As part of my Tuesday Travels posts, I’m going to do random spotlights on cities that I either 1) Know pretty well or 2) Can’t stop obsessing over. This will hopefully be a good way to get my travel writing chops up to par.
My first choice, of course, contains a little bit of both 1 and 2. New Orleans has been a part of me since before I was born, thanks to a Saints-obsessed mom and grandparents who were established members of the Krewe of Rex (I will never forgive Great-Grandpa for turning down the offer to be king!!)
I ended up moving to New Orleans for college (go Green Wave!), so you might say I’m a local (not really). I lived in the uptown area, which, in my humble opinion, is one of the best parts of New Orleans. If you’re visiting for the first time and want to get away from the craziness of the French Quarter, you should definitely check it out.
Getting To Uptown
If you’re coming from out of state, you might not have a car. Even if you do, it’s probably better to keep it safely parked because driving in New Orleans is almost –– but not quite –– as terrifying as driving in LA.
That said, NOLA has some decent public transportation, and if you’ve got the timing right (there tends to be lots of construction), you can take the adorable (and historic!) street cars on St. Charles Ave. Starting from Canal street, take the St. Charles line toward Uptown. Right now, the cost per ride is $1.25 in exact change, but you can also opt for a “Jazzy Pass” if you want to do multiple trips.
As you ride the cute– if a little jolting — streetcar up toward my old neck of the woods, you’ll start to see the gorgeous old oaks, Spanish moss and extravagant mansions that only New Orleans can pull off.
Some places to stop along the way include:
Voodoo BBQ. This tasty take out was the place to go on a Friday night.
Tulane University. Because obviously. Also, amazing architecture.
Audubon Park. This is such a peaceful place to hang out and decompress. There are tons of nooks and crannies where you can lay around and indulge in a bit of nature. During finals, may even hear the distant whimpers of hungover Tulanians. Just be careful where you walk –– sometimes the algae on the small lake gets so thick that it looks like a lawn. Trust me, it’s not.
Audobon Zoo. It’s located between the park and the river. Not the hugest zoo, though I’m a spoiled San Diegan. Also, there’s a carousel that makes up for it.
Magazine Street. This runs parallel to St. Charles, so by the time you get to the Tulane U./Audobon Park area, jump off the streetcar and turn left (toward the Mississippi River). If I recall correctly, you’ll hit Magazine in about fifteen to twenty minutes. There’s tons of cute vintage shops all along it, though Whole Foods came barreling in right around the time I graduated, so things might have changed.
The Boot. If you hit Tulane, you’ll need to make a quick stop at the Boot. Grab a cheese pizza. Don’t dance after 11 PM. Don’t ask why.
Snowballs. They tend to emerge around late Spring, and if you see a stand, run to it. You can usually find them around Audubon Park.
The Fly. I don’t know if anyone still calls it this anymore, or if it was even called that by anyone outside my circle of friends, but the Fly is basically a grassy area right on the Mississippi River. Take the streetcar all the way to the Carrollton/St. Charles intersection, then turn left and go straight for the river. You’ll know you’re there when you need to dodge a Freshman’s wayward frisbee.
There’s so much to do in Uptown, and I know I’m forgetting a ton of it. If any other locals have suggestions or amendments, let me know in the comments!