For my last Spring Break, I decided to do something a little special and venture outside of New Jersey for the week. My friend and I packed our bags, but instead of heading to Florida like many college students, we headed to the Big Easy. While NOLA may not have a beach of its own, there's plenty of other reasons why this trip was so memorable and amazing.
1. The food was amazing!
From gumbo and jambalaya to Caribbean taquerias, New Orleans has so much to offer in the way of flavor and food. And much to my surprise, they had plenty of options for vegetarian, vegan, an gluten free diets.
2. The architecture was beautiful.
The unique architecture of the city will pull your eye in and make it really hard to look away. Picturesque and gorgeous homes litter the streets of the city, especially in the Garden District.
Since the city is mostly below the water table, and due to the influence of the Spanish, many cemeteries in New Orleans feature the unique concept of above ground burials. You can visit the tomb of Marie Laveau and the tomb purchased by actor Nicholas Cage (who is notoriously obsessed with New Orleans).
4. Voodoo and Hauntings
Speaking of Marie Laveau, New Orleans is special because you can explore the world of voodoo in an area where Caribbean and Catholic influences alike contributed to this unique culture. Visiting one of the most haunted cities in America opens up doors for lovers of all that is creepy-- you can go on ghost tours and visit the sites of some of the most gruesome murders and notoriously haunted establishments.
5. Drinking on Bourbon Street
Walking up and down Bourbon Street is an experience in and of itself. The only rule about carrying alcohol on the streets of New Orleans is no glass bottles. Other than that, its open range for walking the streets with the crazy cocktails Bourbon Street has to offer.
6. Jazz on Frenchmen Street
Jazz is one of the first things I think of when I think of New Orleans. Its hard to walk around the city without hearing the soulful sound of a saxophone or trombone. On Frenchmen Street, you'll find more of a local vibe where bars have open doors and jazz bands playing almost 24/7.
7. Shopping at the French Market
Although a bit overwhelming, you'll find almost anything you could need from trinkets to food to cocktails from the various vendors in the French Market.
8. Steamboat tours on the Mississippi
One of the best ways to tour the city is on the Mighty Mississippi. Grab a cocktail, some authentic Creole food, and watch the sights pass you by.
9. A Huge Casino (with a nightclub).
Enough said. Central to many areas of the city is a Harrah's Casino with their own nightclub, Masquerade. If you aren't afraid of your wallet being mad at you, go spend an evening at the casino.
10. Festivals and Parades.
I was lucky enough to catch the Top Taco Festival during my visit, and it was one of the best nights of the trip. A ticket got me endless tacos, tequila, and cocktail tasters, and the vendors were very accommodating to the fact that I was vegetarian.
11. Beignets and Cafe Au Lait
If you didn't get Beignets and Cafe Au Lait at Cafe Du Monde, did you even go to New Orleans? And don't you dare say it is the same as donuts and coffee, because it just isn't. If you're looking to satisfy your sweet tooth, look no further.
12. The Restaurants and Shops on Magazine Street
A little different and more laid back than the French Market, this is a must visit area of New Orleans. The Rum House has some of the best cocktails and tacos you'll ever eat, and its worth the wait for a table.
13. Explore a city with a very rich history.
I was blown away by the amount there was to see and learn during the day in New Orleans. From French rule to Spanish rule, to the Louisiana purchase that made New Orleans part of America, the city has seen the influence of many different cultures as well as the impact of natural disasters such as fires, floods, and Hurricane Katrina.
14. National Parks, Museums, and Art Galleries
If art, nature, or history is your thing, you will love the Big Easy. With plenty of art all around the city, Museums on Mardi Gras and World War II (just to name a few), and plenty of gorgeous parks to stroll through.
15. You'll remember it forever!
Because of all of the things listed above, New Orleans will be a place that I will never forget, and only hope I get to visit again.