Elsewhere in the south, they drawl “Nawlins,” but to locals and those who love this one-of-a-kind, spirited city, it’s New Orleans, with scarcely an accent to give you a clue that you are in the deep South, way down yonder. Natives don’t have much of an accent at all, but the local lexicon is peppered with French phrases that suggest you’re someplace mighty special.
For most of us who visit the city of Nawlins, it’s all about the differences that make Nawlins special. It’s a city for survivors, and after its devastating losses at the hands of Hurricane Katrina, it’s a marvel of growth and determination. Nawlins has come back.
Nawlins and the French Quarter
Visitors tend to think first of the French Quarter when they think of Nawlins. Tradition-steeped, beautiful and just a bit mysterious, the Quarter is where you’ll find most of the food, mood and music you came to Nawlins for.
The cuisine that embodies the French Quarter in Nawlins varies, of course, but Creole, French and Cajun are the preferred flavors. To savor the best of the city, try any of the great historical eateries that elevated dining in the city to the top of everyone’s charts — Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s, Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, Broussard’s and Antoine’s are the originals. More recently, Emeril’s, Emeril’s Delmonico, Emeril’s NOLA and K-Paul’s have stolen a bit of the thunder, and if you ask around, Acme Oyster House, Casamento’s and the Gumbo Shop will also be mentioned among the greats. This threesome is proof that eating well in Nawlins need not cost a fortune! Save room for bread pudding or stroll down to Café du Monde for anytime beignets and smooth Nawlins—style coffee with chicory.
Music in Nawlins
These days, the music you’ll hear in the city varies more than the food. Classic Nawlins jazz is still king at the Preservation Hall Jazz Band building on St. Peter Street that dates back to the War of 1812. Louis Armstrong and Jelly Roll Morton were both members of this elite band that’s been drawing crowds since 1961. Today, the musicians are younger but the glorious Nawlins jazz they play here is as pure as ever. No drinks and no air conditioning keep some away, but they’re missing the real thing, music-wise!
While jazz is still the official sound of the city, you must remember that not only was Louis Armstrong born here, so was Lenny Kravitz! A newer, younger sound coexists with traditional Nawlins rhythms, and many of the music festivals around town welcome a contemporary sound. The annual Voodoo Experience Ritual in October has hosted musical groups like Pearl Jam, Stone Temple Pilots, Red Hot Chili Peppers, KISS, Lil Wayne, ZZ Ward and Man Man and the Extra Action Marching Band. That’s variety!
Old and New Bars in Nawlins
The French Quarter in Nawlins is the oldest and highest part of the city. That height is what spared the Quarter when Katrina deluged the rest of the city. Architecturally, the Quarter is unique. Narrow streets, wrought iron balconies over the streets, blind alleys and buildings — glorious old buildings — that invite exploration…and speculation. Who lived there? What became of them? Many of the tall, narrow buildings were homes of the wealthiest plantation owners who enjoyed their seasons in the city. Absinthe houses, gambling parlors and brothels shared the Quarter with convents, tea shops and fashionable dress makers. This was, after all, as close as most could get to France, so Nawlins dictated style—at least in the south.
Bars have replaced the absinthe dens and you’ll find more souvenir, mask and bead shops than dressmakers, but the beautiful cathedral that was the religious center of the old city is still there on Jackson Square. And while you sit nibbling beignets at Café du Monde and dusting off the clouds of powdered sugar, you’ll have the opportunity to study it.
A Walk Around Nawlins
Afterward, work off your indulgences as you stroll past the cathedral, then head on to Royal Street to window shop and admire the European antiques that used to grace these houses, or go one more block to Bourbon Street, which has earned its exciting and somewhat unsavory reputation fairly. This is the street of bars, adult entertainments and who knows what else!
One of the best walking cities in the country, there is a surprise around every corner—an undiscovered shop, a café, a sheltered garden, even the specter of another time—a bona fide Nawlins ghost. Travel wisely after dark and skip the temptation to explore the city’s magnificent cemeteries by moonlight. Instead, consider booking a cemetery excursion or at least, a ghost tour.
Historic Buildings in Nawlins
The historic buildings that constitute the resort are located on Decatur Street between Iberville Street and Canal Street. In fact, the corner building is the oldest existing structure on Canal Street. Inside the wholly renovated Bluegreen Club LaPension you’ll encounter unique, colorful decor including a stunning lobby and original pieces of artwork–all from local artists and artisans—in every villa. You’ll also experience a level of hospitality you won’t find anywhere else—even in a city known for warm welcomes.
Before you stroll these sultry streets, explore our Nawlins Travel Guide, for all the must-see attractions and hidden hotspots that will make your vacation unforgettable.