Category Archives: New Orleans Attractions

New Orleans Attractions

Celebration in the Oaks: City Park’s Winter Wonderland

Live oak tree aglow with Christmas lights

Now in its 26th year, New Orleans’ annual Celebration in the Oaks in City Park is an event looked forward to by adults and children alike every holiday season. Located in the Mid-City neighborhood, City Park is transformed each December into a magical winter wonderland full of striking light designs and sculptures.

From the day after Thanksgiving—this year, November 23rd—until New Year’s Day, Celebration in the Oaks keeps City Park aglow long into the night with innumerable lights in a variety of colors and designs. Some strands wrap the majestic branches of the park’s live oak trees, and others wrap the Christmas trees that are sprinkled throughout the area.

You can take walks through the Botanical Garden, Storyland—the fairy tale-themed children’s theme park—and Carousel Gardens, an area of amusement rides. All of the park’s normal attractions will be specially decorated for the holidays, and the area will be filled with different animals, stars, icicles, and other picturesque shapes. You can also enjoy a Cajun rendition of the Night Before Christmas classic, complete with blinking lights, colorful characters, and a wonderful story perfect for your little ones.

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New Orleans Attractions

New Orlean’s Aquarium of the America’s

An exterior view of the Aquarium of the America's in New Orleans from the Mississippi River

River View of the Aquarium

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As the days get cooler in New Orleans, some visitors may seek fun and adventure indoors. During the late fall and winter months (and any other part of the year), you and your family can visit the Audubon Institute’s Aquarium of the Americas or the Butterfly Garden and Insectarium to get out of the cold and into exhibits displaying the wild, beautiful, and even unusual aspects of nature from around the world.

The city’s state-of-the-art aquarium is home to 15,000 creatures of the sea, representing nearly 600 species. The moment you walk in, you’re greeted by a mammoth whale shark hanging above the lobby, followed by the Caribbean Reef tunnel with fish and cownose rays on both sides and overhead as you pass through it. From there you’ll walk through dozens of exhibits featuring fish and underwater life from all corners of the globe, plus interactive and multimedia setups to enrich what you see and learn. There is also an IMAX 3D theatre where you can experience some of this underwater life in movie-form as you’re enveloped by the sounds and screens of IMAX projections. read more »

New Orleans Attractions

Celebrations in the Boo Carre: Halloween in New Orleans

Porch on Magazine St decorated for Halloween

Like any other holiday, New Orleans’ Halloween celebrations are big, loud, and full of fun-loving visitors and locals. With all of the in-the-street cavorting and wild costumes, All Hallows’ Eve in the Big Easy has come to resemble Mardi Gras season more and more with each passing year.

Some of the biggest celebrations take place downtown in the French Quarter, particularly on the Esplanade end and on Frenchmen St. Around Frenchmen especially, the streets are congested with flashy, splashy costumes of all themes—some of the handmade getups are truly a sight to be seen— and plenty of brass bands and dancers.

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New Orleans Attractions

Mardi Gras World: Explore the Magical Behind the Scenes of Carnival

Head of a jester from a Mardi Gras float in New Orleans

Courtesy of Denny Giaruso

 

 

Want to explore the behind-the-scenes magic of New Orleans’ most unique cultural and spiritual event of the year, the infamous Mardi Gras? Since 1947, Blaine Kern Studios has opened the doors of Mardi Gras World to locals and tourists alike to give them a peek inside all the craftsmanship, technology, and soul that goes into creating the ultimate Carnival experience.

Imagine walking within arm’s length of 20-foot papier-mâché sculptures of mythical beings like Zeus or Thor, or a giant jester with a hat and bells that feature nearly every vibrant color you can imagine? These magnificent works of art have donned the fronts and backs of parade floats for as long as any of us have been standing along St. Charles Ave or Canal St with our families and friends, waiting for them to pass.

Growing up in this city, since we were kids we had favorite parades, and even favorite floats and characters. Costumed riders returned our, “Throw me somethin’, Mister!” with handfuls of beads, doubloons, trinkets, stuffed animals, spears, frisbees, and more. But what’s lasted most in our memories aren’t the trinkets and plastic beads—it’s the picturesque, awe-inspiring, and sometimes even hilarious float designs that’s captured our hearts.

Mardi Gras World offers guided tours through these rows and rows of towering, fantastical float designs, sculptures, and costumes. You’ll even get to see the impressive technology that animates the very mega floats we ogle on the parade routes. Plus, bits of Carnival lore and the history of Mardi Gras in New Orleans are weaved into the tour for a little lagniappe.

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New Orleans Attractions

A Tour of the New Orleans St. Charles Streetcar Line

Two green streetcars heading downtown on St. Charles Ave. with church steeple in background.

Taking a ride on the streetcar

 

Day by day, the St. Charles Streetcar whirrs and clanks down the tracks, pervading the soundscape of Uptown New Orleans just steps from Southern Comfort Bed & Breakfast. Like the New York City subway, the streetcar’s distinct rumble and brakes can be heard from several blocks away. The oldest operating rail system in the country, this line of historic, green streetcars is an iconic piece of New Orleans’ colorful backdrop.

The line begins at S. Carrollton and Claiborne avenues at the front of Palmer Park, home of the monthly Arts Market. Traveling up Carrollton’s tree-lined neutral ground, streetcar riders pass a number of large, classic homes. Carrollton Station, a streetcar barn where the “Green Ladies” go to rest, is nestled just passed the crisscrossed tracks at Willow St. Beyond Willow stretches a more commercially condensed strip of shops and restaurants, with menu fare from all corners of the globe—Mexican, Lebanese, Thai, Vietnamese, Japanese, Italian, Creole, classic American, and everything in between.

At the edge of Carrollton, the streetcar line turns onto St. Charles Ave in a neighborhood known as the Riverbend, named for its curvature parallel to the Mississippi River levee. More beautiful, oak-lined streets give way to the stoic, historical structures of Tulane and Loyola Universities, with the luscious, inviting greenery of Audubon Park across the street.

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New Orleans Attractions

Audubon Zoo, a Popular New Orleans’ Attraction

Close up od giraffe at Audubon Zoo

Audubon Zoo

 

The Audubon Zoo is one of New Orleans’ most popular attractions . Named after John James Audubon, French naturalist and New Orleans resident in the early 1800s, the zoo sits on nearly 60 acres of land in the Uptown area of the city.   Audubon Zoo is managed by the Audubon Nature Institute which also oversees New Orleans’ famous Aquarium of Americas, the Audubon Insectarium, and a host of other research projects, parks, and nature and environmental-based endeavors.

The zoo is wonderful.   No matter the season, visitors can expect to see a large part of the zoo’s 2,000 animals  . Winter months will obviously be ideal for those species adapted to colder climates, but sometimes visitors can still catch playful penguins during the summer months as their tanks are temperature-controlled.   During warmer months visitors will notice the intense heat and humidity of this city, but viewing playful primates, giant turtles, leaf-munching giraffes, big, lazy cats, and the zoo’s intense swamp and reptile exhibit makes it all worth it.

Tigers, gorillas, and orangutans scatter the Audubon grounds.   The zoo even has a rare animal exhibit—including white tigers and albino alligators—that can be found year round.   The zoo is truly a spectacle, catering to all ages, groups or single admission, and has therefore become one of the most popular things to do for both New Orleans locals and visitors alike.

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New Orleans Attractions

Sunday Evening in New Orleans

tipitina's

In most towns, Sunday nights can be lonesome, depressing times.  You’re not ready to go back to work or school on Monday morning, but the promise of Friday night pizza and a movie, and Saturday barbecues has passed.  What to do?  In New Orleans, though, life really is a Cabaret—what good is sitting alone in your room?  Sunday night offerings are available at various bars, museums, and restaurants, keeping you from staring at the TV screen by yourself.  For example, Buffa’s Bar & Restaurant,  offers viewings of HBO dramas that have a Louisiana connection and that you may have missed last time around.   Past episodes of Treme’, the New Orleans –filmed and themed show about musicians, as well as True Blood,  are screened this Sunday, July 29, alternating at 7, 8, 9, and 10 PM, and you can feast on a famous Buffa’s hamburger while you’re at it.    If you get there earlier in the day, there’s music to listen to as well.

Another chance for company and entertainment is at Siberia on St. Claude Avenue.   An early gig on Sundays at 5:30 PM by New Orleans rhythm and blues band, King James and the Special Men, is a rowdy, joyous place to be, and you can get bar snacks there too, like pierogi or a mushroom and spinach blini  (t is Russian, after all!).    There’s no cover charge, and the drinks are cheap.

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