Christmas is finally upon us and there’s no better way to celebrate it than by traveling to New Orleans.
Hailed by The New York Times as this year’s number one travel destination, New Orleans offers a grand combination of history, nightlife, music, and tons of fun. Without further ado, join us as we traverse the many streets and avenues of this metropolis, beginning with the French Quarter.
The Big Easy
New Orleans is a prominent port city located on the southern edge of the Mississippi River. The city-parish under the State of Louisiana was said to be named after Regent Philippe II, the Duke of Orleans of the Kingdom of France. History dictates that New Orlenas was established by the French under the order of Jean-Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville in the year 1718. The French rule, however, was short lived when the Treaty of Paris was signed, transferring power over to Spain who then renamed the place “Nueva Orleans.” The United States finally bought Louisiana together its cities and municipalities in the year 1803; and has since remained as their territory.
One of the city’s famous nicknames is The Big Easy, coined by musicians who found easy job in the metropolis during the 20th century. The City that Care Forgot was also famous for its reference to the laid-back, happy-go-lucky lifestyle of the locals, which was an attractive trait among tourists. Some people also called New Orleans The Crescent City, referring to the Crescent City Connection Bridge made of steel and is the fifth longest of its kind in the world.
The city offers visitors a ton of places and activities to choose from, with such a variety of attractions like the vintage St. Charles Streetcar Line that runs through St. Charles Avenue, the Benjamin Mansion where The Curious Case of Benjamin Button was filmed, the Faubourg Tremé district where the famous New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park is located and where tourists mainly gather for their colorful festivals like Jazz Fest, Essence Fest, and the world-renowned Mardi Gras Festival. The two-week long celebration is held annually before Ash Wednesday is a booze-filled social event with a large and vibrant parade filled with floats and masquerade balls.
On the palatable side of things, New Orleans is also popular for their grand celebration of Creole and Cajun cuisine. Beignets, French doughnuts, partnered with a cup of their famous Café au Lait, Po’Boys, Maffulettas, boiled Crawfish, Jumbalaya, Crawfish Etouffee, and praline candy are only some of the famous dishes you can try out in this vibrant city.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter, sometimes simply called The Quarter, is the oldest part of New Orleans. The district is famous worldwide for its historical value, distinct charm, and never-ending stream of interconnecting avenues filled with restaurants, cafés, bars, and clubs. Locals also sometimes call the area the Vieux Carré or the Old Square.
Choose from an abundance of restaurants and cafés in the French Quarter starting with the Napoleon House. Said to be constructed about two hundred years ago, the area has managed to preserve its original look and ambiance to this day and is the place to be if you’re looking to sip on a heavenly glass of Pimm’s. Dine at Café au Lait for a bitter taste of black-roasted coffee mixed with Chicory.
Get your fill of Beignets and French doughnuts at theopen air Café du Monde, or breathe in the aromatic smell of BBQ shrimp, roasted beef and seafood in overly stuffed Poboys at the Hamburger & Seafood Co. or perhaps a muffuletta if you’re looking a different kind of savory at the Central Grocery on Decatur Street. You can also choose to warm yourself up with an authentic bowl of Crawfish Boil at the Maple Leaf Bar, and order yourself a glass of Absinthe Frappe Cocktail at the Old Absinthe House to end the night.
After a fulfilling meal, head to the streets and roam around Jackson Square, a historic landmark that showcases a mixture of French and Spanish influence in its antiquated buildings. The twin Pantalba buildings are a famous example, with the two standing on both corners of the square. The red bricked buildings of the area still stand as rented apartments for locals and tourists who want to experience the old world magic of New Orleans.
Other attractions in the area include restaurants, cafés, boutiques, and antique shops. Jackson Square is uniquely marked by an equestrian statue of Andrew Jackson, the location’s namesake and 7th President of the United States. Feel free to shop for cheap fresh seafood, local produce, and hand-crafted souvenirs in the area, and dine in the bistro-style eateries of the French Marketplace.
And finally as the sun goes down, the wild spirit of The Quarter takes over. Experience a fun wild night at the many clubs, bars, and strip clubs at Rue Bourbon. The area spanning 13-blocks is populated with famous bars like the Carousel Bar and Lounge of Hotel Monteleone, a luxury hotel in the French Quarter whose lounge revolves around like a carousel with 25 seats. Another must-visit in the area is The Dungeon, which only opens from 10:30 PM and closes as sun rises. The place is accessed through a small passageway, and as you enter has a jukebox playing heavy metal music and large cases in lieu of tables and benches. Try your hand at some famous drinks along the Quarter with the Hand Grenade of the Tropical Isle Original, the Huge Ass Beer Bar that serves Huge Ass Beers to-go, and the Pat O’Brien’s Bar’s three-gallon rum cocktail known as the Hurricane.
A trip to New Orleans isn’t complete without a visit to the iconic St. Louis Cathedral. The religious institution is located along Jackson Square and is considered the tallest and oldest cathedral in the entire metropolis. It was constructed in 1727 but the first three churches were burned by fire, so the cathedral we see today was a reconstructed design made in the year 1850.
Stare in awe at the cathedral’s unique façade, where visitors are welcomed with an intricately combined spire of a clock and bell tower, with smaller spires flanked on both sides. Upon entering, visitors are dazzled by the complex art as part of the cathedral’s large series of stained glass masterpieces displayed on its walls, and the Rococo-style columns as well as a gilded central altar.
Outside, throngs of tourists tour around the St. Anthony Garden located at the back of the basilica, followed by the Saint Louis Cemetery. Step inside the Cabildo, a Spanish City hall that now houses part of the Louisiana State Museum, and the Presbytére who both flank the St. Louis Cathedral.
After a day of touring, relax and listen to jazz at the well-known Spotted cat Music Club located at Frenchmen Street. Spend your night dancing and singing to jazz, klezmer, funk, and blues together with a merry band of musicians like the Washboard Chaz Blues Trio, Sarah McCoy & The Oopsie Daisies, the Panorama Jazz Band, and the Meschiya Lake & The Little Big Horns.
Eat, Drink, and Let Loose
New Orleans marked its 300th birthday last spring, so the holidays aren’t the only reason to celebrate in this lively city. Be merry and spread the joy of Christmas. There’s no better time to eat, drink, and let loose in New Orleans.