The last time I visited New Orleans, it was in March 2011 with a group of my friend’s friends. There were eight of us, and we were in Nola to celebrate Mardi Gras, clearly a huge festivity of nudity, endless alcohol and dance, and too many beads that will get sticky and trashed by the end of your visit. A friend had planned the entire trip, so I just went along with whatever restaurants and activities were laid out. I had a lot of fun on that trip, perhaps even a bit too much fun. That trip, in retrospect, was like the marker of the beginning of the end of my then long-term relationship with someone I nearly got engaged to. I had so much fun on that trip that I started wondering why I was with someone who… frankly, really wasn’t that exciting or adventurous, and was relatively conservative and clingy.
Outside of Jazz Fest or Mardi Gras, I tend to have a pretty unpopular opinion: I’m really not that excited by New Orleans overall as a city. The French Quarter is extremely touristy; as we walked the streets last night, all I could smell was a lovely combination of stale alcohol, human urine, and garbage. The food is good, but if one does her research, she will immediately find out that the best creole/cajun food is really to be had in Lafayette, Louisiana. There is good cajun/creole/seafood, and there is also pretty good Vietnamese food (the overall options do pale in comparison to Houston, though, and even Oklahoma City), and while the architecture is pretty, if you aren’t going there for a festival or to party, I’m generally not that interested in New Orleans. You can do ghost tours in other cities in the South, like Savannah. You can get the food elsewhere. There’s great history there, but isn’t there interesting history everywhere?
One thing I will note about the beginning of our time in New Orleans that I enjoyed: pretty much all the businesses we visited during our first two days were Black-owned. A LOT of businesses in New Orleans are Black or minority owned (in some cities, you actually need to do research and try hard to seek these out), so it made me happy to at least have coffee or dine in at shops and restaurants that were owned by POCs.