One can easily imagine Blanche DuBois in a French Quarter balcony, propped up against the wrought iron railings, drink in hand, giving languid looks to the passersby, and waiting for her imaginary suitor. Jazz music playing in the background and rowdy Mardi Gras revelers in the streets complete the scene.
Blanche is a fictional character, but the French Quarter is a very real neighborhood of New Orleans — and the city’s oldest. Creole townhouses show off their colors, wrought iron railings, and French and Spanish influences along Bourbon Street, the heart of the French Quarter. If you like to be in the thick of things with bars, restaurants, souvenir shops, and jazz clubs, this is the perfect place to find New Orleans hotel accommodations.
If you prefer a quieter area with an industrial feel, the Warehouse District is ideal. Old factories and warehouses have been converted into apartment buildings, lofts, hotels, and restaurants. The old adverts painted years ago on the side of the red brick buildings give the area a pleasant retro feel.
The Garden District is an elegant neighborhood with an interesting history. Rich families who wanted to move away from the noise and smells of the French Quarter replaced the old plantations with stately homes. The architectural styles range from antebellum (pre-Civil War era) to Victorian. The country’s oldest operating streetcar, the historic St. Charles Line, rattles its way to the Garden District among stately mansions and university campuses.
Although the cemeteries aren’t neighborhoods as such, they make for interesting visits. The mausoleums, crypts, and sculptures look like small communities. The swampy soil forced locals to make burials above ground, and the mausoleums got more elaborate with time. Guided tours show visitors around. The most popular cemetery is St. Louis Cemetery #1, the site of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau’s resting place.
New Orleans is known for its amazing food. Most restaurants serve gumbo and jambalaya, two classic Creole dishes, although the quality of the dishes may vary, depending on how touristy the place is. For superior Cajun and Creole food, go to K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen, a high-end establishment in the French quarter. Cochon, a more casual and modern place in the Warehouse District, stands out for its delicious pork-based dishes. New Orleans is famous for the hickory café au lait and beignets, doughnut-like confections dusted with powdered sugar. Look out for Morning Call locations; they make the best beignets!
Attractions for History Buffs
Even if you aren’t a history buff (but your companions are), Jackson Square is an interesting place to visit. You can browse the arts and crafts stands in the square or visit the Mardi Gras museum while your friends visit the Cabildo, built under Spanish rule, which was the seat of government until 1853. The Louisiana Purchase transfer was signed here, too. The 18th-century St. Louis Cathedral, across the street, is the oldest cathedral in the U.S.
New Orleans is such a versatile city that it will satisfy your inner party animal, history buff, or gourmand. Or all of the above!
Disclaimer: This post is a partnership with IHG. However, the opinions expressed here and the images are solely mine.