When the governor of French Louisiana founded the city of Nouvelle-Orléans back in 1718, he couldn’t possibly have known that — 300 years later — it would be one of the liveliest, most happening places on the planet. To celebrate the tricentennial of The Big Easy, here’s one big embrace of the food, culture, lifestyle, and people that make the city so sought-after among avid travelers.
Here’s three hundred reasons to love New Orleans. Let ’em roll!
2. For instance, poker was invented by sailors in port in New Orleans.
3. That was back in the 1820s!
4. Even our teeth love New Orleans, because…
5. …the first dental floss was created here back in 1815.
6. The first opera in the US was performed in New Orleans in 1796.
7. And ever since that historic performance of Sylvain, operas have been staged here pretty much continuously.
8. Canal Street was once the widest street in the world.
9. It was named after a canal that was never built.
10. Speaking of names, Bourbon Street was named after the French ruling class, not the drink.
11. These days you’ll find none of the former…and plenty of the latter.
12. The St. Charles Avenue streetcar line is the oldest continuously operating streetcar system in the country.
13. Speaking of streetcars, riding one in NOLA is pretty great.
14. Jazz was born in the New Orleans area…
15. …as was Grammy-winning Louis “Satchmo” Armstrong…
16. …and Emmy-winning Ellen DeGeneres…
17. …and Oscar-winning Reese Witherspoon…
18. …and BET-winning actor and producer Tyler Perry.
19. There’s so much history here, New Orleans has twenty historic districts.
20. That’s more than in any other US city!
21. In essence, New Orleans is a menagerie of awesome neighborhoods.
22. And in each, you’ll find food that is AMAZING.
23. From a muffuletta at Central Grocery…
24. …to perfect beignets at Café Du Monde…
25. …eating well on your trip is guaranteed.
26. The gospel brunch at House of Blues is always fun….
27. …as is the daily jazz brunch at Court of Two Sisters.
28. St. Roch Market is everything a Southern food hall should be.
29. They fry EVERYTHING. Perfectly.
30. Oh, and New Orleans does seafood right.
31. So look out for the Louisiana Seafood Festival in the fall.
32. Boiled crawfish are EVERYWHERE (in season, of course).
33. You can buy crawfish and alligator hot dogs at Dat Dog.
34. The rich, buttery catfish pecan at Palace Café is famous for a reason.
35. There’s soft-shell crab at Clancy’s…
36. …and a perfect shrimp po’boy at Domilise’s.
37. There’s fried alligator at Cochon…
38. …turtle soup at Commander’s Palace…
39. …and gumbo at Galatoire’s.
40. Speaking of gumbo, there’s also the award-winning Gumbo Shop…
41. …and the Tremé Creole Gumbo Festival, which takes place in Louis Armstrong Park.
42. The onion rings at Popeyes are completely addictive.
43. Real onions, dipped in batter and deep-fried? Yum.
44. And then there’s the National Fried Chicken Festival.
45. You also shouldn’t miss Dooky Chase’s Restaurant.
46. It’s named after Edgar Lawrence “Dooky” Chase, Jr.
47. He died in 2016 after more than 70 years of marriage to Chef Leah Chase, the Queen of Creole Cuisine.
48. Chef Leah is 95 years old, and yes, she’s still cooking!
49. “America’s Best Fried Chicken” is at Willie Mae’s Scotch House.
50. Their red beans and rice also deserves a superlative or ten.
51. Meanwhile, the oldest restaurant in the city is Antoine’s.
52. It opened in 1840. Really.
53. Antoine’s created oysters Rockefeller, and we love them for that.
54. Acme Oyster House deserves a mention, too.
55. As do the charbroiled oysters at Drago’s.
56. Plus, there’s free oysters (!) and music every Friday evening at Le Bon Temps Roule music club.
57. Can we mention some more great seafood options and where to order them? Okay!
58. Raw oysters and beer at Cooter Brown’s…
59. …shrimp or crawfish etouffee at Bon Ton Café…
60. …barbecue shrimp at Pascal’s Manale…
61. …and shrimp remoulade stuffed avocado at Napoleon House.
62. What other city would be home to shrimp and alligator sausage cheesecake?
63. Or crabmeat cheesecake?
64. You’ll find that one at Palace Café.
65. Pepper Palace is the place to shop for some true tastes of NOLA heat.
66. It’s in the sauces. It’s in the dips. It’s in everything, and it’s awesome.
67. Oak Street Po’Boy Festival happens in November in Carrollton.
68. Their po’boys come “dressed,” which means with lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, and mayo.
69. Al fresco dining at Café Degas is such a treat…
70. …as is courtyard dining at Bacchanal.
71. No one ever said no to a meal at Broussard’s or Café Amelie.
72. Andouille sausage at Atchafalaya might just be the best thing ever.
73. The same goes for the brisket at Tujague’s, in business since 1856!
74. Because the chefs here? They’re amazing.
75. Chef Susan Spicer consistently creates masterpieces at Bayona…
76. …and Chef Emeril Lagasse knows exactly how to do Creole and Cajun cuisine.
77. In fact, Emeril’s Restaurant has pretty much won all the awards…
78. …including Esquire magazine’s “Restaurant of the Year”…
79. …and the Wine Spectator “Grand Award” every year since 2000.
80. There’s Emeril’s Delmonico to visit, too…
81. …along with Emeril’s other restaurants, NOLA and Meril…
82. …and it’s impossible not to love the Emeril Lagasse Foundation’s Boudin, Bourbon and Beer Festival.
83. A side of boudin balls at Toups Meatery never goes awry.
84. New Orleans also has the best food festivals around.
85. COOLinary New Orleans is a whole month of amazing dining experiences every August.
86. The French Market Creole Tomato Festival is two days of live music, bloody Marys, cooking demos, and food booths.
87. The Crescent City Blues & BBQ Festival is as awesome as it sounds.
88. FoodFest in Spanish Plaza is the best thing to happen to March, anywhere.
89. Six words: New Orleans Wine and Food Experience.
90. New Orleans is also the kind of place where you can eat in the bed of a pickup truck.
91. Just head to Jacques Imo’s Café for that experience.
92. It’s the spot to try jambalaya nirvana, too.
93. You can fulfill your turducken fantasies at K-Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen.
94. The same goes for soufflé potatoes at Arnaud’s.
95. NOLA does kooky well…
96. For instance, there’s a séance lounge at Muriel’s Jackson Square restaurant. Seriously!
97. For a pick-me-up, it’s PJ’s Coffee all the way. Sorry, Starbucks.
98. Community Coffee, too.
99. Bottom of the Cup Tea Room doubles as a psychic shop. Welcome to New Orleans.
100. Meal’s over…but not really, because desserts here are seriously the best.
101. Bananas Foster at Brennan’s is just too good.
102. The Italian ice cream at Angelo Brocato is legit…
103. …as is the baked Alaska at Antoine’s.
104. There’s the pecan pie at Camellia’s Grill…
105. …and the praline bacon at Elizabeth’s Restaurant in Bywater.
106. Pralines are a huge deal here.
107. The ones at Leah’s Pralines are excellent.
108. Watching the praline makers at Aunt Sally’s in the French Quarter is a form of Zen meditation.
109. Sno-balls at Hansen’s Sno-Bliz. Enough said.
110. Okay, now let’s talk about the bars.
111. They never have to close!
112. You can get to-go cups in the French Quarter and drink on the street.
113. We love the Hurricane — the one you drink.
114. We also love the Ramos Gin Fizz at the Roosevelt Hotel’s Sazerac Bar…
115. …and the Sazerac, naturally.
116. It’s the official cocktail of New Orleans.
117. Can we mention a couple more ridiculously good NOLA drinks?
118. Arnaud’s French 75 at Arnaud’s.
119. Pimm’s Cup at Napoleon House.
120. Okay, we’re done. We swear! But can we also mention…
121. …Tipitina’s must be one of the best music clubs in the country.
122. Café Lafitte in Exile is the oldest continuously operating gay bar in the US.
123. Carousel Bar & Lounge in Hotel Monteleone is wonderful. (And yes, it looks like a real carousel).
124. There are Farm-to-Bar cocktails at The Three Muses…
125. …and free beer tastings at NOLA Brewery and Tap Room.
126. Plus we have drive-thru daiquiri shops.
127. New Orleans Daiquiri Season = 30 days of special events.
128. Go to Old Absinthe House and you walk through the same doors as Oscar Wilde, Mark Twain, General Robert E. Lee, and Franklin Roosevelt.
129. Pat O’Brien’s. Bourbon Street. You have to go.
130. High tea at Le Salon in the Windsor Court Hotel. Loose-leaf brews accompanied by a harpist or pianist? Perfect.
131. Tales of the Cocktail is a five-day celebration of cocktails and culture.
132. There’s an actual Museum of the American Cocktail here.
133. It’s inside the Southern Food & Beverage Museum.
134. But hey, New Orleans is fun for the whole family.
135. There’s Monkey Hill at Audubon Zoo.
136. The zoo is home to white alligators…
137. …the Louisiana Swamp Exhibit…
138. …and the Audubon Butterfly Garden & Insectarium.
139. The French Quartour kids’ tour is awesome (for kids young and old).
140. The Gulf of Mexico exhibit at the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is fascinating.
141. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is also right here in New Orleans.
142. In this city, the lingo leaps off your tongue…
143. …except when it doesn’t (Burgundy, bur-gun-dee; Clio, kl-eye-oh; Tchoupitoulas, chop-uh-tool-us)…
144. But that’s what makes the city so unique!
145. We have the most colorful phrases, like…
146. …“Where ya’ at?”…
147. …“How’s ya’ momma an em?” and…
148. …“Go make groceries.”
149. We talk about “neutral ground” (you probably call it a median).
150. We’re home of the “Lagniappe”…
151. …so don’t be surprised if someone gives you a little something extra!
152. Southern hospitality is always on display, dahlin’.
153. Even the city’s initials are cool — NOLA.
154. Life here is laid back. Very laid back.
155. So slow down!
156. The only directions are Uptown, Downtown, River, and Lake.
157. New Orleans is often called “The Most Haunted City in America.”
158. Voodoo got its US start here…
159. …and you can thank Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau for that.
160. Her tomb receives more visitors each year than Elvis Presley’s grave…
161. …and her House of Voodoo is open to the public.
162. These days, there are psychics and tarot card readers in Jackson Square.
163. Music comes alive in the city…
164. …even when honoring the dead at jazz funerals.
165. We really do love jazz.
166. Especially the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival.
167. It’s coming to you this April.
168. There’s also jazz every Thursday at Armstrong Park.
169. And only in New Orleans could there be a national historical park…for jazz.
170. Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub is NOLA’s oldest operating jazz club…
171. …and you can also check out the New Orleans Jazz Museum.
172. It’s Zydeco night every Thursday at Rock ‘N’ Bowl on South Carrollton.
173. The Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival is epic…
174. …and free!
175. The Singing Oak in City Park is unique.
176. It actually sings…but it’s not magic.
177. There are chimes carefully hidden within its boughs.
178. Which, in a way, kind of is magic…
179. …a very New Orleans kind of magic.
180. Thanks, local artist Jim Hart, for the installation!
181. There’s also the Music Tree, which makes no sound but pays tribute to it.
182. It’s chainsaw artwork at its finest.
183. Street performers in the Quarter are definitely one of 300 reasons why our city is so fun and lively.
184. There are also carriage rides in the French Quarter.
185. The brightly colored murals on Kermit’s Treme Mother-in-Law Lounge make us smile.
186. The Louisiana Philharmonic Orchestra doesn’t just make wonderful music…
187. …but is the first totally musician-owned symphony orchestra in the US.
188. Yep, there’s more to see in New Orleans than any single trip could ever accommodate (so you have to come back).
189. Our cemeteries are quite beautiful.
190. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is the oldest in the city (there’s also St. Louis Cemetery No. 2 and No. 3.)
191. Lafayette Cemetery is the oldest of the city-owned-and-operated cemeteries.
192. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Boarding House is across from Lafayette Cemetery.
193. Audubon Park is gorgeous at any time of the year.
194. Climb its Tree of Life and you may even spot a giraffe (at the zoo next door).
195. City Park is pretty great, too.
196. It has a wooden carousel, aka “Flying Horses.”
197. It also has “Duelling Oaks”!
198. There are life-size bronze statues of New Orleans musicians in Musical Legends Park.
199. The monument to General Andrew Jackson in Jackson Square was the world’s first horse statue in which the animal had more than one foot off the base. So there you go.
200. The 1850 House shows how life in New Orleans looked more than 150 years ago.
201. At least, it shows how life looked for the rich.
202. The LaLaurie Mansion is an unmistakable piece of NOLA architecture on Royal Street…
203. …while Faulkner House Books is a national literary landmark and historic location.
204. There’s a little piece of the Eiffel Tower in New Orleans. Literally.
205. In 1981, the Restaurant de La Tour Eiffel left its home atop the Eiffel Tower in Paris.
206. It was then shipped, piece by piece, right here to NOLA.
207. It cost a cool $1.5 million to send the restaurant across the Atlantic.
208. Now it’s an events space and museum called Eiffel Society.
209. The Cabildo is a beautiful old Spanish colonial building…
210. …that’s home to Napoleon’s death mask.
211. It’s one of many cool finds that are part of the Louisiana State Museum.
212. Other fascinating museums to check out in NOLA include…
213. …the National WWII Museum…
214. …and the Backstreet Cultural Museum.
215. Also check out the Old Ursuline Convent Museum…
216. …and the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum.
217. The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on Dumaine St is fantastic.
218. Confederate Memorial Hall Museum is Louisiana’s oldest museum.
219. Louisiana’s Civil War Museum is right here, too.
220. NOMA (New Orleans Museum of Art) doesn’t keep all the best stuff indoors…
221. Its Besthoff Sculpture Garden is stunning.
222. Shopping for art and antiques along Royal Street is always fun.
223. M.S. Rau Antiques was voted the best spot by locals.
224. The jewelry at Mignon Faget is pretty fab, too.
225. Boutique du Vampyre on St. Ann is THE ONLY VAMPIRE SHOP IN THE COUNTRY…
226. …and now do you see why we love New Orleans so much?
227. The French Market is open 365 days a year.
228. It’s home to a flea market…
229. …and a farmers market, too.
230. Crescent City Farmers Market on Saturday mornings is also pretty wonderful.
231. St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continuously used cathedral in the US…
232. …while St. Joseph’s Church has the longest aisle in NOLA.
233. The Faerie Playhouse is a pink Creole cottage adorned with large wooden hearts and a rainbow flag.
234. It honors LGBT activists…
235. …because this city knows how important they are.
236. Watching the ships pass along the river at Woldenberg Park is peaceful…
237. …and the fountain at Spanish Plaza is the place to make a wish.
238. There’s horse racing at New Orleans Fair Grounds…
239. …and bike riding on the levee.
240. Taking the Canal Street Ferry is always a good idea…
241. …or you can simply go for a walk along Algiers Point.
242. Picnicking along the river at The Fly is a treat.
243. You can run, bike, or casually stroll the Lafitte Greenway.
244. You can even see the city on a Segway.
245. The Southern Yacht Club on Lake Pontchartrain is the second oldest in the country.
246. Two words: The Saints.
247. The chant of “Who Dat!” in the streets is electrifying.
248. The Superdome is the largest fixed-dome structure in the world. And it’s right here in New Orleans.
249. Every seat is a different color than the one next to it.
250. That way, it always appears to be a full house (not that they need much help).
251. Did we mention the festivals? We did? Well, here’s some more!
252. Art For Art’s Sake — a fall celebration on Magazine Street…
253. …White Linen Night — an annual art event in the Warehouse District…
254. …Dirty Linen Night — a street fest a week later on Royal Street…
255. …Essence Fest — featuring the biggest bands and musicians…
256. …French Quarter Festival (you can guess where it’s held), which lasts for four amazing days…
257. …Infringe Fest New Orleans (burlesque! comedies! dramas!)…
258. …and New Orleans Film Festival (films, of course).
259. New Orleans Pride happens June 8-10, 2018, and we are PROUD.
260. NOLA Navy Week has all the tall ships.
261. Saints and Sinners Literary Festival “brings together a who’s who of LGBT publishers, writers and readers from throughout the United States and beyond.”
262. And we’re not done: Southern Decadence, also known as “Gay Mardi Gras”…
263. …Tennessee Williams Festival, also known as New Orleans Literary Festival…
264. …Tremé Fall Fest, featuring all the food and live music you could hope for…
265. …and the massive Voodoo Music + Arts Experience. It takes place over Halloween weekend.
266. Wednesdays at the Square are always a party…
267. …and every holiday is a special celebration in New Orleans.
268. We throw cabbage at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade…
269. …and July 4 sees a Go Fourth on the River fireworks extravaganza.
270. Dancing all night on Frenchmen Street at one of the biggest Halloween parties in the world is how this city rolls.
271. Krewe of Boo = Halloween, New Orleans style.
272. Thanksgiving means it’s time for turducken — a chicken inside a duck inside a turkey.
273. Oh, and Thanksgiving turkeys get fried (did we mention everything gets fried?).
274. Christmas brings Bonfires on the Levee…
275. …and Holiday Home Tours.
276. Réveillon Dinners are also how NOLA does the holidays.
277. Another Christmas tradition? Teddy Bear Tea in the Crescent City Ballroom at the Roosevelt Hotel!
278. Go and you’ll find thousands of twinkling lights in the hotel lobby.
279. For New Year’s Eve, head to Jackson Square…
280. …and watch fireworks over the Mississippi River.
281. Carnival Season here is unlike any place else, of course.
282. Here’s the lowdown…
283. …Lundi Gras takes place the Monday before Mardi Gras…
284. …while Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday) is unparalleled, as you’re no doubt aware.
285. Endymion, Thoth, Orpheus, and Bacchus are the kings of the Carnival Super Krewes.
286. The Krewe of Venus was the first all-female krewe.
287. We love coconuts from the Krewe of Zulu…
288. …shoes from the Krewe of Muses…
289. …hand-decorated bras from the Krewe of Bosom Buddies…
290. …and we love Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World!
291. There’s the Krewe of Barkus, a Mardi Gras parade for dogs.
292. For more like that, the House of Dance & Feathers is a museum “dedicated to preserving the heritage of Mardi Gras’ most beloved underdog parades.”
293. You can tour the Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum inside Arnaud’s Restaurant for free.
294. The Mardi Gras Bourbon Street Awards are too much fun.
295. And last, but most certainly and most definitely not least…
296. …the city’s official motto!
297. “Laissez les bons temps rouler!”
298. It means, “Let the good times roll!”
299. We couldn’t agree more.
300. New Orleans, WE LOVE YOU. Happy 300th!