A few weekends ago, my friend Amanda and I jetted down to New Orleans for a five-day girls’ trip.
When we were first contemplating where we would go for our girls’ trip this year, we almost nixed New Orleans because we didn’t know how safe it would be for two women to be wandering around by themselves.
But NOLA was calling us; we had our hearts set on it. So I did some research (naturally), and if safety in New Orleans is something that worries you and/or makes you not want to visit, let me assure you: New Orleans is just like any other city—there are simply areas you want to avoid. Avoid them, be aware of your surroundings, and I promise you’ll be fine. (See also: “Things Not to Do When in New Orleans.”)
And New Orleans is really pretty easy to navigate once you get the hang of it. We walked everywhere (in 90-degree-plus-humidity weather, mind you; even the locals were complaining about how hot it was). I think the longest we walked to any given destination was 20 minutes.
We had nothing specific planned for our first night in New Orleans, aside from having a lovely meal for Amanda’s birthday (we went to the House of Blues, per her request; but just a heads-up, the music venue and restaurant are actually separate).
When I get to a new place, the first thing I like to do is a walking tour. We started out researching voodoo-related walking tours but landed instead on a Brothels, Bordellos, and Ladies of the Night walking tour, because why not learn about the seedy underbelly of a destination first thing?
We had just enough time to get some freaking amazing grilled cheese at St. James Cheese Company, promptly lose a hundred bucks at the casino, and then we were on our way to the meeting point beside the famed Cafe Du Monde across from Jackson Square Park.
Our guide gave us a history of the city of New Orleans, setting the scene, before heading to Storeyville in the French Quarter. Prostitution is currently illegal in New Orleans, so it wasn’t quite like wandering around the Red Light District in Amsterdam; we didn’t see any “action.” It was more about entertaining us with the stories of famous prostitutes and madams as we walked along the Quarter’s cobbled streets.
We stopped at a local/hole-in-the-wall bar about halfway through for alcoholic watermelon lemonades and sat around a courtyard while our guide handed around some informative books and a replica of New Orleans’ “blue books,” which essentially promoted the madams and prostitutes (you can read more about it here, if you’re interested; it’s really quite scandalous).
It was an entertaining and inexpensive two hours and gave us a little taste of New Orlean’s sordid history and helped us get the lay of the land. I wouldn’t say this is a “must-do” when you’re in New Orleans, but we got a kick out of it, and if you like walking tours and are fascinated by the “world’s oldest profession,” then you could do a lot worse, trust me.
In the coming weeks, I’ll be posting about the other things we did in New Orleans, like our ghost-hunting tour, our tour of St. Louis Cemetery I, our swamp tour, our plantation tour, and probably my favorite, the National WWII Museum (I know what you’re thinking—a museum? Seriously Ash? The answer is: Seriously. We loved it so much, we went back a second day just so we could see it all. But more on that later!)
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