For first-timers or experienced Cajuns, the not-to-miss attractions in NOLA


CRESCENT ROLL | Jackson Square is one of many NOLA landmarks. (Arnold Wayne Jones/Dallas Voice)

The Crescent City is a place like no other on the planet, with unique music, food and diversity (including a thriving gay and lesbian community). There’s so much to do, in fact, it helps to have a list of must-see attractions. Here it is.

10. Jackson Square. This historic park is a great place to spy classic NOLA architecture, converse with other tourists and buy unique wares from local artists. There are so many performance artists and painters and fortune tellers, one visit won’t be enough.

9. French Market. Gay New Orleans is a melting pot of cultures and experiences, and there’s no better cross-section of this than at the French Market. This six-block stretch of the lower French Quarter is where you’ll find one-of-a-kind shops, restaurants and galleries. Don’t miss it, especially if you’re venturing to the city for the first time.

8. Any streetcar you desire. NOLA’s streetcars are an iconic part of the city landscape — and immortalized by gay playwright Tennessee Williams. They’re also a great way to get around, whether you’re heading to the French Quarter, Magazine Street or Uptown.

7. Haunted History Tour. The city’s colorful past is one of its major selling points and for ‘mos that love a good ghost story, you’ll want to take part in a Haunted History Tour. At night, guides offer theatrical retellings of ghoulish tales from New Orleans’ past. If you’re a fan of True Blood and other homo-erotica, or just like a good scare, check it out.

6. The Lower Ninth Ward. The area most-devastated by Hurricane Katrina in 2005 is undergoing a renaissance thanks to Brad Pitt’s Make It Right Foundation and other non-profits. Where a decimated wasteland once stood is now the location of state-of-the-art, solar-powered homes and interactive community parks for children.

5. Bywater District. Travel just a few minutes outside of the French Quarter and you’ll find this quaint, unique gay-friendly community. Following Hurricane Katrina, several LGBT entrepreneurs moved in and revitalized the area, opening hotels, shops and restaurants serving authentic local fare.

4. Café du Monde. After a night of partying in NOLA, you’ll want to start the next day off with a beignet and a great cup of coffee. Head down to the French Quarter and grab a chair at the legendary Café du Monde, a great spot for any gay and lesbian traveler who wants to experience the city like a local.

3. Clover Grill. A staple of gay life, Clover Grill is open all day and night, serving up breakfast and diner-eats with panache. Where else can you get a burger cooked under a hub cap? Yum!

2. The Country Club. If you crave a big ‘ol gay pool and hot tub party, get wet at the Country Club. Every Friday night, dive in and enjoy the “New Meat” contest, where locals and out-of-towners strip down for a cash prize.

1. Intersection of Bourbon and Saint Ann. A majority of NOLA’s gay nightlife can be found in the French Quarter where Bourbon Street intersects with Saint Ann. The city’s most popular gay bars — Bourbon Pub and Parade and Oz — are located here. Whether you want to dance, play pool in a dive bar, see strippers bare all or play drag bingo, there’s a venue and vice for every taste.

— Jon Fairbanks

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition April 27, 2012.