There’s a season for everything in New Orleans – festivals, may flies, and..tourists. The season of tourists coming for FQF, Jazzfest, the warm sun, and every other reason is upon us, and the in and out flow of their onlooking is as predictable as the Riverfront streetcar (we all know how that goes). How do you relax in your hometown when it’s one of the hottest vacation spots in America?
There’s one solution that I can think of. It’s time to go native again.
1. Check out the events the Jazz and Heritage Foundation hosts throughout the year. No, not the Jazz Fest hosted by Shell, which everyone and their mamas know about. Try the Tom Dent Congo Square Lecture Series, BBQ and Blues Festival or the New World Rhythms Festival.
2. Have a drink at the Maple Leaf Bar, where prominent local musicians often stop by to test new material. Watch music history being made before your eyes and have a bootlicking good drink.
3. Experience 300 years of history at a local NOLA farm at Toups’ Meatery Restaurant. In 2012, Chef Issac Toups and his wife Amanda opened the restaurant to share his unique take on Cajun cuisine. It’s so delicious and unique that Chef Toups was named a James Beard Best Chef of the South Semifinalist twice. Many of his dishes are inspired by both of his grandmothers, though he studied with Emeril Lagasse. Give the Confit Chicken Thighs with chicken liver and cornbread dressing a try.
4. Support the arts! Every first Saturday, attend gallery hop along Julia Street in the Arts District. The art festivities start at 6 p.m. And if you are looking for free days at the museums, be happy you’re a local on these days:
Wednesdays – New Orleans Museum of Art is free for LA residents
Thursdays – The Ogden Ogden Museum of Southern Art is free for LA residents
Sunday – The Contemporary Arts Center is free for LA residents
*Don’t forget about Second Saturday on St. Claude, and there are lots of galleries that offer free admission once a month or even once a week!
5. Check out boutiques and window shop along Charles and Royal streets for art and antiques. Give back to your local economy, and learn a new story about the previous owner of an antique that catches your eye. Sure, it’s a little cliché, but there are new sights to be seen in old places – especially when they’re this old. Have you stopped to appreciate and sketch the iron lace balconies and 17th- and 18th-century architecture?
6. Forget the crowded streets and get in touch with nature. There’s the Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve (it’s not full mosquitos season yet, so you don’t have to cloth yourself from neck to toes!), with more than six sites of cultural heritage and beauty. Have a picnic and read a book under the 100-year-old oak trees in Audubon Park or City Park, or chill out under the chime tree in City Park (you’ll hear it when walking around the Big Lake if you keep a keen ear). Learn about the tiny creatures of nature at the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.
7. Prep for Hurricane season with a Hurricane Party. To some it’s tasteless, but it’s a Southern coast tradition. Have a potluck or bring an item to the nearest shindig. Most of all, be safe during hurricane season.
8. Check out a cooking demo at the Crescent City Farmers’ Market. Then, buy the ingredients and put your own twist on it at home. Support local food and farming. From midweek to Saturday, the farmers’ market rotates locations and is open from 9:00 AM to 1 PM. There’s also Hollygrove Market as well as random markets you find simply walking around the city! No reason not take advantage of the sunny, not excruciatingly hot, days that spring in New Olreans offers. Get those feet moving, and snack at the markets you find on the way!
9. Sample food from the top 10 best food trucks in New Orleans over 10 days. There’s good eating from Rollin Fatties (Latin American) at No. 1 to The Red Stove (Mediterranean and Po Boys) at No. 10.
There is still so much to discover and rediscover as a local living in a tourist city. The roots in New Orleans run deep, and tourism barely scratches the surface of such a cultural gem. We all know that there’s no other place people would rather call home than NOLA, no matter what the season.
Savannah Hemmings is a Tulane University alum with a degree in Journalism and Mass Communications. She is a Philadelphia-based personal stylist and writes about style, fashion and fitness on her lifestyle blog, Sincerely Savannah. Her work has been featured on Hello Giggles, Bustle, Self Magazine and TIME. The best days of her life were spent gallivanting through the streets of New Orleans and completely believes in the quote “You can live in any city in American but New Orleans is the only city that lives in you.”