A unique brand of fun awaits if your next cruise departs from Port of New Orleans. Known for the French and Spanish Creole influence on food, music and architecture, Port NOLA is the perfect place to stay a few days.
Here are our five favorite fun things to do near the port:
No trip to New Orleans would be a complete without spending time in this iconic area of the city. Stroll the streets and discover museums, art galleries, restaurants and bars, locally owned shops, stunning architecture, historic homes and theatres. You can even have your fortune told by psychics.
Of particular note is the St. Louis Cathedral, the country’s oldest Catholic Church. You might recognize this gorgeous structure from its “appearances” in hundreds of movies.
Nearby is the open-air eatery, Café du Monde, famous for its café au lait and beignets. Folks have lined up for the fare at this establishment since 1862 – come taste why!
National WWII Museum
For an in depth look at America’s role in the Allied victory, visit this museum. There are restored airplanes and tanks from the era; hundreds of pieces of memorabilia; and, interactive exhibits. Be sure to see the new “Expressions of America” sound and light show, too.
Have a meal at the vintage BB’s Stage Door Canteen and enjoy the music of the 1940s performed by a female vocal trio. Attend an author reading to hear about events that changed the course of the war. And, learn about the home front challenges, women’s roles, Medal of Honor recipients and profiles of heroes.
If time allows, you can take a ride on Lake Pontchartrain in a WWII-era PT boat restored to its original condition, and experience a bit of what it was like for the soldiers at Normandy.
Mardi Gras World
For a historic look at this iconic parade, take a self-guided tour here. Opened in 1984, the story at this museum dates back to 1932 when father and son built their first float on the back of a garbage wagon pulled by a mule! The rest, as they say, is history.
The “monumental scales and lavish ornamentation of today’s floats” are largely credited to these humble beginnings. Today, visitors can see artists at work in the float den building over 500 of them per year. Also on display are floats, costumes and props from previous years.
The Mardi Gras School of Cooking
Make some delicious memories before or after you cruise from Port of New Orleans in a real cooking class. Sign up and try your hand at creating authentic Creole and Cajun cuisine dishes. Under the instruction of chefs, learn recipes, techniques and “the secrets of seasonings” for making this local food.
Prepare and cook shrimp etouffee in the Roux Class; pecan praline bread pudding in the Vegetarian Class; corn and crab bisque in the Creole Class; chicken and andouille sausage jambalaya in the Traditions Class; and, eggs Benedict with hollandaise sauce over crab cakes in the Brunch Class – just to name a few!
Audubon Aquarium of the Americas
Plan a stop at this facility, consistently top-rated “best 10” aquariums in the country. Experience the ecosystems of the Caribbean, the Amazonian Rainforest, the mighty Mississippi and the Gulf of Mexico. Waiting to greet you are over 3,600 animals across 250 species.
Go under the sea in a new virtual reality show; touch rays; learn about jellyfish; watch the penguins at play; and, meet the “world’s best Dads” – seahorses.
For an up-close adventure, join a guide for snorkeling at the Great Maya Reef habitat where over 30 species of marine life swim beside you. And, walk through the “submerged” Maya city filled with ruins and sunken artifacts.
Angela is a professional freelance travel writer and published indie author – AngelaMinor.com