Visit New Orleans: Celebrating 300 years of History, Art, and Music

Happy Tricentennial Birthday New Orleans!

My first visit to New Orleans was Mardi Gras (1999) and I have returned a few more times for Thanksgiving and festivals. Every visit is a great time filled with fun, food, history, and entertainment.

2018 marks the tricentennial birthday for New Orleans and I could not pass up the opportunity to celebrate the big 3-0-0!

First-time visitors typically stick to the top 5 activities, which are a very good place to start, and revisit anytime in New Orleans.Swamp Tour

Take a guided tour through the swamp in the (semi) comfort of a simple metal boat. A great nature experience, unique perspective on the area, and there are alligators!

New Orleans Alligator spotted on a Swamp Tour
Alligator spotted on a Swamp Tour. Special thanks to Brandi for capturing this handsome guy.

Cemetery Tour

While some cemeteries can be seen during the swamp tour, there is nothing quite like walking around the above-ground crypts.

Close-up view of Cemetery One in New Orleans
Close-up view of Cemetery One in New Orleans, photo courtesy of Brandi

The water levels are so high, even a shallow grave would results in floating caskets, so cemeteries are constructed above ground in elaborate stone structures.

New Orleans Aquarium

Located on the Mississippi River, the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas featured some of my favorite sea creatures! An impressive variety of fish, sea otters, stingrays, jellyfish, sea turtles, and more. The aquarium boasts tons of great activities and fun for the entire family.

Fish at New Orleans Aquarium
New Orleans Audubon Aquarium, photo courtesy of Jason

Known for animal rescue and rehabilitation efforts, the Audubon Aquarium is a leader in research and conservation of animals. The Great Maya Reef exhibit is a clear tunnel where guests can view a range of sea creatures swimming above and around. Reservations are even available to scuba or snorkel in the tank!

Cajun Food

Gumbo, jambalaya, po boys, crab cakes, and dirty rice to name a few of the Cajun cuisine delights found in New Orleans. Do not take my word for how mouthwatering delicious these dishes are, go get some for yourself!

Bourbon Street (French Quarter)

I could devote an entire book on Bourbon street with all of the parades, festivals, and live music to enjoy. Parades occur at any moment, there is always a festival or clebration, and the entire French Quarter is filled with music.

Musicians setting up for a live street performance
Musicians setting up for a live street performance

My favorite activity in the French Quarter is trying to locate the prettiest building. Every turn reveals another darling street lamp, elaborate iron balcony, tiled street signs, exposed red brick walls, and Jazz themed décor.

New Orleans balcony architecture
My favorite balcony for 2018

There is always a festival or celebration in New Orleans! Mardi Gras is a week-long celebration of parades, music, and fun. The rest of the year is filled with Jazz Festivals, Bayou Boogaloo, King Cake Festival, Crawfish Mambo, and many, many more events. I have never visited New Orleans when there wasn’t some event going on!

In honor of New Orleans historic 300th birthday, this visit was devoted to getting off the beaten path and discovering some hidden gems around town.

Art

Take in a one of a kind Art Exhibition at M.S. Rau Antiques on Royal Street. Founded in 1912, this art & antiques store boats 25,000 square feet of incredible treasures. Up the stairs on the left is The Royal Gallery themed exhibit. Several times a year, the art house creates a unique collection for art lovers to view a curated collection. The collection is open to the public and free of charge. Each piece is available for sale and stays in the collection until the end of the exhibit.Royal Gallery Exhibit in M S Rau Antiques, New Orleans

This is New Orleans after all, so the current collection is Vice and Virtue: An Exhibition of Sex, Saints, and Sin. Each room is masterfully positioned providing a history lesson as part of the entertainment. The staff was friendly and knowledgeable guiding me through some very impressive works of art.

Royal Gallery Exhibit in M S Rau Antiques, New Orleans
Royal Gallery Exhibit in M S Rau Antiques

Voodoo

Voodoo tours and history should be on every first-timers itinerary in New Orleans. Start with the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum in the French quarter, learn the history behind the Voodoo culture and Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. Then most people end their Voodoo journey with a visit her reported burial site during the cemetery tour.

Cemetery One in New Orleans
Cemetery One in New Orleans, photo courtesy of the amazing Brandi

For a unique experience, finish your Voodoo quest with a themed massage. After all that walking and swamp tours, there is nothing better than a spa day.

Voodoo Love Massage Ritz Carlton, New Orleans
Voodoo Love Massage, photo courtesy of Erin from Enlightened Spa Review

My Dear friend Erin from Enlightened Spa Review shares her entire experience and review of the Voodoo theme massage treatment.

Wrestlemania

While I do love live performance, I left this one up to my friends. They had a fantastic day enjoying the pre-show entertainment and a full afternoon of wrestling. Wrestlemania is a must experience event for WWE fans!

WrestleMania for New Orleans 300th Birthday
WrestleMania for New Orleans 300th Birthday, photo courtesy of Jason

Coffee

Coffee is serious business in New Orleans. And while most visitors stop by Café du Monde for beignets (Louisiana style doughnuts) and coffee, my friends had something special in mind for me this visit.

Nawlins Cigar Coffee Shop in the French Quarter
Nawlins Cigar & Coffee Shop in the French Quarter

We veered off the beaten path once again over to St Ann street to a tiny little shop, filled with locals, away from the crowds. Inside Nawlin’s Cigar & Coffee shop I was greeted by a refreshing cup of cold brew coffee from my beloved Puerto Rico!

 

I know that I only scratched the surface of the road less traveled activities in New Orleans. What hidden gem should I add to my next visit?

Visit New Orleans_ Celebrating 300 years of history Happy Birthday New Orleans

8 thoughts on “Visit New Orleans: Celebrating 300 years of History, Art, and Music”

  1. This was quite informative. Happy 300th to New Orleans. In the regular itinerary, I would love to go for the swamp tour and the Bourbon street would be my favorite. I also have a fascination for architecture and I would love to spot unique buildings. In addition, I am always up for art, museum visits and more.

  2. It might be bizarre to have a cemetery tour, but I will dig it when done during day time 🙂
    The structures are interesting with various symbols. And of course a day at the aquamuseum would be a delight 🙂

  3. I’m sold out on the themed massage, it sounds very unique. The French Quarters in New Orleans are a real beauty, would be fun exploring the streets. I have heard and read so much about New Orleans, it is definitely a must visit historic city.

  4. A trip to New Orleans is so cool with different activities. I would definite try Cajun dishes when I get there. Also, a day trip to the Aquarium will be fascinating. I would love to visit Voodoo museum as well.

  5. I visited New Orleans once but only briefly and very long ago so this is a handy guide to what I should make sure and see when I revisit. I know I want to explore the French Quarter in more detail but would also like to learn more about Voodoo traditions and Cajun food.

  6. That looks so cool, New Orleans always fascinated me. Unfortunately I haven’t seen it with my own eyes when I visited the US. So many interesting places that you saw in such a short time. The Voodoo Museum sounds amazing, this would be something I would definitely like to see, And I must admit that I probaobly would also visit the Wrestlemania show, since i was a huge fan as a child but never saw them live.

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