Or as they say it in New Orleans, “Laissez-les-bons-temps-rouler!” You may feel guilty about eating a bit too much or drinking a bit too much, but tomorrow isn’t promised so indulge when you’re at your wits end. Eff the funk and take a trip to New Orleans, Louisiana!

The honest-to-God’s-truth? Even on a Sunday night Bourbon Street smells like vomit, but there are many other places to indulge in guilty pleasures in N’awlins. Bourbon Street is like the Times Square of NOLA: cheap, dirty thrills, neon lights, souvenir t-shirts, and strange crowds. Take a stroll down it one night just to take in the essence and then keep it moving.

Outside of Bourbon Street there are delicious restaurants to eat at, a wide range of activities to experience, and a multitude of to-go drinks to be had.

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Food:

Bayona– order the smoked duck cashew-peanut butter and pepper jelly sandwich

Cafe du Monde– order the beignets

Cake Cafe and Bakery– order a piece of cake along with anything else on the menu

Central Grocery Co – order a muffuletta

Dickie Brennan’s Steakhouse – order the bananas foster bread pudding

MiLa – order the sweetbreads (not bread)

The Rum House Caribbean Taqueria – any of the tacos or the crab melt

Also, try a po-boy sandwich. It’s a New Orleans specialty and every restaurant makes it differently. I had one at a random convenience store run by a Vietnamese family in the lower ninth district and it was delicious.

Spirits:

I recommend you try a “hurricane” which is the local rum-based drink, Abita beer (brewed in Louisiana), and the peach tea julep.

Activities:

Ninth Ward Rebirth Bike Tour – See the area most heavily affected by Katrina in 2005. Meet locals, visit the House of Dance and Feathers, bike along the Mississippi river, and learn the history of the area.

Walk the Garden District – Grab a map and take the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar to the Washington Street stop. The district is between St. Charles and Magazine Street and from 1st to 8th Street. The old homes are beautiful and the rich soil produces robust gardens. We wandered in a laissez-faire fashion but you can choose to take a tour. Once you reach Magazine Street, I recommend you check out The Rum House Caribbean Taqueria, The Magazine Antique Mall, Belladonna Spa and Shop, and Nadeau-furniture with a soul.

Shop in the French Quarter- For unique hats visit Goorin Bros. Hat Shop (Royal Street), for handmade artistic Mardi Gras masks visit Royal Mask (710 Royal Street), for fun women’s shoes visit Trashy Diva (Chartres Street).

Experience The Preservation Hall jazz show- get there early for this hour long show so that you can claim a spot near the front of the small room. The space could use an update but thankfully the sound is as New Orleans-authentic as the day it opened in 1961.

Check out live music on Frenchmen Street– Start the night at Blue Nile then wander down the street taking in the jazz, funk, blues, and rock and roll streaming out of the bars. Many of the clubs/bars don’t charge a cover and the local talent is above average.

Take in some history at The National World War II Museum– the exhibits are interactive, there are video and audio recordings of first-hand accounts from service members, and the volunteers are very knowledgeable if you have questions. Also, there is a retro soda shop on the main floor= fun.

Ready? Repeat after me in a cajun drawl, “Laissez-les-bons-temps-rouler!”

Extra New Orleans history-

“Nine Lives: Death and Life in New Orleans” by Dan Baum

“Through My Eyes: Ruby Bridges” by Ruby Bridges

“Blue Monday: Fats Domino and the Lost Dawn of Rock ‘n’ Roll” by Rick Coleman

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