||Last Updated: Feb 6, 2017 - 2:32:04 PM
I have just returned from a family reunion in the Bayou State of Louisiana. My mother was born and raised in the state, and most of her family resides there. This was my first time attending my southern family’s biennial reunion, and I was excited and curious to meet my extended relatives. My mom comes from a family of 75 first cousins, so understandably, the reunion was well attended.
Meeting many of my second, third, fourth, and fifth cousins for the first time was momentous. The experience in itself was a cultural immersion into the blend of Creole, American, and African originated traditions. We barbequed, we worshipped, picnicked, told stories of yesteryear, and renewed family bonds. Now I can truly grasp the spirit behind soul food.
During my free time I explored 3 must-see attractions in New Orleans:
(#1 is my top pick)
#3) Shopping – Magazine Street
This is a six-mile long thoroughfare that features the best art galleries, antique and craft shops, and is a mecca for the Bohemian Aficionado.
#2) Sightseeing - St. Charles Avenue
No visit to New Orleans is complete without a leisure stroll, streetcar ride, or “Sunday Drive,” down “The Jewel of America’s Grand Avenues,” St. Charles Avenue. St. Charles features some of America’s most beautiful historic homes dating back to the 19th century. St Charles is also home to historic cathedrals, synagogues, and Loyola & Tulane University.
#1) Sightseeing/ Shopping/ Eating/ Staying - The French Quarter
The French Quarter founded in 1718 is NOLA’s oldest neighborhood. The entire district is listed as a national historic landmark. While visiting stop by Saint Louis Cathedral, America’s oldest continually active Roman Catholic Cathedral. Saint Louis is the emblematic symbol of the French Quarter and the city of New Orleans.
The Quarter has amazing shopping, similar to that of Magazine Street. My favorite “shop,” is actually the open-air “French Market.” This wonderful venue is America’s oldest public market dating back to 1791. Here you will find an assortment of artisans selling their creations, and vintage vendors retailing an assortment of beautiful & uniquely odd antiques.
New Orleans is world famous for its Cajun cooking, while in the Quarter I highly recommend the newcomer, SoBou. This is the quintessential Louisianan bar and restaurant at the W French Quarter. It’s a creole style saloon with Louisiana-centric street food. The restaurant is classic but modern, not weighed down by the past, but fueled by it. The menu is a fusion of classic Cajun dishes prepared with a modern twist. The Foie Gras Burger was my tested and approved dish, and will doubtlessly awaken your taste buds.
After a wonderful meal and drink check into the W French Quarter. It’s tucked away on 316 Chartres Street, a beautiful cobblestone rd. Its facades are nostalgia inducing, yet its interiors reveal a blend of signature W Hotel modernity and southern comfort living. Like me, you will never want to leave!
If you’re planning to visit NOLA, come February through May it’s the best time to see the city come alive. This period includes Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest; travellers should plan accommodations three - six months in advance.
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