Wednesday, 12 June 2013

A Local's Guide to New Orleans

You just got to New Orleans. Time to hit up Bourbon Street, right? Wrong.

Believe it or not, there is a town outside of the eight-block stretch of the French Quarter known as Bourbon Street. A beautiful, elegant city filled with as much history and culture as any other city in America, along with some of that debauchery that everybody looks for when coming down to the Crescent City. Sure, it’s easy to do the normal touristy, drink until you fall thing, but easy is never nearly as fun as the road less traveled.

The first thing you need to when visiting New Orleans is hop on a streetcar. It doesn’t matter if you have a destination in mind or not. Follow it until the streetcar stops. Any route that the streetcar goes on will eventually lead to a beautiful, Oak tree-lined avenue filled with antebellum houses and cast-iron fences. When you get off, just walk around. You’ll be amazed at what you find. It seems like each block has a hole-in-the-wall restaurant or bar to relax at on a hot, summer day.

Speaking of food, when you come to New Orleans, it is almost mandatory to eat as much as humanly possible, and then some. Po-boys, soft-shell crab, red beans, gumbo, beignets, bananas foster, seafood, crawfish, alligator sausage. If you see it on a menu, it’s probably good. Especially if you’ve never heard of it. Try everything. You won’t be sorry.

When you get your share of walking and eating, take a break and sit down at one of the many drinking establishments New Orleans has to offer. As of 2011, New Orleans had the most bars per capita of any city in the United States. Some are grungy, some are grimy, some are bright, some are dim. Nearly all of them serve a stiff drink, and many of them never close. Talk it up with one of the many local patrons and get some recommendations.

New Orleans is known for its music, so you might as well enjoy that, too. Tuesday night? No problem. Check out Grammy award-winning ensemble Rebirth Brass Band at the Maple Leaf. Unlike most cities, there’s always some music to see, whether it’s in the French Quarter or Uptown. When in doubt, check out the WWOZ New Orleans Livewire.

Like most cities, the true beauty of New Orleans lies in the underbelly. Once you get out of the tourist trap known as the French Quarter (though still a great time), you will truly begin to appreciate everything that is New Orleans, a land where the drinks flow freely and the food never stops. So get out there and enjoy everything that it’s worth. You won’t be sorry.

Patrick Rafferty is a marketing specialist for Few and Far, a website dedicated to the gentleman traveler.

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