Experience New Orleans: Louisiana’s Gem on the Mississippi
Most RV trips are centered around getting away to picturesque locations to see wildlife, hike trails, and view amazing sunsets, but sometimes there might be a big city filled with culture, cuisine, and celebrations along your travels. New Orleans is one of those places that, if you’re driving near, you’ll want to visit. We’ve visited “the Big Easy,” or the “Crescent City,” twice in our 2015.5 Leisure MB “Lucky Us,” and want to share a few tips on where to stay, a few things to do, and some of our favorite restaurants.
During our last visit, we even discovered a place to boondock and how to pronounce New Orleans! It’s not N’awlins or New Or-lee-ins; locals pronounce it New Or-lins (like lens).
When visiting a big city, the devil’s in the details. Study maps and apps for your best route and if possible, avoid driving during rush hour. The last time we went, we had to deal with road construction, including bridge and road closures.
Where to Stay
There are several campgrounds in or near New Orleans, and we’ve stayed at two, each with distinct advantages. In the heart of the city, you have French Quarter RV Resort – an easy walk to Bourbon Street, you can visit many of the attractions you’ll want to see with the convenience of being able to go return to your RV to freshen up or take a break. Location is everything here, and you’ll pay top dollar to stay at this gated, secured resort.
For a quieter choice, there is New Orleans RV Resort and Marina – formerly the Ponchatrain Landing RV Resort. This location will cost a bit less and gets you away from the lights and noise. A shuttle service is available to transport you the 12-minute ride into town. The park provides modern bathrooms and a pool.
Boondocking is also an option! The first day we stayed at the French Quarter RV Resort, we noticed a number of RVs parked in the public parking lot at 1205 St. Louis Street. We talked to one of the boondockers, who indicated he stayed there for about $10 overnight with no issues.
Things to Do
You can go to New Orleans during Mardi Gras to celebrate its late-winter carnival with jubilant parades, dancing, crowds, celebrations, and nightlife, but if you want to avoid the revelry, study your calendar and go a different time. There is still plenty to do, from walking Bourbon Street, taking ghost, vampire, or haunted tours, riverboat rides, and foodie walking tours. You can also just stroll around, seek out street musicians, or plan an evening at one of the many music venues, including Preservation Hall.
Touristy shops, bars, music venues, restaurants, and more dot the French Quarter. Listen to the street musicians, pick up a frozen daiquiri to go, and bring home some Mardi Gras memories. After walking Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, be sure to see the riverfront.
National World War II Museum
Whether you are a history buff or not, be sure you plan to spend at least a few hours, if not most of a day, at the National World War II Museum, an immersive experience that “tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world—why it was fought, how it was won, and what it means today – so that all generations will understand the price of freedom and be inspired by what they learn.” This is New Orleans’ top-rated tourist attraction and has been designated by U.S. Congress as America’s official World War II museum. You will experience all theaters of the war through exhibits, multi-media experiences, and thousands of personal accounts.
Dining: Cajun, Creole, or Deep Fried?
Court of Two Sisters
You can find just about anything you want here, from exquisite formal dining to casual bar food. The first time we visited, we made reservations for dinner at the Commander’s Palace and breakfast at Brennan’s. While strolling the French Quarter, we happened upon a courtyard restaurant playing live music. “Care to have brunch here?” the friendly staffer asked. Of course! That’s how we found the Court of Two Sisters, charming vine-covered outdoor patio seating, live jazz, and a delicious brunch buffet featuring Creole and Cajun cuisine. Go, and you’ll learn about Emma and Bertha, sisters and shopkeepers who ran a notions shop long ago in the French Quarter.
A New Orleans landmark since 1893 is Commander’s Palace, located in the Garden District and is known for its award-winning food and is touted as the “go-to destination for Haute Creole cuisine” and New Orleans’s “best restaurant.” According to its website, renowned chefs, including Emeril Lagasse, Paul Prudhomme, Jamie Shannon, Meg Bickford, and more, have made this restaurant the world-class place it is today. Mississippi blueberry glazed pork belly, turtle soup, wild Louisiana white shrimp, tangy bacon, and apple cider braised cabbage are among the menu choices. It will be hard to choose between Creole bread pudding souffle, summer peach coffee cake, and, of course, southern-style pecan pie à la mode for dessert. There’s a dress code here, so please check the website for specifics. (Images below courtesy of https://www.commanderspalace.com/)
Established in 1946, Brennan’s blends Creole traditions with modern New Orleans flair. Its breakfast and lunch menu features turtle soup, milk and honey blintz, tomato and melon gazpacho, and a variety of egg dishes, such as eggs Hussarde, eggs Sardou, artisanal eggs Benedict, and eggs St. Charles. Omelette à la creole and paneed Lousiana rabbit are also among the offerings. Bananas Foster was invented here, so save room for this treat.
A Nearby Must-See
Once you leave New Orleans, plan to stop and experience the Whitney Plantation, which has an exclusive focus on slavery from the slave’s point of view and is about 45 minutes west of New Orleans. Exhibits, stories, memorials, and artwork will pull at your heart as you discover how generations of Africans enslaved here maintained crops of indigo, rice, and sugar for their owners. More than 350 slaves once lived here.
When You Go
Visiting a big city can be exhilarating and exhausting. Be sure to give yourself enough time to experience all New Orleans offers. Whether you want to experience world-class meals, music, nightlife, or history, it’s all here at The Big Easy.