I’ve been traveling to New Orleans at least once a year my entire life. Most people would be tired of a city after going there so many times, but I know I never will get bored with New Orleans.
No two visits to New Orleans are ever the same for me. I always see, do, or eat something new and it’s why I always get so excited to go. So why should you visit New Orleans? Here are some of my favorite reasons to inspire your next trip.
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10 Reasons Why You Should Visit New Orleans
1. The Culture
Visiting New Orleans is like stepping into another country. The people are happy, welcoming, and always ready to party! Heck, Mardi Gras is a statewide holiday; schools, banks, and most businesses are all closed in celebration. There are families that have been in this city for hundreds of years (present company included). Their ancestors have passed down many traditions, mostly stemming from France and Africa. You can hear the multicultural influence in the accents.
Not all those in New Orleans have Cajun or Creole accents, but if you hear one you’ll know it! You might get lucky and witness a second line, which is a parade usually in celebration of a marriage or death (in your death, your life is celebrated rather than mourned). You also see it in the food… oh the wonderful food…
2. The Food
Food is so important to New Orleans culture. The food shows history, soul, and love. Red beans and rice, gumbo, beignets, shoe soles, alligator, Muffulettas… I could go on. With hundreds of restaurants to choose from, attempting to figure out which ones are the most worthy of your visit can be overwhelming.
You don’t want to over plan, but you also don’t want to waste a meal in this delicious city. If you need some great recommendations for restaurants while you’re in New Orleans, check out this post on the 10 Best Things to Eat in New Orleans. I am always updating this list so make sure you save it to reference later!
3. The Libations
Food is a huge part of New Orleans culture, but so are the drinks! This city is known for having a good time, so if imbibing is something you’re interested in, make sure you try a few of the local favorites. Hurricane, Sazerac, daiquiri, hand grenade… an infinite number of concoctions to choose from! I’ll leave it up to you as to how many you try.
If you’re more of a beer drinker, try Abita or Lazy Magnolia (Lazy Magnolia is actually brewed in Mississippi, but I’m a little partial to it because their brewery is across the river from my mom!) If Bloody Mary’s are your thing, The Gazebo near the French Market makes a great one. For something less intoxicating, try a Café au Lait at Café Du Monde. They also make a frozen version if it’s a sweltering day (side note: avoid summer if at all possible).
4. The History
New Orleans history is extensive and fascinating. Founded in 1718, it has seen war, corruption, floods, hurricanes, and even the occasional pirate. It’s been under both French and Spanish rule which is evident when you look at the architecture and indulge in the local food.
If you enjoy history, you can’t miss the Louisiana State History Museum in the Cabildo right next to St. Louis Cathedral. Check out my What to do in New Orleans post for more information on this activity.
5. The People
The people of New Orleans as a whole are incredibly welcoming and always ready to party! You’ll meet some characters for sure. No really, street performers are everywhere in New Orleans. It’s a part of its charm, but make sure to give a tip if you plan on taking pictures. I’ve witnessed many people get yelled at or chased after for failing to adhere to this etiquette.
The city of New Orleans and its people are very accepting and welcoming to all. They embrace their diversity and celebrate it regularly. By celebrate I mean there is a parade for darn near everything. It’s amazing, refreshing, and so fun. So embrace the differences and keep an open mind while you’re there!
6. The Attractions
There’s so much to do in New Orleans, from the newly built WWII Museum to the Audubon Zoo/Aquarium/Insectarium. You’ll probably run out of time before you run out of things to do. That’s why this city is fantastic for all types of trips: family, friends, couples. There is truly something for everyone!
I wrote an entire post all about the best things you can do in New Orleans and you can read it here: 10 Best Things to do in New Orleans.
7. The Music
If I close my eyes and put myself in the Quarter I can hear the jazz music echoing through the streets. At any given moment throughout the day, there’s always someone playing music somewhere. Jazz, bluegrass, classical, lone sax, reggae; you could hear an entire concert in one day if you walk down enough streets and alleyways.
My favorite street to hear impressive music is Royal Street. They close off a portion of it during the day and performers come out to play their melodic music. You’ll hear some incredible musicians and these aren’t your run of the mill street performers. From college students to iconic locals who have been around for decades, give them a tip and stay for a while to give your ears a treat!
8. The Uniqueness
I mean come on, where else would you see a tree randomly covered with colorful beads? From quirky decor to random parades down the street, you never know what you’re going to see in New Orleans. I’ve been going there for 29 years and no 2 visits are ever the same.
On my 21st birthday, my friends and I were walking down Bourbon street when all of a sudden a random parade and dance party broke out. A group of people came out of nowhere with a very loud stereo system, fog machine, bubble machine, and crazy glittering costumes. It was wild, unexpected, and SO fun!
Again, you have to be open to the weirdness. Embrace it. Love it. Join it!
9. The Architecture
You can go to several big cities in the US and they all look the same. They might have one or two iconic buildings, but they don’t have a distinct look to them.
New Orleans has an old world, slightly European, and colorful delight to its structures that just makes me giddy when I’m walking down the 300-year-old streets. You won’t be able to resist whipping out your camera at every turn to capture the colorful facades and charmingly decorated balconies. In fact, you probably won’t be able to put it away!
10. The Landscape
New Orleans isn’t all balconies and booze; don’t forget, you’re basically underwater! On average, the elevation of the city is between 1 to 2 feet below sea level.
There are so many swamps and bayous to explore if you decide to venture out from the comfort of the Quarter. Check out my 10 Best Things to do in New Orleans post to learn more about adventures in Cajun country.
If you’ve been to New Orleans, I’d love to hear what you love about the city. If you haven’t been, let me know what you’re dying to see or do there!