NOLA, The Big Easy, the birthplace of jazz, N’Awlins. New Orleans can go by so many names but one thing is for sure, the city is more than just partying in the streets. New Orleans has a history that many of its visitors tend to forget about. The city offers beautiful architecture, great food, great seafood, and it can even titillate the minds of those who love a scary story or two. Often times people overlook the city when it comes to road trips or family vacations. Which is understandable. There was a hurricane there that left even the residents questioning what they were going to do.
In addition, the news can get into some pretty horrific stories about the city without showcasing the good side of what it has to offer. And, let’s not forget that this city is often related to a lot of fun and partying. Fortunately, currently, NOLA is becoming a place that people are visiting more frequently and not just for Mardi Gras (even though that's a good reason as well). They are seeing the value in the history of the city. They are realizing that it can be a foodies dream and that the city has the potential to be a one-stop shop vacation-wise. Nice weather, sightseeing opportunities and family friendly.
20 One Of The Fastest Growing Cities In America
New Orleans has officially been named one of the fastest growing cities for millennials. This should be no surprise to anyone. The city is very hip and offers a lot to do for people who are raising young families. In addition, new businesses are popping up all over the place allowing the city to expand its demographic. In doing so, they have drawn the attention of a lot of people who are looking to set their own hours and work for themselves. Out of the top 10 metro cities, the NOLA ranks number 5 and we can only assume it will keep climbing.
19 Always A Festival Happening
The big easy is a place that has made a name for itself through Mardi Gras and out of control college students who go there to get a little crazy. However, they offer great festivals that aren’t surrounded by debauchery. For example, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival that focuses on the jazz music and it’s deep roots in the city. There is also the French Quarter Festival. An annual and FREE music festival located in the French Quarter. Most of their festivals are music related due to the rich heritage in the city. However, there are also festivals that focus on food and other forms of art.
18 It’s Not All About The Partying
Like we mentioned it’s not all about the partying. New Orleans is actually quite family oriented. To be honest, the locals wouldn’t be caught dead on Bourbon Street and we don’t blame them. Jackson Square has a bunch of art that local artists sell, they also have a place called Magazine Street. On Magazine Street there are street merchants who sell handcrafted everything. It’s basically a DIY-er’s dream. There are retail shops that support the local artists. Health and beauty DIYs for skin, hair, and health. The city is really a dream for people who are trying to start their own business. The community is so tight-knit that they support one another no matter what.
17 In 2018, It Turns 300
This year New Orleans turns 300. They will be celebrating their Tricentennial all year long. The city set up a website that showcases the history of the city and talks about some of the events that will take place to celebrate this year. They have a volunteer challenge that is encouraging residents and visitors to accumulate 300,000 volunteer service hours on 300 projects. In addition to their regular celebrations, the city is also offering new, smaller festivals that celebrate something impactful in the last 300 years of their history. It sounds like 2018 is about to be a fun year for the city.
16 They Celebrate The LGBTQ Community All Year Round
In addition to having a yearly pride parade, New Orleans celebrates their LGBTQ community all year round. This is a concept that more countries should follow. They have events like FestiGals, a girlfriend weekend getaway that celebrates all things women, an LGBT Baby Cakes games which is a pride baseball game, the Red Dress Run where men and women dress up in red dresses for a short charitable run. There is even a pride pageant and annual pride pub crawl. Truly, the list is endless and this type of support isn’t seen in a lot of places. New Orleans is really setting an example.
15 The Musical Heritage
This hip city is known for its musical history. It is referred to as the birthplace of jazz and within every aspect of the city, music is involved. There is no question that Jazz was born in New Orleans. There is a question about what year it was born but that is neither here nor there. The city even has “jazz funerals”. Locals describe a jazz funeral as a celebration of life and their form of mourning. It begins at the church; the family and friends sing and dance while walking through the streets all the way to the cemetery. They are usually joined by a brass band.
14 The Architecture
New Orleans is a beautiful city. It boasts some of the most beautiful and unique buildings. Buildings like the St. Louis Cathedral, The Mercedes Benz Superdome, and the Piazza D’Italia all have these beautiful shapes. They are not only rich in history but stunning to look at. One of the more popular tourist spots in NOLA architecture is a “shotgun house”. This type of house is only found in New Orleans. It’s called a shotgun house because someone could literally fire a shot from the back of the house and right through the front door without hitting a wall. While this is a cool concept, it’s a kind of weird. Yet, we would love to visit one of those houses for ourselves.
13 The Locals Are Friendly
A lot of people who visit New Orleans have come back boasting about the friendly locals. This is something that a lot of bloggers have covered in their blogs. The talk about the locals helping them find great spots to eat, hang out, meet people and even have a peaceful place to be alone. The city is very busy and one would assume that the locals would want to keep the golden places to themselves. However, it seems like they embrace everyone as family and friends. It is widely known that the locals stay clear of bourbon street because of all the partying and the loud tourists. But, for them to be willing to embrace loud, drunk locals… dare we call them saints?
12 That Accent
That NOLA accent is like nothing we have ever heard before and honestly, we can listen to it all day. We’re talking about that southern drawl that sounds like it is coming from deep, down in their soul. It’s beautiful. The accent comes from a variety of cultures mixed together. French, Spanish, South American, Quechua and Caribbean-Indian language. No wonder it is so distinct and hard to recreate. We feel sorry for any actor who has ever had to learn this accent for a role. It sounds so beautiful but when you realize where it comes from and how many sounds and inflections go into it, it’s so interesting.
11 ... And The Language
Because there are so many languages mixed into this culture, the city has been studied extensively by professional linguists. The locals are very prideful in their language and take great efforts to ensure that people know that different accents belong to different parts of the city. Slate magazine gave a great example of the distinction. “One of the better-known varieties is spoken by the "Yats," lower- and middle-class white New Orleanians. (The name derives from "Where y'at?" a local greeting.)”. These people are normally Irish or of Irish descent. “Uptown whites, and blacks, use different pronunciations. Some of these are characteristically Southern, such as the diphthongization of vowels in all and task”. The language has a history that will long be a topic of research.
10 Visit Marie Laveau’s Home
Marie Laveau is known as the voodoo queen of New Orleans. Yes, that same Marie Laveau that many millennial's learned about through American Horror Story. Rumor has it she somewhat of a witch doctor who was a hairdresser by trade but on the side, she would cast spells and evoke possession. In New Orleans, you can visit her house which is still standing and has become quite popular. The house is on St. Ann street and has become a very popular spot on city tours. Her story is quite interesting and so much more than fans learned about on the popular Ryan Murphy TV show. It is believed that the house is haunted but we will leave it up to you to find out why.
9 Essence Fest
Every summer since 1995 Essence Fest has celebrated their magazine’s success in the beautiful New Orleans city. The festival is three days long and has a number of extremely popular music acts. Besides the performances, there are parties and other events to occupy your time over the three days. The festival is so popular that they centered an entire film around it; Girls Trip. the 2017 film followed 4 friends who decided to go on a girls trip to New Orleans during Essence Fest. It really only captured a small amount of what one can expect from the festival but enough to get fans excited and want to plan their own girls trip.
8 They Make All Venues Look Good
Dive bars in New Orleans are not considered jokes and grimy and dirty like in some other states. Dive bars are actually considered cool and they are even the places to go when someone wants to hear new music. A lot of Dive bars give bands opportunities to play but mostly they are so welcoming because they allow people to show up and just be themselves. In New Orleans, dive bars are a culture they are apart of the fabric of the city. There are even lists stating which dive bars are the best ones to go to, the most entertaining and the most that give you your bang for your buck.
7 Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras is the most popular celebration in New Orleans. It’s not even considered a festival, it is officially called a holiday. Meaning the locals get time off work. There are parties, a parade, masks, king cakes and of course those popular beads. It’s truly a block party but for the entire city and then some. The celebration was established in 1718 and has clearly shown signs of never stopping. Obviously, over the decades the celebration has added more things, become more popular and upped the level of debauchery. Some locals even refer to it as the greatest free show on earth because people show up and show out.
6 Historic Cemetery Tour
Want to up the creepy factor on your trip? New Orleans offers tours of cemeteries. The tours take tourists to visit ornate tombs some dating all the way back to the late 1700s. There are famous resting places like Marie Laveau’s grave site and some of the tours are coupled with walking tours that take visitors to see the homes or famous objects that belonged to the deceased. The tours usually go to St. Louis Cemetery and Lafayette Cemetery. It may sound creepy but the cemeteries are actually quite beautiful and well maintained. The grave sites are a piece of art you almost forget that you are essentially walking on dead people.
5 The Entertainment At The French Quarter
The French Quarter is one of the most popular streets in New Orleans. It is the oldest section of New Orleans and goes by a few other names one of those names being Vieux Carré. So what do people do for fun in the French? It’s a high energy area and offers everything from local markets to individual vendors that sell one of a kind pieces. There is beautiful architecture, street performers, nightclubs and of course a rich history. It’s hard to be bored in the French Quarter especially because there are signs everywhere telling you what you can do for fun. One of those things is a Ghost Buster Tour.
4 Have You Tasted A Better Beignet?
Kim Kardashian famously took her very pregnant belly down to New Orleans just to get some beignets at Cafe Du Monde because she had a craving. Of course, people already knew that the city had a reputation for a good donut. The best beignets in town are supposedly at Cafe Du Monde but we have a feeling a local would tell us differently. The French-inspired pastry is light, fluffy and covered in powdered sugar. They are normally paired with a cup of coffee and bragged about endlessly even after the trip is done. But don’t worry, if you want to grab some beignets for your trip back home, Cafe Du Monde is open 24/7. They make a great road trip snack.
3 New Orleans Sailors Invented A Popular Game
Poker, as we know it today, was supposedly played for the first time in 1829 by English sailor Joseph Cowell and a group of his friends. Of course back during that time the game was slightly different and not so popular. It was played with a deck of 20 cards and only 4 players. The game has now grown to become insanely popular and profitable. Is anyone surprised that this city with all its history and brilliance was the one to create a game that has now made people millionaires? Going from 4 players, a 20 card deck and betting which players hand was the most valuable to a 52 card deck, and god knows how many players can be dealt in at one time. It’s pretty amazing to see that transition.
2 The History Is Phenomenal
The history of the city of New Orleans is amazing. It has witchcraft, voodoo, beautiful cemeteries (no one ever calls a cemetery beautiful), unity, and willingness. The state is so strong that not even a hurricane, a very devastating hurricane could break them. Shows like Treme have tried to capture the spirit of this city and while most do it a little bit of justice it’s so hard to get every detail right. So much has happened in New Orleans that there will never be enough movies, books and TV shows to tell its tale.
1 You Can Enjoy Any Beverage On The Streets
One of the reasons why New Orleans is so popular with the younger generation is because of its ties to being a party city and the fact that you can drink on the streets. Yes, it’s legal to drink in public in The Big Easy. There are certainly minor technicalities around this idea. For instance, the drink has to be in a plastic container, you have to be over the age of 18, you can still get arrested for public drunkenness. But, there are also some cool things too; you can get a frozen daiquiri at a drive through (yum, especially when it’s hot), and bars are open 24/7 if your into that. Just keep in mind that the police there are nothing to play with.