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“Giants of Jazz: Art…

Jun 24 - Dec 17, 2017
This spring, art and music converge as The Historic New Orleans Collection… more

Backyard Grooves

Jun 24, 2017 - Jan 10, 2026
In The Voodoo Garden, All Ages.   more

BB's Stage Door…

Jun 24 - 25, 2017
The Harlem Renaissance of the 1920s and 1930s comes to life in this three-time… more

Beyond the Canvas:…

Jun 24 - Jul 9, 2017
Spanning several generations, five Puerto Rico-based artists Zilia… more

Chicken on the Bone…

Jun 24 - Dec 6, 2017
Want to enjoy some nightlife? No trip to New Orleans is complete if you have… more

Double Dose

Jun 24, 2017 - Jan 10, 2026
ActionActionReaction and friends keep the dance floor energized with mixes of… more

Festigals 2017

Jun 24 - 24, 2017
FestiGals will return to the JW Marriott for its seventh  women's… more

It's Only A Play

Jun 24 - 25, 2017
In an exciting partnership with the local, independent theatre company, The… more

Krewe of Boo's…

Jun 24 - 24, 2017
Join the Krewe of Boo for its first ever Halfway to Halloween Pub Crawl! The… more

Louisiana…

Jun 24 - 25, 2017
Join us for the 11th Annual Cajun Zydeco Festival. There will be a stellar… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Jun 24 - Oct 8, 2017
Jim Steg (American, 1922 -2001) was the most influential printmaker to be based… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Jun 24 - Oct 1, 2017
In celebration of beloved chef, civil rights activist, and art collector Leah… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Jun 24 - Sep 3, 2017
Pride of Place: The Making of Contemporary Art in New Orleans showcases… more

New Orleans Museum of…

Jun 24 - Oct 8, 2017
Paintings from throughout Scully's career are presented with a selection of… more

Newcomb Art Museum -…

Jun 24 - Jul 9, 2017
Spanning several generations, five Puerto Rico-based artists Zilia… more

Rivertown Theaters…

Jun 24 - 30, 2017
Join us for a delightful children's production this summer with the popular… more

Southern Food and…

Jun 24 - 24, 2017
Join us for the 2nd Annual Big Top Cake Competition - a one-of-a-kind… more

Southern Rep Theatre…

Jun 24 - 25, 2017
West Texas, 1862. "Hero" is promised his freedom from slavery in… more

Storyville: Madams…

Jun 24 - Dec 9, 2017
Storyville: Madams and Music revives the sights and sounds of New Orleans's… more

The Historic New…

Jun 24 - Oct 21, 2017
The Historic New Orleans Collection's Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for… more

“Giants of Jazz: Art…

Jun 24 - Dec 17, 2017
This spring, art and music converge as The Historic New Orleans Collection… more

Picking up the pieces: Tourists come back to New Orleans

Picking up the pieces: Tourists come back to New Orleans
by Jeff Tidwell

While San Francisco's LGBT community and city government were struggling with a safe approach to celebrating Halloween and shut down the Castro this year, New Orleans was opening its arms to the community for a celebration with a renewed excitement and taste for fun. Last month, the New Orleans Metropolitan Visitors and Convention Bureau invited a group of travel writers to the city with the goal of showing off the city to LGBT tourists.

Though there is no shortage of stories of unfinished business from the ravages of Hurricane Katrina, there is finally some good news for New Orleans. In the central tourist destination of the French Quarter, spirits are high and it's business as usual. If you're considering a getaway, put New Orleans at the top of the list. There's plenty of fun to be had and you'll feel welcome in the town that lives by the expression "Laissez les bon temps roulez" - Let the good times roll. Additionally, one of the city's great traditions, Mardi Gras, takes place in February. Gay Mardi Gras is scheduled for February 1-5 to coincide with the city's longtime event, which culminates with Fat Tuesday.

If you're heading down for a brief stay, you would be wise to set up headquarters in the French Quarter for easy access to the action. We stayed at Harrah's, which is very savvy in catering to gay audiences and has a longtime New Orleans writer and bon vivant, Bonnie Warren, setting the tone for its public relations.

Warren hosted us at Brennan's Restaurant for a brunch with piles of crab, administered by a team of veteran waiters ensuring the meal was fun and trouble-free for all of its guests. Brennan's invented the term "eye opener" after seeing the reaction to a drink it offers for the morning crowd called "Punch" - made of brandy, milk, and nutmeg.

The French Quarter is a rich bohemian neighborhood where music is the central focus. Great jazz, blues and Cajun music is everywhere and is a constant thread that runs through the culture. It comes streaming from the lively bars and restaurants along the streets. There are brass bands on the street and kids tap dancing for tips.

To get a take on the gay scene, you can grab a copy of *Ambush* magazine. It's packed with the local hangouts and a calendar of events. But it's not very hard to find the fun in New Orleans. Walking down Bourbon Street in the Quarter we found a couple of gay bars along the way. The Pub has a great balcony for watching the show go by, and a favorite, the Corner Pocket, is a really fun spot with a late night scene that can't be beat.

After an eventful evening, it was time for a hearty 3 a.m. breakfast at the Clover Grill. This 1950s joint is packed and featured an ongoing performance of dancing cooks in full view from the open kitchen. The sounds of Michael Jackson and Prince were blasting through the restaurant. This place is a blast.

The next day we rented bikes at Michael's Bikes. It's a relaxed way to discover the narrow streets of the Quarter. Near the bike shop, there is a wonderful old-school gay bookstore called FAB "Faubourg Marigny Art & Books" on Frenchman Street. There are piles of dusty books and vintage publications. It also has a gallery worthy collection of gay-themed paintings by local artists that spans 50 years.

We then peddled to the Garden District on Magazine Street. This street goes for miles and miles and is known for its plentiful antique stores. The prices are fair and, from what we saw in the few homes we were able to peek into, it seems that folks in New Orleans take their antiques seriously. For the more contemporary tastes, we found the perfect mid-century furnishings showplace called Neophobia. If architecture is your interest, the Garden District is home to some spectacular examples of Victorian splendor with grand porches and gardens dripping with the humidity-loving fauna.

A couple more great eateries are worth mentioning. Muriel's is located in Jackson Square in a historic building rumored to be haunted. We started with drinks in the Seance Room where our Tarot cards were read, to the delight of our companions. Then dinner is served in a perfectly restored and opened dining room. The menu provides a contemporary take on Cajun cuisine. The turtle soup with sherry was a nice surprise.

A lively joint a bit uptown is The Upperline, hosted by the colorful Joanne Clevenger, a longtime fixture in the Quarter as the purveyor of the vintage shop. The simple dining room was lined with original paintings from her many artist friends. Here we dug into the seafood more seriously and topped it off with warm Louisiana Pecan Pie.

Jeff Tidwell is the proprietor of Camp Dude, a gay vacation spot near Yosemite. http://www.campdude.com

For more information

http://www.neworleanscvb.com

http://ambushmag.com

http://gayharrahsnola.com

http://www.brennansneworleans.com

http://www.cornerpocket.net

http://www.muriels.com

http://www.upperline.com

http://www.clovergrill.com