New Orleans- Your Guide to the French Quarter, Jazz, and Voodoo | Chantilly

New Orleans- Your Guide to the French Quarter, Jazz, and Voodoo

New Orleans is known as a mecca for jazz, voodoo, drinking on Bourbon Street, and rich food. Your itinerary can include things like haunted hotels in the French Quarter. Mansions in the Garden District. Historic Tours of the city. And bars and restaurants galore. Basically tons of things to do in every direction you step.

For centuries, people have been attracted to the witchy charms of New Orleans, and I'm no exception. I found myself called there this year, and I can verify that this city is utterly hypnotizing. From the smells to the architecture, to the palm readers setting up shop in Jackson Square. There's something darkly alluring about New Orleans and I admit- I'm hooked!

New Orleans Tourist Guide
New Orleans Travel Guide
New Orleans Itinerary




You can really feel the energy of the past lingering in New Orleans. To me, it's a city that’s rooted in two polar opposite things- suffering and enjoying life. Historically much suffering has occurred here, but people aren't in the habit of dwelling. Instead, they honor the sacrifices of their ancestors by embracing the attitude that life is short! So let’s seize the day and enjoy every bit of it possible. Dance, drink, be merry, and all that jazz.

That's right, this city is ALL about having a good time. So if you're down for that, keep reading because this is the place to be!


How to get around


Uber/ Lyft- It's usually safe to walk around New Orleans, especially in touristy areas. However, be aware that there is still a fair bit of crime that happens here. Don't let it scare you! However, if you'd rather be on the safe side, take Ubers or Lyfts at night, or in between neighborhoods.

Trolley- There's not a big public transportation system, but there is a trolley that operates between major neighborhoods. You can pay $1 per ride in cash, or use their app, GoMobile RTA. On the app, you pay for a "Jazzy Pass"- which is good for several days worth of trolley rides. We chose to get a 5-day Jazzy Pass for $15 each.

Tip- look for a hotel with a trolley stop nearby that goes to the neighborhoods you know you'll be visiting most! Our hotel, Hotel Indigo, had a trolley stop literally right across the street. We took it to the French Quarter pretty much every day!

Walking around- Like I said, walking isn't a bad idea in most areas! Just make sure to be aware of your surroundings and don't fall for scams (more on that later...)



THINGS TO DO 


In General- Eat and Drink


What's that? You're trying to watch your carbs and you're not a big drinker? That's going to be a little bit hard here, haha.

Remember what I said about the deep roots of suffering in this city, and how people are just trying to live for the day? That’s manifested in a culture that's REALLY big on eating and drinking. They're basically the unofficial hobbies of New Orleans. And even if you don't mean to, it’s easy to find yourself in bar after bar ordering hurricanes and Sazeracs.

(My bar and restaurant recommendations are located below, keep reading!)


Bourbon Street


No matter what you do, by the end of the night, you'll be drinking on Bourbon Street. That's just the way it is! As the center of NOLA nightlife, you'll find bars, bars, and more bars on this legendary party strip... with a few restaurants and live music spots mixed in for good measure 😉 You're allowed to bring your drinks into the street, so you'll notice everyone bouncing from bar to bar, plastic cups in hand.

Matt and I were pleasantly surprised by the area. We hopped off the trolley and expected to find a Disney-fied / Times Square type of experience waiting for us. (We come from the land of endless new-build condos and Chase Banks on every corner, where corporations get their hands on everything popular eventually.) But that's not the case here at all!

Although this part of town obviously caters to tourists and charges tourist prices, most of the establishments are thriving local businesses in their original buildings oozing with that special N'awlins charm. Thank god!


Frenchmen Street


Bourbon Street who? I don’t even know her. Say hello to Frenchmen Street, y'all.

You’ve probably never even heard of Frenchmen Street, but you need to! In a nutshell, New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and Frenchmen Street is the place to listen to it. If you love arts and culture at all, you need to get yourself to Frenchmen Street first chance you get.

Here, you will wander around and be seduced by world-class music coming out of every club. And you can see it live for the price of a drink (and some tips for the bands.) Stopping into a couple spots on Frenchmen for a nightcap or three is in my opinion, one of the finest ways to spend your nights in New Orleans. Better than all the liquor on Bourbon Street.

Only about a 15-20 minute walk from the French Quarter, you won't be sorry you ventured out!

Bourbon Street New Orleans
Bourbon Street New Orleans
Frenchman Street New Orleans



Cafe du Monde

When you bite into a beignet, the world stops turning for a second... or at least that's what it feels like!

A famous New Orleans breakfast food, these tasty little balls of fried dough coated generously with powdered sugar and served in a basked of three. They're pretty hearty to say the least, and my husband and I couldn't finish one order between us!

Cafe du Monde is an open-air cafe by the Mississippi River that is the most famous and touristy spot to get beignets. There are lines out the door, so be prepared for a wait. When you get in though, make sure to grab some delicious chicory coffee as well. They only serve beignets, so come here for dessert or a light snack. Also, it's cash only.


Cafe Beignet

Another great spot for the famous sugary treats. To be honest, I did prefer Cafe Beignet a little better than Cafe du Monde for several reasons.

First off, it's not nearly as crowded, it has a more Instagrammable facade and a cuter interior. Also, they take credit cards and serve food other than beignets (including breakfast all day!) So you can get a proper meal here, and then have your beignets for dessert.


Cafe Beignet New Orleans
Cafe Beignet New Orleans
Cafe Dumonde New Orleans


Get My Dress Here!!


Visit a Spiritual Shop


Voodoo and Hoodoo are a huge part of New Orleans culture and a big reason why many people are interested in coming to visit. And yeah- it's fun to just walk around reveling in the spooky witch vibe and leave it at that. But I think it’s a great idea to educate yourself, and realize there's much more to it than what you've seen on American Horror Story.

For instance, a lot of people have a generally negative opinion of Voodoo. The feeling is that it's "dark magic" that enables practitioners to harm people through dolls, rituals, spellbinding, etc. But the origin of Voodoo is actually earth-based. They believe in the healing abilities of herbs and in the metaphysical magic of our world, similar to Wicca or Paganism. Also, it's a religion that was mainly practiced by slaves from Africa... so you can connect the dots why white Christian slave owners in the south would discourage the practice and label it "evil."

I visited Crescent City Conjure, a spiritual shop in Marigny. And while it seems like a shop that mostly caters to non-tourists with a bit more advanced knowledge, the man working there was super patient answering my questions. He told me all about the different kinds of oils, candles, and herbs they use for their work.

I came out with the impression that this is a spirituality that’s about self-empowerment and getting what you want in life. And I can definitely get behind that! And I left with an oil that is intended for use in positive changes and opening doors. Can't wait to use it!

Crescent City Conjure Oils


Go on a Ghost Tour


I feel that it’s true New Orleans does have a lingering air of darkness to it. There's so much history of violence, sickness, and natural disasters that seems to have left a spiritual imprint on the city. A lot of people find this intriguing, so a great idea is to go on a ghost tour!

I admit, I thought this activity was a tourist trap. It totally is, but I still found the things I learned to be interesting. We did a tour with Haunted History, and can definitely recommend them. The focus is on the history and folklore, and our tour guide took us to haunted spots and told us creepy stories about what happened there.

While dramatized, all of the things he talked about were true stories of people who died in macabre ways and the ghosts that supposedly haunt the city as a result. (If you don’t want to sleep tonight, Google Zach Bowen and Addie Hall or the Carter Brothers of New Orleans.)

The 5-in-1 tour ($25) included stories about ghosts, witches, vampires, and voodoo. I was definitely spooked afterwards!


Get a Palm Reading in Jackson Square


Jackson Square is dripping in historical significance. It was the site where the Louisiana Purchase was made, and has been declared a National Historical Landmark. Centrally located in the French Quarter, right next to St. Louis Cathedral, it's quite a popular spot. Such a great place to observe local artists selling colorful paintings.

Additionally, you'll see palm readers lined up in Jackson Square, ready to tell you your fortune. I didn’t actually end up doing this, but I wanted to! Next time for sure. For those interested in the spooky side of New Orleans, this is definitely a must. Palm readings start around $35 for 15 minutes.

Jackson Square New Orleans
Jackson Square ghosts

I took this photo at Jackson Square at night... check out that purple lens flare. Ghosts??? 😱👻👻


St. Louis Cemetary No. 1

More spooky goodness to be had here! Home of the famous gravesite of Marie Laveau's, tourists come from all over to see it. This cemetery really is a unique experience because the graves are all located above ground. Being a city that's very intent on honoring its ancestors (and that is a big part of Voodoo as well) this makes sense.

My husband and I were not aware that you need a guide to even enter this cemetery. So just know that it costs at least $20 to get in.


Visit a Spooky Museum in the French Quarter

Had enough creepy New Orleans lore yet? No? Me either! That's why you might also want to visit one of the many spooky, creepy museums the city has to offer.

The French Quarter is ground zero for this, as befitting of its haunted reputation. There's the Pharmacy Museum, where the owner reportedly did experiments on pregnant slaves. The Museum of Voodoo, where you can learn about the traditions and mysteries of Voodoo. The Museum of Death, for those interested in the macabre (trigger warning- in one room, they show graphic videos of people dying that some find to be in poor taste.)

Take your pick and prepare for a spine-chilling adventure!

Visit a Plantation


Those beautiful, grand Southern plantations are a sight to behold, aren't they? That's why it's a great idea to spend part of your time in New Orleans touring one.

I got several recommendations for Whitney Plantation because it does a great job of educating about ALL of the history- including slaves and how the plantations were actually run. Most other plantations gloss over that part, but not Whitney Plantation.


Do a Photoshoot


So I take a lot of photos for my Instagram and blog. And usually, I just have my wonderful Instagram Husband help me. This time though, I decided to take the pressure off him and hire a photographer to capture the shots I needed. It was a great experience!

I got a tip from a friend that if you use Airbnb experiences, you can find photographers at a really reasonable price. You might have to go in a group, but it's still worth it to get professional photos of your experience!

I found my photographer through this listing. She spoke only Russian, but we communicated through a phone app. Even though we had to reschedule once due to a rainstorm, it turned out great!

New Orleans photoshoot


WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK


I'll be honest- you can't really go wrong at most restaurants in NOLA. Being such a foodie city, there are great places at every turn. There are so many restaurants in the French Quarter alone, it's almost impossible to recommend just one. And almost any place is guaranteed to be good. Here were a few of our favorite's from the trip!


FRENCH QUARTER

Gumbo Shop- I tried Jambalaya here for the first time. I wasn't sure I would like it, but the flavors really blew me away. I finished my whole plate, along with a Sazerac for good measure.

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar- This building is one of the oldest surviving historic structures in New Orleans. Reportedly haunted, it's located just down the street of the main Bourbon Street madness, but it's worth those extra few steps. Order the Hurricane!

Sylivian- This was a sleeper hit for us! We randomly chose it from the Open Table app and I'm so glad we did. Wonderful ambiance and wonderful food. When you walked in, it felt like you were walking into a vampire den. Playing sultry indie music, and the place was filled out with lots of fashionable people of all ages.

Antoine's- The oldest restaurant in New Orleans! They have a $20, 3-course lunch special that is just amazing.

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar
Gumbo Shop Jambalaya



GARDEN DISTRICT

Jack Rose- Located in the Pontchartrain Hotel, this restaurant is decked out with unique New Orleans art. Our food and drinks were definitely on point, and we got a hummingbird cake for dessert, which was served in two little flower pots.

Bonus- Sneak up to the rooftop bar for a view of New Orleans and the Mississippi River, the go downstairs to Bayou Bar for some live jazz.

Commander's Palace- We regrettably didn't get to go here, since we didn't realize how strict the dress code was- men require jackets and slacks. However, I would've loved to go for their 25 cent martinis during lunch (yes, really) and jazz breakfasts are legendary. Make sure you pack appropriate clothes if you're planning on eating here!


BYWATER

Country Club- It might be a little out of the way for some people, but the trip is worth it! (we took a Lyft there.) It's located in a beautifully restored building with gorgeous high ceilings, and done over with leafy wallpaper. Order the crab coconut soup 👌  Secret tip- there's also a pool here in the back!

Jack Rose New Orleans
Country Club New Orleans
Country Club New Orleans


Bonus Tip-

Common Scam- "Where'd You Get Those Shoes?"

As New Yorkers, we've learned to be savvy about scams and people approaching us on the street. However, we let our guard down a little bit unfortunately and almost got ripped off.

During our visit, we noticed several people commenting on my husband's shoes. Always the same line- "Nice shoes! Where'd you get those shoes?!" We took it as a compliment and didn't think much of it.

One night while heading into a restaurant, a man walking by made the comment again and we paused to say thank you. He immediately got very chatty, introducing himself, and kept moving in closer. Then inexplicably, he leaned down and squirted shoe oil on my husband's sneakers!! 🤦‍♀️ We booked right into the restaurant without another word.

Evidently, they will do this to tourists to "clean their shoes" then demand money for the service. We were a little embarrassed, as we should've known better. But at least he didn't do the full scam on us.


French Quarter New Orleans
French Quarter New Orleans



Get my dress here!!

Thanks for reading my post, and I hope I provided you with some good info! When's your next trip to New Orleans?





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