1. Say you’ve had an “authentic New Orleans experience” without ever leaving Bourbon Street.
Bourbon Street has become the pinnacle of New Orleans tourism for every visitor in search of a great party. It’s unbelievable how many people never leave the area.
Some of what you miss if you don’t: the Frenchmen Art Market, steps away from some of the best music venues in the city (Snug Harbor, Spotted Cat, Blue Nile); St. Charles Ave, full of towering 19th-century mansions and colonial Spanish and French architecture; restaurants that pair New Orleans cuisine with sushi (Chiba’s Crescent City Roll, Jazz Roll, Satsuma Strawberry Roll); locals that smile as you pass and barmates who give you endless suggestions for things to do throughout your stay; street names you’d never be able to pronounce on your own (Tchoupitoulas). I could go on.
2. Assume New Orleans outside the French Quarter is still in ruins from Katrina.
Nearly a decade ago, Hurricane Katrina wiped out portions of New Orleans, and others sustained heavy damage. But many people think parts of the city — particularly Lakeview and New Orleans East, which were hit hardest by flooding — are still a barren wasteland, or are even still underwater (I’ve heard this before). Yes, those neighborhoods have closed-up properties or empty lots that were never rebuilt after the storm, but most of New Orleans has come back, some even better than before.
Since the storm, new businesses, especially tech companies, swooped in to take advantage of the growing population of young people, which put the city at No. 2 on Forbes’ list of Best Big Cities for Jobs and No. 8 for Best Cities for Tech Jobs in 2011. And while New Orleans lost about 100,000 people, the city has 500 more restaurants since the day Katrina hit, as of 2013, with plenty more added since.
3. Go to Tulane or Loyola and never leave the campus / Maple St. area.
Since Katrina, thousands of students from outside New Orleans have flocked to Tulane and Loyola Universities for college and grad school. But what’s the point of coming to New Orleans and never actually seeing the city?
With a mini college-esque Bourbon St. (Maple St.) blocks from campus and The Boot right across the street from Tulane, lots of local college kids indulge in its convenience, as well as watered-down drinks, a too-young and obnoxiously drunk crowd, and top-40 blaring down the street (“Pour Some Sugar on Me” twice a night).
But in a city like New Orleans, there’s no reason to live in this “college experience” bubble. The St. Charles streetcar stops at the front door of both campuses, and innumerable restaurants, bars, music venues, and other points of interest are just a short walk away from any stop on the line. There’s top-notch live, local music at The Maple Leaf on Oak Street and Le Bon Temps on Magazine. The Columns on St. Charles offers a classy Southern porch for sipping fancy cocktails and enjoying the light river breeze, good conversation, and whir of the passing streetcar. And the Carrollton Ave. area is full of great restaurants, from Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, Jacques-Imo’s, and Boucherie, to Hana, Lebanon’s, and Camellia Grill, where you can get incredible late-night diner food.
4. Call a snoball a “snow cone.”
We realize that where you come from, snoballs may be called “snow cones.” But snoballs are a big deal here, especially in the sweltering summers, and it doesn’t take much to have the respect to call them by their local name. It’s written on the names of most of the stands, so there’s little room for excuses. It’s kind of like calling a neutral ground a median, but 10 times worse. It immediately labels you a tourist, so avoid this misnomer if you’re trying to blend in.
5. Piss or puke in the street.
Would you do that back home? While the French Quarter may get a good cleaning every night, that’s not the case for the rest of the city’s streets. We all know a long night of drinking can ultimately lead to both of these acts, but have the decency to find a bathroom first.
6. Insist you’re tripping on absinthe.
New Orleans has historically been known as a haven for absinthe drinkers, particularly when it comes to the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon St., a prominent local landmark where the city’s, and eventually country’s, craze for the drink began. Thus, it’s often a drink tourists try for the first time here.
Rumors of absinthe’s hallucinogenic properties have been around since the 20th century, when it was banned in Europe because “absinthism” caused hallucinations, tremors, and convulsions. But scientists found no hallucinogenic properties in absinthe, and common symptoms of alcoholism explain this myth. Don’t sit at the bar with your bitter green drink and claim you’re seeing pink elephants in the corner — we all know you’re full of shit.
7. Say “N’awlins.”
It’s “New Orleans,” not “N’awlins” — period. This bemoaned abomination likely came from our accent’s tendency to use a distinct drawl that blends certain syllables together. And while these shortcuts are perfectly acceptable in some cases (“Where y’at?”), “N’awlins” is not one of them. Use the term in front of a local and eye rolling will commence. And/or you will immediately be labeled as another misinformed tourist who just doesn’t get it.