New Orleans (NOLA) is the city that revolves around the holy trinity: jazz, food and entertainment. So when visiting, it is essential to know where to go to get the true NOLA experience. Follow these tips and tricks when navigating the city and you’ll get a true sense of what southern Louisiana is all about.
Live Local Music
You can hear the sounds of jazz trickling through the air almost everywhere you go. Truthfully, you can catch live music on every street corner. A couple of local spots give visitors a true taste of the famed, soulful music of NOLA.
• Tipitina’s – An old-school juke joint that values making musical history — and Cajun food. On any given night, you can expect a performance from a musical legend. The Neville Brothers, Dr. John, Willie Nelson and Pearl Jam are just a few names on the joints regular roster of performers.
• Preservation Hall – A venue solely for jazz music. They don’t serve drinks, food, or provide many places to sit – just a few wooden benches. Yet, that doesn’t keep this place from drawing quite a crowd.
New Orleans is known for providing excellent Cajun inspired dishes. Taking a culinary step out of the box will have you experiencing NOLA like a true local. The following are a list of restaurants that offer delicious and eclectic menus at prices you can afford!
• The Rum House – After trying their extensive list of Caribbean inspired tacos – complete with sides like fried plantains or coconut mango rice – you won’t be satisfied with any other taco for the rest of your life. Menu items range from $15-$18 and they offer discounted drink specials.
• 13 Bar and Restaurant – This establishment is the late night eatery for great meals at a great price. Within walking distance of Frenchman St., 13 offers a range of po-boys, pizzas and sandwiches and an extensive list of vegetarian options. Prices range from $5-$11.
Anywhere but Bourbon
Bourbon St. is synonymous with New Orleans and a huge tourist destination. But what if I told you there is an alternative where all the locals love to party? Bourbon can offer a memorable experience, but if you’re unlucky, you might walk straight into a group of rowdy partiers giving their friend an addiction intervention.
• Frenchman St. – Frenchman has all the flair and excitement of Bourbon St. without the huge crowds. Visit this bar-lined street if you’re looking to compete in a Hurricane drinking competition, or add to your collection of Mardi Gras beads.
• Abita Brewery – This brewery offers a tour that begins and ends in the tasting room. Visitors learn how Louisiana does beer and get to sample their favorite craft beer from Abita’s selection of 19 different brews.
Mardi Gras Year-Round
• Mardi Gras World – To experience Mardi Gras any time of year, visit Mardi Gras World. This tour features a video on the history of Mardi Gras along with a walk through the float den where float masters are creating masterpieces for next season.
Tried and True Tourist Spots
Some New Orleans attractions can seem like a tourist trap that only offer long lines and high prices. However, there are a few traditional tourist spots that are worth the trip – and the wait!
• Café Du Monde – If you have your heart set on devouring a beignet or two (and you definitely should), Café Du Monde – located in the French Market – is the place to do it.
• St Louis Cathedral – The beauty of this famous church and courtyard lives up to expectation. From the stained glass to the vaulted ceilings – it is a beauty to behold. And if you’re lucky, you might catch a wedding celebration while visiting!
• The French Market – Whether you’re looking to browse a high end boutique, or visit a novelty shop full of t-shirts that say, “I ate Alligator in NOLA”, The French Market is the place to go. The variety of shops is astounding. Some stores are dedicated solely to selling pralines, while others are dedicated to helping you make the best pot of gumbo. Block after block of shopping, restaurants and street performers, the market is full of excitement and offers a genuine southern experience.
About the author: Savannah Marie is a travel enthusiast, nomad, and writer for her blog, Mixios. When she isn’t jumping from place to place, you can find her walking a trail with her yellow lab, baking something containing chocolate, or reading a classic novel.