Mardi Gras may be the highlight of New Orleans’ festive calendar, but there’s no reason you can’t venture beyond the parades and get the most out of your trip to the city.
Doing a bit of homework before you arrive is the difference between yet another hazy holiday and one that’s filled with other less, er, hazy activities that you’ll remember for years to come. And don’t worry, there’s no real homework involved – these New Orleans apps have done it all for you.
- Get a fresh perspective on the city with a locally-created audio tour
Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you could hear New Orleanians share stories of their neighborhoods while you wandered through them? Thanks to VoiceMap’s GPS audio tour app, you can – at any time of day, at your own pace.
There’s a choice of nine locally-created New Orleans audio tours for between $1.99 and $4.99, but new tours get added to the app all the time. Some take you back in time to Louis Armstrong’s childhood streets, and others celebrate neighborhoods like the French Quarter and Tremé from refreshingly new angles. Each audio walk lasts between 30 and 120 minutes and, thanks to GPS, the audio plays in all the right places while your phone hangs out in your bag or pocket.
What it does: Lets you explore New Orleans through the eyes of a local, using GPS and offline maps
Free app with in-app purchases from $0.99 upwards
- Access parade schedules, maps, and Mardi Gras facts in one app
This is the most in-depth Mardi Gras app out there, and is packed with practical information, a history of Mardi Gras, schedules of non-parading events, and a selection of links to websites and stores for all your carnival needs. Arthur Hardy has earned his reputation as the leading authority on Mardi Gras, and the app doesn’t disappoint.
What it does: Helps you navigate Mardi Gras like a pro
- Find an open table at a great restaurant after a long day out
If you like dining out, OpenTable will no doubt become one of those apps that you can’t live without. Within a few taps, you can check which restaurants have open tables, and make a booking without the need to phone ahead. With an enormous range of restaurants on its database in New Orleans and beyond, it can make the difference between a fantastic night out and an evening of wandering the streets. The helpful rating system also tells you about the food, service, value, noise and ambience at a glance.
What it does: Lets you book a table in an instant
- Show off your knowledge of the Big Easy’s live music scene
It’s not called the most musical city on earth for nothing, and now you can have the luxury of knowing who’s playing where and when on any given night in New Orleans. This app comes from the team at Offbeat Magazine: it’s been the go-to guide to New Orleans’ rich musical culture for 25 years, and for good reason. In addition to up-to-date information on events, there’s a full venue directory and, during festivals, an easy-to-access performance schedule.
What it does: Gives you OffBeat Magazine’s music listings in mobile form
About the author:
Claire van den Heever spent the last 10 years of her life abroad. She wrote about her overland travels through the Middle and Far East, spent four years getting to grips with Mandarin in China, and researched a book on Chinese contemporary art’s rollercoaster-like history – when she wasn’t planning her next escape. Having recently returned to Cape Town, she enjoys feeling like a traveller in her own city, and having the opportunity to explore it with fresh eyes.