BSuitable and chicory coffee, jazz music and jazzed up cocktails, a city of art, architecture and plenty of action – there’s no single reason why culture lovers flock to New Orleans from all over the world – because there are so many. This historic city is as vibrant as ever, and the kind-hearted communities on both sides of the Mississippi River are ready and waiting to embrace those who wish to lose themselves in the cultural capital of the South.
All the ingredients for a good time
Outsiders may know New Orleans as a cultural melting pot, but locals know it’s more akin to seafood or a hearty gumbo. Countless cultures, including the Acadians, Cajuns, Creoles, African Americans, Native Americans, French, and Spanish, have each added their own flavors to the pot. The beauty of New Orleans’ diversity is that, not unlike the gumbo and crayfish boils of locals, no two parts of the city are exactly alike.
You’ll find the birthplace of jazz in Tremé, a neighborhood that proudly flaunts its roots as one of the country’s first African-American neighborhoods. The Irish Channel is certainly worth a stop for a pint before hitting the bars of the French Quarter. The Garden District is a popular place to explore the diverse architectural sights of centuries past, while the Warehouse District’s old industrial sites are being transformed into trendy museums, galleries and cafes for the modern crowd.
As if the city’s dozens of neighborhoods didn’t give enough variety, you’ll find that even many of the streets themselves have a unique identity. Bourbon Street’s world-famous bars and live Zydeco bands speak for themselves. Julia Street is also known by the nickname “Gallery Row” thanks to its countless art galleries. Antique collectors flock to Royal Street to browse the many vintage shops, while Magazine Street owes its reputation to its miles of eclectic boutiques, cozy cafes and quiet restaurants.
It may be a little older than the coeds who call it home, but Maple Street’s proximity to the universities makes it one of the trendiest neighborhoods in town. The small pedestrianized mall of Fulton Street, a block long, is quickly becoming a favorite meeting place for locals who know the hustle and bustle of Canal Street all too well. From St. Charles to St. Claude and every avenue in between, there is excitement around every corner that may very well have you literally dancing in the streets.
A taste of old and new
Creole is first and foremost an identity, and one of the best ways to learn about the history and culture of the early settlers is through food. Taste any Creole dish and you can trace its flavors to more than one part of the world. West African, Caribbean, European, and Latin American cultures have all contributed to this unique New Orleans cuisine.
Sazerac House is a state-of-the-art combination of history, heritage, interactive exhibits and unparalleled cocktail experiences. It’s home to the eponymous New Orleans cocktail, made with Sazerac Rye Whiskey, some Herbsaint and a few dashes of Peychaud’s Bitter, and served in an old-fashioned glass.
No one will look twice at a visitor who turns a bar menu into a meal, but you’d regret not having eaten some of the best Creole food in town. The Creole House is within sight of the Sazerac House and has a large, simple offering of Creole stuffed fish. A staggering stack of prestigious James Beard Awards should be enough to convince you to make reservations at Commander’s Palace, Arnaud’s or Brigtsen’s.
Of course, the rich diversity of New Orleans’ food scene means that classic dishes like jambalaya are just as readily available as more modern Creole fare. With Dat Dog you can top your sausage with crawfish Etouffee (a classic Louisiana dish with a buttery, rich sauce and heaps of fresh crawfish tails) and Creole mustard, while the New Orleans Creole Cookery pairs their live jazz bands with upscale plates of catfish decatur and Creole pasta. Or you can simply grab a spatula during a cooking class and conjure up your own Creole creation.
Visit NewOrleans.com for more information