April 24, 2014

NOLA: Places and Spaces

Hello and welcome to my third and final installment on my amazing trip to New Orleans. This post will cover some must see spots as well as where to stay while your out there and how to get around. Check out my other posts on Nola for the full experience. You can read all about the food here, and the music here!

New Orleans is full of amazing places to see and explore. It is a unique city with a lot to offer.

Where to go:

Louis Armstrong Park: Beautiful park, cool sculptures with great plaques to get your learnin on.

Besthoff Sculpture Garden: Lovely bike ride down Esplanade St gets you too the coolest sculpture garden I've ever been too, bonus its free!

Algiers: Quick ferry ride across the Mississippi gets you to the mellow streets of Algiers.

Garden District*: Gorgeous neighborhood filled with historic and famous homes. Sandra Bullock,  John Goodman , Peyton and Eli Manning to name a few of the stars in this neighborhood. See the house that inspired Disney's Haunted Mansion, many of Anne Rice's books and countless other films.

Home where football stars The Mannings grew up

Tulane: One of the prettiest campuses I've ever been on.

Audubon Park: Huge, amazing park right across the street from Tulane. Has a bike trail, walking trail and a golf course.

Lafayette Cemetery #1 & St Louis Cemetery #1*: New Orleans cemeteries are unique and beautiful. At the St Louis cemetery you can see the famous grave of Marie Laveau and the future resting place of Nicholas Cage.

Magazine Street: Great shopping and food.

*Must take walking tours if you can. Found a great free company: Free Tours by Foot. If you like them, tip them. They also do free bike and bus tours for a fee.

We took a fantastic Garden District/ Lafayette Cemetery Tour as well as a St. Louis Cemetery tour with them.

Beautiful street in Algiers

Where to stay:

The Diversity of New Orleans is apparent everywhere including the places to stay. They have lots of upscale downtown hotels, quaint bed and breakfasts, hostels, Air BnB's. Whatever your looking for you can probably find. For my stay I choose to stay in an Air BnB during the week and a hostel during the weekend.

Air BnB: If you are not familiar with this service, get familiar! It is great while traveling. Basically folks rent out a room or their entire house/apartment to other folks. It is in nearly every city in the US as well as abroad. It can be done online or through an app. New Orleans had a wide variety of places to choose from and we ended up with a great place and a great host. All the money is exchanged via the app or website and depending on where you stay it can often be much cheaper than a hotel and more fun. Hosts are usually helpful and knowledgeable about the city and the best thing about ours was that there were multiple bikes available for use to use.

India House Hostel: We stayed here for the weekend so that we could be more social and just to check out a different area of the city and have a different experience. It was great. The house is super cool and interesting, really good vibe, staff were people you would want to hang out with and had great suggestions of places to visit. The location seems a bit random but there are places to eat, drink short walks away and the streetcar is right there which easily takes you back into the hustle and bustle. The best things about the hostel was the people, the breakfasts (cheap and delish!) and the porch. Great place to sit, talk, drink and socialize with people from all over the world.

*note! Depending on when your going book early!! Air Bnbs get booked up as well as India House. New Orleans is constantly having fairs and festivals and it can be very hard to get a place last minute.

How to get around:

New Orleans is very easy to get around. Most likely if your staying in the downtown or French Quarter area most of where you'll want to go will be close by. While I was there I took pretty much every form of transportation available. But my favorite modes by far were to bike or use the streetcars.

Bike: The easiest, cheapest and best way to see the city is to bike it. New Orleans is flat flat flat, which equals easy easy easy to ride a bike. I am by no means someone who bikes often or long distances but both my friend and I found it very easy and very nice to bike the city. We were lucky to get an Air BnB with bikes available to us however there are lots of opportunities to rent bikes elsewhere around the city.

Streetcar: Not the fastest way to get around but its fun and if the car is not too full can be relaxing. The St Charles streetcar is beautiful and iconic and something you should just do for the experience. Its also very cheap. Each ride is $1.25 while an all day pass is only $3! The pass for the streetcar is also good for the bus system which is doubly nice. The streetcar also runs often and late, til about 2am.

Bus: We took a bus from the airport to downtown for only $2 (the A2)! It took longer but it was a nice ride through the outskirts into the city and a good way to just hang out with locals and have a less touristy experience. The bus also runs through out the city and can be taken during some areas where the streetcar is not running due to construction.

Taxi: Easy to get and nice to use when your going a little further out at night. There are a lot of local drivers that are super friendly and knowledgeable about the area. Our first driver was the best; telling us where to eat and what places to avoid. Best cab company was Nawlins Cab. They have a great tag line and an app that was super handy to have.

Algiers Ferry: $2 dollars each way, fun to cross the Mississippi and check out the cool mellow area of Algiers on the other side.

Last but not least good old fashion walking! New Orleans is also very walkable and there are lots of walking tours you should check out. Either self guided or through a company.

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