Hidden New Orleans
If you're looking for attractions that give you an insider's view of New Orleans, without a lot of crowds, then read on! In this article, we'll explore the untapped secrets of the Big Easy, from the Voodoo Museum and secret sandwich shops to side trips into the bayou. So climb aboard the Saint Charles Streetcar for an overview tour of the city, then get ready to visit some New Orleans back roads.
Mardi Gras only comes once a year, but you can whip up some of that colorful spirit any time of year with a visit to Mardi Gras World on Newton Street. There, you'll see how Mardi Gras floats are made, see the giant props from past parades, and learn about the history of this celebration. See the carpentry shops, the paint shops, and learn about the krewes that decorate the floats. You can even try on some Mardi Gras carnival costumes!
Youíll take a step back in time when you ride aboard the New Orleans Creole Queen Paddlewheeler or the replica riverboat, the Cajun Queen. You can groove to jazz music, enjoy a sumptuous Creole buffet, and sip a cocktail while you admire the New Orleans skyline, traveling in old-fashioned style.
On Dumaine Street in the French Quarter, you'll find the historic Voodoo Museum. This dark and dusky exhibit hall offers a wide range of occult items from all over the world, including some that may have belonged to the legendary Marie Laveau. There, you can have a reading done by a voodoo priestess, study the exhibits, or ask for a tour from the museum staff. If this only whets your appetite for more voodoo information, then head to Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo on Bourbon Street, where you'll find a shop filled with voodoo merchandise. Marie Laveau was a famous voodoo practitioner who lived in the French Quarter during the 1800s.
For dining New Orleans-style, try a muffuletta sandwich or a traditional Po-boy. A muffuletta is made of meat, cheese, pickles, and olive salad stuffed in a thick bun. The Po-Boy can be made of fried oysters, roast beef and gravy, or soft-shell crab served on a French bread roll. You can try crawfish etouffe at the Olde N'Awlins Cookery on Conti Street, red beans and rice at Mother's on Poydras Street, or stuffed sandwiches at Cafe Maspero on Decatur Street. And if you'd like to learn to cook like a local, try a class with the New Orleans School of Cooking & Louisiana General Store (St Louis Street) or the Cookin' Cajun Cooking School (Poydras Street).
The nearby town of Jean Lafitte makes a fun day trip. Nestled in bayou waters that were once the hideaway of the famous pirate Jean Lafitte, this marshy wonderland is filled with history, Cajun music, and great food. The Bayou Barataria Basin is also home to some of the best fishing in Louisiana. You can head to the public fishing pier for a day of casting your line, sample shrimp, oysters, and crab from the local restaurants, or watch for wildlife in these incredible bayou ecosystems.
Visitors to New Orleans may think Mardi Gras is the only festival in the city, but in fact you'll find something going on during every month of the year. You can visit in April for the French Quarter Festival, in August for the African Heritage Festival International, or in October for Bridge City's Gumbo Festival. Celebrate a Creole Christmas or enjoy the French Quarter's St. Patrick's Day parade. New Orleans is so rich with activity, you're sure to find something exciting happening whenever you find the time to visit. Just be sure to explore the back roads and get a taste for the true N'awlins experience.