New Orleans—also known as Crescent City, the Big Easy, and NOLA—is a multicultural hub on the Mississippi River known for its vibrant history, party spirit, and, last but not least, cuisine. Visitors to New Orleans should take advantage of the city’s year-round warm temperatures and spend plenty of time outside, exploring the city and surrounding natural areas on foot, by streetcar, or by boat. Start your walking tour in the French Quarter with Jackson Square, reveling in the street performances and live music this historic park has to offer. Spend an afternoon wandering through the aptly name Garden District, known for its architecturally significant homes and lush gardens. When your feet need a rest, make your way up uptown on the New Orleans streetcar, which has been in continuous operation since 1835.
Be sure to squeeze in some culture with a visit to one of New Orleans’s diverse museums. Visitors can marvel at Louis Armstrong’s first cornet at the Jazz Museum, take in over 40,000 pieces of art at the New Orleans Museum of Art, or learn about the area’s natural history at the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park’s Barataria Preserve. Nature lovers will also enjoy exploring the 350-acre Audubon Park, located across the street from Tulane University and home to the Audubon Zoo.
Even more impressive than New Orleans’s cultural institutions? Its culinary institutions! With Creole, Cajun, and soul food influences, the cuisine of New Orleans is singular. One iconic dish every visitor should try is the po’ boy, a sandwich on a French baguette filled with meat and seafood options like fried shrimp, fried oysters, or roast beef. Another popular dish, and the official cuisine of the state of Louisiana, is gumbo. The word “gumbo” is derived from the Bantu word for “okra,” one of this flavorful, thick stew’s many ingredients, along with bell peppers, onions, celery, chicken, shellfish, and sausage. Meat lovers will be excited to try boudin, a sausage made from liver and heart meat mixed with rice and then braised, simmered, or fried. Finish off the meal with a sweet beignet (or three) and a steaming mug of chicory coffee!