Get the best out of your French Quarter experience with this advice and insight. You will want four or more days to see it all. The architecture, night life, and Creole culture is what makes up this city. Christmas time is the best time to visit if you enjoy looking at decorations and are not interested in being there during Mardi Gras.
Royal Sonesta is in the heart of the French Quarter. It is directly off of Bourbon Street. The Hotel is well kept, the staff goes above and beyond, and the pool is relaxing. The downfall to staying at this hotel is that it gets noisy at night if your room is on the Bourbon Street side. Also, parking is 43 dollars a night but, with this location you do not need a car.
Safety tips and advice
There are many people that do things like paint themselves from head to toe and stand as still as possible to look like a statue. If you want to take pictures with them they expect a tip so do not forget to carry some small bills.
When there are crowds surrounding street performers there are pick pocketers. They are often disguised as children or they are professionals. You do not know it even happened until it is too late. Your front pocket seems to be the most safe place to keep your wallet.
Being from Minnesota we typically acknowledge people when you pass them on the street with a smile. I learned quickly that is a sure fire way to make you look like a tourist. Some locals look for this and will try to hustle you if you don’t blend in. It is best to not look them in the eye as you pass by.
If you choose to visit these plantations rent a car for the day.
It is over an hour drive one way along the Mississippi River. We chose to take a bus tour from downtown New Orleans to Oak Alley and it took over half of our day. I would not take a bus again. The entrance to the plantation is lined by fourteen oak trees on each side. We were fortunate to get a private tour. Our guide went through the history of the home and the families that lived there. The home was decorated for the Christmas season. The slave quarters are humbling, and are full of education.
We passed by the Laura Plantation. The tour there is out of the eyes of one of the slaves that lived there named Laura. Do not pass up the opportunity to see both of these since they are not far from each other.
During the day was a great time to walk the street and take in the architecture. Halfway through the day it comes to life. They shut off parts of bourbon street to incoming traffic. You can walk the streets with alcohol. Simply, walk in to a bar and tell them you want to take your drink to go. There are also Daiquiri bars that line the street especially for the to go crowd. Later in the day you will see people on balconies throwing beads down at random. There are cameras embedded all around the city of New Orleans. It is a safe city with all the monitoring they provide.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop
This is the oldest bar in the south. They operate only by candle light and the only electricity they have is from extension cords from their neighbors. They have a patio bar and ample space to gather. Many people will choose to grab a drink at the bar and stand out front with their friends. This does not mean that the bar is busy, you will just have to go in to find out.
Take a stroll a long the Mississippi River. This is a paved 1.3 miles out and back trail. It has many statues and memorials. It has a shopping mall and many places to eat along the way.
This is a historic site of the Battle of New Orleans where Andrew Jackson fought in 1815. Many street artists show case their work here. There are horse drawn carriage rides. The building in the picture below is the Saint Louis Cathedral. You can go in and take a tour.
This is the street to go for live local music. This city is known for its love of jazz music. Many of the places on this street do not open until later at night (6pm or later). Local music is all around New Orleans, but this is the most authentic area.
Originally this was the tallest brewery in the south and was a working brewery until the mid 1970s. Now it is converted to a shopping center with four floors. It also has a few restaurants to dine in.
This park is a peaceful spot off the beaten path. It has walking trails, water fountains, statues, and bridges. This is a place to get away from it all.
We did not do these things, but they should not be over looked. We will stay in the Garden District it is close to the French Quarter, but is less busy. We will rent a car or utilize the street cars. We will tour the Hermann-Grima house, the National World War two museum, Whitney plantation, and take a swamp and bayou tour.