We love traveling at Medicareful Living. It can expand your perspective, keep you learning and active, and create memories that last a lifetime. However, a big journey can be daunting without help. We want to be that help and make sure you don’t miss a thing while you’re exploring. Throughout this series, we’ll offer you tips on where to stay, what to see, and what to try, as well as answer some important questions. All opinions and facts in this article are through extensive research and personal experience. We have not received sponsorships or remuneration for our support or opinions.
New Orleans is a city unlike any other. It’s molded by history and influenced by the blend of French, Spanish, Southern, and African cultures. Based along the Mississippi River, New Orleans may be most famous for Mardi Gras and jazz, but the appeal of the city is much more than the wild parties on Bourbon Street.
Why New Orleans is a Perfect Trip for Seniors
New Orleans has something for everyone. If you’re into history, it has a long, colorful, and multicultural past that the city actively works to bring to life. Then, you have the music that permeates through the streets, turning every corner into a concert. The music is the perfect soundtrack to a little New Orleans partying, which can be found almost anywhere. That’s not to say New Orleans is all party all the time. There’s also world-class shopping, a major casino, and the food. Once you’ve tried all that, take a break with a cocktail while you lounge in a chair overlooking the mighty Mississippi.
Fortunately for seniors, New Orleans is a very walkable city, but if that’s not an option for you, there’s standard public transit. You can also ride in style in a horse-drawn carriage, one of the famous streetcars, or a tour bus so you can see the sights and stop wherever you want. New Orleans makes it simple to see everything.
Where to Stay
New Orleans is a fairly central city with tourist attractions and lodging in the middle, around Jackson Square, and more residential areas as you move out. We’ll be pointing out a few areas that are close to everything, but we encourage you to explore beyond our suggestions. New Orleans is a wonderful city that is highly worth taking your time to get to know.
If we’re talking central, iconic New Orleans, you’re thinking the French Quarter. It’s where you’ll find Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, and the New Orleans Jazz Museum. Known for its cast-iron balconies, jazz clubs, and nightlife, the French Quarter is what gives New Orleans its image.
Nearby, you’ll find world-class restaurants, show venues, and historic sites galore. The French Quarter is also where many hotels are located, giving you plenty of options to choose from. The one potential downside of being in the middle of the action is also being in the middle of the crowd. This can mean noise and higher prices for accommodations. But for many, the convenience factor trumps those concerns.
Located to the west of the French Quarter, the Uptown District is a more residential but no-less-historic part of New Orleans. Often combined with the Garden District, it’s just outside central New Orleans, still close enough to the main attractions to be convenient.
Here, you’ll find the famous St. Charles Streetcar that winds down shady mansion-lined streets. A more recent addition to the city — it was only annexed in 1852 — Uptown has luxuriousness and style mastered. But it isn’t all high society and mansions. This is where you’ll find many of the city’s universities (like Loyola University and Tulane University), the Audubon Zoo, and the path of the Mardi Gras parade.
On the other side of the French Quarter, you’ll find the more casual, and more hip, Marigny District. Known for its vibrant, artistic scene and rows of shotgun houses, Marigny is where you should go if you want to find bohemian New Orleans.
Home to the magnificent St. Roch Market and Frenchman Street, Marigny is a great place to experience the culture of New Orleans from the food to the music. Speaking of food, you’ll find some of the best restaurants in the city tucked away in Marigny and the nearby Bywater. Even if you’re not staying here, it’s definitely worth a visit.
What to Do
Partying is something that New Orleans is famous for, and there’s great bars and party spots in New Orleans that you can find anywhere. We’re going to focus on the fun stuff that people tend to miss.
Jazz It Up
So, personal admission time. This writer is not a huge fan of Bourbon Street. It’s worth going on to see, but the bars are mostly like those you could find anywhere. The nearby Frenchman Street, however, is everything you’ve probably imagined about New Orleans. The street is full of neat bars, each with a jazz band playing, but without the crowd and smell of Bourbon Street. Sometimes, the bands even spill out into the road, putting on a free concert for anyone lucky enough to be walking by. Stop by if you’re looking for a soundtrack for your New Orleans trip.
If you’re looking for New Orleans jazz, don’t miss legendary venues like Preservation Hall and Fritzel’s European Jazz Bar.
But this isn’t the only place in New Orleans you can go for great music. If you’re looking for New Orleans jazz, don’t miss legendary venues like Preservation Hall and Fritzel’s European Jazz Bar. You also shouldn’t pass up a trip to the Jazz Museum. You won’t only find jazz in New Orleans, though. The House of Blues almost always has a great live show and venues featuring every genre of music are scattered throughout the city.
See the Spooky Side of New Orleans
There are four things that New Orleans is famous for: jazz, Mardi Gras and parties, food, and its dark side. This darkness is a reputation that the city has fully embraced. On any given night, you’ll see ghost tours mingling with revelers on almost every street. Nearly every district has its own ghost story, some we’ve featured on this website.
New Orleans isn’t just known for ghosts, though. The Big Easy is also the city of voodoo, where some of the most famous practitioners in history plied their trade. When you throw in the vampire connections, you’ve got a uniquely creepy city.
Go to the World War II Museum
Whether you’re a history buff or not, the World War II Museum is one of those attractions that’s almost universally raved about. Located a short walk from the French Quarter, the museum is loaded with an assortment of exhibits from all theaters of the war and back home. Anything you could be curious about with war is covered, including an interactive 4-D experience, narrated by Tom Hanks.
The World War II Museum is an incredible place to learn about one of the biggest wars in human history.
Don’t know where to start? Sign up for a guided tour! The World War II Museum is an incredible place to learn about one of the biggest wars in human history.
What to Eat
New Orleans is routinely listed in the top food destinations in the United States and for good reason. The city’s blended history has yielded some of the most delicious food you’ll find in this country.
If you want to try a bit of everything, we suggest signing up for a food tour.
Walking through its streets, you’ll find incredible Southern barbecue, fresh seafood, Cajun restaurants, and local spots that can only be found in New Orleans. We’re talking crawfish, po boys, beignets, and more. If you want to try a bit of everything, we suggest signing up for a food tour. This can be a great way to learn about the city and its food at the same time!
When you’re ready for dinnertime, head to one of New Orleans’ many amazing restaurants. Mulate’s, famous for its dancing and music, along with classic New Orleans food, is a great place to start. With the Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico so close, New Orleans is also a great place to get high quality, fresh seafood. This makes restaurants like G.W. Fins a must-eat during your stay. While you’re downtown, try out some of the French Quarter classics like Arnaud’s, Muriel’s Jackson Square, and Napoleon House. In the morning, wake up with the legendary Café du Monde.
Beyond these suggestions, there are many, many lists of the great restaurants in New Orleans. A great way to discover hidden gems is by asking a local!
Day Trips Around New Orleans for Seniors
While New Orleans is a lot of fun, you may want to try something a little different. Luckily, you can find other activities a short trip away by car, bus, or even boat! Some of these experiences even have organized tours that handle everything for you.
Ride a Riverboat on the Mississippi River
Travel back in time and ride the Mississippi River in style or book a ticket on one of the city’s steam-powered paddleboats. Whether you’re on the Steamboat Natchez, the Creole Queen, or the City of New Orleans, you’ll be riding in style.
Most boats sail several times each day, giving you plenty of options to fit a ride into your schedule. You can even try one the several special rides they host, like a historic cruise or a jazz dinner. Whatever you go with, you’ll be getting an iconic Louisiana experience.
Visit the Bayou and Swamps
Just outside of New Orleans, you’ll find the swamps and bayou featured in much of the Louisiana folklore. We wouldn’t suggest heading off into the wildlife without a guide, but if you would like to see it, it’s pretty easy to find a tour. Whether it’s on a bus or a boat, you’ll get a firsthand experience of the marshes that shelter the alligators and other wildlife.
Near New Orleans, you can see a dark history that has nothing to do with ghosts, voodoo, or vampires. There are several major plantations that you can explore and learn more about the horrors of slavery. It may be an ugly part of our history, but it undeniably happened, and closing our eyes to the darker parts leaves us with an incomplete view of our past. Without a full view, we cannot learn the lessons of history correctly. That’s why you may find a tour of one of the nearby plantations worth taking.
Without a full view, we cannot learn the lessons of history correctly.
The three main plantations near New Orleans are Oak Alley Plantation, Laura Plantation, and the Whitney Plantation. There are also tours that handle the transportation from New Orleans.
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New Orleans is a one-of-a-kind city. If you’ve never been, even if only for a long weekend, you’ve got to visit. You’ll find a city that has a zest and style all its own. Whether you’re enjoying the food, the music, or the spookier side of things, New Orleans has something unique to offer you.
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