24 Hours in New Orleans, Louisiana

by Stephanie Withers

I have never been so enchanted by a city as I was by New Orleans. With live jazz in the streets, delicious Cajun cuisine, and historic buildings everywhere you turn – I NEVER wanted to leave.

We had fun touring historic homes in Tuscaloosa, Alabama and made it to New Orleans just in time for a gorgeous sunset to set the tone for our magical evening.

Exploring New Orleans, Louisiana was the highlight of my Southern USA road trip. #usatravel #exploreusa #usroadtrip

My first impression, driving into the city, was panic. There were so many people walking through the streets that I was a little overwhelmed trying to get to our hotel in the French Quarter. Thankfully I was driving a tiny Ford Focus. I couldn’t imagine anything larger than that. The streets are tight (though I’m used to this – being from a historic city myself) and pedestrians will literally walk out in front of you. Or maybe they just can’t see bright red cars?

We stayed at the French Market Inn on Decatur Street.

After two nights of camping, we were so excited to have a bed and a shower. Can you tell?

The French Market Inn is absolutely gorgeous and is a great place to stay in the French Quarter. The staff were so friendly and helpful, answering our questions about the area and letting us stash our bags the next day, and the room was super clean.

We had to pass through a small central courtyard with tables and chairs, romantically lit by lights from the rooms above. The only views were of the iron balconies above and the stars in the sky. It was quite charming. We entered another building and got into a small elevator to go up to our room. An English woman sharing the elevator with us blurted out that she was so nervous staying here and asked if we were nervous, too.

“Uh…no,” I replied, worried. “Should we be? Did something happen?”

She kindly informed us that she had read all kinds of stories online about how the place was haunted.

I AM TERRIFIED OF GHOSTS, YOU GUYS! This was the bear situation all over again!! I hadn’t read anything about hauntings before booking the hotel. After we got into our room, my sister and I debated doing some late night internet research. We decided it could wait until morning.

“Help me” – The lovely message my sister wrote for me while I was in the shower.

After taking showers and freshening up, we got dressed and excitedly headed out for a night on the town!

Walking Bourbon Street in the French Quarter

Bourbon Street dates back to 1798 and hosts many landmark buildings. It’s the first city that I’ve ever been in that feels old. Even in Philadelphia, you could be standing in the middle of Olde City and you’re still surrounded by high rises and modern business. New Orleans feels like you’re transported to another time period altogether.

Bourbon Street is full of bars, restaurants, clubs and more, but they’re all inside historic old row homes. The street is blocked off to vehicles and, even on a Wednesday in August, it’s crowded with people.

The neon lights were almost romantic. Live jazz and rock music poured out of the open-air bars. You could smell delicious food from the bars and restaurants you passed. We decided to get some dinner at Deja Vu Bar & Grill – open 24 hours.

My sister was thrilled that she was allowed to carry her drink out in the street as we walked.

The architecture, the amazing live music, and the alcohol made everything feel so beautiful, but not everything is as it seems. Walking down Bourbon street, you’ll be stopped every 5 feet with people asking you to come into their establishment- strip clubs, exclusive bars, and other things.

But we didn’t pay them any mind. After wandering around for a while, we decided to head back to the hotel for a good night’s rest.

The National WWII Museum in @visitneworleans @WWIIMuseum is a must-see stop on your Southern U.S. road trip. No.3 Museum in all the USA! #usroadtrip #exploreusa Click To Tweet

Exploring the National WWII Museum

New Orleans in the daylight is even more gorgeous than I could have hoped.

I loved checking out everyone’s ornate balconies, with beautiful ironwork and hanging gardens.

For my sister, the U.S. history lover (with a particular interest in WWII), our first stop had to be The National World War II Museum.

After grabbing some breakfast, we walked across town to the museum. New Orleans really starts to heat up after the sun rises. The air was muggy and the temperature got into the 90s pretty quickly. We entered the museum as soon as it opened and were able to walk around at our own pace, enjoying the AC.

At one point, a friendly employee approached us as we were checking out a display and started talking over our shoulders, giving us a little more intimate history on the subject. My sister immediately began a conversation with him and he seemed really excited to meet someone who had such an interest in U.S. history. They talked for over an hour while I walked around, taking pictures and reading through the exhibit materials.

I highly recommend checking out the National WWII Museum while you’re in New Orleans. There is so much to see and learn in there, it’s really worth the trip.

After leaving the museum, we decided to check out more of the French Quarter and found ourselves in Jackson Square (originally known as Place d’Armes).

Exploring Jackson Square in the French Quarter

The energy in Jackson Square is infectious. It filled me with joy and wonder.

It was a beautiful sunny day. A large brass band was playing outside with a crowd of people gathered around, dancing. The upbeat music got me dancing as I walked, embarrassing my little sister.

Artists were set up in the square, selling their work. We stopped to watch them sketch or paint as they waited for customers.

We walked through the St. Louis Cathedral and the shops on the ground floor of the Pontalba Apartments (the oldest apartment buildings in the U.S.).

The only thing I knew about before heading to New Orleans, was the Cafe du Monde (established in 1862). I’m a big Anne Rice fan and wanted to visit New Orleans because of her books. I remembered the Cafe du Monde being mentioned and I couldn’t wait to experience it. There are very few menu options. Basically, you can get their chicory coffee with or without milk and the most amazing fresh beignets smothered in powdered sugar. SO DELICIOUS!

We couldn’t stay too long in New Orleans because we had to get to our campsite in Mississippi before nightfall.

This 24 hours in New Orleans has stayed with me since we took this trip almost 6 years ago. I fell in love with the spirit of New Orleans – the architecture, the art, and the food. I’ve been waiting for the opportunity to return and experience it all again (turns out, I’ll get that chance this September!).

Have you been to New Orleans? What should I check out next time? Comment below!

The National WWII Museum is the perfect stop on your Southern U.S. Road Trip. It's located in the enchanting city of New Orleans, Louisiana. #exploreusa #usatravel #usroadtrip
Walking Bourbon Street in New Orleans, Louisiana,, even on a Wednesday in August, is so much fun. Great food, live music, and drinks all around! It's the perfect destination for a USA road trip. #exploreusa #usatravel #usroadtrip

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