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By Angelina Leger

LET’S GO

travelguide

travelGuide

French Quarter Street

St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square

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With a rich culture, strong military heritage, and one of the most popular carnival celebrations, New Orleans is one of the world’s most fascinating cities. From the flamboyant nightlife, world-famous chefs, and great music to the historical attractions, European architecture, and mosaic culture, New Orleans is a definite must on this year’s travel itinerary. New Orleans doesn’t deny the passion to enjoy life or the freedom to let yourself be who you truly are. The subtropical weather and long-lasting traditions work together to create an ambiance that encourages live in the moment and not hold back. It’s no wonder that New Orleans has long been a haven for a visible and thriving LGBT community. At any time of the year, gay social nightlife is exciting in New Orleans. It’s easy to make the most of your free time in the Crescent City. Much of the action is within walking distance of the Convention Center, or can be accessed on the Riverfront Streetcar. Stroll down the “Moon Walk” along the Mississippi River, or wind your way through the streets of the French Quarter. Take the streetcar to the Garden District for shopping and fun, and you will find yourself experiencing the everyday, easy going joie de vivre way of life.

Start your journey through New Orleans in its oldest neighborhood, the French Quarter, also known as the Vieux Carré (“Old Square” in French). There, check out the French Market the country’s oldest public market. The market area has retail shops, a community flea market and local cuisine. For a treat any time of the day, stop in at Café du Monde for a hot cup of café au lait and beignets. Right near Café du Monde you will find the heart of the Quarter, better known as Jackson Square. This town center was built in 1815 and was named after the victorious United States general, Andrew Jackson. Stroll through the park and you’ll see an equestrian statue of the general. Around the park, you will find tourists, artists, musicians, street performers such as jugglers and magicians, tarot card readers and even horse and carriage tours. On the opposite side of the square is Chartres Street, where you will find the historic Saint Louis Cathedral, the Presbytère and the Cabildo. If you find yourself hungry while in the Quarter, don’t fret; food choices abound! Take a break and enjoy dining with a view of the cathedral at Stanley. If you find yourself peckish for an original New Orleans po-boy, make your way to Johnny’s Po-Boys. Looking for a restaurant that will let you bring in and enjoy your own favorite wine? Head on over to EAT New Orleans, where BYOB is encouraged and local dishes with farm-fresh ingredients are served.

The French Market

Photos courtesy of New Orleans Convention Center & Visitors Bureau

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For a virtual tour of the Big Easy, visit www.neworleanscvb.com

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FESTIVALS

If you enjoy shopping, head to Royal Street, the Quarter’s pedestrian mall. It fills with amazing performers and shoppers who walk along this gorgeous street. Search for one-of-a-kind antiques, shoes, clothing, jewelry, art and more.  Visit wellknown shops and galleries, such as Couronne Jewels and Watches, Ida Manheim Antiques and Rodrigue Studio. Visit The Shops at Canal Place, a sophisticated shopping destination, mere walking distance from the Convention Center, Aquarium of the Americas and Harrah’s Casino. Near the convention center, try visiting one of the city’s many museums and art galleries in the Arts District. This neighborhood is home to the Contemporary Arts Center, the National World War II Museum and more than 25 other galleries. When you’re done wandering, grab a meal at the original Emeril’s Restaurant. And if you happen to be in this area for breakfast, it is definitely worth standing in line at Mother’s, established in 1938, on the corner of Poydras. A real feast for all the senses, take the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line away from the French Quarter to Camellia Grill. While there is no single signature dish, the chef special omelet is a real house specialty. For a taste of old-fashioned goodness, treat yourself to their famous milkshake. You’ll find an eclectic mix of locals, tourists and hospitality you won’t forget. Allow that feast to settle with a relaxing walk over to the Garden District.

joie de vivre The area is known for its Greek revival style, showy gardens, and numerous parks. Check out Magazine Street, the “Street of Dreams,” for eclectic architecture, antique shops, and artwork. Along this six-mile street, you’ll also find unique boutiques, used book stores, and restaurants open late. Stop in at Fleurty Girl where you can find original New Orleans theme t-shirts and accessories. For vintage clothing check out The Funky Monkey. Take the streetcar line to Mid-City and enjoy a neighborhood atmosphere and outside fun at City Park. This beautiful 1,300-acre park is perfect for year around family-fun! City Park offers visitors a wide menu of attractions and activities from artistic and natural masterpieces to sports facilities or attractions for kids and kids at heart. While in City Park visit New Orleans Museum of Art, the city’s oldest fine arts institution, has a magnificent permanent collection of more than 40,000 objects. Take a stroll through the Sydney and Walda Besthof Sculpture Garden fiveacre garden located to the rear of the New Orleans Museum of Art and ad-

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jacent to the New Orleans Botanical Garden. Once the sun sets, you can let your hair down (or spike that military fade) and explore another side of New Orleans. Historic Bourbon Street in the French Quarter buzzes every night as people flock to its bars and risqué clubs. Jazz clubs permeate this city. Preservation Hall opened in 1961 to honor New Orleans Jazz. Nightly, guests can hear veteran musicians and hot young talent embrace old-school jazz. Head over to what could possibly be the country’s oldest gay bar, Lafittes in Exile. If you are in the mood to dance, make sure to bounce on over to Oz Nightclub and The Bourbon Pub & Parade, New Orleans’ largest gay & lesbian bar and nightclub, operating continuously since its doors opened in 1974. Along with nightlife, New Orleans is equally famous for its dining, and the city has plenty of gay-owned and gay-friendly restaurants. Within steps of the nightlife epicenter, the Clover Grill serves up great diner food from a fun, vivacious wait staff.   Find your joie de vivre in New Orleans Laissez les bons temps rouler!

MARDI GRAS 2012

Fat Tuesday, aka Mardi Gras, falls on Feb. 21 this Carnival Season, but festivities officially begin on Jan. 6 with the Epiphany, also known as Three Kings Day. Tradition states that Mardi Gras always falls 46 days before Easter Sunday. With New Orleans being a predominately Catholic town, New Orleanians party to the max prior to the more somber, religious time of Lent. So put on your Mardi Gras beads, scope out the parade route, grab everything you own that is purple, green and gold and get ready to yell “Throw Me Something, Mister!”

SOUTHERN DECADENCE

Southern Decadence, which began as a going-away party more than 36 years ago, has evolved into one of New Orleans’ premier annual events. Held annually over Labor Day weekend, this celebration of LGBT culture has begun attracting participants from all over the world. Nicknamed the “Gay Mardi Gras,” Southern Decadence is one the of occasions in which participants get to strut their stuff in elaborate costumes and high

fashion. The hot spot for all the decadent action is in the French Quarter, around the intersection of Bourbon and St. Ann streets. Gay bars and dance clubs provide nonstop music over the entirety of the event. Outdoor concerts on the closed-off streets also add to the weekend’s festivities, as do stage shows in the individual clubs. One of the highlights of each year’s Southern Decadence is the annual parade held on the Sunday before Labor Day. The Grand Marshal leads the marchers and their floats through the streets to the delight of appreciative crowds all along the parade route.

FRENCH QUARTER FESTIVAL

French Quarter Festival, Louisiana’s largest free music festival, takes place April 12-15, 2012. Take the Riverfront Streetcar to see more than 100 performers rocking the Quarter with something for every music lover, from jazz and zydeco to swing and classical. The festival is also known for having the “World’s Largest Jazz Brunch,” with cheap eats from some of the city’s best restaurants.

JAZZ FESTIVAL

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, aka Jazz Fest, is a 10-day cultural feast in which thousands of musicians, cooks and crafts people welcome 400,000 visitors each year. This year, the festival takes place from April 27 to May 6. The Jazz Fest showcases unforgettable music on multiple stages and delicious Louisiana cuisine in two large food areas. Crafts artisans from the region and around the world demonstrate and sell their work. The fair is held at the Fair Grounds Race Course over the course of 2 weekends. The festival celebrates the indigenous music and culture of New Orleans and Louisiana, so the music encompasses every style associated with the city and the state: blues, R&B, gospel, Cajun, zydeco, Afro-Caribbean, folk, Latin, rock, rap, country, bluegrass and everything in between. And, of course, there is lots of jazz, both contemporary and traditional. For a complete list of festivals, visit:

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www.neworleansonline.com

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HOTELS

International House Central Business District/Downtown (504) 553-9550 http://ihhotel.com This beaux-arts New Orleans hotel is a boutique-style hotel located within 2 blocks of the St. Charles Ave. streetcar line and French Quarter and 5 blocks from the convention center. Visit the French- and Spanishinfluenced Rambla restaurant, a local favorite, along with popular Loa, a candlelit bar named after the voodoo word for “divine spirit.” Loews New Orleans Hotel Central Business District/Downtown (800) 235-6397 www.loewsneworleanshotel.com

Harrah's New Orleans Hotel Central Business District/Downtown (800) 847-5299 www.HarrahsNewOrleans.com This award-winning hotel has spectacular views of the Mississippi River, New Orleans' skyline and is just steps from the French Quarter and Convention Center. Recently ranked amongst the "Best Places to Stay in the World" by Conde Nast Traveler. Hotel Le Marais French Quarter (877) 219-7784 www.hotellemarais.com Hotel le Marais is New Orleans’ newest upscale boutique hotel. It is where the trendsetters, influencers and fashionistas go to stay in the heart of it all. Set amid a historic and cultural backdrop, this French Quarter hotel is a modern and upscale sanctuary with four-star amenities and a high level of personal service.

Nestled amongst art galleries, boutique shopping and fine restaurants in the French Quarter, Hotel Monteleone is revered as New Orleans' Grand Dame. Spa Aria, Rooftop Pool, Fitness Center, two restaurants and the Carousel Bar await you. W French Quarter French Quarter (800) 448-4927 www.whotels.com Hotter than Mardi Gras 'cause it's happening all year round. It's W New Orleans- French Quarter. Meet and mingle in our playful Living Room. Andrew Jackson Hotel, French Quarter Inns French Quarter (800) 654-0224 www.frenchquarterinns.com Located in the Heart of the French Quarter, steps from Jackson Square and Bourbon Street, the Andrew Jackson Hotel features romantic architecture and lovely views of the French Quarter. Guest rooms are situated among a picturesque 18th century Creole courtyard. Celebrated wrought-iron balcony overlooks legendary Royal Street. Le Richelieu French Quarter (800) 535-9653 http://lerichelieuhotel.com

RESTAURANTS

EAT New Orleans Casual. Class. Creole. Cajun. BYOB Encouraged. 900 Dumaine Street (504) 522-7222 http://eatnola.com Chalmette Battlefield. ©2011 Angelina Leger

Located just steps from the best that New Orleans has to offer, the four-diamond Loews New Orleans Hotel features the largest guest rooms in the city. Each Grand Guestroom has magnificent views of the Mississippi River or the New Orleans Skyline. Located lobby level is the award winning Cafe Adelaide and the Swizzle Stick Bar.

Hotel Monteleone French Quarter (800) 535-9595 www.hotelmonteleone.com

DID YOU KNOW?

This French Quarter hotel is just far enough away from the fray to offer guests a quiet stay. A café and late-night lounge draw both guests and locals to their intimate environs. Guests can enjoy an outdoor pool and garden patio. The Roosevelt Central Business District/Downtown 800) WALDORF http://therooseveltneworleans.com From our legendary past – where the famous and infamous, the royal and revered, the celebrity and the Sazerac have all starred – to our modern-day luxury and extraordinary accommodations and meeting spaces, The Roosevelt is the destination where memories begin. Experience the premier luxury hotel in New Orleans, now part of the prestigious Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts.

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Just around the Mississippi’ River’s crescent, you will find the Chalmette Battlefied in Chalmette, La. This is the site Major General Andrew Jackson won the biggest U.S. land battle in history. “One of my favorite places to visit whenever I am in the New Orleans area is the battlefield at Chalmette in St. Bernard Parish. On that low, swampy ground in January 1815, Major General Andrew Jackson took about 5,000 irregular forces recruited from local militias, the bars of the city, and the crew of the pirate Jean Lafitte and defeated about 5,400 well-trained British regulars, considered at that time the finest fighting force in the world.” – Lt. Gen. Russell L. Honore’ (U.S. Army, Ret.), from the epilogue of Survival: How a culture of preparedness can save you and your family from disasters

Stanley 547 Saint Ann St. at Chartres St. on historic Jackson Square (504) 587-0093 http://stanleyrestaurant.com Johnny’s Po-Boys 511 St. Louis Street (504) 525-8037 http://johnnyspoboys.com Bombay Club Restaurant and Martini Bistro 830 Conti St. (504) 586-0972, (800) 699-7711 http://thebombayclub.com Bourbon House 144 Bourbon Street (504) 522-0111 www.bourbonhouse.com Orange Couch 2339 Royal St. (504) 267-7327 www.theorangecouchcoffee.com Country Club 634 Louisa Street (504) 945-0742 http://thecountryclubneworleans.com Clover Grill 900 Bourbon St. (504) 598-1010 http://clovergrill.com/

Camellia Grill 626 S. Carrollton Ave. (504) 309-2679 www.camelliagrill.net/home.htm Mother’s 401 Poydras Street (504) 523-9656 www.mothersrestaurant.net

SHOPPING

Royal Street in the French Quarter – Everyday from 11-4 Royal Street is closed to traffic and turned into a pedestrian mall. Magazine Street – Enjoy over six miles of unique boutiques, restaurants and more! Fleurty Girl 3117 Magazine St. (504) 301-2557 www.fleurtygirl.net

Preservation Hall 726 St. Louis Street (504) 522-2841 www.preservationhall.com

NIGHT LIFE

Oz Nightclub 800 Bourbon Street (504) 593-9491 www.ozneworleans.com Bourbon Pub/Parade 801 Bourbon St. (504) 529-2107 www.bourbonpub.com Napolean’s Itch 734 Bourbon Street (504) 371-5450 www.napoleonsitch.com Lafittes in Exile (country's oldest gay bar) 901 Bourbon St. (504) 522-8397 http://lafittes.com Good Friends Bar 740 Dauphine St. (504) 566-7191 www.goodfriendsbar.com

The Funky Monkey 3117 Magazine St. (504) 301-2557 www.fleurtygirl.net

Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel 123 Baronne Street (504) 648-1200 http://therooseveltneworleans.com

Shops at Canal Place 333 Canal St. (504) 522-9200 www.theshopsatcanalplace.com

Mimi’s in the Marigny 2601 Royal St. (504) 872-9868 www.mimisinthemarigny.net

www.neworleanscvb.com

Pat O’Brien’s 718 St. Peter Street (504) 525-4823 www.patobriens.com

MUSEUMS + CULTURE

City Park www.neworleanscitypark.com New Orleans Museum of Art www.noma.org Jean Lafitte National History Museum www.nps.gov/jela Contemporary Arts Center www.cacno.org National World War II Museum www.nationalww2museum.org Chalmette Battlefield Chalmette, LA www.nps.gov/jela/chalmettebattlefield.htm

MORE INFO www.neworleansonline.com

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OutServe Magazine--Jan/Feb 2012 Travel Section