Good Life

The Big Easy

Next time you’re in New Orleans, live like a local and check out one of these off-the-beaten-path adventures

Psst. . . want to hear a secret? New Orleans is much more than Bourbon Street and beignets. The truth is that The Big Easy’s locals spend a lot of time noshing on Creole cuisine in little-known hideaways, strolling through eclectic neighborhoods and listening to jazz in music venues that tourists might overlook. Here are some unexpected pursuits to consider the next time you head to NOLA.

Stroll Through the Garden District

There are plenty of walking tours within the French Quarter, but it’s worth venturing out a bit to tour the city’s Garden District. The area is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic mansions in the South and is certainly one of the most picturesque. Grab a map and stroll among the stately houses of celebrities like Anne Rice and Archie Manning. You’ll also discover the famous time-worn tombs of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, as well as Commander’s Palace – one of the best restaurants in town since it opened back in 1880. Finish with a stroll along nearby Magazine Street, which features a diverse mix of shops and eateries. One hotspot to try: Max Well, one of the growing numbers of plant-based cafes that have popped up in NOLA. Order the beet Wellington or “steak” and potatoes made with portobello, braised kale and smashed potatoes.

Go Kayaking

Kayaking, in New Orleans? Yep! The city is surrounded by waterways, and while many tourists opt to take in the area’s natural scenery on boat tours, one of the more interesting ways to see the city is by booking an urban kayak adventure with a local outfitter. These treks take paddlers along the historic Bayou St. John, a waterway originally used as a port for the French and later for the Spanish in the city’s earliest history. The surrounding area features West Indies-style architecture and landmarks such as the New Orleans Museum of Art, the St. Louis Cemeteries and even much of the French Quarter. Choose from a range of tours that last from two to four hours and offer up all kinds of historical tidbits from one of the city’s well-schooled historians.

Take in Some Jazz Music

Of course, no visit to NOLA is complete without listening to some serious jazz music. For the traditional sounds of New Orleans, venture to Preservation Jazz Hall, a club that was founded in 1961 on the premise of protecting New Orleans Jazz. The venue is home to its own touring band, the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, and is open nightly with concerts for all ages. Once you set foot inside, you’ll realize why Louis Armstrong considered it to be among the best jazz venues in New Orleans.