NOLA has terrific tourist web sites, full of local lore and fine photos. Click on the topics below and keep on clicking to find what you want by topic. For instance, to find a restaurant, enter a neighborhood, cuisine, and time; many choices will appear.
Photos above from the Rex Krewe.
2016 is at
The Mardi Gras web site is also terrific, where the mantra is “Mardi Gras 2019 is Tuesday, March 5. We're counting down the minutes.” And the first parades start weeks before Fat Tuesday. The parade and float photos on this site are better than you or I can take.
Mardi Gras day, Fat Tuesday, is the culmination of the Carnival season. Mardi Gras day is off the charts by any measure. But parades on earlier dates, some in daylight some at night, while well attended aren’t jam-packed. Attendees are eager but friendly and talkative and willing to share the “throws”, beads and trinkets, that come from the couple dozen or so floats in each individual parade; they’ll even share their chairs.
A parade is sponsored by a “Krewe” whose history may go back a long way, local citizens. A parade will have floats of a theme; and some combination of school bands, drill teams and cheerleaders; loudspeakers with canned music, dance groups, horses; some but not a lot of local jazz bands. (A parade route may be 4 miles long, and nobody walks 4 miles and plays all the way.}
Floats may be just pretty, or scenic, or about Hollywood or Broadway; they may be satirical or political commentary. This year they had a lot to satirize local and national. A few parades, in the French Quarter where streets are too narrow for floats, are R rated.
Most parade routes are along wide boulevards such as St. Charles, so the center strip is available for spectators; bring your own chair or stepladder. Or stand, or look pitiful and a local will offer their chair. Vendors abound. Rest rooms don’t abound, I think the general NOLA guideline is to do business at a bar or restaurant and avail yourself of theirs. Some entrepreneurs have portable toilets for rent, set up on their yard or on a trailer.
There are too many first class restaurants in NOLA to shake a stick at. Look ’em up, there are lists by different people and descriptions on local web sites; forget the national websites and listen to locals.
A relatively few restaurants are the classic places, be sure to patronize some where you sit at tableclothes with several forks and glasses with attentive servers; wear a jacket, guys. Try the other cuisines as your palate leads you; my kids and I don’t see eye to eye so how can I advise you?
Jazz brunch is a big deal here, so if you like jazz try that. Some places have courtyards, quaint and appealing. Restaurants here don’t often offer views, other than of a courtyard. Reservations will be necessary at the good places. The dress code will be listed where it is important.
Is there a festival or special event going on? Check it out; the last two weekends we attended one with ho-hum local food and another with fabulous French. All special events will have music, so far consistently top notch.
What is the difference between Creole and Cajun, southern, Gulf Coast seafood? You can look it up on line but explanations won’t satisfied you. Try and see; and that is the best advice you’ll get today.
New Orleans is often described, accurately, as a melting pot. A mixture, combination, cross-cultural. Nowhere is that more descriptive than with food. Over 300 years, there must have been lots of mixing. I am out of my league technically as to what dish is what cuisine; trying all the tastes works for me. Bon appetite.
Crawfish season is here and locals are ecstatic. Not my cup of tea personally; I can never find the zipper.
One last impression. Nowhere have I had better tasting and fresher fish and shrimp and oysters than in NOLA. And I have both long experience and high standards when it come to seafood.
Where to stay
NOLA is much better equipped to serve the short term visitor than the one who will stay a few weeks or months. Be advised that rates during Carnival move sharply higher.
The short-termer can refer to the two NOLA travel sites above for places to stay. In addition to larger and chain hotels, there are lots of neat boutique hotels or AirBnB’s, especially in or near the Garden District where you’ll be in your own mansion room.
A long term traveler, like me, will not find it easy to locate a place to stay for weeks or months. NOLA has no dedicated vacation rental properties such as in Gulf Coast resort towns in Mississippi, Alabama or the Florida panhandle. So rentals are scattered, and a traveler will lack knowledge of the street geography and neighborhoods.
We have been in two condos, because we didn’t plan to stay for Carnival, until we came and liked NOLA so much. Both places were fine, both were listed on Craig’s list. We drove 80 miles to check out the first one before we leased, and later arranged the second one 8 blocks away from the first. A good long distance solution is to find an agent whose form handles shorter term rentals, There are plenty of very acceptable furnished rentals in NOLA.
To me, VRBO and AirBnB and Home Away and the like are priced for short term travelers, who’ll pay the asking price for a few nights. And as long as the market is there, then why should owners cut the rates for someone who’ll stay for months? This type of rental also will not have a stretch of several weeks available in its calendar.
Craig is the place for owners and agents who may have a longer term furnished unit. There may be scams on Craig as well, which will be easier to identify if you are in the neighborhood. Just ask to see the property; the scammer won’t get back to you.
Use craigslist or get an agent to help you locate the right place and time.
We’re in New Orleans, spring is here. Click
for photos and descriptions of how to enjoy the French Quarter, Garden District, restaurants and music, Mardi Gras. With links to info about the city and sources of better photos than I can take.
If you like this sample, read Everybody’s Got to be Somewhere, for similar chapters on resort favorites Hilton Head Island; Palm Springs; Aspen, St, Augustine, Phoenix, Vancouver and Whistler, Bend Oregon and others.