USA Travel

New Orleans – NOLA | Discovering Louisiana

New Orleans, or simply NOLA, is a city like no other in the United States. It has a culture unique to the area- combined with its architecture, cuisine, music, and a bit of Voodoo magic, it is intriguing in every way possible. When I had visited it was during the summer months, it was raining on most days, but that did not halt my unforgettable memories in this city.

Rainy day in NOLA

I was on a road trip to Florida from Las Vegas, and stopped off in New Orleans for several days. It was my first time in this fascinating city, and it was everything that I hoped it would be. I took in the sights with my young adult daughter, while we stayed in the historic French Quarter.

As a duo, we walked the streets of NOLA, and took a trolley to the old Garden District neighborhood to visit the Lafayette Cemetery No 1. I even had my tea leaves read which I have never done before, and it was a spot on reading.

Hello from Café Du Monde

Since we also have a passion for food and music, we dined at some of the city’s popular eateries, ate a variety regional dishes, and had a lively night at the historic Preservation Hall. There is much to do in this fascinating, and historical city besides its annual Mardi Gras.

For those who love architecture, history, culture, food, and are looking to visit NOLA- please read on. I have listed several interesting things to consider while exploring New Orleans.

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The Architecture

If there is one thing that stands out, and is most recognizable about NOLA is its architectural style. The buildings are an inspiring reflection of its history, heritage, and multi-cultures. The city has an eclectic style of Creole cottages, St. Charles Ave historic mansions, and the picturesque French Quarter balconies. NOLA has excellent examples of many architectural styles from a twist on baroque to its modern skyscrapers.

Walking through the city streets of the historic French Quarter or the various neighborhoods, including the Garden District will give you the feel of New Orleans. My advice is to wear comfortable walking shoes, and stay present in the moment, which will allow you to see the city’s fine architectural details and styles.

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Voodoo Culture

Understanding New Orleans Voodoo culture may not be on everybody’s list, due to their own religious and spiritual beliefs, but it is an integral part of this city’s culture. There are different ways to explore this culture if you are interested; there are Voodoo tours, shops, and intuitive readers. There are also spiritual stores, not voodoo specific, that sell crystals if that is what interests you. When we visited, I took my daughter crystal shopping and I also received a tea leaf reading. So you can take your spiritual interests to any level in this city.

Rev. Zombies Voodoo Shop

The New Orleans Voodoo and spiritual culture is deeply intertwined in the city’s history, and had originally come into Louisiana with the enslaved West Africans. They combined their practices and rituals with the local religion of Catholicism, which has become Voodoo-Catholicism, and is unique to the region.

Crystal Shopping

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Preservation Hall

A night at Preservation Hall was one of our most impressive memories in NOLA. Located on the vibrant Saint Peter street, this music venue has been a legendary place when it comes to traditional New Orleans jazz. We were fortunate enough to get front row seating on the floor cushions of the venue, which made the experience even better. We could see the musicians up close, and could feel that New Orleans jazz vibrating from the floor.

Preservation Hall can be dated back to the 1950s, when it was an art gallery with Associated Artists. Larry Borenstein, the art dealer who managed the gallery, and soon to become Preservation Hall, invited jazz musicians to play for tips. As time went on, the local musicians drew more attention than the art. It was then in May 1961, Borenstein decided to turn over the management to Barbara Reid and Ken Grayson Mills, who turned the art gallery into a music venue, named “Preservation Hall”.

Preservation Hall sign

Today, Preservation Hall in the French Quarter presents in an intimate setting, acoustic New Orleans jazz concerts that feature ensembles from a current collective of 50+ local master practitioners. This legendary music venue is extraordinary, and bears witness to the evolution of the living tradition of NOLA jazz.

For ticketing and information, please visit – Preservation Hall

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Haunted New Orleans

New Orleans is known as the most haunted city in the United States, and there is no doubt that the city has its share of spirits that go bump in the night. Even the hotel we stayed at in the French Quarter had ghosts in the room, which did not bother me because I am used to it being an intuitive and holistic healer.

Haunted condo for sale

New Orleans is a mystical place due to the cultural practices from Wiccans, Voodoo Queens, professed vampires, and its psychic explorations. Also, there have been many gruesome tales in NOLA from murdered slaves, pirates, local crime victims, as well as those who died with yellow fever. The city just resonates with it all, so there is no wonder why with the combination of both the mysticism and those who passed on, the spirts remain and cannot rest.

If you are interest in a New Orleans ghost tour, there are several that will lead you through the streets with tales of the spirits who still dwell in the city.

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Jackson Square

Jackson Square is a famous historic landmark that faces the Mississippi River, in the heart of New Orleans French Quarter. It is surrounded by attractive buildings with history, including the St. Louis Cathedral. On two sides of the square are matching block long, red brick buildings that were built in the 1840s. Here you can find shops and restaurants on the ground floors, and along the upper floors are the oldest continuously rented apartments in North America.

Jackson Square was originally “Place d’Armes” during the 18th century. It was renamed in honor of Andrew Jackson, a hero of the Battle of New Orleans. There are also timeless fountains with birds bathing (my favorite), as well as trees decorated with colorful Mardi Gras beads.

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Café Du Monde

How can you not visit NOLA and not experience their famous beignets with a hot café au lait from Café Du Monde? The name is French and interprets to “Café of the World” or “the People’s Café”, which truly represents this historic establishment. It is one of the city’s best landmarks, and is a tourist destination with visitors coming in to enjoy this delicious duo from around the world.

Café Du Monde is an open-air café located in the French Quarter on the famous Decatur Street. It was established in 1862 and have been serving its coffee with chicory, and their fresh beignets with powdered sugar for decades. Make sure not to wear black when eating a beignet, something that I did and will never do again!

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New Orleans Streetcars

Although I did drive into NOLA, I left my car parked at the hotel throughout my visit. Walking the streets was the best way to see the city, as well as taking advantage of the historic streetcars.

The streetcars of New Orleans have played an important roll in the city’s public transportation system, since the first half of the 19th century. The St. Charles Avenue line is the longest of the city’s street car lines, and is the oldest continuous operating street railway system in the world.

There are five current operating streetcar lines in the city: The St. Charles Avenue Line, the Riverfront Line, the Canal Street Line (which has two branches), and the Loyola Avenue Line and Rampart/St. Claude Line.

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Lafayette Cemetery No 1

Another interest of mine are cemeteries, and have written several blogs about ones that I have visited. How people are remembered once they pass is an integral part of our human culture, and that has always intrigued me. Visiting a cemetery in New Orleans was fascinating due to their above the ground burial system, family tombs, and mausoleums, as well as its layout.

Lafayette Cemetery located in the upscale Garden District neighborhood is one of New Orleans popular cemeteries. It was the city’s first planned cemetery, which was founded in 1833 and is still in use today. It is famous for its architectural styles of multi-family mausoleums and tombs, as well as its layout that allows for funeral processions.

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Garden District Neighborhood

A walk through the Garden District of New Orleans will give you another perspective of this city’s architecture and history. The neighborhood was developed between 1832 and 1900, with mansions of the city’s elite who did not want to live in the French Quarter with the Creole population.

The Garden District is one of the best preserved conglomeration of old historic mansions in the South. Many of the 19th century mansions are surrounded by Victorian period houses that are “gingerbread” decorated, which makes this neighborhood well known for its architecture.

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Antiquing

If I came into NOLA with a U-Haul, I would have left a very happy woman. New Orleans has a rich and abundant collection of beautiful antiques for sale throughout the city. We dipped in and out of the shops to see the old treasures, that displayed the past wealth of the New Orleans’ elite.

There is an abundance since NOLA is rich with history, and you can go antiquing for weeks. The stores are filled with everything from ornate English and French furniture from the 19th century, estate jewelry, sliver service sets, antique glass Mardi Gras beads, skeleton keys, delicate china, and so much more.

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Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House

Located on the famous Bourbon Street, the Old Absinthe House is an iconic drinking establishment of New Orleans. The history dates back to the early 1800s, when the ground floor of the white embellished building was converted from a grocery store into an alcohol enriched Euro-style coffee house. From then on, the Old Absinthe House remained even through the prohibition era, but obviously not as a bar.

Cocktails at Jean Lafitte’s Old Absinthe House

Today the bar is legendary from the intense absinthe drinks to its eclectic interior. The building itself is original with the same elements of its dynamic past- the old walls that could tell stories of generals and pirates, the aged wooden fixtures, and its glorious absinthe fountains.

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New Orleans Cuisine

The cuisine of this city is a unique blend of Creole, Cajun, Soul Food and seafood; and no other city does it better than New Orleans. I am a fan of all four, and found the restaurant scene here inspiring and sumptuous. The cultural style of the dishes are the most distinctively recognized regional cuisine in the country.

While in NOLA, we indulged on regional dishes such as po’boy sandwiches, bananas foster, gumbo, Doberge Cake, seafood, and so much more. Over the decades I have tried restaurants outside of the South who serve this type of cuisine, and it is not the same. I say it is the lively atmosphere, the local ingredients, the water, the air, and the spirit of NOLA that makes the difference. If you come to New Orleans, then I suggest eat all you can because this is the best city for this style of cuisine!

For my food blog with reviews and recommendations – What I ate in LOUISIANA – A Food Journal

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Photo Gallery

A night at Preservation Hall
Creole Cuisine
A rainy summer day
French Quarter Balcony
French Quarter Lighting
Happy Hour
The French Quarter
Horse Posts in the French Quarter
Street Clown…
Iron Gate

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There are a lot of places I like, but I like New Orleans better…

– Bob Dyland
Yours Truly in New Orleans

🌎 Thank you for visiting my website and NEVER STOP EXPLORING!

📸 All photos are taken by me and are my intellectual property – Trixie

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