Here we are again friends, another trip and another blog to get you where you need to be! This time, a long weekend in New Orleans took me to a few city staples, and thankfully out of the DC cold we were all pretending was Spring.
I’ll be the first to say that as a visitor – you don’t need much time to get the full effect of the culture and vibrancy that is New Orleans. The moment you touch down you’re greeted with the flavor and hospitality of the Louisiana people and all they have to offer. The second thing you’re greeted with is the versatility of the landscape of the city. One second it’s massive bright southern canopy trees. . .
. . .the next, you’re in the middle of loudly colored buildings with the flavor of multiple cultures and centuries. It’s absolutely impossible to be bored for sites to see – there are little nuances everywhere of something different. As you may have read in The Business of Running, I’ve inherited the habit of taking a morning run when I travel to a new city, and I do declare it’s the best way to find something new.
The French Quarter
The oldest section in the city of New Orleans, founded in the early 1700’s and usually defined as stretching along the Mississippi from Canal Street to Esplanade Ave and North Rampart Street. Some call it just “The Quarter”, due to its decreased French influence after the Louisiana Purchase however, you wont go far without the Fleur de Lis making it’s presence known or taking a turn on something like “Dauphine” street. The bohemian artsy community is strong in this section of the city, making an interesting dichotomy with the servicemen presence from the surrounding military bases. You’ll walk past a hoard of inebriated midshipmen, while getting propositioned by a psychic gypsy in a lawn chair with a cardboard sign saying “Credit Cards Accepted”. Weird town.
The one thing you’ll absolutely find in the French Quarter? Enthusiasm, and love for life and culture. We couldn’t find one corner without a local artist or band and it was a thrilling display of love for ones city.
I personally love the woman taking a selfie on a trashcan with the band.
Anyone want to drink a Hurricane? Would anyone like a hangover? Because, you can’t really have one without the other.. sorry. It’ll be worth it though! Bourbon Street is the epitome of a party street, complete with smell unfortunately. Though, eventually you get past that. Takes a minute though.
10am? People are out on Bourbon Street. 3pm? People are out on Bourbon Street. 9pm? 3am? Literally any time of day, lining the street and it’s many many bars, there will always been people out on Bourbon Street. It’s absolutely incredible. Vegas meets Nashville’s Broadway meets … just about every big party avenue you can think of, with a few more beads. Taking a weekend in New Orleans definitely means you need to stop by a few of these staples to get your party on – and that, my friends, means trying the infamous Hurricane.
If you do want a bit of a break, go one block either way and talk a walk through some of the most interesting artists and restaurants you’ll ever see.
Rue de Royal seemed to be an absolute hub of local artists – you can pop into any of the galleries to get an eye full of something incredible. Some who have been featured in everything from the paper to television, and some who have a lineage back to the 1700’s and lived in the same area. One thing you can always be sure of, the lines go deep in New Orleans.
Another space to explore in the city, directly adjacent to the French Quarter would be the area further down St Charles Street around LaFayette Square. If you’re into southern charm and small town feel – this is definitely where you’ll have a great time spending an afternoon. This is also called the Central Business District, or also the “American Quarter”.
Last Name Eating, First Name Always
If you’ve read any past RBT pieces you’ll know that food takes a big part in our travels! If there is anything you do while you’re in New Orleans – you’ll need be taking a few notes for food. First, a Po-Boy. Get in there, and get your fried oyster fill.
You can get a Po-Boy with fried oysters, shrimp, or craw fish – but the traditionalists will stick to the oysters. Of course each restaurant and chef will have their own recipe and twist – you really can’t go wrong with scarfing down one of these bad boys in your travels. If you’re looking for fresher oysters though look no further – the half shells are fresh and huge! Other suggestions would be the savory Etouffee, chunky and delicious Jambalaya, and pretty much just about any seafood you can get your hands on.
A few location suggestions would be Felix’s Oyster Bar, and Serio’s Po-Boys. Of course, there are just about a million places we could recommend including those run by chefs Paul Prudhomme (“K-Paul’s“), Emeril Lagasse (“NOLA”), and John Besh. Port of Call on Esplanade Avenue has been in business for more than 30 years, and is recognized for its popular “Monsoon” drink (their answer to the “Hurricane” at Pat O’Brien’s Bar) as well as for its food.
One of the most well known (and if you’ve seen the movie Chef you’re well aware of it’s decadence) Cafe du Monde by the water is an absolute must. Beware, the takeout line only takes cash – and cash you will spend to get some of their world famous Beignets!
Down by the water here in this part of the city you’ll always find people out and enjoying life. The sun is out, the food is good, and the art is everywhere.