How to Visit New Orleans for the First Time

I’ve never been to New Orleans before and Teryn has only been there once before, but it was for a work event and she didn’t get to experience it the way she wished she would have and this time we decided that we wanted the full experience of everything that New Orleans had to offer and so we set off to do just that.

It all started when we were still bartending in Cape Cod this past summer when Teryn asked me if I wanted to go to the Voodoo music festival? “Voodoo music festival, isn’t that in New Orleans?” I asked. She responded, “yeah and it’s the weekend before Halloween” “Halloween in New Orleans?!?” “YES, SIGN US UP!” I shouted back.

Our time in Cape Cod was ending and long story short we dropped off my car in Asheville, North Carolina and we rented a car and made the drive down to New Orleans. ( More on why Asheville for a later blog post.)  Teryn being the expert Airbnb finder, found us one hell of an Airbnb to rent that was perfect for us and two of our friends that were gonna join us for Halloween. What really put the bow tie on, the cherry on top to end our Halloween week was the fact that we came across a hostel that worked perfect for our budget and just so happens to be a known haunted location.

St. Vincent’s guest house, but before being a guest house it was known at St. Vincent’s Orphan Asylum. The asylum was built in 1861 and was home to many orphans, during this time many children fell ill to yellow fever as it ran rampant through New Orleans. It is said that many of the children still roam the halls and rooms of this place and has been investigated by a few different paranormal investigators, even as we were leaving there was a crew setting up on our floor to film for the following night!

All of the food in New Orleans is amazing and delicious and there is always new places popping up and the old places that have been written about time and time again. Trust me, you can’t go wrong here. You have to have a Beignet, you need to try some Boudin, Jambalaya, and gumbo. Scroll down to the bottom of the post to get my top recommendations!

We really wanted to get some brunch, because well brunch is the best meal of the day. Café Fleur de Lis is by far one of the most popular places in the French Quarter and is rated one of the top 5 places for shrimp & grits. You’ll want to give plenty of time to be able to grab a seat for this as this place fills up pretty fast. We simply put our name on the list and they texted us when our table was ready, so while we were waiting we found a coffee shop down the street called French Truck. I do enjoy a good coffee and if you do too, then I suggest grabbing some coffee from this place you won’t regret it.

One place that I highly recommend for a ton of bbq for that day that you are super hungover and you are just straight ravenous, treat yourself to Voodoo BBQ you’ll thank me later

New Orleans is pretty popular for their ghost tours, french quarter city tours, cemetery tours, vampire tours and outside of the city you can go on the swamp tours, plantation tours and there are probably a million more tours that I probably don’t know about. So depending on what you are you going for, I’d pick out a few and just go!

The Voodoo music festival was insane, it’s basically like every other big music festival with all of the big name artists, but everyone and I mean everyone is dressed up to celebrate Halloween week. They had an area on the festival grounds that had a haunted house complete with zombie actors to scare the crap out of you if you weren’t paying attention.

For 3 days the line up included Kendrick Lamar, Foo Fighters, The Killers and along with those guys, Post Malone, Cold war kids, RL Grime, Kflay were all there as well plus a 100 or so more bands. I’m already stoked to go back again this year.

Voodoo Music Festival

Just a voodoo priest and his priestess

They say if you go to New Orleans, you have to check out Bourbon Street, well that might be fine and all but when we were there Bourbon street was completely torn up from the floor up, meaning that the street was basically gone. I believe they are trying to reconstruct the drainage sewer system and just basically repairing the entire street. You can still go to all of the bars on the street, but it’s kinda difficult to walk down the narrow sidewalks with all of the construction barricades, fences, and plastic walls. Besides, it’s much of the same thing, with a bunch of trashy bars full of super drunk tourists that only know about Bourbon street.

Don’t get me wrong we had a few drinks on the streets of New Orleans, but we at least ventured off Bourbon street and found different parts of the city to go exploring instead.

The entire time we were there, I kept asking locals where the best spot to go for Halloween was and 9 out of 10 times, they said, “go to Frenchmen street. Frenchmen Street is what Bourbon Street used to be.” Complete with jazz bands playing in every other bar or restaurant and with New Orleans being the birthplace of Jazz, you can’t leave here without catching some live music. Don’t want to catch a show in bigger clubs, no worries there is always an amazing up and coming jazz band right down the street that is playing for tips.

We hung out on Frenchmen street for most of the night of Halloween and at one point there was a jazz band playing in the middle of the street and in minutes the entire street was packed full of people making it impossible for cars to get by. Some unlucky motorists were trapped for quite some time.

Protip* Don’t try to drive on Frenchmen street especially on Halloween* get yourself an uber and call it good.

Side note*  It is safe to say that the nicest uber drivers that we’ve ever encountered were every single uber we used there.

2005 is the year that America witnessed one of the deadliest storms and we saw what happens when we’re not prepared for mother nature. Hurricane Katrina completely destroyed lives, homes, businesses and just basically annihilated everything in its path. While we were driving around New Orleans, you can clearly see the differences between the neighborhoods and see which neighborhoods could afford to rebuild versus the ones that couldn’t and are still boarded up and vacant. When we were talking to one of our uber drivers he told us that he was from New Orleans, but just recently moved back. When Katrina hit, he told us how he had lost everything to include his home and he moved to Alabama and lived there, but he knew that New Orleans was his true home and decided to move back and is now finally back on his feet and buying a home. He told us that there are still families that are only now receiving their insurance payouts and that even though it has been 13 years since the storm there is still a struggle to get New Orleans back to where it once was.

it’s easy to think about when we were in Thailand on the same beach that experienced the 2004 tsunami that killed thousands and destroyed 14 countries and how many of those areas are still rebuilding, but for America, you tend to think that “oh, we’re number one, we’ll take care of it and we will bounce back” but the fact is that is that we failed in how our government handled the entire disaster and there is still a lot of familes that are still figuring out how to survive and trying to get back on their feet again.

 

Pennywise came to Frenchmen street looking for Georgie.

When I think of New Orleans this is what comes to mind: cemeteries, ghost tours, swamps with gators, plantations, voodoo, culture melting pot, Katrina, Mardi gras. What do you think of when you think of New Orleans?

One of the cemeteries that we visited for the day.

They are all carefully crafted to stand the test of time. Some, of course, do better than others, but you can’t help to admire the craftsmanship of these tombs.

St. Louis Cemetery #1 is one of the most famous on the cemeteries here with most of the vaults constructed above ground due to New Orleans sitting about 15 to 18 feet below sea level. If you were to bury a casket in the ground it just becomes soggy and will eventually float back to the surface. Few of the cemeteries are closed to the public with only access to tour groups, but there are a few that you may visit without a tour group.

These cities of the dead were first constructed in the 18th and 19th centuries and are the final resting places for many legendary figures of New Orleans. Nicolas Cage is also said to have a pyramid shaped tomb that he plans to be buried in here.

Look familiar? American Horror story’s Coven was filmed here. Aka. Buckner Mansion

KEEP READING ⇒ How to tour Ha Long Bay on a budget!

If you really want to dive deep into the history of New Orleans, then you’ll want to visit one of the many plantations of New Orleans. The one we choose to go to was the Oak Alley Plantation. It was a 35 to 45-minute drive outside of New Orleans, so you’ll probably want to rent a car for this one, but trust me it’s worth the visit.

You can purchase a tour ticket and hop on a bus in the city to take you out to the plantations, but those can get pretty pricey fast. Price of admission is $25 and that includes a tour of the house itself and the entire grounds with several exhibits to explore. The 300-year-old oak trees are truly a sight to witness and the fact that they say these magnificent trees are only middle aged is crazy to think, yeah that’s correct these trees can live another 300 years! ( that is if Earth doesn’t decide to go into a 2nd ice age in the next hundred or so years.)

As horrible of a time period this was in America’s history, it is indeed still apart of our history and should be talked about and acknowledged as so we don’t ever repeat it again.

 

Teryn taking a stroll down the 300 year old Oak Alley.

  

Much of the home has been recreated with items that from that time period.

 

The view from the balcony is worth the ticket!

 

These trees are 300 years old and are believed to live another 300 years!

Last stop on our trip was none other than an official swamp tour! *Protip check out the deals on Groupon before you just google swamp tour, we were able to save a boatload of cash by doing this.*

There are two types of tours you can do. 1: The regular boat ride through the swamp looking at all of the gators that surround you. 2: Airboat tour, you know the boat with the big ol’ fan on the back it. These things look cool and sure yeah you go like 80mph ripping through the swamp on a boat that is powered by a 500 hp Chevy hemi motor, but you’ll be paying an extra $50 or more for this and you’ll probably miss out on actually spotting a gator or any wildlife far as that goes.

During our swamp tour, our amazing true creole swamp guide told us a bit about his heritage and why it is they “talk differently.” Louisana was originally founded by the French in the early 18th century and many of the locals in the swamp and New Orleans still speak fluent French, but from I understand of the language as an outsider. They basically merge French, Spanish, English, African,and Native American roots and thus we get this unique Creole language that can only be heard in this area.

The first time I heard this dialect was Gambit from X-men. Can you remember the first time you heard someone speak in the Creole language?

We opted for option one that came complete with a true “I live on the bayou, my cousin Billy is on the tv show swamp people” tour guide!

Wanna go really fast and pay $$, hop on one of these.

 

My first time seeing Spanish moss trees!

 

Can you spot the gator?

 

Holy hell that is a big catfish! This guy apparently has been on Swamp people several times.

 

Teryn why are you making that face??

 

oooooh, that’s why! Baby gator! Naturally, she wanted to bring it home with us.

Where to eat & drink

What to do

 

We hope you enjoyed this post, let us know below in the comments if you have ever been to New Orleans or are you making plans to visit this year?

We are going back again as we can’t imagine anywhere else that could be better to visit for Halloween or at any time of the year!

 

None of these places paid us to recommend them, We are not being paid from anyone to talk about any of these places or activities. This is just a blog post that we wanted to share and tell you about how much we loved the great city of New Orleans! We are just keeping it real with you as always! 

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Global Giraffe is a travel blog that is focused on keeping it real. This isn't a fluffy rainbow magical travel blog, here you'll find real life situations, tips and advice for the every day person that wants to know more about places they've never been to. Global Giraffe is led by Dan and Teryn. After leaving Denver, Colorado, they decided to try to take on the world, one odd job at a time. They are currently residing in Phuket, Thailand. For more updates follow Global Giraffe on FacebookTwitter and Instagram

1 Comment

  1. Ilona

    I have never been to New Orleans, but I would love to go. Everything you described sounds amazing, from the plantation visit (which I would absolutely love to do) to the swamp tour and that hostel you stayed in. I love unusual accommodation and this one sounds very special.

    It is a pity that Bourbon Street is currently a giant construction site. But I think by the time I get to New Orleans, they will hopefully be done.

    Reply

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