So after using up an entire blog post just to describe my first day in NOLA (granted it was Thanksgiving Day), and quickly realizing I
couldn’t probably shouldn’t keep up the trend, I decided the rest of the trip was going to get condensed into this post. And in less than 1000 words at that. Think I can do it? Well, you will just have to keep reading wouldn’t you? 😉
Day 2- Friday.
Started off with a free Voodoo walking tour originating just across the street from Louis Armstrong Park and Congo square. I must say I was kind of skeptical and hesitant to go on this tour but curiosity got the best of me. Verdict? Absolutely no regrets. Highlight? Participating in a [mock] voodoo ritual and visiting a voodoo store.
Next, got on the hop on hop off bus for a very comfortable tour of New Orleans narrated by a live guide. We went through French Quarter and the Garden District (where they pointed out Jay Z and Beyonce’s home) before I got off at Mardi Gras World. I learned the history of mardi gras, saw how they make the props and floats, enjoyed some king cake, and even got to play dress up!
I had dinner at Muriel’s on Jackson Square. It’s a bit fancy so doesn’t quite fit the #budgettraveler motif however, one is allowed one day of splurging, right? 😉
Day 3- Saturday.
Swamp tour day! I would categorize this under must-do. I went with the Jean Lafitte Swamp tour company. So I originally had my pickup set for 8.30am (what was I thinking????) but then I discovered that the Bayou Classic parade was going to be that morning and quickly changed my booking to 10.30am. Luckily they were that flexible.
Bayou Classic was definitely not Mardi Gras, but it was close enough for me. I can now legitimately check “attend parade in New Orleans” off my list- I even caught beads! In all of the chaos I almost missed the bus for the swamp tour but thankfully they waited for me. Yes, I was that inconsiderate tourist. For shame!
The swamp tour was lit! I saw alligators in the swamp, they were rather far away from the boat and mostly motionless. I was perfectly fine with that. At some point, the tour guide/captain brought out a rather large turtle shell and passed that around. Then he brought out an alligator head and passed that around. It took a lot out of me, but I carried it. I thought we were done- till he brought out a live alligator from behind a door on the boat!
There was no escape y’all. Then he asked people to carry it. I did. After a lot of squealing- it finally happened. It felt very very weird. Anyway, I still recommend the tour and since you will be paying that much money, you might as well carry an alligator if it’s offered.
Next, I visited the World War II museum because I like museums and World War II is very important. It reminded me of the importance of history keeping and how terrible humans can be. I wish I had had more time to spend there- as is usually the case when I visit museums. Not to be missed is the 4D movie narrated by Tom Hanks- if it’s still showing when you go. Note- it costs a bit extra. But it’s really good. Come on, Tom Hanks is in it :).
Dinner was at a Vietnamese restaurant in the Garden District, Lilly’s Cafe. Budget friendly and had a lot of stars on Google. The meal did not disappoint.
Day 4- Sunday.
Started my day off with a run around the Garden District- because that’s just what I do. When I visit a place I haven’t run outside before, I try to do it. It threatened to rain but I knew it is that day or never so I did it- sans hair tie and sans sports bra (long story).
Then I headed to the port for my day cruise on the Creole Queen. They have a night jazz cruise I would recommend over this one if you aren’t traveling solo and/or can only pick one. I guess even if you are traveling solo and don’t mind being surrounded by a multitude of couples on a romantic date then you can go ahead :).
The day cruise was nice but by day 4 I had probably heard the history of New Orleans a million times. There were some new bits though, to be fair. We had a stop at the Chalmette Battlefield so that was nice.
Lunch was at Mother’s Restaurant as recommended by a friend. Also has a lot of stars on Google and budget friendly. I ordered seafood gumbo (first time having that),finished it , then went back to the counter to order jambalaya. Both New Orleans delicacies but I preferred the gumbo.
Then I rode the streetcar (must do) to the French Quarter to catch my next tours- 1850 House and Ghost stories (which wasn’t that scary- more gory, if anything, but definitely interesting. I suspect most of it is made up. lol.)
Day 5- Monday
Bright and early, I hightailed it to St Louis Cemetery #1 for a guided tour. Yep- cemetery tours are a thing in New Orleans. I heard Lafayette cemetery is also good, but I didn’t have time to visit. St Louis Cemetery 1 is supposedly where Marie Laveau is buried and where Nicholas Cage has a tomb. Have no fear, he’s still alive- just has his tomb picked out.
After this, I got my stuff and headed to the airport!
I thoroughly enjoyed my vacation in New Orleans and would love to help you plan yours. Send me a message if you’re interested!
Have you ever been to NOLA? What was your favorite thing?