New Orleans, Louisiana

New Orleans, Louisiana anaheimer

NOLA Ironwork corner of Royal and St _Peter Wikipedia by Falkue

New Orleans (NOLA) is world-famous for its music, Creole cuisine, vibrant nightlife, and annual festivals, most notably Mardi Gras. It is also known as the “Big Easy” for its laid-back and inclusive culture.

This unique American city has distinctive cuisine, beautiful architecture, and lots of history.  

It all started in the 1690s when French explorers chose this location to start a small trading settlement. Before that, the area was also frequented by Native Americans for the same reason.

Interesting Facts: New Orleans is also called the “Crescent City” because the Mississippi River curves right through it.

NOLA French Quarter Wedding ParadeIn 1718, the settlement became a city, inviting all to join. Over the years, people from Spain, Africa, France, and the Caribbean made this place home, creating, in the process, the Creole culture. Learn more about New Orleans history here.

In 2018, New Orleans celebrated its 300th birthday with special programs highlighting its diverse culture, music, food, and people.

Must see and do in NOLA

Whether you search online or ask friends, everyone agrees that you must spend time in the French Quarter, visit the Lafayette Cemetery, shop at the French Market, do the Aquarium, and walk along the Mississippi River in Woldenberg Park – and don’t forget to go on a Swamp Tour.

French Quarter

NOLA French Quarter Iron Works balconiesAlthough New Orleans has many unique neighborhoods, I think the French Quarter defines the NOLA experience. The Quarter is where you can witness the clash and merging of cultures and experience the local foods and music.

The French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré ("Old Square"), is the oldest neighborhood in NOLA and is protected as a national landmark. Everywhere you walk, you are witnessing a piece of history.

Some buildings are from the 1700s, while most are from the 1800s. They were rebuilt twice due to two devastating fires during Spanish rule. So, most buildings have a distinctive Spanish character.

Interesting Facts: The French Quarter is more Spanish than French. Some locals call it “The Quarter”.

NOLA French Quarter Bourbon Street - Wikipedia - by Chris LitherlandAs you walk around town, notice the wrought-iron balconies with flower pots and vines. If you are lucky and can look through an open door, see the lovely shaded courtyards in the middle.

You can stroll along the infamous Bourbon Street by the shops, bars, restaurants, and strip clubs. Maybe try some local food and drinks or buy some souvenirs. At night, you will see revelers swaying on the street with a stiff drink in their hands. NOLA is one of the very few cities that allow open alcohol containers on the streets.

Interesting Facts: Jazz started in New Orleans with a few drums and a lot of singing. Saxophones and pianos are late additions.

While a visit to Bourbon Street is a must due to its reputation and the party atmosphere, a more quiet and elegant option would be along Royal Street. You can find great art galleries and souvenir shops without all the noise. Several blocks of Royal Street are closed to traffic each afternoon to allow pedestrians and street performers free access.

A walk through the French Quarter is incomplete without a visit to the French Market, Jackson Square, and the Riverwalk.

NOLA Riverwalk and Woldenberg Park

NOLA Riverealk - Wikipedia - by Albert HerringFor a relaxing walk after the hustle and bustle of the historic town, make your way from Jackson Square, across Decatur Street, and over Washington Artillery Park towards the Mississippi River. You are at the Moonwalk. You can also start this walk from across Café Du Monde.

Interesting Facts:  Bourbon Street is not named after the Whisky. It was actually named after the Bourbon dynasty of France.

If you continue straight to the water’s edge, you will find droves of people sitting on steps, resting and admiring the scenery.

Enjoy the fresh, cooling breeze while gazing at the river traffic of big ships, steamboats, and barges. From that vantage point, you can look back towards the city with great views of Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral

Interesting Facts: Canal street is a major thoroughfare and a prime destination for Mardi Gras revelers. But interestingly enough, it never had a canal. Instead, it served as a dividing line between the French settlers and newcomers.

NOLA - RiverwalkHeading south on the Riverwalk, you will pass by the Natchez, a steam-powered paddle-wheel riverboat. You can take a river cruise or keep going on your walk. The Natchez offers jazz and dinner cruises.  

Right around the corner from the steamboat, you will walk into Woldenberg Park. The park provides some shaded benches to hide from the heat and humidity. The park is also home to the “Monument to the Immigrants” statue.

Further south on this Riverwalk, you can stop at the Audobon Aquarium and the giant screen auditorium. Both places are worth a visit if you have time. The giant screen plays nature movies – some in 3D. We especially enjoyed the “Hidden Pacific” movie and learned about some protected islands and their wildlife.

Going even further, you will come across the “Outlet Collection at Riverwalk,” a discount shopping mall with many well-known brands and a large food court.

You can see a more detailed description of this walk here.

Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tours

NOLA French Quarter - Mardi Gras WorldAre you tired of walking the streets of New Orleans? One of the best ways to explore a new city is to go on a walking tour or get multi-day transportation passes.

City Sightseeing tour company offers a “Hop-On Hop-Off” bus pass with narration and 19 stops. You can buy a 1-day or 3-day pass. The stops include essential points of interest in the French Quarter, the Garden District, and Lafayette Cemetery.

Interesting Facts: It’s illegal to ride on a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans without a mask.

One of the stops is at the Mardi Gras World. If you missed the main event, you could still come here to see the floats and try some costumes on.

If you buy the 3-day pass, you will also get two free walking tours. While going across town, a tour guide provides useful information about landmarks, attractions, and restaurants along the way.

Food Tasting Tour

Here is another excellent way to explore a new city. Just join a food-tasting tour. Going on a NOLA French Quarter - Beignetfood-tasting excursion is especially important in New Orleans due to the unique fusion of cuisines worldwide.

We went with Urban Adventure on their “French Quarter Food Tour” and we loved it. The food choices were exquisite and a good representation of New Orleans Cajun and Creole food.

Interesting Facts: Despite its reputation for Cajun cuisine, the predominant type of New Orleans cooking is Creole.

Our guide, Butch, was a wealth of information about NOLA culture and history. Some of the foods we tried were gator sausages, muffuletta sandwiches, and Beignets. Read more about the tour and other dining options here.  

Jackson Square

NOLA Jackson Square - Andrew JacksonThis historic park in NOLA is a focal point for many activities and attractions. The park was declared a national historic landmark in 1960 as the site where Louisiana became a US territory in 1803 due to the Louisiana Purchase.

Interesting Facts: New Orleans has more canals than Venice in Italy, both above and below ground.

The park is also home to the Andrew Jackson statue celebrating the decisive battle of New Orleans.

During our visit, we used the park as a resting place in between our explorations and as a springboard for visiting the surrounding Saint Louis Cathedral, the Louisiana State Museum, the Riverwalk, and the French Market.

The area between the park and the cathedral is a pedestrian-only promenade with plenty of street performers, artists, and vendors. Walking around, listening to jazz musicians, or buying a few trinkets is a treat.

Saint Louis Cathedral

The Cathedral was first established as a church in 1718 but became a cathedral in 1793, NOLA French Quarter St Louis Cathedraland now it is the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New Orleans. It is named after the King of France (King Louis IX). It is considered the oldest cathedral in the United States.

Interesting Facts: The St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously operating cathedral in the U.S.

The architecture of this cathedral is beautiful and makes for an excellent backdrop for many photos as you look back from Jackson Square and Washington Artillery Park. Going inside, you can enjoy the grandeur of the ornate fixtures, majestic altar, wall and ceiling paintings, and beautiful stained-glass windows.

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The cathedral is open to the public for viewing and photography, but not during mass.

Louisiana State Museum

NOLA Louisiana State MuseumRight next to St. Louis Cathedral and inside the Presbytere building, you can browse through two uniquely New Orleans exhibits.

The first one is a sobering account of Hurricane Katrina. The exhibit details the catastrophic wind and storm surge, breaking levees, and the delayed and uncoordinated response.

Interesting Facts: The Superdome is one of the world’s largest steel domes. It protected some 30,000 New Orleans residents during Hurricane Katrina in 2005.

Some moving moments for me were seeing the crowds hiding in the Superdome and listening to news accounts of the impending disaster.

The city has learned from the mistakes of 2010, and the museum also showcases the advances in protection against hurricanes.

The second exhibit is about the Mardi Gras, New Orleans infamous festival. Several rooms explain the history of the festival, traditions, and costumes. It also gives a glimpse into the extravagant balls.

Interesting Facts: NOLA has some unique Mardi Gras traditions. For example, the elaborate Balls thrown every year to honor the royalty of the Mardi Gras parades.

This museum has another branch on the other side of the cathedral. That one is dedicated to Louisiana history.

The French Market

The market starts from Café Du Monde, close to Jackson Square, and extends along the NOLA French Quarter - French MarketMississippi River for several blocks. This spot started as a Native American trading post – long before the Frenchmen landed here.

Today, it is a bustling bazaar with vendors to satisfy every taste and need. You can find lots of food and sweets vendors, along with clothing, hats, and all kinds of trinkets.

The market is an ideal place to taste some Creole food on the go or buy some souvenirs. We tried Gator Sausage on a stick and Praline cookies during our visit.

Horse Carriage

NOLA Horse Carriage RideTake a leisurely ride on a horse carriage and learn about NOLA. The carriages are parked right outside Jackson Square on Decatur Street.

Interesting Facts: The death mask of the French military and political leader, Napoleon Bonaparte, is housed in the Louisiana State Museum in New Orleans.

The rides are $20 per person and go through narrow French Quarter streets while the driver talks about the city’s history and culture.

Audubon Aquarium

NOLA Audubon Aquarium of the AmericasWhy would you go to an aquarium at the Big Easy? There is only so much adult fun a person can take – especially if you have kids with you. They will want to drag you to an aquarium or a zoo.

The aquarium is conveniently located on the Riverwalk at the edge of the French Quarter, with an adjacent Big Screen theater and a butterfly garden. The aquarium is run by the Audubon Institute, which also manages a Zoo and an Insectarium.

NOLA Audubon Aquarium of the Americas - SeahorseThe aquarium specializes in the Americas, with separate exhibits for the Gulf of Mexico, The Mississippi River, and the Amazon Rain Forest.

We especially enjoyed:

  • The 30-foot glass tunnel with Sharks, Fish, and Stingrays floating above us
  • The Amazon Rain Forest with waterfalls and a treehouse-like structure
  • The seahorse display and the white alligator.

As part of your admission fee, you can watch a nature movie on a giant screen. Some movies are in 3D. We watched The Hidden Pacific, a film about chains of protected islands and the wildlife that makes them home.

Segway Tour

NOLA French Quarter - Segway tour - permission FatTireToursIf horse-drawn carriages are not your style, try the Segway tour. Riding a Segway is a unique experience in which you get to go where pedestrians go, but much faster.

The City Segway tour staff were friendly and helpful. We started with a brief training session in the tour office. The Segway basically drives itself, but pay attention to how you stop, turn, and get off.

Interesting Facts: Famous people from NOLA: Ellen DeGeneres, John Goodman, Tyler Perry and Reese Witherspoon.

During our tour, we zipped through narrow streets, learning about the Spanish character of the French Quarter and the Nuns' impact on early history, and visited Louis Armstrong Park. We rode through the Riverwalk and enjoyed the cool breeze on the way back. 

New Orleans Museum of Art

NOLA Museum of Art - in City ParkLocated a little away from the French Quarter in the middle of a green expanse called “City Park”, the Museum of Art is a place to relax, enjoy the creative works of artists, and maybe have a snack.

The park itself is full of activities like fishing, a Botanical Garden, miniature golf, and paddle boats. Have a picnic, work out, or head into the Art building for more fun.

Interesting Facts: City Park is the largest municipal park in the USA with lakes, huge oak trees, lakes and many activites for the whole family.

NOLA City ParkThe museum has several levels of exhibits with more than 40,000 pieces of art. The artworks span various eras and styles. The collection includes French, American, African, Japanese, photography, and glasswork.

The extensive Americas collection covers the cultural heritage of North, Central, and South America, spanning the pre-Columbian period through the Spanish Colonial era.

If you don’t have time to visit the art collection in person, take this virtual tour

The museum has a café overlooking the park and lake. Café NOMA uses locally sourced fresh ingredients to create their tasty sandwiches and pastries. It was named one of ‘America’s Best Museum Restaurants’ by Travel + Leisure.

The National WWII Museum

NOLA WWII museum - Wikipedia - by DsduganA museum dedicated to World War Two, America’s contribution, and the Allied victory. I regret that I did not get the chance to visit while I was in NOLA, but I think it is essential to include it in this article.

The museum spans several buildings with exhibits about the Arsenal Of Democracy, Road To Tokyo, Road To Berlin, The D-Day Invasion Of Normandy, US Merchant Marine Gallery, Bayou To Battlefield, and occasional Traveling Exhibits.

You can also enjoy some interactive experiences like “Final Mission: USS Tang Submarine” and “Beyond All Boundaries”, a 4D journey through the war that changed the world.

A Little Outside of New Orleans

The city of New Orleans is full of landmarks and attractions. You can spend days roaming the city without seeing everything. But whatever you do, take the time to get out and experience a Swamp Tour and a Plantation visit.

Swamp tour

NOLA - Pearl River Swamp tour - Alligator feedingSwamps are an integral part of Louisiana's history and culture. In case you didn’t know, countless people still make the wetlands their home and live off the land.   

The best way to explore the swamps is to go with an experienced tour operator. We went with Cajun Encounters, and we had a great time.

Interesting Facts: Louisiana is home to three million acres of wetlands.

The tour started from the headquarters in the town of Slidell on the Pearl River. The launch NOLA - Pearl River Swamp tour - Cajun livingarea itself is right on the swamp. We got to see wildlife right away while we waited.

Our guide, Captain Ron, was very knowledgeable and made our trip fun and educational. During this tour, we took an airboat into the swamps and got very close to Alligators, birds, and pigs. Yes, surprisingly, pigs do live in those swamps.

During the tour, Ron called Alligators close to the airboat to feed them some hot dogs. They approached the boat and jumped out to reach for the food. It was a thrill to see this fearsome beast up close.

Interesting Facts: Alligators have existed for nearly 200 million years, and over two million wild alligators live in bayous across Louisiana.

The wild pigs are also accustomed to airboat operators feeding them. They rushed in droves when they heard the distinctive call. Those pigs loved the offered popcorn.

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We also swung by some swamp dwellings and witnessed Cajun people going about their daily lives. As a compromise to modern life, we saw a parking lot where Cajuns park their cars after work or shopping. They then jump onto their boats to get to their homes in the swamp.   

At the launch point, there is a gift shop and café where you can get snacks, coffee, and souvenirs.  

New Orleans Dining Adventure

New Orleans Dining Adventure anaheimer

NOAL French Market - food samplingWhen visiting a new city, I always try to go on a food tasting tour. It is an excellent way to explore the city and learn about its history and unique foods.

Going on a food tasting excursion is especially important in New Orleans due to the unique fusion of cuisines.

We went with Urban Adventure on their “French Quarter Food Tour” and we loved it. The food choices were excellent and a good representation of New Orleans' Cajun and Creole food.

Interesting Facts: Most bars offer to-go cups for cocktails. You can even get a  daiquiri at a drive-through.

NOLA Daiquiris drive thruOur guide, Butch, was a wealth of information about NOLA culture and history. He kept us entertained, and we were stuffed by the end of the tour. Some of the foods we tried were gator sausages, muffuletta sandwiches, Pralines cookies, and Beignets.

We also went exploring on our own and tried many restaurants and bars. The one thing we didn’t do was go to Cafe Du Monde, even though it was on everyone’s must-do list. The lines were just too long for our taste.

Read at the end of this article about all the unique New Orleans foods.

Read the full story about the city of New Orleans here.

Breakfast, Lunch, and snacks

Evan’s Creole Candy Factory

NOLA PralinesAt the beginning of The Fench Market, this small place makes its sweets and pastries right on the premises. We got to watch how they make the Pralines and tried several recipes. I especially enjoyed the Rum Pralines cookie. You can also avoid the long lines and get the famous Café Du Monde Beignets here.

Interesting Facts: Did you know that the nuns brought the Pralines recipes with them from France but had to get creative with ingredients from the new world.


I love breakfast and can’t skip it, so I always look for a good café or restaurant to enjoy my favorite meal. While roaming the French Quarter, I encountered Café Fleur De Lis, Brennan's, and Envie Espresso Bar & Café. You can always try your luck at Café Du Monde, too.

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If you are looking for a hot drink and a pastry, go to PJ's Coffee or CC's Coffee House – both are local chains.

Loretta’s Authentic Pralines

NOLA - French Market - BeingetsThis stand inside the French Market offers all kinds of Pralines, but we tried their Praline stuffed Beignets. They were extra tasty with the bonus of avoiding the crowds at Café Du Monde.

Interesting Facts: The right way to eat a Beignet, Standing up and bent forward a little -  with the wind coming from behind you. This way the powdered sugar will fly away from you. 

Frank’s Restaurant

NOLA Muffuletta sandwichA little Italian restaurant on Decatur Street with delicious sandwiches. We tried their muffuletta sandwiches and we loved them.

The owner of the Central Grocery Co. next door invented the muffuletta, but that place is always crowded with long lines.

The sandwich is made on the Italian muffuletta loaf with layers of marinated olive salad, salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella. It is usually served warm.

Frank’s has a second-floor dining room with a large window overlooking the French Market and the statue of Joan of Arc, Maid of Orleans.

NOLA 801 Royal Pub801 Royal

A small pub at the corner of Royal and St Anne’s streets with great snacks and drinks. We tried their Alligator Sausages with Creole mustard and a cup of Gumbo for a small mid-day meal.


The French Quarter has way too many choices for dinner it is almost hard to find the right place. So we went on a little food safari and found the following gems.

Antoine’s Restaurant

NOLA - Antoine's restaurant - LambOne of the most elegant establishments in New Orleans, with delectable dishes, excellent wine selection, and delicious desserts. It is also the oldest restaurant in town, with many celebrities dining here.

The service was also above par. Our waiter was very attentive and helped us enjoy a leisurely meal.

We tried the Fried Louisiana Oysters, Bisque with crawfish, Prime center-cut lamb chops, and Grilled chicken breast (avoiding the fancy French names). For dessert, we had the Omelette Alaska Antoine, their signature dish.

Interesting Facts: Turtle and Alligator are abundant in Louisiana, so expect to find a lot of turtle soup at, fried alligator, alligator po'boys, and alligator sausage.

Overall, it was a great experience, but on the pricy side. Be ready to pay around $100 per person for this excellent meal.

Be warned that everyone at dinner was well-dressed with their Sunday best. You also definitely need a reservation.

Muriel’s Bistro

NOLA - Muriel's Bistro - BarOnce we saw the building from the outside, we knew we wanted to explore this place – the online ratings were also excellent. The indoor style was impressive, too – and if you sit on the balcony, you get a commanding view of Jackson Square.

Interesting Facts: Despite its reputation for Cajun cuisine, the predominant type of New Orleans cooking is Creole.

NOLA - Palm Court Jazz ClubWe started our meals off with the Seafood Gumbo. Our main course was Pecan Encrusted Baby Drum and the Cajun Demi-Poulet. We shared the Pain Perdu Bread Pudding and the Vanilla Bean Créme Brûlée for a great finish.

Everything came out perfect and the service was excellent. I highly recommend this restaurant for dinner.

Palm Court Jazz Cafe

Being in New Orleans, we had to visit a Jazz club. Palm Court was highly recommended, and it did not disappoint.

NOLA - Oceana - Taste of New OrleansThe Jazz band was excellent, and the food was great. We enjoyed a few drinks with our Red Beans, Rice with Garlic chicken, and a Jambalaya.


We stumbled into Oceana by accident. We were tired, hungry, and hot, so we found the closest place and went in for a relaxing lunch. We loved their enclosed courtyard, where we sat and shared the “Taste of New Orleans” plate. The sampler was full of Creole jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, red beans & rice with smoked sausage.


We visited Tableau in the evening, but we did not have dinner. We just wanted a place to enjoy a few drinks while admiring the view. So we just picked our drinks from the downstairs bar and headed to the balcony on the second floor. We found out they served brunch every day and came back for breakfast.

Uniquely New Orleans

NOLA - Cafe Du MondeWhen you go to New Orleans, you must try some of the foods that are unique to this town or were invented here.

Interesting Facts: Despite its reputation for Cajun cuisine, the predominant type of New Orleans cooking is Creole.

Beignets: Fried dough covered in powdered sugar - sometimes filled with Praline. We also tried mini-Beignets at some coffee shops.

Praline: Candy discs made with sugar, butter, cream and locally grown pecans. The recipes evolved over the years to accommodate locally available ingredients.

NOLA - The Hurricane at Pat OBriensPo’ boy: Giant subs stuffed with fried shrimp, roast beef, or crawfish.

Sno-ball: Soft, fluffy, shaved ice with unique flavors like nectar, wedding cake, or cotton candy.

King cake: A huge Danish ring with lots of toppings and sometimes stuffings.

The Hurricane: A huge glass of rum with flavors and two straws to share – and you can have it on the go.

Crawfish Etouffee: A buttery, rich, and flavorful sauce, fresh crawfish tails, and herbs and spices.

Oysters: Served in many styles but always delicious.

Interesting Facts: Starbucks is a rare sight in NOLA. Instead you will find PJs or CC’s coffee house around every cordner. 

NOLA - French Market - Gator on a StickMuffuletta Sandwich: Made on an Italian muffuletta loaf with layers of marinated olive salad, salami, ham, Swiss cheese, provolone, and mortadella. It is usually served warm.

Debarge: A springy butter cake (in various flavors) layered with custard, chocolate pudding, lemon curd, or even ganache.

Alligator Sausage: No description needed. You can buy it on a stick to eat on the go.

Red Beans and Rice: A staple dish made with rice, red (kidney) beans, and whatever veggies are available. For added flavor, add leftover pork (or bones).

NOLA - Jambalaya on plateInteresting Facts: Red Beans and Rice were invented as a Monday meal to use up leftovers from Sunday’s dinner.

Gumbo: A stew often made with okra, chicken, cured pork products or seafood, and (usually) rice - with many variations depending on what's available at the time.

Boudin: This Cajun sausage is sometimes smoked and uses highly seasoned meat and ‘dirty’ rice filling.

Jambalaya: Plates filled with rice, smoked sausage, shrimp, and chicken in a spicy sauce.