With Essence Music Festival approaching, hundreds of visitors will be flooding the city of New Orleans to take in everything the Big Easy has to offer. Popular tourist attractions like the French Quarter and Bourbon Street will be flooded with tourists searching for food and fun. While visiting those places are generally a must, especially for first-timers, the Crescent City has much more to offer if you venture outside those downtown boundaries. Wondering what else there is to do? Parlour’s got you covered with a few places that are slightly off the beaten path. So if you have access to transportation and some time to spare, then you and your girls can begin an adventure.
Old New Orleans Rum Distillery
2815 Frenchman Street
While New Orleans is well-known for its drinking culture, not many know that it houses its own rum distillery. Located about 10 minutes from the French Quarter, the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery has been churning out the award-winning rum since 1999. They now offer daily tours of the facilities where it all goes down. The 45-minute tour is $10 per person and offers visitors a chance to take a look at the unique distillation process from the beginning to end. But what fun would it be to learn all about this rum and not taste it? Have no fear, Parlouristas. The tour kicks off with an Old New Orleans Rum cocktail and gives guests a chance to sample all four of the distillery’s signature rums, manufactured using Louisiana sugar cane. Be sure to try the Cajun Spice rum which is flavored with hints of cayenne, cinnamon, cloves, ginger and nutmeg. Tours frequently sell out, so purchasing your ticket in advance is highly recommended.
Tours are offered Monday through Friday at 12, 2 and 4 p.m.; Saturdays at 2 and 4 p.m. The Old New Orleans Rum Distillery is closed on Sundays.
Backstreet Cultural Museum
1116 St. Claude Avenue
If learning more about the city’s rich cultural traditions and history is up your alley, then the Backstreet Cultural Museum is a definite must-see. Located in the famed Tremé neighborhood, the museum is home to rare costumes, video footage artifacts, memorabilia that provide a historical look at New Orleans’ African American culture. While the museum usually features a much smaller exhibit at the Ernest M. Morial Convention Center during Essence Festival, visiting the actual museum gives visitors the chance to take a much more detailed look into the history that makes the city so unique. Permanent exhibitions feature displays about New Orleans’ Mardi Gras Indians, Skull and Bone Gangs, social aid and pleasure clubs, and jazz funerals. Museum admission is only $8 per person, a steal when you think about the priceless experience that lies ahead.
The museum is open Tuesday through Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Louis Armstrong Park/Congo Square
701 N. Rampart Street
While in the neighborhood, you may also want to pay a visit to Tremé’s Louis Armstrong Park. Named for the jazz great and New Orleans native, the historic park is home to the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts and Congo Square, a historic space in which slaves were once allowed to congregate and fellowship on Sundays. In addition to the beautifully landscaped grounds and pond, Armstrong Park is also home to several sculptures of such noted African American figures as musicians Buddy Bolden and Sidney Bechet, and Tootie Montana, one of the city’s most revered Mardi Gras Indians. The park also houses two sculptures by legendary artist Elizabeth Catlett, one of Armstrong and one of Mahalia Jackson.
Open daily, dawn-dusk
5229 Dauphine Street
Although this restaurant is a bit out of the way, it’s well worth the trek to sample their menu. While the Lower 9th Ward neighborhood is still recovering from Hurricane Katrina, Café Dauphine is like a diamond in the dust. The menu features everything ranging from traditional New Orleans dishes such as fried catfish and stuffed shrimp to one-of-kind creations like Fried Stuffed Bell Pepper and Lizardi Rolls, their version of the egg roll that features crab meat, shrimp and crawfish. And with homemade bread pudding on the menu, you’ll definitely want to wear your stretchy pants for this excursion.
Open Monday through Thursday 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Just behind the French Quarter in the neighborhood of Marigny
Looking for a way to burn off all the calories you consumed during your visit? Then dance the night away on what’s affectionately considered the local’s version of Bourbon Street. Frenchman Street is located just behind the French Quarter in the Marigny neighborhood and is a bustling strip lined with various bars and clubs that host live music. Looking to groove the night away to sounds of brass music? Head for Blue Nile (532 Frenchman Street, www.bluenilelive.com). Or perhaps you’d rather unwind with some jazz? Then Snug Harbor (626 Frenchman Street, www.snugjazz.com). Hop in a cab and take a ride to Frenchman. There’s no way you can go wrong.
Still looking for something to do? Check out our short list of other stops to make while in Nola.
Beyond Bourbon Street: A Walking Tour
Bar Tonique (meeting point)
820 Rampart Street
Reservations required. For more information, visit Nola-Native-Tours
Bywater Bed and Breakfast
1026 Clouet Street
Boo Koo BBQ
3701 Banks Street
BooKooBBQ n’ Burgers on Facebook
936 St. Charles Avenue
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