Star New Orleans Advocate food writer Ian McNulty said, "'People don't live in New Orleans because it is easy. They live here because they are incapable of living anywhere else in the just same way." - and ain't it the truth. Living in New Orleans is like giving your soul a little ice cream treat every day, but putting up with the struggles of living in a 300 year old city on top of a swamp does require certain accouterments. I've been asking around, and here's a few New Orleans essentials straight from the mouths of locals:
FRIENDS IN THE RIGHT PLACES
"Friends in the right places in nola is the rule number one - Maybe the only rule." was the direct quote on this recommendation and I believe it. To live a full life in New Orleans you have to know the right people. Need a place to park for Jazzfest, an in to a great house on the Endymion Route or a new job? Call on one of your friends in the city. For centuries, New Orleans has been a who you know kind of place and it's still true as ever in 2018. Get out there and meet some people.
AN ADMIRABLE TO GO CUP COLLECTION
If you don't have at least 30 Mardi Gras cups in your pantry, do you even live here? Tokens of parades and parties gone by, these things are the utimate in reusable drink traveling devices. If you lose it along the way, there's at least 80 more waiting at home.
ICE CHEST BACKPACK // FANNY PACK
I will be shouting from the mountain tops about this ice chest backpack for the rest of my years. Stick a few ice packs in here and you instantly become a traveling bar. Perfect for poboy fest, jazzfest, anyfest and your weekend get away to Gulf Shores. Don't try and live without this here, it just isn't worth it. A side mention for this one is the true festival underdog: the fanny pack. I don't believe people in other cities has as much use for a fanny pack - I just don't.
NEW ORLEANS T-SHIRTS
When I first moved here, I had no idea that a T-shirt Culture could be a thing. It's like everyone here knows that living here is one big inside joke that only the locals are in on. To celebrate it, they put the best punch lines on t-shirts and wear them like amour in fields of tourists. Growing up, my family always flew on airplanes in LSU gear just in case we ran into other tigers along the way. Now, I do the same with these, just to find my extended Nola family. Dirty Coast always has a way of getting it just right with these shirts.
Photo Credit: Dirty Coast
The best part about New Orleans is that we will use anything as an excuse to celebrate. Two years ago, a giant sink hole opened up on Canal Street and in a total reasonable response, we turned Cinco de Mayo into Sink Hole de Mayo. All of this celebration calls for glitter, glitter and more glitter. It's Sunday afternoon and you want to ride the streetcar to Pat O's - great, put on some glitter. The saints are playing - here comes glitter. Red Dress Run, St. Patricks Day, Mardi Gras? GLITTER. GLITTER. GLITTER. We're so into this that there's local companies built totally on glitter empires - like Electra Cosmetics. These sirens of glitter once hosted an entire glitter tent at a zoo charity event where they styled your glitter to your outfit. I was instantly in love.
Photo Credit: Elektra Cosmetics
A TRAFFIC CONE
In a city where off-street parking is a priceless commodity, few things are as useful as a traffic cone. Need to make sure you have a place to park when you get home on parade day? Call in the traffic cone defense. Giant pot hole open up in front of your house that could eat your entire car? No need to fear, traffic cone is here!
The entire city of New Orleans is honestly around 5 miles in size. It's an especially beautiful fact because it makes the entire thing bike-able. With a bike, gone is the need to stress about parking. It's also an incredible way to see the city. My favorite hobby is pointing out houses I love wherever we are and it's much less dangerous on bike than in my car.
RAIN BOOTS // SHRIMP BOOTS
It rains here all the time. Did it rain for the entire month of August? Maybe. It's unconfirmed and I won't believe if it's wrong when I look it up. Just know that there is a certain point in the year here where it rains every single day. Rain boots help make do in the mess - but more importantly, they make Jazz Fest possible. Even if it rained one single day during fest, the ground will be a mud pit forever. Save yourself and save your feet, wear the boots.
ACCESS TO A CRAWFISH POT AND BURNER
Look, having a place to store this in tiny shotgun house is a struggle that I get more than most. However, life in New Orleans in the spring is not complete without a crawfish boil. At least having someone to call to borrow this from is a huge boost to your Nola points. If you're ready to take the leap to have your own set, this the brand we bought and love.
Whats your essential item for life in New Orleans? Share in the comments!
New Orleans, with all of it's own charms, also has the benefit of being perfectly positioned just an hour away from one of the biggest SEC tailgating destinations in the conference. Take a road trip from New Orleans one Saturday this fall and see it for yourself. As a born and raised Baton Rouge girl turned LSU alumna, I've had my fair share of lessons learned for creating the best gameday experience at LSU. Here's the essential info for about my tips for having a successful gameday:
OUTWIT GAMEDAY PARKING
Paying for parking at an LSU game is for the unexperienced tailgater. Finding free parking is easy with these tips - If a special tailgating permit is required, you'll see a sign and usually a guard at the lot or temporary yellow signs. You can ignore any permeant permit required signage, as that isn't enforced on the weekend. This means that parking at dorm lots, the student recreation center and the giant field lots are all free game. If your tailgate is by Burbank, the business school or the stadium - consider the hayfield lot behind the baseball stadium. If your tailgate is by sorority row, the law building or the parade grounds - park by the rec. Just don't park on any historic oak tree roots, as they're endowed for millions of dollars and protected like you wouldn't believe. SEE OFFICIAL PARKING MAP HERE
Photo Credit Greg Rundell
DON'T MISS THE GOOD STUFF
Start with a list of everyone you've ever heard tell you something like "We have a tailgate at LSU, you should come by!" and figure out their exact geographic location. "We're the purple tent on the parade grounds" unfortunately is not going to cut it. Get an idea of the general map in your mind and how far you're willing to walk from place to place across the giant campus. If you don't have a tailgate to stop by, consider one of the bars around campus that have block parties in their parking lots - Walk On's is a huge hit, and Fred's is great if you're ready for a throw back to partying in your early 20s. In addition to locking down a home base, there's a few must sees for newbies around the stadium:
TIGER BAND MARCHING DOWN VICTORY HILL - 1.5 hours before kick off
The players enter the stadium an hour and a half before click off. But to celebrate, thousands of people line up on the along hill by the stadium from the Manship school to the stadium gates. The band, golden girls perform as they run down the hill. It's something you have to see at least once.
MIKE THE TIGER'S HABITAT
Right across the stadium, don't miss the multi-million dollar home of LSU's beloved Mike the Tiger. Cared for 24/7 with a person veterinary staff, this tiger was saved from a tiny tourist stop in Florida and is now living in luxury. He might even be swimmin in his little pool when you stop by.
So if you're like most visitors, you'll have a friend with a tailgate that you're going to stop by. Don't show up empty handed! Contribute a case of beer or a container of potato salad that you threw in the cooler. Tailgate hosts are the real MVPs, so show them the love they've earned by securing a spot at 4 am on game day and cooking for you all day.
LEARN THE INSIDERS GUIDE TO GAME DAY BATHROOMS
It's like Mardi Gras all over again, but there are a few tips to know. Some buildings on campus are open with Bathrooms and the union is always one of them. Ignore the bathrooms on the first floor and even the second - head all the way up to the third floor and take a left. Hidden in a corner is a 4 stall bathroom with usually short lines. The bookstore also always has their bathroom by starbucks open and plays loud music - we've come to call it "club bathroom". Also, Jazzfest trailer potties are available by the visitors center on the parade grounds. If you're braver than me, you'll also be fine with the port-o-potties all over the place. As a side note, these lady pee funnels I got for port-o-potties at Mardi Gras have changed my life and come highly-reccomended.
PICK YOUR POISON WISELY
All day tiger tailgating is not for the faint of heart. When we were in the thick of it, we would get to the tailgate at 5 am and leave at 10 pm. You have to make good choices, especially if you're trying to make it through the game. Yes, that game of flip cup looks awesome, but maybe don't play with your vodka instead of beer. Look, I'm not judging - just a friendly voice from someone who has been there:
KNOW THY LSU CONTRAFLOW ROUTE
If you do make it to game-time, know that all of the traffic lanes will be contraflowed, directing all lanes out of campus. This is great if you're headed back to New Orleans, but not so great if you wanted to take a back route you know or make a stop along the way at a friend's house near campus. The maps of what roads are blocked changes weekly and has no rhyme or reason, so look online for contraflow maps or roll down the window and have your designated driver ask the cops what's up.
What's your go to tailgating spot? Did we I miss any must know tips?
Drop me a line in the comments.
In some serious tiger pride,
Maybe it's the brutal August heat, or maybe its the every day summer rainstorms, but by the time September rolls around in New Orleans I am fully ready for something new. Now don't get me wrong, I am a huge fan of the Louisiana summer (warts and all), but September down here gives you a big dose of early fall enthusiasm with no need to change your wardrobe out yet. A month from now, i'll hate that and will be crying for a cozy sweater in the street. Today, however, I'm just fine with slowly dipping my toe into the autumnal seasonal waters. Looking to celebrate the fake-fall in New Orleans too? Try something new (or just new to you) in New Orleans! Here are my recommendations to kick the month off right:
VISIT COPPERVINE WINE PUB IN THE CBD
New on the CBD scene (opening September 5th) in the old Happy's location on Poydras Street, this place is the big talk of the town. The downstairs patio covered in lush ferns has caused quite the instagram buzz and it's easy to see why. With over 30 wines on tap and a menu of fancy little snacks, this one is hopefully a hit.
LEARN HOW TO COOK A MIRLITON
Happy mirliton season! These little weird green cuties are just starting to pop up at local grocery stores and will be producing until late December. To be honest, I had never heard of a mirliton before I spent the holidays with my husband's family in New Orleans. Now that I'm here, it's obvious that they are a staple on any New Orleans holiday table. September means that it's only a hot minute before the holiday season, so now is the time to get your mirliton casserole recipe on lock for thanksgiving. If you're looking for a starting place, this Shrimp And Mirliton Casserole from Emeril himself comes very highly recommended.
GO KAYAKING IN CITY PARK
The ever so slightly less oppressive heat makes this finally makes going outside not sound like the worst idea you've ever heard. Celebrate outside being an option again by renting a kayak for an hour at city park. Floating along with the dreamy mossy oaks makes for a peaceful afternoon (and teaches you that your may not actually know how to paddle after all).
GO ON A SAINTS GAME BAR CRAWL
Note: This is really only recommended if the game is going really well (or really badly) and you don't feel the need to see every play. A few weekends ago we went on a journey to find our best neighborhood bar to watch a Saints game at. After one beer, we'd move down a block to the next spot. Now, I know the vibe in the entire neighborhood across the Tchoup Yard, Tracey's, Rendezvous Taven, Balcony Bar and The Bulldog. It was a great time and never got boring. Try this out in out in any area with a high concentration of bars you like.
LEARN MORE ABOUT SOMETHING: HURRICANE MODELS
It's always nice to learn about something low stakes that you may never need to know, but could maybe be useful. Look, no one likes hurricanes, but I do enjoy obsessively tracking them to make sure they aren't coming here. Over the years, this obsession has helped me acquire quite a bit of extremely amateur meteorology knowledge, like which models are the most trustworthy, the growth trends of storms and the best sites to go to for tracking theories. Now, it's just another one of my weird and nerdy hobbies. Sound fun? Learn more about the storm models and which ones to trust on my favorite weather blog: Category 6 | Weather Underground
Excited for anything else this September in New Orleans? Drop us a line in the comments!
PS- Don't forget - It's still snoball season at Hansen's (: