Klein Jan is no ordinary restaurant. Opened last summer within South Africa’s Arawali Kalahari Reserve by star chef Jan Hendrix Van der Westhuizen, this fine dining restaurant promises to be an experience that will leave the diner wanting more.
Tswalu, the location for Klein Jan, is a privately owned game reserve near the Botswana border. The restaurant is a literal bright spot in the Kalahari Desert. One minute you’re driving in a safari through the desert looking for pangolins, aardvarks, and wild dogs, the next you see a white structure under a tree. The 100- year-old farmhouse, which houses the restaurant, appears like a movie set in the middle of nothingness. As unlikely as the location is for the opening restaurant, it makes sense given the chef’s upbringing, which happened on a farm in Mpumalanga Province, east of Johannesburg. Van der Westhuizen moved to France after his graduation, and opened his first restaurant, Jan, in Nice in 2013. The chef, who became the first South African with a Michelin-star restaurant, sees the opening of Klein Jan as a homecoming.
The menu features food that is an ode to van der Westhuizen’s African grandmother’s Dutch-influenced farm cooking. Dishes like Mieliepap, corn porridge, and bobotie, a curried minced-meat dish, all get a new treatment at the hand of Klein Jan. The menu also features locally sourced South African ingredients like wild Tsama melons and hyper-regional homemade cheeses. Through the patio, the one-room farmhouse, down the spiral staircase to the underground cellar, finally onto the lofty dining room, one is taken through an entire journey at Klein Jan. The restaurant doesn’t just promise a meal, it promises an experience. In the words of the star chef, creating the experience is his style of storytelling.
New Orleans welcomes over 19 million visitors each year with open arms. Its relaxing and laid-back European charm has earned the city its nickname, The Big Easy. Visitors to this special city can experience its world-class nightlife or even learn about the city’s darker past on a ghost tour. From intricate history to a thriving Cajun-Creole culture, the Crescent City offers a variety of fascinating and unique experiences for every traveler.
Celebrate Music Like Nowhere Else
As a city known for its music, it’s no surprise that New Orleans hosts one of the most important musical events in the world. An iconic celebration of music, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival is one of the city’s most important annual events.
Hundreds of thousands of visitors from across the globe flock to the festival every year to celebrate the rich and vibrant jazz history of the city. Visitors can sample the local delicacies and dance until dawn at the Jazz Fest nightclubs.
Live Performance on Wheels
We’ve all seen street performers entertaining crowds with impromptu performances in order to make some money. Have you ever seen an entire piano being wheeled around the streets, with a singer constantly playing it?
It seems that anything is possible in New Orleans! The city’s French Quarter is home to this unique street performance on wheels. One man plays the piano, while his friend tows him through the streets and alleys on his bicycle. What a clever and innovative way to make money!
Rest Your Legs in Style
Obviously, quirky street performances are not everything the French Quarter offers! This iconic part of the city is lined with historic landmarks, eccentric attractions, and not-to-miss tourist draws.
That said, walking around the streets on foot can be really tiring! So, escape the boring foot traffic and hop on a traditional horse-drawn carriage, another French Quarter specialty. Look at this group, enjoying the ride of their life!
Zip Around on a Segway
Another great way to rest your weary legs is by sightseeing on a Segway Tour. These quirky, but convenient, motorized machines are designed to fit an individual rider. While teenagers particularly adore them, Segways are an interesting way to see the city for all ages.
Whether day or night, Segways are undoubtedly the most fun way to explore this vibrant city. This group has certainly decided to give it a try. Seems that they are very careful while passing the main street.
Dubbed one of the most haunted cities in America, New Orleans is the ideal place to satisfy your horror-loving self. The Historic Voodoo Museum is a popular tourist spot, located in the heart of the French Quarter.
This unique little museum is a fascinating repository of interesting Voodoo-related objects and artifacts. For an extra thrill, take a guided ghost tour along the French Quarter while hearing about local ghost stories, vampires, magic, witchcraft, and unsolved mysteries. Goosebumps are guaranteed!
When You Can’t Get Enough of Voodoo
If the museum makes you interested, head to the Island of Salvation Botanica in the Marigny neighborhood for a more authentic Voodoo experience. Here, you can learn more about Voodoo, which combines the traditional religions of West and Central Africa with Roman Catholicism.
The shop is home to a shrine of the Voodoo Queen, Marie Laveau, along with other historical artifacts and supplies. From statues of saints to artwork, oils, and herbs, this famous shop offers a range of interesting items.
Try a New ‘Hex’
If you are a true magic-maniac, you should never miss the HEX: Old World Witchery in the French Quarter. Like something out of Harry Potter’s Diagon Alley, this authentic witchcraft shop is packed with a range of ritualistic objects.
Pick all of your witchcraft needs like herbs, amulets, even love potions! Explore the trove of eccentric and fascinating magical objects crammed on the shelves. We think even Hermione would be really excited about this place too.
A Tad Touch of Horror
This one is not for the faint-hearted! Confront your fears by standing in front of ancient torture devices, murder weapons, and sinister pieces of evidence of real-world murder cases at the Museum of Death in New Orleans.
The tools and lists of the artifacts at the Museum of Death are educational and intriguing, but are also thoroughly graphic and unmistakably nightmarish all the same! The museum offers visitors a one-of-a-kind look at some of history’s darkest chapters.
New Orleans is famous for its lively nightlife and unique appreciation of the afterlife. Combine the best of both worlds with a tour of the city’s most iconic drinking establishments, many of which have paranormal pasts.
The lively atmosphere of this tour is fostered by spooky stories and live music. Get ready for an unforgettable night as you experience a variety of spirits, from the kind found in glasses to the ones haunting this historic part of the city.
Historical Scavenger Hunt
If guided walking tours sound slow and cliché to you, join an interactive scavenger hunt tour. In this fast-paced exploring mission, turn the streets of New Orleans into your very own board game as you uncover clues located throughout the city!
Tour the city’s historical landmarks and attractions as you complete challenges and tick-off tasks with your group. All the while, experience the city’s classic NOLA charm as you treasure-hunt.
It’s no secret that under the glitz and glamour of Mardi Gras exists a much creepier and darker side to New Orleans. The city is renowned for its paranormal activity and purported haunted locations.
One of the most famous sites for any ghost-hunter is the St. Louis Cemetery. The topography of the city makes traditional in-ground graves impossible, resulting in seemingly endless rows of above-ground graves. This famous cemetery attracts more than 100,000 visitors annually, all hoping to catch a glimpse of a spirit or pay their respects.
Check Out Fab Figures
The New Orleans Museum of Art’s Sculpture Garden is a beautiful green park with a flowing river, old willow trees, and of course sculptures. The garden is dotted with impressive life-sized human figures carved out of stone.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden features more than 90 unique sculptures and works of art by some of the world’s most famous artists. Another unique feature of the garden is that most of the plants are native to Louisiana including live oaks, magnolias, and local varieties of pine trees.
Bring Out Your Inner Musician
Located in one of NOLA’s oldest neighborhoods, the Music Box Village is dotted with an assortment of tiny homes and artistic shacks built with recycled materials. Visitors can literally ‘play’ these houses!
The houses and shacks are packed with innovative DIY musical instruments, built into the structures. This unique attraction allows anyone to tinker around with these makeshift musical instruments. The best time to experience the village is during one of its lively concerts.
Take a Peek Behind-the-Scenes
If you missed the famous February festival, don’t fret! The city of Mardi Gras offers a year-round festive experience with the attraction, Mardi Gras World. This tourist destination offers an authentic slice of the world-famous extravaganza.
Known as the Disneyland of Mardi Gras, this sprawling 300,000 square foot warehouse space is packed with costumes, floats, and artifacts related to the festival’s history and traditions. Visitors can get an exclusive behind-the-scenes entry to the festival’s preparation. Kids can try on the outfits too!
These Trees Are ‘Alive’
New Orleans is a city famous for its love and appreciation of music! In the middle of City Park, is a particularly unique attraction -The Singing Oak. This massive live oak tree features wind chimes nearly 14 feet long hanging from its branches.
This musical tree is actually an art installation by artist Jim Hart. The Singing Oak or Chime Tree is found just footsteps away from the New Orleans Museum of Art. If you need help locating this tree, Just follow your ears!
Apparently, in addition to providing quality entertainment, the Jazz & Heritage Festival can also be a unique place to say “I do.”Who needs fancy gowns and trendy suits for a wedding? These lovers of jazz have found the best way to combine their relationship with their favorite genre of music.
The festival’s Gospel Tent has been conducting marriages for decades. That said, competition is tough as they facilitate only one wedding ceremony each year! Couples have been known to request a spot at the unique wedding venue years in advance.
Saying Goodbye in Style
From jazz weddings to jazz funerals, this genre of music seems to accompany every part of the circle of life in New Orleans. Though it may seem bizarre to many, Jazz funerals are quite a common tradition.
During a jazz funeral, mourners and musicians follow their fallen loved ones to the cemetery where they will be laid to rest. As they near the cemetery, the music changes from solemn to celebratory as a way for loved ones to celebrate the good memories and life of the person they lost.
Big Easy Boat Rides
The surrounding swamplands hold a very special place in the local culture of the Crescent City. Drifting through this interesting landscape, you will get the exact feel! With lush greens on both sides and native wildlife, the bayou will never cease to amaze you.
Explore the swamps on a relaxing guided boat ride, kayak, or an adventurous high-speed airboat as you learn about the Cajun and the Creole history of this region. Keep an eye out for a guaranteed sighting of alligators, herons, and other iconic Louisiana wildlife.
Spark Romance on a Gondola
Boat rides are not limited only to the bayou of New Orleans. Robert Dula’s Venetian Gondola Tour takes all the romantic charm of Venice and mixes it with the rustic charm of the city. The gondola’s leisurely pace is the perfect match for the city known as The Big Easy.
Surely, you won’t miss Venice after seeing this pic. Look at this couple enjoying a romantic moment as they dreamily glide through a sparkling city lagoon. Is there any better backdrop for a romantic proposal?
Try Something Different
If you are wondering what they do with all those alligators in the swamps around New Orleans, the answer is quite simple. They eat them! Yes, you heard it right! Alligator meat is a popular local delicacy in the city, and fans enjoy this exotic meat in a variety of ways.
With an abundance of alligators, there is no shortage of shops serving gator meat in forms of nuggets, burgers, or in steaming stews. Technically, the meat is packed with protein and is very low in fat. Gator on-a-stick, anyone?
Poultry Fest on a Plate
If you’ve ever struggled between picking chicken, duck, or turkey as your favorite form of poultry, then look no further than this unique New Orleans specialty called a Turducken. Just dissect the name and you will get the idea!
This local delicacy is made of three poultries stuffed into one another- a chicken stuffed inside a duck which is then stuffed inside a turkey with multiple layers of stuffing in between. This downright delicious dish is a massive hit with tourists and natives alike.
Art Is Everywhere
New Orleans is quite renowned for its eclectic city culture. Just wandering around the streets will tell you why. The city streets have no shortage of thought-provoking wall paintings, graffiti, murals, and other artworks.
The most highlighted among these is the interesting street art by the artist Banksy. This elusive graffiti artist regularly uses city streets and walls as the canvas for his creations. Arguably the most famous example of his street art is the ‘Rat and the Girl’, painted on a house destroyed by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Art That Makes You Think
Another famed eccentric cultural venue of New Orleans is the Studio Be. This converted warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood is famous for its grand scale artworks. Featuring 35,000 feet of gallery space, this is the ultimate place to witness unbelievably larger-than-life paintings and artworks.
This chic studio is also the home gallery of Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums, one of the most prominent emerging artists of New Orleans. On the canvases of wide walls, Odums paints large murals with hopeful, powerful, and sometimes politically charged messages.
The less-touristy neighborhoods of Holy Cross host two beautiful relics of the city’s nautical history. Located on Egania Street, the Doullut Steamboat Houses were built in 1905 and 1913 by riverboat pilot Milton P. Doullut.
Along with pagoda roofs, both houses feature spectacular wraparound verandas overlooking the banks of the Mississippi River. Though the houses are privately-owned houses and closed to visitors, you can easily have a peek from the public trail running along the crest of the river levee.
A True Period Piece
Situated in the picturesque Garden District neighborhood, the House of Broel is an opulent and famous Victorian mansion with fairytale-like gardens. This is one of the most in-demand wedding venues in the city.
Interestingly, this Antebellum-era building also includes a unique treasure- a doll museum. The entire second floor of the house hosts an eye-catching collection of meticulously designed dollhouses and miniature vignettes. You will definitely not find this in any other city.
Run From the ‘Bull Girls’
When you are in Spain, you run from the bulls. And when you are in New Orleans, you run from … well, the roller derby girls with plastic baseball bats on hand! Though it may be considered wacky and weird, this is nonetheless a beloved annual tradition of the city.
The event is held every July in the Warehouse District during the San Fermin festival. Thousands of participants join from across the country, dressed up in traditional red and white. Look at the girl gang ready to sprint up! Watch out!
Preserving the Vibrant Culture
This historic Treme neighborhood museum is truly the only one of its kind in the world! Dedicated mostly to the Mardi Gras festival, the Backstreet Cultural Museum celebrates the cultural contributions of the city’s African-American population.
Started in a backstreet garage in 1988 by museum founder, Sylvester Francis, the museum boasts priceless collections of historic Mardi Gras costumes, artifacts, parade photos, relics from jazz funerals, and archived images of more than 500 related cultural events and practices.
Pay a ‘Rocking’ Tribute
Fancy a spunky memorial? The India House Hostel will show you the way. Officially listed in Matador’s “Top 20 Crazy Party Hostels in the World,” India House Hostel is a youth hostel full of fun, frolic, and lots of craziness!
The most fascinating part of the hostel has to be the bathtub cemetery, placed in the courtyard of the hostel. The bathtub features a headstone dedicated to rock legends, Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen. This creepy hostel is just one of many eerie encounters you may have in New Orleans.
Let’s wrap our list up with the most iconic event of The Crescent City. While Mardi Gras World gives you a glimpse of the event, think about the real-life splendor of the real carnival! This cultural festival is emblematic of the rich culture and diversity that New Orleans has to offer.
Mardi Gras features flamboyant parade floats, crazy costumes and extravagant outfits, and endless raucous street parties. There is no one way to describe this infamous celebration! So grab your mask, and plastic beads, for this unforgettable festival.
When Sky Is the Limit
Let your piloting dreams take flight as you soar over Louisiana on a personal airplane. Sounds farfetched? Not in New Orleans. New Orleans Aerial Tours offers professionally guided flying lessons, even with zero piloting knowledge!
Under the careful guidance of an FAA-certified flight instructor, learn more about the world of flying. Classes range from basic demos to courses on aerodynamics. If seeing the city from the skies is more your thing, New Orleans Aerial Tours offers a variety of aerial tours over the city and surrounding area.