Cemetery Tours#6 in Best Things To Do in New Orleans
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Some of New Orleans' must-see attractions are its cemeteries. Many of the tombs found in these "cities of the dead" are above ground to protect them from rising water levels, and they're embellished with ornate designs inspired by French and Spanish architecture. Though the city's older cemeteries are admittedly dilapidated, with crumbled tombs and patchy grass, the decaying grounds add to the ghostly atmosphere.
The St. Louis Cemeteries are some of the most popular, despite being located in somewhat edgier parts of town (just south of the Tremé neighborhood). St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (listed on the National Register of Historic Places) is the final resting place of some of New Orleans' more unique characters, including Bernard de Marigny – former president of the Louisiana Senate and notorious playboy – and Marie Laveau, the Big Easy's very own "Voodoo queen." St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 shelters the graves of local musicians like Ernie K-Doe and Danny Barker, plus it's the burial site of the notorious pirate, Dominique You. Movie buffs will recognize the eerie walls of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (situated south of Central City) from films like "Interview with a Vampire" and "Double Jeopardy."
The best (and safest) way to see New Orleans' famous cemeteries is to tag along on a guided tour provided by Save Our Cemeteries, a group dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans' sacred burial grounds. Recent tour-goers say the guide are passionate and you'll learn a lot. Tour times, prices and departure points vary depending on the type of cemetery you choose to tour, but generally tours last a little more than an hour and cost $15 to $45 per person. For more information, check out the Save Our Cemeteries website. Many of the city's other guided tours also make stops at the most popular cemeteries. Check to see if any walking or biking tours include a stroll through a cemetery.
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#1 Frenchmen Street
If you want an authentic New Orleans experience more removed from the touristy areas of Bourbon Street and the French Quarter, head to the lively Frenchmen Street. A popular spot for locals, Frenchmen Street is a four-block stretch of live music, bars, restaurants, night clubs and art galleries. Here, not only will you find fewer crowds (albeit not by much), but you'll also encounter cheaper eats and drinks, and better music – it's kind of like Bourbon Street's hipper, trendier cousin. If you don't consider yourself a night owl, the Palace Market (open daily 7 p.m. to 1 a.m.) is a shopping haven where locals sell homemade art and jewelry.
Recent visitors agreed that a trip to New Orleans isn't complete without stopping by Frenchmen Street. Some even suggest skipping the more crowded and touristy Bourbon Street and instead meandering along Frenchmen Street where you'll find live music, specifically jazz, and great bars. Travelers and locals alike love The Spotted Cat, Three Muses and d.b.a thanks to their extensive beverage selections, fun atmospheres and, of course, talented musicians. "Frenchmen Street is what Bourbon Street used to be ... it's about four blocks of more laid-back, old-style jazz clubs. Nothing fancy to them, very local with great music. A much more laid-back area to stroll from bar to bar and listen to music," said Isabelle Van Bockel, a concierge at the JW Marriott New Orleans for 10 years.
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