Summertime in NOLA
We don’t beat the heat, we embrace it.
Summertime brings a different state of being in New Orleans. The good times still roll, but they do so at a slower rhythm. Leisure is truly the order of the day, and July is a perfect time to pace yourself.
Traveling to New Orleans over the summer is often more affordable, with airlines and hotels offering deals to entice those intimidated by the heat. It’s easier to book rooms and upgrade your options. It’s even more likely you’ll get a coveted restaurant reservation and won’t have to contend with a crowded Frenchmen Street for after-dinner music plans.
If all of that isn’t reason enough to vacation in NOLA in July, here are a few highlights this month.
Essence Festival arrives every July 4 weekend and brings not only incredible musical acts, but also seminars that range from small-business development to fashion styling. Their Empowerment Stages speakers offer more than 50 free events and feature experts addressing issues in the music industry, education, spiritual health, and civic engagement, just to name a few. Some heavy hitters include: Misty Copeland, Faith Evans, Melissa Harris-Perry, Soledad O’Brien, Terry McMillan and Rev. Al Sharpton. The musical lineup is stellar as well, with headliners like Kendrick Lamar, Mariah Carey, Maxwell and Puff Daddy & the Family, while smaller stages and lounge areas bring throwback talent like Digable Planets and newer artists like Leon Bridges.
If running with the bulls is on your bucket list but Spain is out of reach, then San Fermin in Nueva Orleans on July 9 should be on your radar. That Saturday you can participate in the Running of the Bulls fundraiser, but rather than risk being gored by a bull, you will likely be hit with a whiffle ball bat wielded by a roller derby skater. Sound insane? It is. There are also events before and after the bull run and this year marks its 10th anniversary.
What would a trip to New Orleans be without an adult beverage? So why not plan an entire trip around our world-famous Tales of the Cocktail? Running July 19-24, it features seminars and trainings primarily for people working in the bar industry, but it also features “Dining & Drinking” events that are open to the public. At its website, www.talesofthecocktail.com, you can choose ether Industry Professional or Cocktail Enthusiast and plan your participation from there. Award-winning bartenders from around the world will be moonlighting with local talent, and special fixed-price menus are available at participating restaurants. And if you want to try your hand at crafting some exotic cocktails, Tales’ website also has recipes and insider tips for success.
But if you really want to slow things down and avoid crowds on your trip, I recommend staying in town during the week. The true character of a place is most easily revealed during the week. What feels better than eating brunch in flip-flops while seated next to people wearing suits for a business lunch? That juxtaposition is common around the French Quarter and Warehouse District, although of course I recommend checking a restaurant’s dress code prior to arriving. No flip-flops at Galatoire’s!
Traveling in New Orleans during the week is made even easier with resources like #HappyTuesday (GoNola.com/happy-tuesday). You can get great deals on midweek hotel stays and discounts at stores and events. Have you ever tried staying at a larger hotel during the weekend for lower rates, but then booking rooms at a boutique hotel during the week? Just because you are in the same city for a week doesn’t mean you have to rest your head at the same place every night.
So pack your linen shirts and sunblock, listen to some Anders Osborne on WWOZ, and explore the pace of life and culture the humidity brings out in New Orleans.
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.