New Orleans 101: A Guide to Experiencing the City

Ian Faul, Contributing Writer

New Orleans is remarkably unique, made so by its colonial history and location at the convergence of silt and salt. This fusion — one that is fundamental to the city — created something that we can undeniably call culture. But even deeper than the city’s culture runs its spirit, the invisible fabric woven from the strands of suffering, perseverance and joy.

As a permanent resident of New Orleans, I would encourage Tulane students to take in the city’s spirit by opening their eyes, ears and even mouths to it. I’ve compiled a list of easily accessible places in New Orleans where you can feel this spirit strongly — and this is just scratching the surface.

Music

Bayou Bar

2031 St. Charles Ave

Exposed wood and murals of swamp scenes give the Bayou Bar a relaxed, yet intimate ambiance. This tiny bar and restaurant, located in the luxurious Pontchartrain Hotel, is also the site of bassist Peter Harris’ standing gig. If you are a true jazz lover, the Bayou Bar is the place to go. Best of all, there is no cover charge to get in, and it is situated directly off the St. Charles Streetcar line. I recommend arriving early to get a table. The music calendar can be accessed here.

Tipitina’s

501 Napoleon Ave

Originally a small juke joint dedicated to Professor Longhair, Tipitina’s gradually became one of Uptown New Orleans’ most important musical and cultural institutions. Many local legends, including Allen Toussaint, Dr. John and the Neville Brothers have graced the stage at Tipitina’s, as well as more nationally famous artists of various musical genres. Despite its fame, Tipitina’s remains a local venue filled with a friendly spirit. The music calendar can be accessed here.

Rock n’ Bowl

3016 South Carrollton Ave

If you want to hear another side of Louisiana, you should roll up to Rock n’ Bowl. This eighteen-lane bowling alley is also a music venue that hosts blues, zydeco and swamp pop bands five nights a week, so you can rock out while knocking some pins down. Rock n’ Bowl’s live music calendar can be accessed here. If you’re looking to bowl, call in advance to check for availability. 

Museums

New Orleans Museum of Art 

1 Collins Diboll Circle, City Park

An immense stone building surrounded by lagoons and centuries-old oaks, NOMA is beautiful inside and out. The museum boasts an ever-growing collection of nearly 40,000 pieces from all over the world and offers musical, cultural and educational programming almost every day. Admission is free for those under 19 years old and $8 if you show your student ID card. The museum website and event calendar can be accessed here

New Orleans Jazz Museum

400 Esplanade Ave

One of the best ways to understand your new city is to listen to the rhythmic beating of its heart. The New Orleans Jazz Museum is a great place to start. With more than fifteen festivals and 365 concerts annually, the museum is a monument dedicated to music past and present. The Jazz Museum also houses the world’s most extensive collection of artifacts related to traditional New Orleans music, notably Louis Armstrong’s cornet. The museum website and event calendar can be accessed here.

JAMNOLA

2832 Royal St

Not too far from the Jazz Museum is JAMNOLA, an “experiential pop-up” celebrating all things New Orleans. JAMNOLA — an acronym for Joy, Art and Music — perfectly encapsulates the quirkiness and fun-loving energy of the Bywater neighborhood where it is located. Including 12 exhibits and the work of over 20 local artists, JAMNOLA offers an interactive experience of what it means to live in New Orleans. Tickets are available for purchase here.

Outdoor adventures

City Park

1 Palm Dr

City Park is one of the crown jewels of New Orleans. One of the largest urban parks in the country, it is home to New Orleans Botanical Garden, Couturie Forest, the New Orleans Museum of Art and Besthoff Sculpture Garden. If you’re feeling adventurous, try renting a kayak to explore the interconnected lagoons that dot the park. If you’re looking to have some fun with friends, play some mini golf at City Putt, take a ride on the train or grab some beignets at Cafe du Monde. The Park’s website can be accessed here.

Longue Vue House and Gardens

7 Bamboo Road

A slightly lesser known locale is Longue Vue House and Gardens, a classical revival-style estate located just off Metairie Road. The gardens surrounding the house remain mostly unchanged since the 1930s, when they were first planted. The fountains are particularly stunning, especially when taken in from the mansion’s balcony. The cafe in the gatehouse offers a variety of delicious coffees, teas and cookies, made even more enjoyable when consumed on the oak-bordered lawn in front of the mansion. Longue Vue’s website can be accessed here.

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