So flying to New Orleans to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend may not technically qualify as a “road trip,” but surely tackling the streets of the French Quarter on foot should count for something, right? However, when visiting the French Quarter, the emphasis should definitely be on the word “trip” rather than “road.”
This wasn’t my first time going to the Crescent City, but it was my first visit during the Fourth of July. As usual, there were several factions of people invading the Quarter. You had your conventiongoers, your family reunion/vacation groups and then your general revelers, e.g. bachelor/bachelorette partiers, and all-around party people. No matter whom you were with or your reason for visiting, the French Quarter was welcoming.
The narrow streets didn’t deter people from driving through downtown New Orleans, but the unique scenery is just better appreciated on foot. As I strolled along, I couldn’t help but be curiously engaged in the architecture. The three-to-four story structures were commercial, residential and seemingly influential, all at the same time. Quaint shutters, well-manicured flowerbeds and balconies adorned the upper floors of each building, telling of a kinder, gentler New Orleans, filled with ladies sipping mint juleps and fanning furiously to keep the heat away.
On the street level, a different story was told. There were businesses of all kinds. Some big, some small…restaurants, bars, souvenir shops and establishments of questionable legality spoke volumes about the real attraction or addiction to this mesmerizing square. Seeing the swarm of people present on any given day of the week, you realize that this small, 78-square-block area has just as much influence as any big city in the country.
Is it the great seafood from the coast? Or maybe it’s the never-ending flow of booze, beads and merriment that are easily obtained in New Orleans all day, everyday. Whatever the reason, the French Quarter is the place to be.
Now, don’t get me wrong, there are a few consequences for being the best party in the country. With so many people visiting the Vieux Carré, Bourbon Street, specifically, is a little dirtier than the rest of town. After a certain time, it looks like a hurricane (the drink) has blown through. The smell is no longer of fresh food, but of other interesting odors. Yet none of it is enough to keep people from wanting a taste of the New Orleans’ experience.
If you haven’t ever hit the road headed toward New Orleans, you’re missing a real treat. New York’s claim as a melting pot has nothing on the rich diversity present in New Orleans, Louisiana. Give it a try. You won’t be disappointed.
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