rock ‘n’ Bowl
A live music venue combined with a bowling alley, Rock ‘n’ Bowl is seriously good fun.
Louisiana’s best local acts play here; zydeco, blues, Cajun and variety dance bands, while Creole-eats will keep you fuelled.
14. They really go all out for Halloween
Halloween in New Orleans draws thousands to the Quarter for fun while vampires, zombies, ghosts, goblins and everything else parade up and down Frenchmen Street.
There’s also spooky tours of of the city cemeteries and Voodoo shops where you can learn about centuries-old spiritual practices.
15. The Beignets at Café Du Monde are heaven
Beignets were first introduced to the city by the French-Creole colonists in the 18th century. What are they? Basically, a delicious square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar.
The beignets at Café Du Monde are some of the best you’ll try.
16. The Southern hospitality is so warm
New Orleanians are some of the most welcoming people you’ll ever meet.
A warm and humourous nature combined with a great sense of pride in the city means locals will be only too happy to help you out during your visit.
17. New Orleans has interesting and important museums
18. The city has celebratory LGBT events all year long
New Orleans has tons of gay and gay-friendly bars all over town, but the most famous are on the French Quarter’s “Lavender Line”.
It also celebrates with a Gay Easter Parade each year, which showcases the fashion and creativity of the entire LGBT community.
19. The historic and vibrant Treme district
Tremé is America’s oldest black neighbourhood and also the site of significant economic, cultural, political, social, and legal events that have shaped history.
It’s a wonderful spot to celebrate the achievements of African Americans, and there’s several historical museums and monuments to visit.
20. NOLA is a comeback city <3
After Hurricane Katrina destroyed much of the city in August 2005, the community was left distraught over the damage.
Yet people rallied together and the city is yet again celebrating its eternal spirit and resilience.
See more about New Orleans and what to do in the city on the official New Orleans website.