Resolve to Take Your Best Trip
Nine resolutions for travelers to New Orleans in 2016
At this time of reflection and resolutions, it’s easy to focus on health or career. But what about the fun? If you are traveling to New Orleans in 2016, I offer you nine resolutions to consider on your trip. Why nine? Because it’s my lucky number.
Venture beyond the French Quarter.
While the historic French Quarter is an obvious must-see, it is only one neighborhood. Challenge yourself to visit other areas of town where you’ll find restaurants, stores and architecture worthy of your Instagram account. Bayou St. John offers kayaking and paddle boarding, Irish Channel has great neighborhood bars and the stories that go with them, Mid-City is home to City Park, and Algiers Point brings us to the next resolution.
Cross the Mississippi River.
Did you know there’s more New Orleans to love across the Mississippi River on the West Bank? Neighborhoods like Algiers Point and English Turn have quirky restaurants, paved paths along the levee, and even a championship golf course. The ferry at the foot of Canal Street provides wonderful views of both sides of the city.
For those visiting from smaller towns or international locales, large chain stores are understandably an attractive draw. But shopping at locally owned stores practically guarantees you will have access to unique merchandise, plus you’ll have a greater impact on our economy.
Someone once gave me the wonderful advice to buy art on my travels. Rather than spending money on a plastic snow globe or postcards, purchasing original work from a local artist is a better investment and a more meaningful memento of your trip. New Orleans has some of the best galleries in the country, not to mention street artists on Royal and around Jackson Square who give you the opportunity to interact with them and ask about their process and inspirations. Speaking of questions…
New Orleans is not a shy place. Don’t hesitate to ask questions of locals. We pride ourselves on our hospitality and love to brag about our favorite band, restaurant, park, and so on. If you want to really learn about a new destination, ask the locals where they spend their time and money and you’ll get a more enriching experience.
Dine high and low.
Make a reservation at a fancy restaurant and eat your heart out. But also leave room to eat from food trucks and dive bar menus. To experience contemporary New Orleans cuisine means you can and should honor our century-old restaurants, visit our cutting-edge chefs, and eat fried alligator and gumbo from the back of a neighborhood joint.
Bring the family.
Many people don’t realize how family-friendly New Orleans actually is, and how much fun a family can have on a visit here. From the French Quarter there are easy walks to attractions such as the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Insectarium, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, The National World War II Museum and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. Explore the riverfront during a stroll along Woldenberg Park or the Moon Walk. The streetcar provides a scenic ride to City Park or Audubon Park and Zoo. Most restaurants are very accommodating for children, and all restaurants are nonsmoking. Just call ahead if you are unsure if children are welcome. And with musicians playing in the streets and a free festival nearly every weekend of the year, you won’t miss out on the music culture, either.
Travel is a time to be generous to yourself and others. Give yourself the time to enjoy the experience. Save your money so you can spend it on what is meaningful. Be generous with your patience – for your fellow travelers and for those in the service industry. Tip your servers, bartenders, cab drivers, and even when you paid a cover at the door, tip the band if a hat gets passed. Those folks are professionals who pride themselves on making your trip a great one.
Wishing you safe and happy travels in 2016!
Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. Prior to New Orleans, she wrote for publications in the Midwest and New York City. She advises travelers to ask their cab/pedicab/gondola driver for their favorite restaurant and taking a chance.