Having finally made it through planning and executing a major work event last week, it seemed only appropriate to make my blog debut by encouraging you all to travel to my fair city. Not only is it one of the top travel destinations in the country, but it’s also a great place to visit while the Northeast shivers through winter after Thanksgiving.
I’ll share some fun travel adventures on future Tuesdays, but I thought I’d start with an introduction to some of the quirks of New Orleans, my uniquely Southern/European/Caribbean/Cajun adopted hometown.
This city has a long, strange history, which I won’t go into because you can read about some of the more interesting tidbits here. Did you know that most of central New Orleans, called the French Quarter, was actually built by the Spanish? Katrina and the BP spill are the most recent episodes most people think about, and the state still hasn’t completely recovered from either, but this is also the fastest growing city in the U.S. and a growing hotspot for technology entrepreneurship in the country.
There are a few things you should know if (when) you decide to visit. First, Bourbon Street really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. Sure, for most out-of-towners it’s a big deal that bars are open all night and there don’t seem to be any rules limiting your behavior. But take the time to venture a bit farther afield to Frenchmen Street or St. Claude Avenue and hear some of the city’s best local music, eat delicious Cajun, Russian, Thai (etc., etc.) food, see bars with real New Orleanians, and avoid the trashier elements from Bourbon. Get out of downtown and get some of the amazing Vietnamese food all over the Westbank across the river, or go hang out along the Mississippi south of the zoo where everyone goes on beautiful days to grill out and relax. Get a dose of history that most people don’t associate with New Orleans–the fabulous National World War II Museum makes for a fantastic day trip just a few blocks away from the center of downtown. Rent a bike (or kayak) and head to Mid-City and the pretty, tree-lined Bayou St. John (essentially a small stream through the city). Catch a classic film at the only single-screen theater in the state at The Prytania Theater, which opened 98 years ago and is definitely my favorite place to see a movie in this city. Get all the best recommendations by checking out the locally-voted annual Best of New Orleans list.
And most importantly, don’t come to Mardi Gras and start flashing people because you will be arrested in a heartbeat. No matter what the city’s reputation is, Mardi Gras is a huge holiday for families and it’s a great time for kids. (Stay tuned, I will have more on this in the future because I’m preparing to ride in my first Mardi Gras parade this season!)
Since 2005, I’ve lived in 6 cities on three continents and this is the one that I keep coming back to. Keep it in mind for your next travel adventure!