Bridging Past and Present in New Orleans
Study Engineering in the Big Easy
The Worldwide Navigators Difference
You’ll be greeted at the New Orleans airport by your guide and transferred to your hotel. After you’ve had a chance to refresh yourself and unpack a bit, you’ll meet up to explore the neighborhood near your hotel and get oriented, followed by a genuine New Orleans-style dinner and a discussion of your upcoming Louisiana adventure.
After breakfast, your knowledgeable guide will take you through the neighborhood of the Ninth Ward, the low-lying area that was one of the hardest-hit by Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters. You’ll visit with locals who live in the area, as well as seeing places like the spot where the floodwaters breached the Industrial Canal levee. You’ll also get to witness the amazing rebirth taking place here, where such devastation wreaked havoc just over a decade ago.
Next, you’ll head upriver to have lunch the Bywater neighborhood, another area stricken brutally by Katrina’s flooding. Today however, this education student trip will show you how this funky, bohemian enclave is a significant success story, home to musicians, bars, oddball boutiques and a lively street scene as only New Orleans can provide.
Continuing upriver along the levee, you’ll get a sense of the true power the Mississippi has over this city when you see how it actually looms above the metropolis, which sits on average between 6.5 and 20 feet below sea level! Crossing Esplanade, the street marking the border of the French Quarter (known simply as “The Quarter” to locals) you’ll head to the Old Ursuline Convent Museum, the city’s oldest building and former convent that now houses a beautifully put-together museum focused on the city’s history through the lens of its Catholic roots.
As evening falls, you’ll stroll past the Lalaurie Mansion just a block away, home of the grisly torture chamber built by the wealthy Madame Lalaurie in the early 1800s where she tormented and murdered people until a fire exposed her deeds in 1834. Nighttime means agony of choosing from among the million great restaurants in the Quarter, then perhaps a nightcap on Bourbon Street!
Today you’ll start with a New Orleans classic, taking the streetcar uptown. This delightful ride will take you back in time even as it transports you through the Irish Channel neighborhood up St. Charles Avenue where your guide will show you where to hop off in the Garden District. Here you can tour several stately mansions dating back to the pre-Civil War era, but even just walking the neighborhood is impressive.
After stopping off for lunch, it’s time to head Uptown to visit one of the city’s iconic attractions, the Audubon Zoo. It’s a gorgeous zoo with an attached aquarium that is equally impressive and a lovely park system to boot. Be sure to visit the daunting Tree of Life when you stroll through the park, a magnificent old oak with huge branches and draped in Spanish Moss that has featured in many films.
After the zoo and the park, you’ll hop back on the streetcar and head over to the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, one of the city’s historic burial grounds featuring an awe-inspiring maze of above-ground mausoleums. Your guide will provide you with tons of history on the 19th-century tombs, and afterward take you down to nearby Magazine Street where you’ll find a string of authentic New Orleans-style restaurants featuring po’ boy sandwiches, gumbo, and other casual fare.
Today you’ll start by heading out of town to see the surrounding countryside, which essentially means swamp. Your guide will go along as you take an airboat swamp tour with local guides who will be sure to point out plenty of animal and plant life that abounds in the swamp, including alligators, egrets, nutria, and more.
Then it’s time for a major contrast as you head back to the city and get ready to go to the Oak Alley Plantation. This colossal mansion was built in 1837 and is open to visitors, and there you’ll get to see how people lived in the Antebellum South. The plantation is so named due to the row of 18 massive oaks that line the drive, up to the mansion, a gorgeous green tunnel taking you back in time.
After returning to your hotel to freshen up, no educational student trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to another marvel of engineering associated with this city: the steamboat. The Steamboat Natchez offers an evening jazz dinner cruise along the river, offering a unique perspective on the city and just how its fate is intertwined with the river.
Today you’ll dig a little deeper into the French Quarter and New Orleans’ rich history, starting with a visit to the St. Louis Cathedral. Your guide will walk you through the bustling Jackson Square, where artists and buskers ply their trade as they have for centuries, and you’ll make your way into the gorgeous 18th-century cathedral. The church is still active today, the oldest continually running cathedral in the U.S. and a majestic connection with the city’s past.
Next door to the cathedral is the Cabildo, the historic Spanish seat of governmental power built in 1790. Now a museum, you’ll learn from your guide how the Louisiana Purchase was signed here in 1803, granting the fledgling United States a huge swath of land stretching from what is now Saskatchewan to the Mississippi Delta. It was also the home of the Louisiana State Supreme Court for many years, and several historic cases were heard there including Plessy v. Ferguson.
After lunch in one of the multitude of restaurants nearby, head over to the Voodoo Museum to learn about the deeply-held belief in the various gods of voudon that was brought to the Caribbean then to Louisiana by West African slaves. While there you can purchase a love potion or a sachet said to bring you financial fortune! As you stroll through the Quarter, you might stop in at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar to cool off. The former watering hole for the pirate Jean Lafitte is said to be one of the longest continuously operating bars in the country.
Finally to cap off your evening, head over to Preservation Hall, the rough and ramshackle altar to old-fashioned New Orleans-style jazz that still operates much as it did in the early 1900s. The players among the rotating roster of musicians are among the best in their field, and this experience is as genuine as it gets!
Start the day the New Orleans way with beignets and chicory coffee at the French Market located on the downriver side of the Quarter. Here you can sample more than just the traditional French doughnuts sprinkled with powdered sugar and traditional New Orleans-style coffee. The market is home to artisans of all kinds, as well as vendors selling a wide variety of food.
Next, head up to the Mardi Gras Museum where you’ll learn about the tradition of Carnival and how New Orleans’ unique gumbo of cultures has made this city’s Mardi Gras something special. You’ll get to see former parade floats, and learn about the tradition of the Carnival Krewes that have paraded every year on Fat Tuesday since the mid-1800s.
After lunch, your guide will take you up to Louis Armstrong Park, a delightful oasis in the city just across Rampart Street from the Quarter. Here you’ll walk among stately oaks draped in Spanish moss, take a paddle boat out onto the lake, or just relax. Adjacent to the park is the historic Congo Square, where slaves used to be permitted to gather once a week for traditional drumming and dancing. Today there are concerts, and if you’re there on the right day, a preservation society puts on powerful drum shows.
As you make your way back down to the Quarter as evening falls, take some time to stroll past the galleries and shops that line Royal Street, before settling on a spot for dinner, and a discussion of all you’ve learned on your New Orleans tour. Afterward, a stroll down to Woldenberg Park along the river to catch a cool breeze and take in the glittering lights of New Orleans on the water as you chat with your mates is a lovely way to end the evening!
Time for an early breakfast and goodbyes, but you’ll never forget your time in this magical place. Your guide will get you on your transfer van to the airport and then it’s homeward bound, but the Big Easy will always be waiting your return!
Hurricane Katrina in 2005 made all the worst nightmares of the city’s residents come true when floodwaters breached the levees lining the Mississippi and inundated this low-lying city. On this tour, you’ll get to bear witness to the damage wrought by Katrina, as well as study engineering and learn about how this centuries-old yet modern city can exist sitting 20 feet below sea level alongside the second-longest river on the continent. It’s a great educational student trip where you can also help out with numerous home-building projects that are ongoing in the Ninth Ward, and enjoy New Orleans’ unique culture, history, and food along the way!
Interested in adding or modifying activities? No problem! All Worldwide Navigator itineraries can be customized to your liking!
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