With new direct flights to Europe and South America lining up on the tarmac, New Orleans is seeing a growing number of foreign visitors speaking a host of languages beyond English. And really that’s nothing new, since this city was settled by native tribes, French and Spanish governments and a non-stop stream of immigrants from around the globe. Tours offered in languages from French and Spanish to German, Italian and Japanese bring the city’s vivid history and culture to visitors from around the world.
New Orleans is magical 24 hours a day but the city comes alive after dark. Explore the boundaries of your circadian rhythms with tours that skip along neon-lit streets and bask in the glow of a starlit sky. Themed by nightlife, music and forays into the supernatural, evening tours set the stage for a night to remember. Try one of these to celebrate the waning hours of your Crescent City day.
Streetcars are a charming and convenient way to experience the many areas of New Orleans. Four distinct lines, each originating Downtown, will take you through the French Quarter and beyond to places you might not otherwise get to see.
New Orleans Cemeteries
Burying the dead in a place built below sea level was a problem that faced the earliest residents of the French settlement that became New Orleans. The solution agreed upon, to entomb the departed in elaborate marble chambers above ground, created one of the city’s most lingering attractions: cemeteries that are both historic and hauntingly beautiful. Wander the purported resting places of voodoo queen Marie Laveau, musician Al Hirt and Civil War general P.G.T. Beauregard, all residents of what is known in New Orleans as the Cities of the Dead. Many offer guided tours, others you can explore on your own.
Like the Creole aristocrats lining the galleries of the Historic New Orleans Collection, the French Quarter is a timeless portrait – especially come dusk when swallows glide above the fortunetellers on Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral’s butter-crème-colored walls reflect the fiery sunset. Ghost tours troop past mad Madame LaLaurie’s mansion while neon signs stutter to life on Bourbon Street where syrupy red Hurricanes, slosh in famed ‘go cups’– those plastic tumblers responsible for uncountable curbside parties. Night falls. Horse hooves clop, music throbs and gaslights flicker in a place full of long-told legends and those waiting to be born. Create one of your own.
Jazz, Opera and Everything in Between
Always, forever, the city’s music is its beating heart – especially true during Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest and other celebrations. The musical notes of jazz, brass, R&B, soul and many mixes fill the air along with night–blooming jasmine and other fabulous tropical fragrances. Walk down Frenchmen Street, the main artery of the Marigny neighborhood adjacent to the French Quarter and take in the vibrant blocks of cafes, music clubs and restaurants including Snug Harbor, d.b.a. and the Spotted Cat.
Major Sporting Events
New Orleanians are of a single mind when it comes to sports teams. They adore them. With teams like the Saints, the Pelicans, the Baby Cakes, and even the Tulane Green Wave, everyone has something to cheer about.
Fifty Free Things
It doesn’t take a lot of money to dive into the real New Orleans, a place with deep culture, proud neighborhoods, vibrant street music, and art, and a history unlike any other city in America. Here are 50 ways you can experience your own New Orleans without spending a penny.
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Audubon Nature Institute is a 501(c)3 not for profit that operates a family of ten museums and parks dedicated to nature. They serve visitors, the community and the world as an educational resource, an environmental guardian, a leader in economic development and a venue for family entertainment.
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium
Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street, encourages you to use all five senses as you explore North America’s largest museum devoted to insects and their relatives. You’ll discover why insects are the building blocks of all life on our planet and along the way, you’ll be shrunk to bug size; wander through a mysterious Louisiana swamp; join the active audience of an awards show for bugs, by bugs; and be captivated by thousands of butterflies in an Asian garden. Voted “A top museum for you and your kids” by CNN.com, 2009.
House of Blues New Orleans
House of Blues IS the ultimate night out. It’s where great food sets the stage for amazing live concerts. From VIP experiences with the world’s best artists to our world-famous Gospel Brunch on Sundays, House of Blues is truly where music and food feed the soul.