Your ultimate guide to everything outside the obvious in one of the most famously outrageous party cities in the country.
Is it me or do the acronyms YOLO & NOLA pretty much mean the same thing? Both stand for an idea behind partying hard and doing anything you friggin’ want to do, right? New Orleans is a complete free for all where you will never think about the consequences when you are in the moment.
However, NOLA is so much more than beads, boobies and Popeye’s Chicken commercials…
Although The Big Easy may be best known for wild Mardi Gras celebrations mixed with loose ladies flashing their knockers, may I remind everyone that not all areolas are created equal.
Forget Miami. Forget Vegas. New Orleans is the new U.S. capital for young twenty to thirty-somethings to flee towards revelry in the South. No matter what the time of day, merriment reigns heavy and binge drinking prospers. Being surrounded by art, lively music and crazy characters is just one small element of the lifestyle and culture there. Of course you may be looking to get your blackout on, there are definitely excursions you do not want to miss!
The Hidden Marigny of Jazz Joints
Located immediately downriver of the French Quarter, be introduced to the Faubourg Marigny, a much more quaint section of this metropolitan adult playground. Trust me this is where you want to be if you are into mixing and mingling with the residents of NOLA.
You want to explore the foundation of funk and soul? Locals flock to this area to escape from out of control tourists so they can continue the festivities, dancing in the street or easy listening for a more subdued night. There is no shortage of talent residing in this district- smooth rhythm and blues or high volume saxo-beats included. While your there be ready to hear Harry Connick Jr.’s name mentioned at every single venue. He’s pretty much the Elvis of Louisiana and with good reason. This area is recognized as the starting point of Harry’s career where he circled the scene of hot spots; pre-Idol and pre- Independence Day.
“I’m Just a Po’ Boy from a Po’ Family��?
Foodies unite! Nola is the vortex of the fried food movement. From their world-renowned Beignets at Café Du Monde to their specialty Po’ boy sandwiches drenched in gravy, you will be pleasantly surprised at how signature and delicious the cuisine is. Stay away from the bigger restaurants with long lines on the strip. They may look popular, but you will not get the authenticity you crave. Your best bet is to target the smaller, hole-in-the-wall, dive-esque bistros for a genuine experience guaranteed to please your belly. Deep-fried, seasoned crawfish complemented by a side of Bourbon on the rocks is just about all you need for a modern Louisiana dish with that ragin’ Cajun or creole twist. If you like spice, this world is your oyster. Oh yeah, try the fried oysters! Indulge in both the sweet or the savory, as long as it’s all fried.
The French Quarter is to NOLA what Williamsburg is to Brooklyn. Hipsters and performers occupy the streets with their poetry, photographs, paintings, home-made jewelry, and all other random collections of artistic expression. This is the oldest part of Centre Square for patrons to check out skilled artisans and rich history. Do not create your itinerary without including this on your list. It is a very distinct neighborhood from the rest of the town. The architecture alone will make you feel like you have finally arrived to the heart of New Orleans. My advice: watch where you are going and don’t get run over by a horse and carriage tour.
Steamboats and Riverboats All Aboard
How can you go all the way to Nola and not want to take a ride on the Mississippi? At first sight these massive cruisers are like seeing the blast from the past version of a Southern yacht! You can take lunch and dinner rides complete with live jazz for the full blown flashback vibe. I recommend taking advantage of this opportunity to serve as a solid pregame for kicking off your night of Cupid Shuffling and wobbling down the streets with strangers who you drunkenly deem your new best friends.
Call me a scaredy cat, but I was really cautious of looking anyone directly in the eye anytime I went into a shop. You can tell the real from the propaganda because the legitimate Voodoo spaces were completely closed off of viewing from the streets. I stayed away from those. However, if you are into gimmicks just look for a rubber chicken foot in the window. Regardless, NOLA casts a love spell upon all of its travelers.
Gators & Ghosts
Want to cross something off your bucket list? Sign up to take an outing on the famous Bayous. Visit the swamps and catch a glimpse of wild gators in the natural or man-made habitats. Captains will drive you through the canals and give you a hands-on experience you won’t forget. You want to feed these monsters? Go for it! You want to hold a baby Gator? It could happen. No worries, these are professional handlers and you are in no real danger!
Oh yeah and remember that little ancient event- the Civil War? Let’s not forget how NOLA played a huge part in American history. It’s no wonder every bar, hotel, or landmark has some type of ghost story with a major General who just refuses to crossover. Get your #tbt on with a tour of historical haunts. Ghost expeditions are a really fun opportunity to sight-see the city and learn something while you’re at it.
Bottom line, NOLA is the trip you take when you are looking to top off your purposely rowdy behavior with a dose of seasoned culture. If you haven’t already, I suggest you book this trip ASAP!