When I first showed up in NOLA last fall I had been traveling around the country (and a little bit of Canada and Mexico, too) for 6 (SIX!!!) months and I barely had a nickel to my name. (Between you and me… I was down to about $45 in cash and had racked up over $1K in CC debt, but that’s personal and just between you and me.) After a few months cooking at the hostel and working at Bittersweet Confections,  I was able to squirrel away enough loot for the next leg of my journey. (Don’t stop believing!) I like to make the joke,”When I first showed up here in New Orleans I only had a pair of spandex and a tube of Chapstick!” (Thanks for that one, Corky.) NOLA was the perfect place to regroup and rest for winter. I’m glad I made it there, because for a little bit it was looking like I might be working at the Waffle House in in Byram, Mississippi. Although I’m sure Byram is nice, I’m fairly certain it doesn’t have quite the same music, food, architecture, and rich history of New Orleans.  Here’s a little list of “to dos” in NOLA, the next time you get a chance.

Music Recommendations

  • Preservation Hall – (Super touristy, but talented musicians and a must do for any jazz lover.)
  • Frenchman Street – (Be sure to check out the Spotted Cat and Apple Barrel. They’ll almost transport you back in time to the heyday of jazz.)
  • Street musicians – (Everywhere and usually pretty darn good!) 
  • Maple Leaf – (On Oak  Street away from the madness of the Quarter and Frenchman. Rebirth Brass Band plays there on most Tuesday evenings.)
  • Tipitina’s – (Bigger local acts and touring acts play at Tips and it’s cool to go pay homage to Professor Longhair. { Those who know rub the top of Fess’s bronze bust when entering the bar} [Also, if you’re lucky, Dat Dog will have its mobile hotdog shop set up outside after the show. ] )

Food recommendations

  • Dat Dog  (Not your papa’s hot dog shop. Sorry Brighton Hot Dogs. They have duck sausage, gator, polish dogs, beer brats, and even eggplant dogs for veg-heads. Not to be missed.)
  • Mandina’s  (An Italian restaurant that also offers regional fair like shrimp etouffe and turtle soup. It’s where the locals go and it’s darn good.)
  • Erin Rose and Parkway Bakery  (Wanna po-boy? Talk to me when I first got to town or go to one of these joints.) (Get it? A po-boy? I crack myself up.)
  • A Crawfish Boil  (Lots of bars, venues, churches, and neighborhoods have ’em and they are fun and delicious.)  
  • Liuzza’s – Get the gumbo and the shrimp po-boy!



  • French Quarter – (Duh. Some of the most beautiful buildings and balconies anywhere, IMO.)
  • Garden District – (Take the St. Charles Street car line and hop off at Washington to walk around and admire the grand homes.)
  • Almost any other neighborhood, too – (I’m a fan of some of the smaller homes that are brightly painted and decorated with intricate woodwork.)