A Newcomer's Guide to the New Orleans French Quarter

A Newcomer's Guide to the New Orleans French Quarter
By Darwin Redshield

The French Quarter has always stood out as one of New Orleans's star attractions, possessing the mixture of cultural influences, architecture, history, music, and celebration that defines the city. I recently traveled to New Orleans and had the incredible experience of getting to know the Quarter.

I went into the trip without knowing a thing about New Orleans's history and culture, and came out as a self proclaimed 'French Quarter Tour Guide'. I decided to start this blog as a way to get my thoughts about the city down as well as do my best to guide any new visitors. I always try to keep in mind financial affordability, especially during economic times like these. So, viola, my guide for a day in the life of a French Quarter Tourist:

1. Find Your Lodging: With affordability in mind, I booked my lodging through a nifty site called Vacation-Offer.com. Vacation-Offer lets you find discount vacation deals through partner resorts, based on the stipulation that you go on a 90-minute timeshare tour while you are there. The short tour was harmless and informative, and definitely worth the great price I got while staying at the beautiful Frenchmen Orleans luxury condos. The Frenchmen was located at 519 Frenchmen St, right near the best in food, music, and nightlife.

2. Take in some History at Jackson Square: After you get settled at your comfortable lodging, I suggest you get out on your feet and explore some of the history that the French Quarter has to offer. Jackson Square, a beautifully manicured open air park located at the heart of the French Quarter, is a great place to start. Here you can explore 18th century history and architecture by visiting the St. Louis Cathedral, designated a minor basilica by Pope Paul VI. Next to the Cathedral you should also check out The Cabildo Museum, which served as the city's town hall in the 18th century.

When you tire of ancient, hallowed landmarks, take a break and re-energize with an authentic cafe au lait at the Cafe du Monde across the square. Here you can sit, relax, and listen to the live music of street performers.

3. Lunch anyone? : Getting hungry after all that history? Head down to the Alpine Bistro on Rue Chartres, just one block from Jackson Square coming from Canal St. At an affordable price, you can enjoy one of the most romantic restaurants New Orleans has to offer. "The courtyard will bring you back to the olden days when writers wrote the literature we marvel at today" Be sure to try all of the cajun and creole favorites (I highly recommend the crabcakes with a crawfish sauce!)

4. A Peaceful Stroll: While you are on Rue Chartres, I suggest taking a stroll to enjoy the historic architecture on the street. Here you will find the city's greatest concentration of preserved colonial era buildings and early 19th century town-houses. Your peaceful walk will also take you by some local shops and cafes scattered along the street. Take some time to stop and chat with the locals who are often relaxing in front of these establishments.

5. Dinner and Beyond: You may first have to return to the Frenchmen Orleans and take a nap before getting back out onto the town. I suggest spending your evening on the famous Bourbon Street, partaking in the fantastic food and wonderful nightlife. Word of caution: Bourbon St. is notoriously known for catering to tourists, as is any famed city landmark. Beware of certain establishments that look especially gaudy and have the tendency of price-gauging unsuspecting visitors. For dinner I recommend Embers Bourbon House & Restaurant, an eatery that specializes in such delicacies as crawfish tails, fried alligator, jambalaya, catfish, stuffed crab, red beans and rice, and crawfish etouffee. Be sure to try and get balcony seating overlooking the Bourboun Street nightlife.

For the latter part of your evening I suggest stopping in for a drink at Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop. This candle lit bar will bring you through a time warp to a simpler time. The establishment was built around 1761, and supposedly once owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte.

6. Sleep: You will probably be quite tired by the end of this whirlwind tour, so be sure to get some 'Zs'. Lay back in your plush Frenchmen bed and fall asleep to the sounds of New Orleans...and don't forget to get ready for another great day in the Big Easy!

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Darwin Redshield - EzineArticles Expert Author
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