"There's certain things in life that I love. One is architecture. And music, culture, food, people. New Orleans has all of that." - Lenny Kravitz
Put simply, there's no city quite like the charming, inviting and ever celebratory nature of New Orleans. I fell in love with this city soon after my arrival and I owe this newly acquainted love affair to my scholarship. Whether you're a foodie, a shopaholic or simply a people person, there's something for every traveller and with so much to experience, you'll never grow tired of NOLA.
1. Visiting Cafe Du Monde/Cafe Beignet
Both famous for their warm, freshly baked and perfectly crisp world-famous beignets, these cafes are often bustling with crowds eager to satisfy their sweet tooth. Cafe Du Monde, perhaps the more well known of the two also sells rich coffee that pairs well with the donuts. My personal favorite, Cafe Beignet offers a fine classical music selection and also serves breakfast with a much shorter wait time for the same great taste.
2. Riding the street cars
A classic image of New Orleans (along with the river steamboats!) are the street cars, which run 24 hours daily all throughout the city for a $3.00 day pass. Visitors can catch a ride from St. Charles station all the way to the famed Canal St. A trip to NOLA would be incomplete without a ride on these thrilling trains.
3. Shopping at the French Quarter & Canal St.
Wandering aimlessly around the city, I happened to stumble upon the gloriously stunning French Creole architecture of the French Quarter, home to the Louisiana State Museum Cabildo, street vendors, several boutiques and small mom & pop shops. I found a unique shop with such trendy pieces for the most affordable prices. Souvenir shops also surround the city with T-shirt prices for as low as $5.00. If you're lucky, you'll catch a typical NOLA jazz band during one of their performances (and snag a pic with the artists, too!)
4. Gumbo, Jambalaya, Crawfish, Oysters...need I say more?
These New Orleanian staples are available year round, but I must say that enjoying some hot jambalaya in the summertime with in-season ingredients is unmatched. I took a chance on a random restaurant that happened to showcase excellent service, a welcoming environment and delicious food - The Gumbo Shop. I've also been recommended Remoulade and Brennans.
5. Spending a day in Jackson Square Park
Established in 1721 by French explorers, Jackson Square Park's center honors with a majestic statue the hero of the Battle of New Orleans, Major General Andrew Jackson. The park includes an enormous fountain where visitors can find birds bathing and enjoying the sun. In the heart of the city, the park is surrounded by several other hot spots, so be sure to use Jackson Square as a landmark for navigating the rest of the city while enjoying its beauty along the way.