New Orleans: Whiskey, Jazz, Ghouls, and Pizzazz

In beautiful, eclectic New Orleans, it’s impossible to have a boring night. Party all night long on Bourbon Street, delve into history and rich culture in the French Quarter and indulge on heavenly BBQ and exquisite oysters! The possibilities are endless.

As New Orleans gears up to celebrate its 300th anniversary in 2018, it’s an opportune time to visit this remarkable city. It was founded in 1718, making 2018 its Tricentennial celebration. Despite all of these years, NOLA has managed to stay true to its roots and reputations. It remains to be somewhat of a lawless land, a place where lifted shirts are exchanged for beads thrown from balconies, and burlesque shows set the tone for a wild night. Stopping by a street bar to grab a cocktail and drinking it in public is normal and encouraged, and hey, you might even see a ghost or two while cruising around town. However, it’s not all about parties and haunted tours; NOLA also offers visitors a glance into its fascinating culture, diverse background, and eventful history. Get ready to explore this city for all it is!

For your first stop, why not cruise down into the French Quarter? Considered the heart of New Orleans, there is plenty to see and do in this vast area. Stop by Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse to enjoy live jazz music and plenty of drinks with no cover charge. If you’re looking for a little risky business, look into their weekly burlesque shows; it will certainly be something you won’t forget! If history is more your thing, head over to the Presbytere. This museum features a Hurricane Katrina exhibit and a Mardi Gras exhibit. These two events are some of the most significant events that helped to shape the city as it is today, so this is an important stop to check out. Another must see spot in this area is Jackson Square. Street performers and live musicians come here to entertain both the locals and the tourists. Get your fortune read or purchase handmade art by local street painters, it’ll make a special gift to bring back home.

Lastly, if you’re looking to shop ‘till you drop head to the French Market. Walk out carrying more bags than you can handle as you stroll through this European themed outdoor mall. With six blocks of shopping, there are many options: a farmer’s market, flea market, and high end shops with everything ranging from toys to jewelry.

After the fun at the French Quarter takes up the majority of the day, you may be wondering where to go for your grumbling tummy. Well, don’t look any further than delicious steaks and a classy ambience at Galatoire’s 33 Bar and Steak. This restaurant offers a dim lit atmosphere with shimmering chandeliers—it’s sure to make your night magical. When dinner is done and the night is still young, why turn in early? Head to the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge for an elegant way to indulge in fine spirits. Located in one of NOLA’s most renowned luxury hotels, Hotel Monteleone, the carousel bar brings fun and fancy together. Why not try a Vieux Carre cocktail to end your night? This bar is considered its birthplace after all. When the night finally comes to a close in the early hours of the morning, book a room. It’s not only known for its bar; this hotel also includes a heated rooftop pool that promises to give you the best view of the NOLA skyline. If that’s not enough to convince you to stay, their luxury suites offer glass showers, in-room Jacuzzis and LCD televisions.

As the sun rises on your second day in NOLA, you might already be predicting the night’s adventures. Take time to enjoy the day first by heading over to Pagoda Café to have a yummy breakfast. This hip little breakfast shop actually used to be a dry cleaners! You’ll be straying away from the tourists and eating more like a local as you chow down on breakfast tacos and sip strong, delicious coffee. Now, all full and energized, get ready to trek over to the New Orleans Museum of Art and get artsy— it surely will not disappoint. Visit the sculpture garden in the back of the museum and make sure to take your time as you discover each exhibit. If history is more your thing, NOLA has got you covered there too. The National WWII Museum is a must-see and has been deemed the U.S.’ official WWII museum by Congress. Exhibits provide first-hand accounts of the men and women who served during the war, as well as multimedia experiences.

At this point, you might want to do something a bit more interactive after browsing museums all day. Why not unleash your adventurous side and conquer a New Orleans Cemetery and Supernatural Tour? This exciting two-hour tour takes you around “the most haunted city in America.” Learn about voodoo rituals and its place in New Orleans culture, as well as how Anne Rice got inspired for her famous vampire tales. Creep through haunted cemeteries and the home of playwright Tennessee Williams. This is a unique tour you do not want to miss out on!

If the ghosts and ghouls got your adrenaline going, your appetite must have been worked up as well. Lunch at the Desire Oyster Bar in the Royal Sonesta hotel is the answer. Just as much as NOLA is known for its partying its known for its oysters, and there’s no better place to try ‘em. Get here during happy hour which runs from 3pm-6pm, Monday-Friday for $1 oysters. You’ll be happy to find out that in the same hotel there is a gem known as Le Booze. Get your day-drinking started at this “whiskey destination” by making happy hour from 4pm-6pm, Monday- Friday. The deals include $5 cocktails and wine, $4 import draft and $3 domestic draft. And if you’re still hungry after the oyster bar, 1/2 off appetizers!

Now that you got your buzz on, don’t stop there! If you want to experience the nightlife in all of its glory, walk up Bourbon Street to see just how hectic the night can get. (FYI: this is where the lifted shirts are exchanged for beads.) If you’re not into exploring as much and want a one-stop kind of place, go to Tropical Isle Original. Home of the Hand Grenade, its recommended that you try this famous, or more so infamous, drink before leaving New Orleans. But beware, while this drink is tasty, it’s also powerful and you should probably stick to only one.

(Side note: If you forget the rest of the night after this explosive drink, you’ll still have the cup as a memento.)

For the explorers, if bar hopping is what you had in mind, there’s plenty more pubs ahead! Catch a different wave at Beach on Bourbon, where you can ride a one-of-a-kind mechanical whale after having tropical cocktails and shots. Stick around later in the night to get your party on as it turns into a late night dance club. To continue onwards, go to Rita’s Tequila House. With over 140 tequila selections to choose from, this is the spot to spice up your night. Happy hour runs daily 4pm-7pm with two-for-one drinks, but if you missed it, don’t fret! Stop by for some drinks anyway and dance the night away! Who could resist the tasty temptation of tacos and tequila?

On the third day in NOLA, get ready to experience some “om” time in nature as you head to one of the city’s gorgeous parks. Audubon Park has a wide range of activities to do. This park features a zoo, a pool, an aquarium, an insectarium, and lots of areas to play sports for the active type. It has it all, and anyone can easily spend a whole day here checking everything out. For lunch, BBQ is on the menu. Everything is roasted slow ‘n to perfection at Blue Oak BBQ. When ordering sides, don’t miss out on the Brussels Sprouts—they’re to die for!

If drinking is still your forte after the past two nights, head back to Bourbon Street, but this time for a more laidback, classy experience. Start the night off at Bourbon “O”. It offers a relaxed vibe with great liquor, nonetheless. Don’t leave without trying the rum and ice cream root beer float—where else would you get one, after all? The night will then lead you on to a similar ambience at Maison Bourbon. Enjoy live jazz music at one of the city’s oldest jazz clubs and let it take you away with each sip of your drink.

When the night comes to an end and you realize your adventures are over, don’t panic! You will always have a piece of NOLA to carry with you, whether that’s your Hand Grenade cup or a set of diamond earrings you got at the French Market, they will serve to remind you of the great times you had. And even if you didn’t get to purchase a memento, you’ll remember dancing in the street, and falling asleep at night to the sound of the saxophone through your hotel window. It’s absolutely a city that one cannot forget, one that will surely stay active in your memories and heart forever. So…will you be back to NOLA? The answer: HELLYA!

By: Aaliyah Pasols