I had been wanting to go to New Orleans for years and it never seemed to happen. Flights were always expensive, we have a small kid (it’s hard to party on Bourbon Street with a kid, right?) and, well, the timing was never right.
Enter Christmas 2016. We had decided as a family to squeal out and make memories instead of buying each other slippers or plastic toys that’ll end up under the couch in less than 30 seconds. Flights were inexpensive, we found a good deal on a hotel and we were out!
This city has a feeling like no other. I’ve never been to Europe, so take this with a grain of salt, but I felt like I was in Europe. It was founded in 1718 by the French, but control went back and forth between the French and the Spanish with the United States gaining control after the Lousiana Purchase. It is it’s own living, breathing culture with architecture, food, and music that you aren’t able to experience elsewhere. Along with all of this, New Orleans is known for its creep factor which was a huge draw for me. The crazy history, the ghost tours, and Marie Laveau, the undisputed “Queen of Voodoo.”
Full disclosure: I tend to be quite, uh, lazy in my everyday life. So it says something that my husband commented that he had NEVER seen me more up and at ’em in his life. I HAD THINGS TO SEE, man. Anyway, below are some of my favorite things about New Orleans.
- ALL OF THE HISTORY
Typically, when a person thinks of New Orleans their mind jumps to Mardi Gras party time and all other kinds of debauchery. All of that is true, but the historical aspect of the city was FASCINATING. The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city and the whole district is a National Historic Landmark, which means that nothing can be torn down and rebuilt. As you walk through the Quarter, many buildings will have plaques on them explaining the historical significance of where you are standing. For example, there was the plaque above, another marking the location of the major slave exchange in the city in 1788 and another marked a building where Napoleon was offered refuge during his exile.
I get such a kick out of finding these nuggets of history and knowing that I am standing in the spot that such important/amazing/atrocious things occurred. You can’t help but take a second to contemplate your tiny place in the world and everything that has come before you. Side note: stopping every 30 seconds to read a plaque and “take it all in” is also a fun thing to do if you want to annoy your husband.
2. SERIAL KILLERS/ARCHITECTURE
The Lalaurie Mansion was on the top of my to-do list. I led the fam on a wild goose chase trying to find it only to have my husband say, “What? It’s just a building? I thought there would at least be a gift shop or something.”
The gift shop comment is hilarious because this home was owned by a wealthy socialite who just happened to torture and kill slaves in her home (to his credit, he didn’t know that at the time). There were suspicions that Madame Lalaurie was mistreating her slaves and when a fire broke out in 1834 (supposedly by a slave trying to commit suicide), the suspicions were confirmed when police entered and found dead bodies in the slave quarters. She fled into exile and almost 200 years later become the subject of the third season of American Horror Story (Coven).
Nicolas Cage ended up buying the house at one point and lived there until he lost it to foreclosure. Apparently, he spent a lot of time on the deck, cocktail(s) in hand. It’s a beautiful deck, though. I don’t blame him.
3. MORE SERIAL KILLERS
After the Lalaurie Mansion, I bid adieu to the boys and walked on over for some “me time” at the Museum of Death. This place is probably pretty self-explanatory, but the highlights included: artwork by Charles Manson, Richard Ramirez, Son of Sam, and John Wayne Gacy. Also on display was Ed Gein’s psychiatric report, Jeffrey Dahmer’s prison logs, the original suicide machine made by Jack Kevorkian, and exhibits on old funerary customs. All I have to say is that I’m glad we’ve moved beyond suspending corpses from the ceiling (those pesky, hungry rats and their teeth!).
Finally, they had a collection of O.J. Simpson related items that contained one beyond shocking police photo of Nicole Brown Simpson. I have a pretty high tolerance for all things gruesome, but that photo made me gasp out loud. I will NEVER get that image out of my mind (thanks, O.J.). Bottom line: if you are into this kind of stuff it is a MUST see. You might even want to pick up a Jeffrey Dahmer apron to wear at your summer barbeques!
Hey! Want to see cool New Orleans cemetery pics and read about why I decided that crawling around in a tomb was NOT a good idea? Keep your eyes peeled for my next post!
Do you any cool New Orleans stories to share? I want to hear them!