The Advantage Team is hopping on a boat and heading down the Mississippi to New Orleans (not literally, since “shipping” seems to take forever these days). The city of Jazz, colorful buildings, Mardi Gras, and French Beignets, New Orleans has plenty to offer for visitors.
As a digital archive company, we naturally will place a heavy emphasis on the historical and educational aspects of this unique city (yes, we’re nerds). From Civil War sites to mausoleums to bars predating the formation of the country, the city is rich with history. So rich, that The Animals graced the city with a song: The House of the Rising Sun
The first stop (of 9) that our Advantage Time Machine takes us on is number one on my personal list of places to visit:
1) Cafe du Monde
The 161 year old cafe is open 24 hours a day and is located at 813 Decatur St, right in the heart of the city. The cafe, as I’m sure you’ve heard, is famous for their french beignets. French culture is an extremely common theme you’ll see during your time in New Orleans, as the French were the first from the old world to discover it. Robert de La Salle laid the initial claim, and Jean Baptiste Le Moyne de Bienville (try saying that with a beignet stuffed in your mouth) gave it a foundation and a name.
However, the French didn’t have a strong footing here until 1722. New Orleans was prone to violent weather that made it difficult to stay settled. 40 years after de La Salle’s discovery, the Place d’Armes was developed, finally giving them a firmer foundation. That leads us to our second location on the list, so grab your beignet and your coffee, and follow us across the street.
Update: The morning of January 27th, the advantage team went to Cafe du Monde. We, and I cannot stress this enough, highly recommend it. Just be sure to bring cash, as they don’t take cards.
2) Jackson Square
Jackson Square has a long history in the heart of New Orleans. We’ve already mentioned it, as once upon a time it was called the Place d’Armes. The French began construction on it in 1722, but wouldn’t hold it for long. After losing the Seven Years War to Britain in 1763 and fearing a British invasion, the French handed the territory over to Spain.
Much of the French foundation was rebuilt after two tragic fires burned down much of the city. In spite of that, the Spaniards 39-year stint at the helm established New Orleans as a key port city.
We have of course all heard the story of the Louisiana Purchase, where the French sold New Orleans (and much, much more, including our home state of Iowa) to the United States. Following the War of 1812, the square was named after the hero of New Orleans, the 7th president, and the face of the 20 dollar bill: Andrew Jackson. Nearby, you will also find Washington Artillery park, another noteworthy place to visit.
Within Jackson Square, you will also find our next stop, the St. Louis Cathedral.
3) St. Louis Cathedral & Cemetery
The St. Louis Cathedral is a sight to behold. If you walk through the alleys behind it, you might not even see that it’s there. That is, until you breach the street and walk into Jackson Square, turn around and see the spectacular façade. It’s majestic, mind-boggling, a fantastic photo opp, especially considering it was built almost 230 years ago.
The original building burned down in a fire in 1788, but New Orleans has always been a city of resilience. In 1789, construction started to rebuild the church, a project that would take upwards of five years.
Also constructed in 1789, the St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is a unique look into New Orleans history. The city actually sits below sea level, so early attempts to bury bodies did not go well. It’s possible modern zombie stories were given birth from this very city, as the buried bodies used to float and wash away. These days, the remains of those who have passed are kept in mausoleums. They are a distinct and interesting part of the city’s culture. Just ask Nic Cage.
4) Bourbon Street
One of the most famous destinations in New Orleans, which you’re probably disappointed in if you’re a bourbon connoisseur like myself. Bourbon Street dates back to 1718 and was named for the French royal family at the time. Stretching 13 blocks, it’s the heart of the French Quarter and the soul of the city. The street takes advantage of the allowance of open carrying of alcoholic beverages and features many of the most visited bars and venues in the city.
One of the more famous tourist destinations is the Carousel Bar and Lounge. The name says it all: the bar has a literal carousel inside of it (spinning at a snail’s pace for safety) that provides a one-of-a-kind experience.
Live Jazz can be found all over the famous street, but what if you want to learn about the history of Jazz by experiencing it? Follow us.
5) New Orleans Jazz Museum
It’s impossible to think of New Orleans without jazz music coming to mind. If you’re a history buff like us, perhaps you’d like to brush up on your music history before heading out to one of Bourbon Street’s many live jazz bars. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a great place to do just that.
Located at 400 Esplanade Avenue in the old U.S. Mint facility, the museum features exhibits about Louis Prima, Frederick Brown, and Zack Smith. Listening stations, instruments and much more make the exhibit deeply engaging and leave visitors with a personal connection to the music they explore.
6) Arcadian Books & Prints
If you’re looking for a cozy local book store, look no further than Arcadian books. Owned and operated by just one man, the layout of the book store may look chaotic… and it is. However, owner Russell Desmond says that there is an organization to all the madness. His stacks of books make for an odd, but homely look within the store, making it a book worms dream.
7) Smoothie King Arena
Our journey continues as we reach more modern aspects of the city now. Built in 1999, the Smoothie King Arena is home to the New Orleans Pelicans, who currently sit in 4th place in the NBA’s Western Conference. That’s four games ahead of Lebron James’ Lakers, and 2.5 games ahead against the defending champion Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors.
The Pelicans play at home Saturday, January 28th against the Washington Wizards. The Pels are led by star player Zion Williamson, who has been must-see-TV since he became an internet sensation at 16 years old. If you’ve never seen a live NBA game and you can find tickets for the right price, I would strongly recommend attending. You’ll be shocked by just how tall and fast these athletes are up close and in person. The theme for Sunday’s game is HBCU night, and a free hat will be given to all fans who attend the game (https://www.nba.com/Pelicans).
8) Hurricane Katrina Memorial
The memorial, built in 2008 and located at 5056 Canal St., is the final resting place of the 85 people who were unclaimed or unidentified following the aftermath of the 2005 hurricane.
It’s a somber site, one contrasts the carefree joy of mardi gras, but is just as ingrained in the history and culture of the city.
In 2008, a famous work of art was made as a memorial of Katrina. The famous street artist Banksy created NOLA, or Rain Girl. Before prints (all of which have an estimated value of $100,000+) were made for sale, it was a work of stencil graffiti on the streets of New Orleans
9) Vue Orleans
Our NOLA exploration comes to a close at an interactive museum/sightseeing experience. Vue Orleans is located on top of the Four Seasons Hotel, right next to the Mighty Mississippi River. This is the way to go if you’re short on time. A ticket (with a discount for groups of 10 or more, so grab some friends!) gets you into the building for a ~1.5 hour exhibit, taking you through the history, music, and culture of New Orleans. With a combination of interactive art and local history, this is a fantastic crash course for tourists in the Big Easy.
It’s impossible to narrow down this fantastic city to only 9 must-sees, so here’s a few of our honorable mentions:
Joan of Arc statue
Old ursuline convent museum
Immaculate conception jesuit church
Milton H Latter Memorial Library
Lafitte’s blacksmith shop bar (on bourbon)
The Van Gogh Experience
Don’t forget to be safe while traveling about, and stop by booth 832 while you’re at the show, we’ll see you there!