New Orleans is one of those cities that I knew I wanted to visit one day but there just never seemed to be the opportunity. It was a place that I knew that I would see one day, that I was drawn to and this past summer, I was finally in the heart of NOLA. It seems as though as soon as your feet land on the ground there, you feel something. There is a magic to the city. There’s history and mystery and beauty everywhere. Every July one of the largest cocktail conferences, Tales of the Cocktail, takes place in July. Because, who else would want to go to New Orleans in the hottest month possible but a bunch of wild bartenders?! My husband and I went down for nearly a week to promote our little project, Bartender Atlas. While there, we had a jam-packed schedule but left exactly one day entirely open for exploring. We took full advantage of this day and filled it with all of the things that I wanted to experience while in the Deep South. So with that, here is what I say you should do, should you find yourself in New Orleans for twenty-four hours. (And the listings below are the exact order that we did them in.)
Visit A Cemetery
I love visiting cemeteries. I love quietly wandering the rows of tombstones, reading the scripts on them and imaging just who the people that are buried there were, once upon a time. New Orleans has no shortage of cemeteries. And since the city is basically built on a swamp, the dead are buried above ground. There are elaborate crypts and tombstones and it is just all so fantastic and mysterious. Because tourism is so big in NOLA, a lot of the cemeteries are closed off to tourists. Our friend Steva suggested we visit the Saint Roch cemetery which is one that is a little ways out of the French Quarter (we took an Uber) but is still open to the public. After reading about it on Atlas Obscura, I was sold. The chapel there that is filled with things like prosthetic legs, glass eyes and other creepy things like that, is currently closed off apparently because of termites, but the cemetery is still worth a visit. If you do visit Saint Roch, walk ten minutes South from it to the Saint Roch Market and get yourself some lunch. The selection there is awesome and they have wifi so you can then order an Uber to take you back to the Quarter.
Voodoo Museum & Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo
Next on your tour is a stop at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. It only costs $7 and is filled with many great things including voodoo artifacts and lots of information about Voodooism. It’s a small place and at times is hard to navigate around but is totally worth your time. They also have a great gift shop. From there, now that you are full of all your voodoo knowledge, head on over to Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo for more shopping. Marie Laveau was known as a Voodoo Queen who died in New Orleans around 1895. I could have spent hours here – they sell everything from Gris-gris to spell kits to voodoo dolls to everything in between.
Ghost and/or Vampire Tour
By now, it’s the late afternoon and it’s time to do a walking tour around the French Quarter. We chose to do a Ghost AND Vampire tour because, of course you choose when that given the option. Since we were tight on time for when we could do the tour, we booked our tickets ahead of time (I believe you also save money by doing this). This particular Tour starts at The Voodoo Lounge and they offer 2 for 1 Hurricanes to all Tour participants so naturally, you should do this. But know that the drink is not that great and that you’ll end up dumping
most some of it down a gutter while you wander the streets of NOLA – yes, you can drink on the streets in the French Quarter. So civilized! The Tour was great. We learned some history of NOLA and some great, creepy stories about past residents. Our guide was also really great.
From there, you will be feeling super jazzed on life, a little bit buzzed from the
shitty Hurricane so it’s now the perfect time to have a tarot or palm reading! Head over to Chartres Street beside Jackson Square. There you will find the readers set up. Take your time and choose one that feels right. When my sister lived in Mexico City and I would visit, we would always go for quesadillas. We would drive with my brother-in-law up the mountains looking for the perfect quesadilla lady working at the side of the road. We would see one, my brother-in-law would slow down, look at the woman and say “Not old enough!” For him, the older the quesadilla woman, the better the quesadilla. When it comes to tarot readers, choose one that feels right and have some fun with what you are told.
Have a Cocktail or Two
New Orleans is known worldwide for their cocktail bars. The history in this city isn’t just with the people and places, it’s also with the cocktails. You have had a full day of exploring and learning so you have earned yourself a drink. I suggest that you head on over to our New Orleans Bar Hop to see what bar (or six), you should hit up.