New Orleans, also known as the “Big Easy” rests in the state of Louisiana and is famous for its Mardis Gras celebration and general good time to be had by all. The Big Easy name has been rumored to originate from a few different sources. One is that jazz and blues music was prevalent in the city, making it easy for a musician of the craft to make a living. Another source is that alcohol was prevalent during prohibition in New Orleans and continues on today, as it is known as a party hotspot. In the 1970s there was a columnist who compared New York, also known as the Big Apple, to New Orleans, whom she designated as the “Big Easy.” Whatever the source of the nickname, it has stuck, and life is easy and enjoyable when you visit New Orleans.
Mardis Gras is the most popular event held in New Orleans every year. Thousands flock to see the bright colors of the many parades, experience the festivities and of course, have a perfect time. Typically held on Fat Tuesday which is designated in February, the festivities line the street the week before and even after Mardis Gras. The history behind Fat Tuesday is that it was traditionally the day before Lent started, allowing people to indulge one last time before restricting themselves. The dates change every year, to fall on a Tuesday and by timing with lent the Easter holiday.
Mardis Gras Parades
Despite the grown-up reputation of the Big Easy, Mardis Gras is a great chance to bring your family and kids. The parades are like no other, with extravagant floats, costumes, music, and gorgeous details in the traditional Mardis Gras colors of green, gold, and purple. During the parades, toys, stuffed animals and beads are thrown to the viewers, and it is recommended that you bring a bag to collect all your goodies for you and your kids. The most over-the-top parades with the best floats and costumes that come highly suggested are the Bacchus, Orpheus, and Endymion parades.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is the oldest area and displays the best architecture in New Orleans. Designated as a National Historic Landmark, take a walk around and enjoy the many shops and restaurants and the talented ironwork and old-style architecture of the French Quarter. The live music is some of the best in the city so grab a drink and enjoy the sights and sounds.
Located in the heart of the historic French Quarter, Bourbon Street lines the street with bars, shops, and restaurants. It is quieter during the day, but if it’s a party you’re looking for, Bourbon Street at night is the place to be. Every adult needs to experience the madness of Bourbon Street at least once. Great food plenty is available for when you get hungry and tired of walking. Bars, nightlife, nightclubs, street entertainment, live music and of course drinks everywhere will keep you entertained until the morning light.
While visiting the dead may not be an ideal stop on your vacation, the cemeteries in New Orleans are infamous for their grand construction and creations. Due to the water table being so low, bodies are not buried underground; they are buried in it. Some of the above-ground tombs are enormous and elaborate. Tours are offered and recommended to understand the history and appreciate the grandness of New Orleans’ cemeteries. Try the Metairie Cemetery or the St. Louis Cemetery for an exciting glimpse at the tombs.
St. Louis Cathedral
Recognized as the oldest cathedral in America, the St. Louis Cathedral rests at the heart of the French Quarter. Resembling a castle, the cathedral is beautiful inside and out. The inside has stained glass and marble, and masses and other functions are still held here. It is worth your time to take a walk through this lovely historic cathedral.
Tours Around the Big Easy
A guided tour may be just the thing to learn about New Orleans. No matter what your taste or desire, there is a tour for you. Tours may include cooking, sight-seeing, historical, cemetery, bar crawls, foot trips, bike tours, plantation, ghost and strange happenings, bus tours, Mardis Gras tours, everything you could want to experience in New Orleans; there is a tour for it. Some combine sights and other activities, so you can see and do more. The sky is the limit on visits, pick a few to try out and make some great memories.
How to Get Around
With a lot of people that want to experience and visit New Orleans, especially during Mardis Gras, it is not wise to drive yourself. Parking, one-way streets, congestion, pedestrians, and traffic present enormous challenges to the driver and passengers. New Orleans is made for walking, as everything is close by. Transportation is available and can get you where you need to go. Taxis are available as well as streetcars to get you to your destination safely. You can rent a bicycle, or take a Pedicab as well. New Orleans has an excellent bus system that provides another good option as well.
Take it Easy in the Big Easy
New Orleans entertains galore; there is something for everyone at all times. Eat some delicious Cajun cuisine and wash it down with a drink at the many bars and restaurants surrounding you. See the historic sights, take in some live music or street entertainment, and streets and experience the best the Big Easy has to offer.