In May, I was embarking on a cruise in New Orleans and arrived a day prior to explore the city. On my visit, there where aspects I got very right (denoted by ✓) and things that I definitely missed the mark on (denoted by X.) I’ll cover the highlights of my stay as well as the low points in this city guide.
It’s easy to find when you stay on Bourbon street! I stopped by many nightclubs with open windows and doors playing loud music, but found more entertainment on the streets. From children drumming on buckets, to bands on the sidewalk, to a man playing water glasses, the French Quarter is phenomenal place to people watch and enjoy street performers. I also happened upon the end of an event called the Royal Street Stroll that features wine and art. Though I didn’t buy a ticket to partake in the offerings at the food and wine tents, I still enjoyed the scene and the galleries displaying art.
Where to stay: ✓
The French Quarter is where a lot of the action happens in New Orleans, so it is a convenient place to stay. If you want restaurants, happening nightlife and history within walking distance of your hotel, this is the place to be. If you are looking for peace quiet, the French Quarter probably isn’t where you want to stay, the party on the street goes late into the night. I do recommend ear plugs!
Length of stay: X
This was a miss for me, after getting off the plane and taking a taxi to my hotel in the late afternoon, I was exhausted and out of my element. I’ve realized that I need a day to acclimate to new surroundings before I truly feel adventurous. The next morning I transferred to the ship so I really only had one night to explore.
Opportunities for Learning: X✓
I regret not taking a city tour of New Orleans, it’s such a great way to learn about a city and have transportation to multiple attractions.
What I did get right was actually unplanned. The cruise ship was delayed in leaving due to high Mississippi River waters, so they sent the passengers on an excursion to the National World War II Museum. I had no idea this museum existed, let alone that it was in New Orleans! The museum sits on six acres and houses five pavilions full of permanent galleries and special exhibits. It is a truly amazing multi-media experience; aircraft, tanks, photos, uniforms, videos, and historic artifacts. I greatly appreciated the experience the museum provides and the way the information is presented in such an immersive way. While walking through the “Road to Tokyo” Pacific Theater gallery, you feel like you are in a jungle trench, and part of the “Road to Berlin” exhibit is presented inside what looks like a damaged airplane. If you visit New Orleans, do not miss the National World War II Museum!
I found Café Amelie while looking at reviews for restaurants online and instantly knew I need to go to this open air café lit by twinkle lights. I walked there from my hotel and was not disappointed with what I found, until the hostess told me the wait time was two hours! I snapped some photos and went on my way, meandering back towards my hotel.
I spotted a menu on the window of Cornet on Bourbon Street and decided I’d eat there. I ordered a crab cake appetizer topped with craw fish and a creamy sauce. I was not disappointed in the flavor but did experience sticker shock when the check came, because the crab cakes are at market price. Even though I didn’t eat where I dreamed of, I still found delicious food.
Time of Year: ✓
I was there in May and while it was hot, it was tolerable, and plenty warm to explore at night. There are benefits year round to visiting New Orleans, like getting a great deal in the winter or festivals in the spring, there are cons as well, such as stifling heat and hurricanes in the summer.
Satisfying my Sweet Tooth: ✓
I ventured to the legendary Café du Monde for a New Orleans must-try dessert, beignets! Beignets are square shaped doughnuts covered in powdered sugar and go perfectly with du Monde’s Café au Lait. The café is open 24 hours, perfect for me since I was out late and didn’t make it there until midnight.
Getting a Great Photo: X
While I did take some fun photos, most of them weren’t high quality because I took them at night. Jackson Square is a perfect photo opportunity with the beautiful Saint Louis Cathedral at its heart. I wish I had had time to go the New Orleans City Park and walk through the Botanical Gardens.
New Orleans to Memphis