The 22 things you can only do in New Orleans

Published On 07/09/2014 Published On 07/09/2014
New Orleans

Sure, here in New Orleans it might be difficult to find a hill with a decent view, or reasonably claim “it’s a dry heat”, but there are still a few things you can do here and only here. These are the things the Crescent City stakes sole claim to...

Flickr/Kim Hill

1. Sing and dance... at a funeral.

2. Head to Miss Mae’s after a Saints home victory for a chance to buy defensive coordinator Rob Ryan a beer (or have him buy one for you).

3Attend your own wake, dressed in your favorite hat and feather boa, cocktail in hand.

4. Hang out with some seriously freaky-looking white alligators at the Audubon Zoo (where “dey all axed fo’ you”).

5. Explore the intoxicating exhibits at the one-and-only Museum of the American Cocktail.

6. They call it the National WWII Museum for a reason. There's only one, it's great, and it's here.


7Po-boys and muffalettas. People try to do them justice elsewhere (bless their hearts), but they can never come close to touching the original.

8. Enjoy a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar or a French 75 at the French 75 Bar

9. Three words: drive-through daiquiris.

10. Get some fresh fruits and vegetables from the inimitable Mr. Okra himself.

11. Work your way through an entire stick of Roman Candy. Okay, technically you could do this somewhere else, but you couldn't BUY it there.

Flickr/Phil Roeder

12. Get in on some authentic traditional jazz (or “trad jazz”) at Preservation Hall, with one of the best house bands in the country. Sorry: THE best.

13. Take a drink wherever you go. Hence the name “Go Cup”.

14. Enjoy a breakfast of cafe au lait and hot, sugar-coated beignets at any time of the day or year, because outside of a major natural disaster or WWIII, Cafe Du Monde literally does not close.

15. Go to church on Sunday. (And “church” of course means “The Superdome”.)

16. Chill out with a frozen treat from Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, the oldest continuously operating sno-ball stand in America.

17Bourbon St. For good and/or ill, there’s nothing like it in the world.

18. Participate in the largest crawfish boil the world has ever seen, or try your hand at eating those mudbugs faster than anyone else.

Flickr/Tulane Public Relations

19. "Fest". Jazz Fest, French Quarter Fest, Creole Tomato Fest, Satchmo Summer Fest, Essence Fest, Gumbo Fest, Oyster Fest, Seafood Fest, Po-boy Fest, Greek Fest... Nowhere else will you find such a concentration of celebrations, it becomes a verb. 

20. Enjoy the original “Vietnamese po-boy” at Dong Phuong Bakery.

21. Get stuck in traffic behind a parade float-version of NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell doing the nasty with a barnyard animal or being eaten by a giant vagina.

22. Watch a Minor League baseball game from a swimming pool (yes, there’s a pool in the outfield at Zephyr Field).

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1. The Club Ms Mae's 4336 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

Ms. Mae's, on the corner of Magazine and Napoleon, is a New Orleans institution -- and not because it's open 24 hours or is one of the cheapest bars in town. Well, that might have something to do with it. Inside, you’ll find pool, air hockey, and foosball. You’ll find very cheap drinks served in plastic cups. You’ll find big groups and singles, older folks drinking during the day and college students at night. And you might even find that rare, bold, endangered animal attempting the Ms. Mae’s 24 challenge: finishing one drink per hour every hour for a full day.

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2. The National World War II Museum 945 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130

Here's to the history buff in you -- err, or the part of you that just wants to see cool planes! Visit the numerous exhibits and attend a film screening or dinner lecture to brush up on your WWII knowledge.

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3. Sazerac Bar 130 Roosevelt Way, New Orleans, LA 70112 (Central Business District)

Inside the swanky, lost-in-time Sazerac Bar, you could find yourself looking at all kinds of historical wonders: WPA-era murals by Paul Ninas, the 1878 Ascot Cup, and a bullet hole that erroneous lore credits to an assassination attempt on then-Senator Huey P. Long, who liked to sip Ramos Gin Fizzes at the bar. While you’re sipping your expertly made cocktail in the dark, well-appointed room, consider what you are not seeing: tourists in cargo shorts sipping watery beer. Even if some of your comrades in drink are tossing back domestic swill instead of, say, the bar’s namesake, the historic decor buffers it. It’s hard to imagine a prettier bar in New Orleans.

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4. Arnaud's French 75 Bar 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112 (French Quarter)

Originally designated as a "gentlemen only area" in NOLA's early days, this cocktail bar located within Arnaud's Restaurant features drinks like the Pisco Derby (that's pisco, lavender honey syrup, lime, and grapefruit) and bar snacks like Oysters en Brochette (translation: oysters wrapped with bacon and deep fried). You'll feel extra fancy having those cocktails and snacks served to you by bartenders clad in white tuxedos. In addition to more inventive drinks, you can't go wrong with the killer Old Fashioned or Sidecar either.

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5. Preservation Hall 726 Saint Peter St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

The weathered wooden walls of Preservation Hall's narrow showroom still look the same as they did more than 50 years ago, when a group of bohemian fans started hosting pass-the-hat traditional jazz concerts there featuring artists who were at least as old as the music itself. The Preservation Hall Jazz Band, or one of its associated acts, still plays multiple sets nightly. During big local events like Jazz Fest, the Hall expands its purview to present late-night collaborations between the regular Hall band and featured special guests.

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6. Café Du Monde 800 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116 (French Quarter)

Originally established in 1862, Café Du Monde is the place to go for a quintessential New Orleans pick-me-up in the form of a beignet and cafe au lait. The patio, marked by a striped green-and-white awning, is a landmark in itself and the perfect place for people-watching in the French Quarter. The café gets busy during peak lunch and dinner hours, but its 24-seven schedule allows for plenty of opportunities to stop by, whether it's for a late-night sugar fix or an early-morning breakfast. Take-out orders can be placed through a quick-serve window, just be sure to take extra napkins -- those sugar-coated beignets are messy.

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7. Dong Phuong Oriental Bakery 14207 Chef Menteur Hwy, New Orleans, LA 70129

This eastern New Orleans Vietnamese standby might not amount to much from the outside -- with a mixed brick exterior and fading eggshell awning greeting diners -- but the signature bahn-mis here have drawn accolades from the country over. In addition to functioning as a casual full-service restaurant, the venue comes with a bakery that turns over equally excellent pastries like coconut rolls, egg tarts, and strawberry shortcake.

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8. Hansen's Sno-Bliz 4801 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Uptown)

It wouldn't be summer in NOLA without a high chance of snow, and you -- and maybe your parents and grandparents -- have been finding it in one particular NOLA spot for the last 77 years. There might be plenty of places in the city to enjoy a sno-ball, that quintessential Crescent City shaved ice treat, but Hansen's is a classic for a reason: this place not only preserves the traditions of decades past -- including using the same patented ice-shaving device that sweet-toothed NOLA machinist Enerst Hansen developed in the 1930's -- it also caters to new millennium palates with high-quality, handmade syrups.