The New Orleans Tourism Marketing Corporation has revealed their latest New Orleans tourism slogan: "Follow Your NOLA," and there's a new commercial and a snazzy interactive website to go along with it.
The slogan is catchy enough, I suppose, but what I like about this campaign, unlike a lot of the tourism campaigns that came before it, is that it comes with a new push to encourage tourists to leave the French Quarter and see some of the other amazing neighborhoods around the city.
Entirely too many people have come and gone from their New Orleans trip thinking that Bourbon Street was all that we had to offer, for better or for worse. I'm glad to see a push away from that. Sure, some of the other neighborhoods around the city are a little bit funkier, but they're still largely safe for tourists, and there's great stuff to be seen (and eaten) all over town.
If nothing else, visitors should at least check out The Garden District and Frenchmen Street, for great architecture and great music, respectively, but that's just the tip of the iceberg. Head into the Tremé to visit the amazing Backstreet Cultural Museum and stop over at Willie Mae's Scotch House for the best fried chicken in the world. Head into the Bywater to hear Kermit Ruffins at Vaughan's or eat breakfast at Elizabeth's (praline bacon, y'all). Go out to Carrollton to catch ReBirth at the Maple Leaf and have one of the finest affordable meals of your life at Boucherie.
See the cemeteries and the Bestoff Sculpture Garden. Kayak on Bayou St. John and take a picnic out to the Fly. And please, please consider heading out to New Orleans East for Vietnamese food, because the pho out there can be a transcendental experience, I'm telling you.
What's your favorite thing to do outside of the French Quarter? Leave a comment and let us know!
Streetcar image © Jo Jakeman, Creative Commons via Flickr
The banks of Bayou St. John, the lazy waterway that flows through the Mid-City neighborhood, are the setting for this celebration, which offers a down-to-earth, locally-focused, free alternative to the neighborhood's better-known festival, Jazz Fest. Topping the musical bill are popular local brass bands like ReBirth, the Dirty Dozen, and the Hot 8, Cajun and zydeco acts like Nathan and the Zydeco Cha-Chas and the Pine Leaf Boys, and other local favorites, including Alvin Youngblood Hart and Bonerama.
A couple dozen food stands will be offering everything from down-home po-boys and jambalaya to some fancier stuff: Boucherie (one of my favorite restaurants) will be there with some upscale sammiches and watermelon gazpacho, and Ralph's on the Park will have smoked duck boudin and a fancy schmancy upmarket Yaka Mein on their menu. I cannot possibly say no to that.
The festival will also feature an expansive arts market, a 5k run, a bicycle second line, a rubber duck derby (to benefit the Second Harvest Food Bank), and all sorts of other fun stuff for the whole family. If you're lucky enough to be in town this weekend, come out and check it out. All necessary details can be found at thebayouboogaloo.com.
Also on the calendar for this weekend:
Another Jazz Fest has come and gone -- an especially muddy one this time -- and life now returns to normal. I didn't see many of the big-name nighttime shows this year. First off, there's the impossibility of getting a babysitter anywhere in the State of Louisiana when Jazz Fest is on, but secondly, I always have a hard time leaving the amazing music at the side stages. The Gospel Tent is a favorite (I like to say that I get all my church for the whole year in just two weekends), and I love catching the Cajun and Zydeco bands over on the Fais Do-Do stage and the international bands on the Congo Square Stage and... well, all sorts of things that aren't Billy Joel. Not that there's anything wrong with Billy Joel; I heard he was great!
I spent a good chunk of the first weekend over in Lafayette for the outstanding free world music extravaganza Festival International de Louisiane, so most of my highlights came from the second weekend: Ingrid Lucia pulling off one of her fabulous signature vintage jazz sets in the Lagniappe Tent, a scorching tribute to Mahalia Jackson by New Orleans' resident R&B queen Irma Thomas in the Gospel Tent, and Norah Jones singing country tunes with the Little Willies over on the Fais Do-Do Stage.
Which performances stood out for you? Leave a comment and tell us all about them!
There's no shortage of fun souvenir options to bring home from New Orleans: beads, t-shirts, antiques, edible treats, an extra ten pounds around your midsection... so many choices! But one of the more popular choices for souvenirs in this city is a spanky new tattoo.
It makes sense. First off, it's a vacation destination that lends itself well to tattoos in terms of care and treatment (since fresh tattoos have to be kept clean and can't be exposed to sun or water, you certainly don't want to get one on a beach vacation or camping trip). Secondly, this city is brimming with artists of all kinds, and that includes tattoo artists. Some of the finest tattoo shops in the country are located here, and people from all over the world come here specifically to have local artists do large pieces.
That said, there are also some shady tattoo shops to be found in the city, so if you think a vacation tattoo might be on your agenda, do your research in advance and find a shop and an artist who you feel comfortable with. That should probably go without saying, but sometimes, four Pimm's Cups later, things seem like a good idea that aren't, so making plans ahead of time might save you from a real mistake.
- Getting a New Orleans Vacation Tattoo: Shops, Motifs, and More
- Show Off Your NOLA Vacation Tattoo!
- Getting Body Mods Away From Home: What You Need to Know
New Orleans Heron Tattoo © Rachel Tayse, Creative Commons via Flickr
Though some people instinctively think of New Orleans as an adults-only vacation destination, the truth is that this is a wonderful, friendly city that offers tons of activities for families with children. Expansive and lush parks, frequent festivals and celebrations, playgrounds galore, museums and wildlife and street performers and all sorts of other attractions make this city a perfect choice for families with kids.
However, as the mother of a toddler (and a pretty rambunctious one, at that), I know full well that not all big-kid-friendly activities are actually quite right for the toddler set. My kid doesn't actually seem to possess an indoor voice, for starters, and he won't sit still for long, so outdoor adventures like the Audubon Zoo and, my favorite, Storyland at City Park are ideal for us. He also loves music (and beignets), so watching the buskers and nommin' a beignet at Jackson Square is a favorite activity for our family, too.For rainy days, the Audubon Aquarium is a great choice, and my kid will gladly spend the entire afternoon with his face smashed against the glass in the underground tunnel. ("Oooh! A fish! Oooh! Anuvver fish! Oooh! Anuvver fish!" ad infinitum.) Another excellent spot when it rains (or when the heat is too stifling to do much else) is, of course, the Louisiana Children's Museum which, when you're two, is the very best place in the entire world: be a steamboat captain! Or a fireman! Or a waiter! (These things are all equally awesome when you're toddler-aged, I've discovered.) Build with huge blocks! Step inside a scale model of an eyeball! It's great fun, really.
And that's not even all! New Orleans is brimming with activities for the littlest kids from the simple to the extravagant. Learn more about some local favorites:
Image of Audubon Aquarium © Edd Prince
Social media is abuzz with the news that Tujague's Restaurant, the French Quarter landmark (and second-oldest restaurant in the city) is facing an uncertain future, due to some family differences.
Here's the short version: Steven Latter, the owner of Tujague's, passed away in February, whereupon his son Mark took over the business. The building, however, is owned by Steven's brother, Stanford. The rumor mill is buzzing with the news that Stanford is thinking of selling the building to Mike Motwani, an entrepreneur who primarily runs t-shirt and souvenir shops throughout the French Quarter.
New Orleanians are, of course, rather fond of their historical landmarks and are coming out in droves to support this legendary bar and restaurant, where the Grasshopper was invented and which became famous for serving delicious boiled brisket to dockworkers over a century and a half ago. The hashtag "#savetujagues" and the messages "vote with your fork" and "Tujague's, not T-Shirts" have been locally trending on Twitter, largely fueled by Tujague's own Twitter feed (@Tujagues), and reports are that the house has been full for dinner every night since the campaign started.
In an interesting twist, Nola.com reports that restaurateur and famed chef John Besh has apparently reached out to Stanford Latter to inquire about the building, which, if a deal went through, would certainly guarantee that fine food will continue to come out of Tujague's kitchen. With Besh's Midas touch, the food would probably improve drastically in quality -- though it's certainly not bad now -- and become a hotspot for the first time in a century or so. But at this point, it's all speculation.
One way or another, it's certainly best in the interest of history and good taste if Tujague's remains open as a restaurant, and doesn't just become another tacky T-shirt shop. If New Orleans is in your immediate travel plans, consider stopping in. You'll either be helping to save it or you'll always be able to say that you were one of the final diners there; one way or another, it's worth the trip.
What do you think is the best possible outcome? Tujague's continuing on as-is? A John Besh-helmed Tujague's? Or maybe you think it's time for this place to be tucked into the New Orleans Memories file... leave a comment and let us know!
Image © Chad Kainz
In summer there are great deals on hotels, restaurants, and attractions in New Orleans. 2012 is the Summer of Lagniappe.(Lan Yap See: New Orleans Speak). You can enjoy the best of New Orleans on a po-boy budget.
From July-September, you can find postings for the best lodging rates and extras on the Official New Orleans Tourism site. These are offers you can't find anywhere else on lodging in New Orleans. Be sure to ask the hotel to give you a VIP Lagniappe card upon check in, good for weekday deals on attractions, restaurants and nightclubs/bars.
To get these deals, you have to go to this website and check rates. Don't miss these deals!
I'm a cat person myself, we have two cats, Ricky the down to earth type and La Chat Noir, the cool one. But, I do have a good friend Boudreaux the Jack Russell Terrier. Now Boudreaux can get a little stressed out at times, and when that happens his owner takes him for a day at the Belladoggie Resort Spa for Dogs. It does wonders for him. After a day of spa treatments like a wax peel for his paws, a massage, a skin-soothing seaweed wrap, and a run on the underwater treadmill, he's a new dog! So, if you bring your dog on vacation, book a day at the Belladoggie Spa, after all it's his vacation too.
Belvedere Vodka & Bon Appetit have partnered to create the first ever Grub Crawl hitting select cities this summer, and New Orleans is one of the three cities. It's a 3 day party with Belvedere Vodka and Bon Appétit. The Grub Crawl walks you through a hands-on, pub crawl-inspired food tour around the city through 15 restaurants for great food and spirited cocktails featuring the new Belvedere Lemon Tea. There's also a concert featuring Theresa Andersson on Saturday Night at 9pm at the Joy Theater. Click here for concert tickets.
It all happens this weekend from Friday June 22 through Sunday June 24. You can buy tickets for individual nights or a package for all three. Click here for ticket information. Here's the schedule:
FRIDAY, JUNE 22
- American Sector
- Mike's On The Avenue
- Hotel Modern
SATURDAY, JUNE 23
- Napoleon House
- The Joy Theater
SUNDAY, JUNE 24
- La Petite Grocery
- Bouligny Tavern
- La Divina Gelateria