Visit New Orleans the right way

Between us

New Orleans is the most unique place I’ve seen in the US. Music lovers, whether they are more into jazz, blues, or bluegrass will be in paradise, you will eat like nowhere else in the US, streets are cute, and people are really fun. Please just don't stick too much around Bourbon Street, otherwise you will miss what New Orleans is really about.

New Orleans in a few words

Music (jazz, blues, bluegrass, country), delicious Cajun food, awesome local people, a strong history we should never forget, spooky stories (voodoo, ghosts, witches), plantations, swamps, alligators, awesome bars with live music.

New Orleans blues (photo by my friend, the great Arnaud Montagard. Check his photos, he’s amazing)

Streets of the French Quarter ( Arnaud Montagard )

Streets of the French Quarter (Arnaud Montagard)

New Orleans Wander List

Click on the image or  this link  to add me on Mapstr (@jmsaponaro) and access my Wander List maps

Click on the image or this link to add me on Mapstr (@jmsaponaro) and access my Wander List maps

Music everywhere, good food, fun people in a unique atmosphere are on the menu in this New Orleans Wander List.

New Orleans bars with live music

Jazz and Blues enthusiasts, welcome to heaven! New Orleans sweat music everywhere. You will find good music at every street corner, and bars with live music are legions. So I’m sure you will be able to discover magic places by yourself. But here are the gems I particularly loved for their music:

  • The Spotted Cat bar has the best music every time I go to Frenchmen Street, usually a swingy jazz vibe.

  • BJ’s Lounge is a very fun dive bar in the district of Bywater. You can even go there during the day. Put a coin in the jukebox, and engage a conversation with the waitress who might even convince you to play a game of dices. Famous blues figures of New Orleans played there. They have some live music on weekend evenings.

  • The Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is a bar on Bourbon Street (yuk, but it’s far from the craziness and sins of it in a pretty calm area). It’s said to be the oldest structure in the US that has a bar. On weekend evenings, a pianist is playing in the back of the bar and can play any song people request. And everyone is singing along! I have spent there one of the most magical nights of my life. Literally, all the room was singing with the pianist old American classics. It was beautiful. That’s a good bar to taste New Orleans special cocktail: the Hurricane.

New Orleans Restaurants

Louisiana is also famous for its cooking with cajun spices and seafood. I can assure you that you won’t be disappointed. Here are the top places I recommend to delight your tongue:

  • Eat New Orleans (yes, that’s the name of the restaurant) is not expensive but proposes very very very very good Cajun food. It should be at the top of your list.

  • The Joint will make you taste the South of the US with finger-licking ribs. Locals go to this typical dinner for its good BBQ specialties. Trust me, you won’t regret it

  • K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen is fancy, which means a bit expensive, perfect for a romantic dinner. Their fish meals are simply divine.

  • Kingfish has great seafood, but if you’re not in a fish-mood, their burger is delicious too.

Bonus: one cute coffee shop

Go to Flora Gallery & Coffee Shop. Order a coffee and take one of the board games to play for a bit while the cat living there is taking a nap around you. This lovely place is certainly one of the best hidden gems of New Orleans.

Feel like a local in New Orleans

The best part of New Orleans is the people living there. They are kind, welcoming, chatty, and full or crazy stories about the city or their own past. Even if you can talk to taxi drivers, the best way to meet them is to hang out where locals are. And the districts of Bywater and Saint Roch are the best for that. That's where you will find BJ’s Lounge, Flora Coffee Shop, and The Joint.
Be careful, don’t hang out in these districts at night, and don't go too far in weird areas even during the day. New Orleans is not always safe outside of the French District. Use your good judgment.  :)

New Orleans house

New Orleans street art in front of Studio Be

And the rest that you will find easily by yourself

Plantations to understand the past of Louisiana (I recommend Laura’s plantation for its amazing story and Oak Alley for its beauty), the swamps, beignets at Cafe du Monde, Saint Louis Cathedral, walk along the border of Mississippi, check the Steamboat Natchez, wander in the Saint Louis Cemetery to see the tomb of Marie Laveau (check her story), pass by Mrs LaLaurie's mansion, and, again, Frenchmen Street!

Laura’s Plantation

Alligator in the swamps (photos by Arnaud Montagard)

Have you ever been to New Orleans? What is your best souvenir from Louisiana?

More photos on Instagram