If you've got a day to spare in New Orleans on either side of your trek with us, you're in luck, as this is one of those cities that's jam-packed with interesting things to see and do. Whether you want a comprehensive itinerary of attractions or simply want to soak in this city's eclectic and charming atmosphere by getting lost in the French Quarter, there's no doubt that New Orleans is simply intoxicating.
The French Quarter
The oldest and most famous neighbourhood of the city, the French Quarter is New Orleans at its finest. Take in the exotic colonial architecture, smell the whiff of bourbon in the air, munch on tasty jambalaya or hear the echoes of saxophones playing from the walls of jazz lounges.
Your port of call will be Bourbon Street, filled with pulsating bars and restaurants specialising in all the local dishes, while Royal Street, as its name suggests, is a bit more upmarket with its galleries, antique stores and high-end shops. The Old French Market is also fantastic, having sold local produce for over 250 years. And if all of that sounds too active for you, just take a carriage ride around the quarter – they have been operating since the 1940s.
Also located in the French Quarter is this National Historic Landmark and idyllic spot to relax in the afternoon. Around the green space, you'll find the red-brick Pontalba Buildings dating back to the 1840s, the stunning St Louis Cathedral, and the Cabildo public museum. All year round, the square plays host to local musicians and formal concerts, so be sure to check what'll be on during your visit.
This vast green space is the sixth largest public park in the USA (even 50 per cent larger than New York's Central Park). You can either soak in the rays among what is the world's largest collection of oak trees, or you can walk around the lush Botanical Garden that is home to interesting exotic plants from all over the world. Other highlights here include the Carousel Gardens Amusement Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art.
Spanning 58 acres, this large zoo is great fun and is home to over 2,000 animals. Named after local artist John James Audubon, the zoo boasts gorillas and orangutans, with two rare white alligators with blue eyes being a major reason to come here. The Swamp Exhibit is always popular, featuring Black Bears, otters, alligators and raccoons, while the Reptile Encounter gets you up-close to Komodo Dragons, lizards, anacondas, caiman and rattlesnakes. Perfect for that lazy hungover day...
Chow down on some great jambalaya
You can't go to New Orleans without sampling the best jambalaya you're ever likely to find, EVER! While the city is packed with great eateries, Coop's Place serves up finest grub going. Located at 1109 Decatur St., its signature Rabbit & Sausage Jambalaya is unmissable. A traditional dish of Creole rice simmered with tomatoes, onion, bell peppers, seasoning and the meat. Try a cup for just $5.75 or a "supreme" portion for $11.95, yum!
For the past 50 years, this music venue has showcased the best jazz talent that Louisiana has to offer – and it's the place to go for your musical fix. Based in the French Quarter, this place hosts daily concerts, while the actual Preservation Hall Jazz Band tours all-year over the USA. Louis Armstrong once said, "Preservation Hall. Now that's where you'll find all of the greats.", and you'll soon understand why.
The 1850 House
For something a bit more alternative, this public museum will allow you to step back in time. The Pontalba Buildings on Jackson Square were built in 1850 and while they had various owners, they were eventually sold to the local authorities, who decided to kit them out to what they might have looked like during the Antebellum era. The house is filled with antique furnishings, decorative arts and middle-class family items; history has never been more realistic.
St Louis Cemetery
Whether you choose to take the Voodoo & Cemetery Tour with our expert guides or decide to wander around on your own, this creepy spot reminds you just how much history and heritage New Orleans has. And with the cemetery being home to the graves of Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau and cruel slave owner Delphine Lalaurie, both of whom were depicted recently in 'American Horror Story: Coven', it's not hard to feel genuinely creeped out here.
The two weeks leading up to Ash Wednesday is a period of celebration in the city, with parades and parties throughout. You can enjoy riotous street parties, firework displays, booze flowing down the roads and an explosion of feathers and glitter. An attraction in its own right, Mardi Gras in New Orleans has often been dubbed the best festival in the world, and it won't take long for you to understand why.
Tying the entire city together, this iconic river is what many tourists come here for, and you can enjoy fantastic views of it in the French Quarter, Faubourg Marigny, Bywater and Tremé. Now, let's all spell it out together...
If you want to visit this breathtaking city, hop onto one of our many tours that begin or end at New Orleans, such as the Deep South BLT.