7 Reasons to visit New Orleans
1. The Music
The music is what New Orleans will always be most famous for, and rightly so. The city is jam-packed with venues where you can hear Dixieland, a unique style of jazz, being played. Don't miss the Jazz Festival, which takes place every spring and where you'll find new and established artists alike. At any time of year the French Quarter is the best place to head if you're after bars and clubs to listen to some old standards and pick up some hot tips.
2. The Big Easy
Sit down for a meal in 'The Big Easy' and your taste buds are in for a treat. Signature local dishes include gumbo, a meaty stew with fresh okra, jambalaya, a tasty rice dish and po-boys - overstuffed sandwiches bursting with tasty goodness. That's before we've even mentioned crawfish etouffee, muffulettas and beignets...
3. Keeping it Local
Contribute to the local economy by spending money in restaurants and shops and at attractions. It's easy to forget that the city was devastated by Hurricane Katrina just ten years ago and New Orleans is still recovering - economically and emotionally. Any cash you can put into the city will help with that recovery.
4. Southern Hospitality
Anyone who's paid a visit to New Orleans will tell you that Southern hospitality is alive and well in this corner of Louisiana. You'll find locals friendly, accommodating and keen to point you in the direction of their favourite restaurant or bakery.
5. Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is the perfect time to visit New Orleans, although you'll find the city crowded and accommodation may be more expensive. This festival originally marked the start of Lent but it's now more of an excuse for a city-wide party atmosphere. Watch colourfully decorated floats pass through the streets, and catch a trinket thrown from one of them for a souvenir with a great story behind it.
6. Creole Culture
Creole culture is fascinating and you can catch a glimpse of it at the Historic New Orleans Collection, a museum dedicated to preserving the culture of this great city. Originally called French Louisiana, people who identify as Creole are often descended from the area's first settlers, and many still speak in Creole French, a fascinating mixture of languages. Much of these parts were originally French colonies and didn't become part of the USA until 1803, some 25 years after the Declaration of Independence.
7. It’s Your Voodoo Workin’
The area has its own unique religion - Louisiana Voodoo. It was first brought to New Orleans by workers and slaves hailing from West Africa in colonial times, but has since evolved into a religion unlike any other. While many adherents believe in the power of charms and gris-gris, the religion has also picked up elements of Christianity and biblical saints. To find out more, stop by the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum.