Ahh, New Orleans. One of my favorite places on the planet (literally). The food, the culture, the men (haha). There’s a certain je ne sais quoi about NOLA that you only know if you’ve been. The city just moves you. I try to make my way to New Orleans at least once a year, twice if I’m lucky. Here’s some of my favorite things to do when I touch down in MSY.
Go to Frenchmen Street.
Trust me, it’s exponentially better than going to Bourbon Street. Honestly, go to Bourbon Street once and never go again. Frenchmen Street is one of the pulses of New Orleans every time I visit. Jazz clubs and bars line the street, and there’s almost always a live band playing on the corner in front of Favela Chic. Blue Nile is my favorite spot (upstairs is always a scene), but you can literally walk down the street and find an impromptu show. It’s also wildly entertaining after the music is over – so many characters as people litter the streets waiting for Ubers and street food.
Go for a Gondola Ride.
Honestly, a gondola ride is the last thing you’re thinking to do in New Orleans but it’s such a lovely thing to do outside of the drunken buzz of the city. But a quick ride to City Park and you’re transported to a quiet bayou-like feel in the middle of the city. We took a ride on the gorgeous Nola Gondola and it was the best $100 I’d spent on my last trip. We brought our own wine and cheese, but there was already some on the boat!
Stay somewhere OTHER than The French Quarter.
New Orleans is a huge city, and the French Quarter is just the tip of the iceberg. If you want to be in walking distance (or a short uber ride) from FQ, I recommend Bywater or The Arts/Warehouse district. Bywater is a lot quieter (I stayed there for a friend’s birthday one year), and the Arts/Warehouse district is just what it sounds like. The Ace Hotel is one of my favorite stops in that neighborhood, with lots of live music, a moody bar, and one of the only rooftop pools in the city.
My favorite hotel thus far in New Orleans is The Old No. 77, even though legend has it that the hotel is haunted (I’ve never seen anything!). If you want more space, I always, always, always recommend Sonder for NOLA visits (you can see my review of one of the spaces here).
Go To Port Of Call …then call a cab.
If you’re looking to get sloshed but don’t want to deal with Bourbon Street’s tourist crowd, head to Port of Call and get literally any drink and a meal. Port of Call is known for their burgers, but also for fruity drinks that will knock you down a few notches. This dive bar is always packed, but worth it. It’s a chill, local vibe that I always try to get when I visit somewhere.
Ask a local about the manhole covers.
My very first visit to New Orleans, as I walked around Royal Street and through beautifully lush alleyways I noticed these beautiful (what appeared to be coins) everywhere. As I looked closer, I also noticed the manhole covers. I started to ask questions and many locals appreciated the attention I was paying to something that could be so easily overlooked. There’s so much history behind the covers – along with almost everything in the Crescent City – and NOLA natives are happy to share. Being so in tune with the stories have unlocked so much more on my trips! Tales of ‘lore led to the best restaurant recommendations, best hangout spots, etc. Go to New Orleans with an open mind and it will be just as open to you!
Photos by Trevon James