As a melting pot of French, African and American cultures, New Orleans is unlike anywhere else on Earth. Nicknamed the ‘Big Easy’, there’s a vibrant spirit to this city that’s truly difficult to beat. And it’s no more evident than in its art, architecture and amazing cuisine, all served up as a feast to travellers hungry for adventure (or just plain in the mood for food).
If you happen to find yourself in New Orleans while on one of our escorted tours of North America, you’ll soon discover that free time is as much a feature as included excursions, which gives you the perfect opportunity to explore at your own pace. So, what are you waiting for? Check out our suggestions for how best to spend your free time in New Orleans while on holiday with Travelsphere, sampling all the culinary and cultural delights the city has to offer.
New Orleans has long been a haven for artists and creatives; in this historic, colourful city, it’s easy to find inspiration. And now you, too, can experience the power of art in the Big Easy while traversing its storied streets and distinctive neighbourhoods during your free time on a Travelsphere holiday.
For tourists, New Orleans street art is one of the most striking aspects of travelling to this extraordinary destination. It seems that everywhere you look you’ll find graffiti-style murals flourishing, bold depictions of metropolitan life that tell the story of the city in astonishingly poignant ways. Often painted by local artists, they showcase the incredible spirit for which the Big Easy is renowned.
With New Orleans wall art to be found down just about every stretch of road, there’s the distinct possibility you’ll come across some paintings while travelling between excursions. Of course, you should make the effort to see them up close and personal whenever’s convenient, dedicating a portion of your free time to tick off as many pieces of street art as possible while staying here.
Museums and Galleries
If you’re looking for a more conventional artistic experience in New Orleans, you can fully enjoy your holiday knowing that there will be plenty of time for you to visit some of the city’s most famous museums and galleries.
There are so many museums and galleries that capture a variety of interests in the Big Easy. You may be inspired to visit places such as NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art), the oldest fine arts museum in the city and famous for its extensive collection of European and American works, or perhaps the Alex Beard Studio, where you’ll be able to check out pieces by a local artist whose unique style of gestural painting has earned its own name: ‘Abstract Naturalism’. So, whether you want to see a more traditional type of art or you’ve got a soft spot for all things innovative and experimental, you’ll almost certainly find what you’re looking for in New Orleans.
The oak-lined streets of New Orleans are full of fascinating examples of different architectural and decorative styles, each with its own personal connection to the city’s eclectic history. In New Orleans, it’s the little details that make the architecture so interesting, as you’ll see for yourself during your free time on holiday with Travelsphere.
The elegant and well-established New Orleans architectural tradition begins as you might expect: at home. From early-to-mid-19th–century Creole cottages and townhouses to Italianate shotgun residences; double-gallery designs to California-style bungalows, there are plenty of domestic buildings for the avid adventurer to appreciate. What’s more, because they’re dotted all over the city, you don’t have to travel too far to see each kind!
Here at Travelsphere, we offer ample opportunity for you to discover all the different kinds of houses in New Orleans when you get time to spare. Many are actually people’s homes though, so be mindful before taking lots of photographs and/or videos.
Across New Orleans, it’s certainly easy to find areas where architecture contributes greatly to the atmosphere of excitement that makes the city so special. If neighbourhoods known for their impressive buildings are your bag, you’ll feel right at home in the Big Easy!
Free time on your Travelsphere tour affords you the chance to explore places somewhat off the beaten track, of which New Orleans has an interesting range. St. Charles Avenue, grand and leafy, is a prime example, bedecked with shimmering Mardi Gras beads that mark the city’s epic Carnival route. This five-mile stretch is the embodiment of so many things New Orleans and should not be missed by lovers of architecture and ambience visiting the Big Easy. At the same time, you’ll want to take a trip to the Central Business District, where an industrial boom combined with the city’s zest for life to produce some truly remarkable buildings. Without a doubt, the neighbourhoods of New Orleans are a draw for tourists, many visiting to take advantage of its atmospheric architectural offerings.
New Orleans’ rich culture is arguably best reflected in the diverse range of food on offer throughout the city. From Creole classics to international specialities, the cuisine of New Orleans is as multilayered and evocative as the Big Easy itself and should be sampled with the same degree of enthusiasm as all other aspects of its heritage – maybe even more so. Here are just some of the many hundreds of ways to experience food in this complex, flavourful and multicultural metropolis.
Learning About Food in New Orleans
While on your trip with Travelsphere, you can use any free time you have to get clued up on the fascinating culinary history New Orleans is famous for. And what better way to learn than through hands-on experience? You’ll find plenty of cookery classes across the city where you can hone your skills and focus on your foodie interests. If you’re looking for fun ways to indulge your passions and your palate in the Big Easy, cookery classes could be the way to go.
Alternatively, if you’d prefer something a little more relaxed, paying a visit to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum will be more than enough to whet your appetite. Dedicated to the discovery, understanding and celebration of food, drink and culture related to the South, SoFAB examines and celebrates all the nations that have come together through the centuries to create its unique culinary heritage. With special exhibits, demonstrations, lectures and tastings to enjoy, this is one New Orleans sight you don’t want to miss.
Flavours of the Big Easy
New Orleans’ food culture is one of the most diverse in the entire United States. Iconic New Orleans food comes in many different shapes and sizes, all of which are exciting and delicious. Whether you fancy something traditional like jambalaya or want to broaden your palate with sweet spectacles such as Bananas Foster, you’ll find dishes to treasure in the Big Easy. Also, shellfish is something the city is very famous for, and you’ll be in your element if you’re hoping oysters and crawfish show up on the menu.
Po-boy sandwiches are another New Orleans staple; dating back to when the streetcar line was being built, they’re still as popular today as they were the first time around! To get your po-boy fix, simply head to one of the city’s many cafes, bars or grills, where you’ll be able to sample everything from a combo of oyster and shrimp to surf and turf and beyond. In the Big Easy, people get really creative when it comes to po-boys, so be sure to try as many as your free time permits!
And there you have it. Hopefully, with these insights, you’ll be getting the most out of your free time in New Orleans and discovering all the different things about the city that make it both unique and memorable. Whether you’re a foodie who likes to try new restaurants, a culture buff with a passion for exploring historic neighbourhoods, or you simply want to admire some beautiful art, New Orleans is perfect for embracing local traditions while having a wonderful time, which is what your Travelsphere holiday should be about!