Want to know the true do’s and don’ts in New Orleans? We'll take you through everything the Yelp reviews and reruns of Interview with a Vampire forget to mention... So grab a pencil and jot down our ten rules to enjoy the sites, sounds and spirit of NOLA through the lens of Mint Society.
This is New Orleans – the Crescent City, Beyonce’s inspiration for Formation, Anne Rice’s stomping grounds and a city so rich with culture that you can’t help but feel changed when you leave. So splurge a little and get a hotel as close as you can, so you can be smack-dab in the middle of the party. You’ll be surrounded by NOLA’s famous architecture, hear marching bands outside of your window, and not have to call a taxi when you have a hand grenade too many (see Rule No. 3). We were lucky enough to stay at the Old No. 77, a recently renovated boutique hotel so charming we didn’t mind time winding down and watching re-runs of Judge Mathis before heading out for round 2.
PUT A TWENTY IN YOUR BACK POCKET (OR PURSE)
There’s a moment you realize that you should always have a crisp twenty somewhere on your person. That moment came 45 minutes after standing in the line to get into the famous Café du Monde. After some perceptive scanning of the room, we quickly noticed that all currency was of the cash variety. Quickly panicking, hungry and ready to enjoy the famous, piping hot, sugar-coated beignets we scrounged up twelve dollars between us. Here’s the best part - Covered breakfast and the tip.
ONE HAND GRENADE
When you finally and inevitably wander down Bourbon St, you’re going to see everyone carrying 14 inch, neon citron slushes. They’re going to have a glaze in their eye at 12 in the afternoon and you’re going to want to join the party. We encourage you to grab one from the infamous Tropical Isle. You’re going to feel buzzed half way through, and even be tempted to partake in an $8 refill. Don’t. Explore the busiest bars, grab something lighter, take a shot or two – but unless you don’t want to remember lunch or dinner that day, stick to one of these potent creations. (Feel free to grab two if the above sounds like an adventure you want to be on)
Forget your heels. Forget your nice loafers. Forget that you get lazy going to the mailbox sometimes. You are going to walk. Walk… and walk…. And walk. For good reason: The best way to see New Orleans is on foot, especially when you get into the Quarter. There are plenty of stops and shops along the way to break at, but don’t feel guilty eating those beignets – You will have burned them off by mid-afternoon.
LEARN HOW TO RIDE A TROLLEY
Feeling deterred by the walking? It’s okay – New Orleans has the cutest trolleys that can take you to the furthest stretches of the city. Magazine St. is a must see for the beautiful Lafayette No. 1 cemetery and picturesque (actually dream-like) mansions that line its manicured streets. Just find your nearest pick up, read a map and bring $1.25 in coins (double if you plan on hitching a ride back) and enjoy the ride. The windows even open if it’s nice outside. So give your legs a rest and hop on the trolley.
New Orleans cemeteries are almost as famous as New Orleans. You’ve seen the exuberant ways they honor their dead whether it be a marching band funeral or the marbled tombs the people of this beautiful city are laid to rest. Lafayette No. 1 is one of the better-known cemeteries, has been seen in movies and TV, and is smack dab in the middle of the picturesque Magazine St. It is a somber experience, but should be an essential part of your trip. Compared to the Quarter, this is a serene place where you truly feel like you have been transplanted to a different time.
DON'T JUST TAKE A PICTURE OF THE COMMADER'S PALACE...EAT THERE
We’re not being disrespectful when we say this – But one of the best parts about the cemetery is that it smelt like bar-b-q. So if you’re going to explore the grounds hungry, here’s a word of advice: Look at the dress code, make a reservation and go to New Orleans oldest, and most coveted restaurant. It’s hard to miss the ‘Commander’s Palace’ blue exterior and the site of New Orleans’ elite heading in to enjoy their time-tested dishes. We took a picture … but we would have much rather eaten the barbeque shrimp.
Go to New Orleans hungry. Go to New Orleans famished and vow you won’t waste any time eating at a chain restaurant (Pink Berry doesn’t count… we don’t have one in San Antonio). There are a few things you need to have – beignets and coffee from Café du Monde. Jambalaya from Monty’s. Onion Rings and Po-Boys from Joey K’s – The trinity if you will. There are a myriad of other NOLA delicacies we didn’t mention on here – we only had two days to inhale. We’ll be back though; we’ll be back and starving.
Apparently everyone in this city knows that you don’t stop when a man states he can tell where you got your shoes. I really wanted to see the chances he was going to tell me Shoe Dazzle – But he didn’t. This is an age-old trick where they try and shine your shoes and make a buck. If you have one to spare – Feel free to share. But if you remember from Rule 2, Patricio and I spent all our cash trying to get breakfast.
Normally we suggest stopping and smelling the roses, but in New Orleans we highly encourage you to stop and partake in an improv marching band. On our last night after wandering down Bourbon and seeing a girl who was a week early for Mardi Gras (shout out to her questionable boyfriend for letting her walk around topless), we were delighted to come upon a gathering where the melodies of trumpets and saxophones perfumed the air. People of all ages, backgrounds and intent stopped to enjoy the sites and sounds, taking in that moment together. It was one of our favorite moments from the trip, and the best way to close the books for our first encounter with this beautiful city.