by Bill Malcolm
It feels like Mardi Gras on Bourbon Street every day in the French Quarter in New Orleans. Between the great food, the charm of the French Quarter, the amazing history, and the great LGBTQ+ nightlife, you can’t go wrong with a visit even in winter.
WHAT TO DO
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- VUE Orleans is the new rooftop interactive museum atop the Four Seasons Hotel at 2 Canal Street. The interactive immersion goes into the diverse cultures that converged to create New Orleans. It showcases the city’s incredible mix of cultures and nations that made it the great city that it is today. The Voodoo Lady, the baby Jesus miniatures in the King Cakes, how the Po Boy sandwich got its name are just some of the things you will learn. Red beans and rice were created to eat on Mondays while doing your laundry. Why? It’s easy to make. That’s just one of the interesting tidbits you will learn here in this fascinating city, with a cultural mix that includes Spanish, Haitian, African, Italian, Native American, and French to name a few. Details at https://vueorleans.com/.
- Take the streetcar to Audubon Park or north along Canal Street. Get an all-day pass. These “Jazzy Passes” are a steal for US$3. The streetcar can take you along St. Charles Avenue and the red streetcars on Canal Street go all the way to City Park with its Sculpture Garden located next to New Orleans Museum of Art.
- Walk around the French Quarter and along the riverfront of the Mississippi River.
- Take a class at the New Orleans School of Cooking and learn how to make jambalaya, gumbo, pralines, and white chocolate bread pudding. You will find them at 524 St. Louis Street or online at www.nosoc.com.
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Freaky Friday means drag shows at the Oz Bar. You will find them at 800 Bourbon.
Café LaFitte in Exile at 901 Bourbon Street is the oldest queer bar in the U.S. It is still going strong.
The festive and fun Bourbon Pub at 808 Bourbon Street is celebrating its 47th anniversary. Sit on the balcony to enjoy the Bourbon Street scene.
Not LGBTQ+ but also worth a stop are:
The House of Blues at 225 Decatur, great for live music and a great bar.
Listening to the jazz band at the Ritz Carlton Davenport Lounge. It’s a nice break from the honky-tonk noise of Bourbon and Canal streets on a weekend night.
WHERE TO EAT
Image Credit: New Orleans & Company
Try the barbeque shrimp at Neyow’s Creole Café in mid-City. Also on the menu: shrimp creole, fried Gulf oysters, pasta on the bayou (fresh Gulf shrimp and crawfish), stuffed crab, and gumbo.
The red beans and rice and salmon are excellent at Landry’s. The have a great US$18 lunch box special.
Galatoire’s 33 Bar and Steak is a great option.
The Napoleon House Restaurant is in a 200-year-old French Quarter landmark. The building's first occupant was the mayor of New Orleans from 1812 to 1815, and he offered his residence to Napoleon in 1821 as a rebuilding refuge during his exile. Napoleon never made it, but the name stuck.
Café du Monde features café Americano and beignets (a fried donut treat). The coffee in New Orleans also contains chicory giving it a unique flavor.
WHERE TO STAY
I stayed at the Marriott on Canal Street. Bargain hunters may also like the nearby LaQuinta. All the chains are here as well as boutique hotels.
I flew into the new Louis Armstrong Airport and then took the E1 Jefferson Parrish Veterans-Airport bus from the third-floor departure area to downtown for just US$2. Or take the RTA Airport Express route 202.
Pick up a copy of the weekly Gambit (www.bestofneworleans.com).
Here are some informative links to plan your visit to the amazing Crescent City:
LGBTQ+ Itineraries: https://www.neworleans.com/things-to-do/lgbt/lgbt-itineraries/
There is nowhere else like New Orleans. It makes for a great holiday.
Bill Malcolm is North America’s only syndicated LGBTQ+ value travel columnist. Special thanks to New Orleans and Company for their travel tips.
Featured Image Credit: New Orleans & Company