I’m so excited for the thousands of NAR attendees that will be visiting New Orleans. NOLA has been my home for the past three and a half years, and I still call it home even though I recently moved. As the Big Easy gets ready to host an amazing event I thought I’d share eight insider tips.
1. Get off of Bourbon Street
There are so many amazing parts of the city. Bourbon is just one, and for many locals not one of our favorites. Check out Frenchman, Magazine, the Garden District, Marigny, Bywater, City Park, St. Charles, and walk all over the French Quarter. Jackson Square is a great place to start and Decatur and Royal are the main walking streets through the Quarter.
2. Listen to Our City
Music is a huge part of NOLA history. New Orleans was the first city in the New World to have Opera and it is of course the birthplace of Jazz. You can hear so much great live music all over the city. WWOZ 90.7 is listener-supported volunteer programed for the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Station. It is a big deal. The WWOZ website provides the best calendar for finding out who is playing where and when on any given night.
A few personal favorites: Historic Preservation Hall, Maple Leaf, BMC, Snug Harbor, Spotted Cat and d.b.a. Note: there is indoor smoking allowed at several bars so if that is a concern I would check the venue before you arrive.
3. Coop’s Place
Best fried chicken and red beans and rice, be warned it is a dive bar with bad service. Don’t be a diva – this place is like the Soup Kitchen in NYC . Everyone waits in the line: celebrities, locals, and tourists and you don’t ask to “customize” something. What’s on the menu is what you get.
4. We Don’t Flash Boobs
So, you’re in the Quarter and someone on a balcony has beads and a crowd forms and starts going crazy for the beads – PLEASE do not flash. First off, it’s not Carnival season, second, you will get a ticket. Carnival for locals is about family and friends celebrating their love of New Orleans and its rich history. We try to keep the tourists close to the Quarter so we can keep them contained. But asking locals “if they flash” or even joking about it is going to get major eye rolls.
Carnival is a season, Mardi Gras is a day – if you want to see some of the amazing artisans that help create Mardi Gras check out Mardi Gras World. It is totally worth it to see the huge and amazing floats that are created not just for local Krewes, but also for Disney, Universal Studios and many others.
5. Learn the History
There is a lot of history in New Orleans, it was founded in 1718. From the Louisiana Purchase in 1803 with Thomas Jefferson to the famous French and Spanish architecture, to the important role it played in the American Revolutionary War, the Slave Trade, and it’s role in the World War II.
- Visit America’s National World War II Museum. It is amazing and a short jaunt from the convention center. Plan at least four hours. You won’t be disappointed. TripAdvisor recently named it the #4 museum in the United States and #11 museum worldwide.
- Take a tour. A little know fact about tour guides in New Orleans is that they have to be licensed. We care about the quality of how our city is represented. A personal favorite of mine is the Haunted History tours. I’ve been on the Ghost tour twice and enjoyed it each time as it has great legends and stories about the city. Don’t forget to give a tip, or as the french say Pour Boire meaning “for drink”.
6. Food is Serious
Similar to New York, to make it in New Orleans you have to be good to survive. There’s too many great options that if you aren’t on par then you can’t last. Also, for dinner you will likely need reservations. So, if you are dying to get in somewhere then call ahead for a reservation. Here are a few personal favorites:
- Cochon – cajun southern cooking
- Peche – seafood grille
- Commander’s Palace – quentinesstial Southern experience in the famous Garden District
- Antoine’s – the oldest French-Creole fine dining in New Orleans. Lunch is amazing and not to be rushed.
- The Joint – best barbeque hands down. It has been featured on several lists and on the Food Network. (Pretty much everything on my list has). And it is in the historical Bywater.
- Beignets – so this is personal preference so try both and decide for yourself: Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet. Tip: don’t buy the beignet mix – it won’t taste as good at home.
- Dat Dog – hot dogs have never been the same. Started as a shack and then it blew up!
7. T-shirt City
When you’re strolling on Royal and Decatur you will see a lot of souvenir stores. Bypass those and check out some of the places and t-shirts locals wear. In fact, great local boutique shopping is found on Magazine Street. Great cafe’s and shops there. The shops listed below are locally owned, topical, and endeared to locals. You may get better service at Coop’s if you are wearing a Defend New Orleans shirt for example.
- Dirty Coast – coined the phrase “Be a New Orleanian Wherever You Are”
- Storyville – “Nola Seasons” is a classic
- Fleurty Girl – awesome Black and Gold source and a fantastic example of the NOLA entrepreneurial spirit
- Defend New Orleans – New Orleans’ proud and independent spirit
8. Black and Gold Fever
There’s always a lot going on in the city. This weekend with NAR is no exception. Emeril Lagasse’s annual Boudin, Bourbon and Beer festival is happening. As well as the big game on Sunday at the Superdome with the Saints playing the 49ers. Wearing black and gold is always advised. To find out what else might be going on check out these great calendars:
Michelle Holt is the Director of Marketing at REDX. She just moved from New Orleans, LA to Salt Lake City, UT and next to Christmas, Mardi Gras is her favorite holiday season. Prior to coming to Real Estate Technology, Michelle worked at two large investment banks. She studied Public Relations at Brigham Young University.