As you unlock some New Orleans fun, you may find some happy surprises. Here are five interesting things about the Big Easy to uncover—and discover—for yourself!
Photo: Besh Restaurant Group View all slides
Photo: Hotel Monteleone
Next Slideshow: The Best Gay-Friendly Travel In Spain & Latin America
View All Slides:
New Orleans food definitely has a flavor all its own! The city’s historic mix of cultures is reflected in signature dishes that boast Creole, French, Latin and African-American influences, such as jambalaya and gumbo. One modern “hot spot” for Latin dining is Mais Arpeas, a central-city eatery specializing in Columbian delicacies such as arepas, empanadas and much more. Casa Borrega, located across from Ashe Cultural Arts Center, opened July 4, offering every kind of authentic Mexican dish in a stunningly refurbished 1850s two-story house.
Theatre arts are alive and well and thriving in New Orleans! The Joy Theater, located at 1200 Canal Street downtown, just reopened after an eight-year hiatus. This art-deco treasure features all kinds of live entertainment from some of the city’s top musicians and performers. The Saenger Theatre is newly-reopened after a grand overhaul; this 1927 landmark will play host to A-list performers such as Diana Ross! And Le Petit Theatre, one of the oldest continuously operating community theatres in the US, continues to present six to eight mainstage productions each year.
The Carousel Bar & Lounge, located in the Hotel Monteleone on Royal Street, is the city’s only revolving bar—it makes a complete revolution every 15 minutes, offering the charm of a 25-seat circus-themed Merry-Go-Round inside. Installed in 1949, the Carousel has long been a favorite of celebrities and locals alike, and it’s known for creating many signature cocktails.
If you love getting around on two wheels, get ready to love New Orleans! The city earned “Bronze” level status for being a bike-friendly city from the League of American Bicyclists. You can rent bikes at places all over the city: try Bike NOLA in the French Quarter or City Park Boat & Bike Rentals at Big Lake in City Park. Bike along Bayou St. John, take Esplande Avenue to City Park, pedal along the New Orleans Lakefront—home to great local seafood eateries and the New Canal Lighthouse—to see great vistas of Lake Ponchartrain. The bike-friendly Bywater neighborhood is another great place to check out.
The aptly named “Garden District” is known not only for its beautiful gardens, but also for its elegant homes, many dating back more than a century. The area was designed in 1806 with a planned system of parks, fountains and canals, and features many houses and other buildings in the 19th century Greek Revival and Italianate style. During Carnival season, many of these houses sport official flags designating Mardi Gras Royalty, a great sight to behold! In any season, the Garden District is a great place to stroll through—the oaks of Coliseum Square, the variety of shops on Magazine Street, the parks that invite you to linger make for a delightful experience.