My wife and I are kind of unofficial tour guides when someone we know is visiting New Orleans for the first time. It’s not that we’re full of interesting historical tidbits or anything fancy like that – it’s that we know the best way to get places, where to park, what order to see things in, and timeframes to make sure meal times align with certain destinations. Oh, and we know where not to go which is just as important.
This is Bourbon Street, and I am extremely ambivalent towards it. It can be a lot of fun, but as locals we also kind of hate it. It’s not so bad during the day, so that’s when we bring visitors who absolutely have to go there. A little day drinking helps the whole thing go down easier.
This is the courtyard of Pat O’Brien’s, a tourist destination to be sure but also a solid first stop. The piano bar here is the one by which I measure all other piano bars, and few can compete. At night the fountain in the photo spits both fire and water simultaneously.
There are two drinks everyone wants to try when they come to New Orleans: Hurricanes and Hand Grenades. While I always get a pair of Hurricanes at Pat O’s, my wife is a big fan of their mint julep. They muddle the hell out of one massive wad of mint for each one of these, so the flavor is strong and refreshing.
Down the road is Tropical Isle where you can get your Hand Grenade on. It’s not quite as polished a place to drink as Pat O’s, but it, too, can be a blast. Here’s a pee game you can play right at the urinal. Needless to say, Tropical Isle exudes class.
This, like the photo at the beginning of this post, was taken at the Canal St. end of Bourbon which has a lot more tall buildings and “nicer” strip clubs. Strip clubs in general are just terrible, but if you have to go I recommend Rick’s Cabaret on the left there. It’s not quite as skeezy as the rest. My bachelor party was there - the girl had kind of a Sarah Palin thing going on.
As your Bourbon St. experience wears on you may find yourself in one of the many random daiquiri bars that line the street. These places are catch-alls for random drunk people. Bright colors, loud music, tacky décor – they’re drawn to it.
I don’t know how we ended up in here – could be that someone had to pee or saw a video poker machine or just wanted to switch to beer. Shoot, it may have been me that brought us in. In any case, we were here, so we made the best of it with a few jello shots.
On our way home we stopped at the Lakefront (we were with someone who had never seen Lake Pontchartrain) just in time for the sunset but a little too early to see the fishermen reeling in specks.
My advice to you if you’re coming to NOLA is Bourbon Street during the day, Frenchmen Street at night, and always ask a local where to go and the best way to get there. We’re more than a little friendly down here, so don’t be afraid to talk to strangers; but be wary of those that talk to you. Especially if they tell you they know “where you got your shoes.”