When people think of stunning cities in the United States, usually the first place that comes to mind is New York. Perhaps it’s my tendency to be different, but the Big Apple is actually not on the top of my personal list. I reserve those top rankings for Boston, New Orleans and Columbus, Ohio (at least for now). New Orleans has won a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to tell to you why!
What is New Orleans Known For?
Two spring break trips during my college years took me to this lively city, as I participated in missions trips geared toward Hurricane Katrina relief. Our purpose was helping to rebuild homes of hurricane victims- making my visits all the more rewarding. Though I didn’t have a full on-tourist experience, I saw enough of NOLA to be smitten! Among the things that New Orleans is best known for are: Mardi Gras, Creole food, its resilient recovery from Hurricane Katrina and Jazz Music. The city was once owned by French colonists which explains the strong French influence. It was later owned by the Spanish, until it was sold to the United States. New Orleans has been dubbed “the most unique city” in the USA, owing largely to its multicultural background.
Why New Orleans is (one of) The Best:
- The Architecture- at this time in my life, I hadn’t yet been to Europe, but for some reason, strolling around New Orleans made me feel like I landed in Paris or something! I think it all started at Jackson Square where I spotted the St. Louis Cathedral- a stunning white building that instantly reminded me of a Disney Castle! The moment I glimpsed it, I knew a love affair had begun!
The streets of New Orleans are narrow and much like Europe, aren’t short on louvre windows and balconies teeming with the cutest flower pots. Avenues overflow with an abundance of intriguing shops, restaurants and activities.
- The Music- New Orleans is perhaps best known as the birthplace of jazz music and oh, it’s still very much alive there! How thrilling it is to walk the streets and encounter a live band treating your ears to rhythms that will make you want to jive! Prepare for these dynamic free experiences (of course, it’s polite to tip at your discretion). If you love what you hear, then you may want to commit to visiting a local Jazz Bar with paid entry, like we did! It’s an absolute NOLA thing to do!
- The Food- you must have known this was coming! But ya’ll, this here place gave me some of the best grub I have ever had! The flavours are so vibrant and memorable! Here’s a list of things you need to try: Jambalaya (it’s a delicious well seasoned one-pot rice meal that’s pure awesomeness), Po-boys, Baked Beans, Collard Greens & Corn Bread, Banana Pudding with Vanilla wafers! I didn’t get to try it personally, but Gumbo and Beignets are also must-tries. If you’re more adventurous, go for alligator or turtle soup! Cajun sausage and seafood are also signatures of the city.
- The French Quarter- as the historical centre of NOLA, this region is full of history and life; Bourbon Street is where it’s at! In this area, stop by stores and try on Mardi Gras costumes (I’m not sure how much other people do this, but as curious college kids with very little money, we had lots of fun playing around for free). If your budget is more refined, you will be pleased with the array of restaurants, art galleries, museums and bars available. Also feel free to hop on a buggy ride!
- The Vibe- this was perhaps my favourite thing! New Orleans has a unique charm. It’s won the name “The Big Easy” for a reason: its fun, laid-back atmosphere. Of all the places I’ve been to in the USA, the locals seemed relaxed, genuinely happy and were very welcoming (and remember, this was while still recovering from the grief of Hurricane Katrina!) Not surprisingly, the motto of New Orleans is “Let the Good Times Roll!”. As a true reflection of this, locals exude a spirit of hospitality and a readiness to share their vibrant culture which they seem to hold in high esteem, and with very good reason!
New Orleans definitely left a great impression on me and I hope it will prove to be just as memorable for you!