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Enjoying the Outdoors in New Orleans

A visit to New Orleans likely makes you picture eating world-class seafood and out-of-this-world Cajun and Creole cuisine. You also likely imagine an incredible music scene featuring the best of jazz, blues, R&B, and much more. But did you know there are also a bunch of outdoor activities in NOLA you can enjoy this spring?

That’s right. Outdoor activities abound in New Orleans. And they go far beyond strolling through the French Market or riding down the Mississippi on the Steamboat Natchez. If you want to enjoy some sunshine while in the Big Easy, consider one of these outdoor activities in NOLA.

Play a Round of Golf

Tee off at one of NOLA’s top-notch golf courses. The over-100-years-old Audubon Park Golf Course offers an 18-hole course on over 4,220-yards of expertly landscaped terrain. In nearby City Park, the Bayou Oaks City Park South Course features 250-acres. When you add it to City Park’s North Course, it’s the only complex in the city to offer 36 holes. You can also test your skills at the municipal Joseph M. Bartholomew Golf Course.

Go Hiking and Biking

Why not squeeze in a hike or a biking adventure after getting your fill of crawfish, beignets, gumbo, and more? You’ll find bike paths throughout the city, but you don’t need to BYOB (bring your own bicycle). You can use a service like BlueBikes or rent a bike, surrey, or another unique ride on wheels at Wheel Fun Rentals in City Park.

For hiking, jogging, or a leisurely stroll, try out the paths at City Park or along the Lakefront. Or, escape to a forest in the middle of the city in Couturie Forest (located inside City Park). Another option is the trail at Audubon Park (which is right across the street from Audubon Zoo, another fun outdoor activity).

Go Horseback Riding

Several places in NOLA offer horseback riding, providing options for both beginners and expert riders. Cascade Stables in Audubon Park or Equest Farm in City Park are great places to book some riding time.

Explore the Louisiana Swamp with a Swamp Tour

Book a swamp tour to discover the mystique of the Louisiana swamp up close and personal. Maybe you’ll even come face-to-face with an alligator or two, along with other native wildlife. Check out New Orleans Swamp Tours or Bayou Swamp Tours to get started.

Rent a Kayak

Set your own pace and take in the views as you glide down Bayou St. John on a kayak. You can rent canoes and kayaks at Bayou St. John or by Big Lake in City Park.

Book a Fishing Charter

Visit FishingBooker to find some of the top fishing charters in and around New Orleans. City Park also offers catch-and-release fishing if you want a more laid-back approach.

Relax and Let Loose in City Park

You’ve already seen City Park pop up a lot in this list of outdoor New Orleans activities. But if you prefer something not so physical, there’s a lot more to do in this 1,300-acre urban park. Stroll through the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, take the kids to Carousel Gardens Amusement Park or Storyland, or enjoy a picnic under the mighty oaks. You can also rent a swan paddle boat or have an impromptu photo shoot in the Botanical Gardens.

Of course, after enjoying the great outdoors NOLA-style, you can still relish in the delectable cuisine and unbeatable nightlife. After a fun-filled day, rest your head in one of our charming New Orleans hotels until you’re ready to tackle the next thing on your list.

How Long Is Mardi Gras In New Orleans?

If you’re planning to visit New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2022, you might assume you have to be there on March 1st. But, the carnival season lasts a lot longer than one day, so it all depends on what you want to experience. If you’re going to enjoy some parades, eat king cake, and soak up the vibrant atmosphere, you have plenty of options. 

Is Mardi Gras Only One Day?

Technically, yes, Mardi Gras is only one day, and in 2022, that day is Tuesday, March 1st. However, many people use Mardi Gras to describe the entire Carnival season. It lasts from King’s Day on January 6th until the day before the Catholic Lenten season starts on Ash Wednesday. 

Yep, if you didn’t know, Mardi Gras, with its raucous and randy celebrations, has roots in the Catholic tradition. The general concept is that Fat Tuesday (Mardi Gras Day) is the final day for fun, feasting, and frolicking before starting Lent, a time traditionally for sacrifices and fasting.

Why Is Mardi Gras On A Different Day Every Year?

If Mardi Gras always starts on January 6th, why is it on a different day every year? Well, it’s because Fat Tuesday ties into Easter Sunday, which can be anywhere between March 23 and April 25th. Mardi Gras day is always 47 days before Easter.

Since Mardi Gras Day varies year-to-year but always starts on January 6th, some years Carnival season lasts longer than others. For example, next year, in 2023, Mardi Gras will fall on February 21st, shortening Carnival by a whole week.

When Is Carnival Season 2022 in New Orleans?

Here’s a glance at 2022’s Carnival season to help you plan your Mardi Gras adventure. 

January 6th, 2022 — King’s Day (The Epiphany) and the official start of Carnival in New Orleans. King’s Day honors the day the three wise men reached the stable where Jesus was born. Locals and visitors alike can’t wait to chow down on King Cake, which pretty much becomes a breakfast staple for the next couple of months. 

Various walking krewes, parades, and other events start according to the Mardi Gras parade schedule. You might also hear a lot of people refer to this day as Twelfth Night, referring to the final day of the Christmas season. (Think of the ever-popular song — The 12 Days of Christmas.)

February 28th, 2022 — Lundi Gras, the Monday before Mardi Gras Day. Fat Monday recognizes the King of Carnival, Rex, and the King of Zulu, typically arriving by boat in Woldenberg Park. It usually includes the mayor of New Orleans, symbolically turning over control to the two Carnival monarchs.

Rolling in uptown are the Krewe of Proteus and super Krewe, Orpheus. Lundi Gras night, Bourbon street is typically full of revelers determined to stay up until the parades start Mardi Gras morning. 

March 1st, 2022 — Fat Tuesday, Mardi Gras Day. The big day arrives, featuring the Krewe of Zulu and the Krewe of Rex parading uptown. By Tuesday night, the Big Easy becomes relatively quiet compared to the months before. So, Mardi Gras Day is also the official end of the Carnival season in New Orleans.

March 2nd, 2022 — Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent. Catholics start preparing for Easter with a time of prayer, fasting, sacrifice, and reflection. There is a definite contrast from all of the festivities and celebrations throughout the prior months.

Do You Only Have A Weekend To Spend In New Orleans?

If you can’t take off during the week to catch Mardi Gras Day on March 1st, consider planning a weekend trip. You can still get a taste of what Carnival is all about in NOLA. 

The weekend before Mardi Gras is one of the best of the whole Carnival season. It’s full of major parades from super krewes like Endymion and Bacchus, along with other notable contenders like Tucks, Iris, and Thoth. You can even get a glimpse of actor Josh Duhamel, the celebrity king of Bacchus 2022. 

But, plan for a late night since the revelry lasts well into the wee hours of the morning. If you can’t swing the weekend before Fat Tuesday, you’ll find parades and other events happening every other weekend during Carnival. You can even have your pup participate in the fun at the Krewe of Barkus on February 20th.

Is all this starting to sound like a foreign language? Don’t worry. Check out our guide to Mardi Gras lingo to get the low-down on how to speak Mardi Gras in New Orleans. You’ll be talking like a NOLA native in no time. 

When you’re not out in the thick of it, you can grab a cocktail and enjoy the rest of what this incredible city has to offer. Then, bring some king cake back to your cozy hotel room to enjoy as a late-night snack. 

7 Best Barbeque Joints in New Orleans

Now that it’s July, summer traditions in New Orleans are in full swing. That means snowballs on a hot afternoon, enjoying the water features at the Cool Zoo, an evening of thrill-seeking on the rides in Carousel Gardens, and, of course, hosting a summer barbeque. If you don’t know anyone who knows their way around a grill or are simply in NOLA on vacation, don’t worry! Good barbeque is not hard to find in this city, so be sure to check out any of these restaurants for your grilled and saucy fix. 

Bourbon & Bailey’s BBQ

This N. Claiborne BBQ joint falls right between New Orleans’ famous Treme and Marigny districts, serving up a good mix of barbecued surf and turf. Ten different oyster dishes are sold at Bourbon & Bailey’s BBQ alongside a somewhat smaller, but no less mighty, collection of sandwiches like the slow-smoked pulled pork and bourbon burger. Enjoy some of its casual eats from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. every day. 

Ugly Dog Saloon and BBQ

Located in the heart of the New Orleans Warehouse District, this restaurant has been operating for 20 years, serving customers meat slow-roasted in its on-site smoker. Recently, Ugly Dog Saloon’s menu underwent a revamp to include more bbq dishes inspired by Cajun and Creole flavors. Still, the high quality and taste of the restaurant have remained the same. Try the Lafitte Pig, a sandwich made from pulled pork, Canadian bacon, and sliced bacon all over slaw, cheddar cheese, and a hearty slathering of bbq sauce.  Or, opt for the Higgins Spud, a baked potato topped with ¼ lb of pulled pork or chicken.

Central City BBQ

Though this eclectic little restaurant may have just opened in 2016, that doesn’t make it any less delicious. Central City BBQ’s pitmaster is a three-time Grand Champion of the Hogs For The Cause BBQ competition, and he backs the quality and taste of the restaurant’s BBQ. Enjoy one of the house salads, topped with smoked chicken, pulled pork, or even burnt ends, and definitely don’t skip out on the Hogs For The Cause award-winning smoked wings. 

Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ

For a non-traditional barbeque adventure, try Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ. At this restaurant located in the CBD, Japanese BBQ is the star. You can create your own lunch combo with two or three barbeque items of your choice, like prime kalbi short rib, beef tongue, or umakara pork, with miso soup, salad, or white rice. Add something extra to your lunch combo, like a side of edamame, dumplings, or even smores!

Blue Oak BBQ

Although Blue Oak BBQ is in Mid-City, it is absolutely a must when enjoying the New Orleans BBQ scene. Plus, you can easily access it taking the streetcar from the CBD to Mid-City. Known as “New Orleans’ Best Barbeque in the World,” this restaurant is one of the most popular BBQ spots in the city. Blue Oak BBQ has a large outdoor patio and a bar inside, ready to serve up cocktails and the daiquiri of the day. Be sure to try the BBQ nachos and any of the numerous sandwiches available on the menu, like the Pit Viper with its jerk pulled pork, slaw, and jalapenos, or the T-Rex’s Smoked Turkey. 

The Joint

This BBQ restaurant achieved national fame after being featured on the Food Network’s “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives” hosted by Guy Fieri. Although it’s out in the Bywater, this little shack is more than worth the drive from the CBD. The Joint serves up some of the juiciest smoked barbecue in town, like its burnt ends and smoked brisket. Make sure to try some of its famous sides, like the mac and cheese and slaw, too. Dessert in the form of a freshly made slice of pie is a must; after all there’s always room for some of NOLA’s tasty sweet treats

Cochon Butcher

Although not strictly a barbecue restaurant, Cochon Butcher sells some of the city’s best meat, made by some of its full-time butchers. Each week, this restaurant butchers, crafts, smokes, and cures over 2,000 lbs of meat and sausage in-house. Every menu ingredient is fresh; the bread is baked fresh daily at its sister restaurant La Boulangerie, and other ingredients come straight from local farmers. For your BBQ fix, try the BBQ Pork Carolina Style, the Smoked Turkey Sandwich with avocado, arugula, and tomato basil aioli, or the Cubano with smoked pork, ham, and swiss. 

After satisfying your craving for some of the best BBQ in the Big Easy, take a snooze or simply unwind with a cocktail at a posh New Orleans hotel. It’s the perfect way to kick back and let the food settle, so you can go out and have some more. 

Beat the Heat with a NOLA Snoball Treat

If you order a snow cone in New Orleans, you’ll likely get a blank stare in return. That’s because, in NOLA, it’s all about the powdery, smooth shaved ice that serves as the foundation for the city’s ultimate treat to beat the heat — the snoball.

Whether you’re craving a simple classic like spearmint or the ultimate sweetness of nectar cream (with condensed milk, please), you can’t go wrong. No matter where you go to get your sno-ball fix, you’ll encounter a myriad of syrup flavors, many featuring unique names like Tiger’s Blood and Popeye, as well as fun options, like a stuffed snoball. This is when a delicious scoop of ice cream goes in the middle of the cup, between layers of shaved ice, then everything gets drenched in the flavor of your choice. 

Typically, you’ll get a spoon and a straw to enjoy every last drop of this New Orleans-created specialty. You’ll also want to grab a few napkins, especially if you take your snoball to go. But, where oh where should you satisfy your snoball craving? There are tons of places to choose from, but here are a few long-standing favorites in and around the city.

Williams Plum St. Snowballs

One of the beauties of New Orleans is that lots of businesses are situated right inside a neighborhood. Plum St. Snowballs is one of those businesses, a snowball stand that has been serving the Uptown Carrollton area since 1945. Plum St. is widely known in the city for its delicious variety of flavors served in small and large paper pails. Enjoy your snowball at Plum St.’s picnic table, or take yours to-go as you head to the nearby streetcar line for the rest of your day’s adventures. 

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz™

Possibly the oldest snowball stand in the United States, Hansen’s Sno-Bliz opened in 1934. This snowball stand gets the second half of its name from the “Sno-Bliz” ice shaving machine built by Ernest Hansen himself in the 1930s, the first-ever of its kind! Today, Hansen’s is still operated by members of the Hansen family.

Sno-La

Sno-La is new to the New Orleans snowball game, only arriving on the scene in 2011. However, it has made its mark in a big way by creating the first-ever cheesecake stuffed snoball, offering “snoball tastings” and snoballs served in a souvenir glass mason jar (if you ask). Sno-La has locations along the Carrollton streetcar line and as far out as Metairie and is open year-round. 

Sal’s Sno-balls

Located in Metairie, Sal’s Sno-balls has been serving up smiles since 1960 and is regarded by many as the snoball stand with the best syrups. This is a late-night snoball stand, open every day from 11 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. An array of tree stumps and trunks is located just outside Sal’s, giving visitors a unique place to sit and enjoy their snoballs. 

Casey’s Snowballs

Casey’s is another snoball staple of Metairie, located along W Esplanade Ave. You can enjoy its snoballs, frozen yogurt, ice cream, sundaes, shakes, and Casey’s specialty: monsoons. Monsoons are soft serve mixed with lots of fun ingredients like bits of Butterfinger, Reese’s Pieces, and Oreos. If you’re looking for an adventurous dessert, try some of Casey’s specialty snoball flavors like king cake and bazooka. 

Yes, there’s nothing quite like a delicious, sweet snowball to beat the New Orleans heat. Want to know another great way to cool down in NOLA? Enjoy a refreshing cocktail from the comfort of your charming French Quarter hotel. After a little break, you’ll be ready to resume exploring the Big Easy.

Naming New Orleans: The City’s Most Celebrated Nicknames

Whether you’re new to New Orleans or have lived here your whole life, you’ve likely heard the city lovingly called a few different names.  The city has a wide array of nicknames, ranging from more popular variants like The Big Easy and Crescent City to some you may have only heard once, like The Paris of the South and Crawfish Town. From something well-known to the most obscure, each and every one of New Orleans’s nicknames has its own unique origins. 

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Say What? New Orleans Lingo – Know Before You Go

If you’re planning to make a visit to New Orleans, then you’re in for a real treat. There is no other city that is quite as unique and vibrant as the Big Easy; from the people to the architecture and the vast array of eclectic entertainment options that you’ll discover at every turn. Another element of NOLA that possesses its own special charm is the language. New Orleans natives and self-made locals speak a whole different vocabulary that can make you feel like it’s a foreign language.

Don’t worry though, with just a little prep you can learn the lingo that will help you speak like a local…or at least understand what everyone else is talking about! 

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Top NOLA Parks for the Ultimate Spring Picnic

Top NOLA Parks for the Ultimate Spring Picnic 

It might still be winter in New Orleans, but that doesn’t mean too much when it comes to the temperature outside. Even in February, you can end up with a day in the mid-60s to 70s, with gorgeous, sunny weather. And as springtime approaches, those pleasant days start to increase in number. It’s the perfect time for some picnics in the park, featuring delicious food and fabulous surroundings, two things that NOLA has in abundance.

Here are three stand-out parks for the perfect NOLA picnic and where to get some of the best food for your outdoor chow-fest.

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Why New Orleans Is Home to the National WWII Museum

The National WWII Museum will celebrate its 21st birthday this June 6, 2021. The museum originated in 2000, on the 56th anniversary of D-Day as the D-Day Museum. However, by 2003, Congress dubbed it the National WWII Museum, making it the official WWII Museum of America. It is also a Smithsonian Institution affiliated museum, which allows it to share collections and artifacts with various Smithsonian Institutions. 

Why Is the National WWII Museum in New Orleans?

The museum was created to showcase the amphibious invasion in Normandy, focusing on the Higgins boats used in the attack. New Orleans was chosen as the museum’s site because the Higgins boats were developed in New Orleans by Higgins Industries. Plus, NOLA resident, war historian, author, and University of New Orleans history professor Stephen Ambrose pushed for the creation of a WWII Museum. All of these elements came together to make New Orleans a natural fit for the home of the National WWII Museum.

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It’s Crawfish Season in New Orleans

It’s the peak of crawfish season in New Orleans, and that means finding crawfish boils around every corner, taking center stage at picnics in the park, and popping up on almost every menu. If you’re spending your vacation in NOLA, you might refer to these small crustaceans as crayfish, mudbugs, or crawdads, but if you’re a Louisiana native or local, it’s 100% crawfish. One thing’s for sure, no matter what you call them, they’re also 100% delicious.

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