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Globetrotting | New Orleans

by Mark Chesnut
City Park in New Orleans

The Big Easy is welcoming visitors back with an array of new reasons to plan a vacation, including new hotels and attractions, a spacious new airport terminal, and a vibrant nightlife scene.

Mark Chesnut

To keep visitors informed about what’s going on, New Orleans & Company has set up an online guide to LGBTQ-owned businesses as well as listings about activities and events.

The pandemic may have been as rough on New Orleans as anywhere else, but the Big Easy is welcoming visitors back with an array of new reasons to plan a vacation, including new hotels, attractions, a spacious new airport terminal, and optimism for a return to something close to normal for upcoming popular events like Southern Decadence and Mardi Gras. “I think many people are going to be visiting this year, even some who wouldn’t have in the past, just because they’re excited to go somewhere fun and get out of the house,” said Beaux Church, director of operations and general manager at Wood Enterprises, which owns popular LGBTQ venues including Café Lafitte in Exile, Good Friends Bar, Rawhide, and the Clover Grill. Church, who moved from North Carolina to New Orleans in 2011, said the destination still has the same allure with LGBTQ travelers as before the pandemic. “You can walk outside with your drinks, listen to music, watch artists on the streets, and watch the riverboats,” he said. “I can’t think of any part of town where you can’t go and just be yourself.”

Dustin Woehrmann, CEO/creative director at Communify, a New Orleans-based marketing agency that helped with training and diversity inclusion for New Orleans & Company, the city tourism office, agrees about the destination’s longstanding appeal with gay travelers. “There are local LGBTQ events that date back 70 years,” he said.

To keep visitors informed about what’s going on, New Orleans & Company (2020 St. Charles Ave. Tel. 800-672-6124. www.neworleans.com) has set up an online guide to LGBTQ-owned businesses as well as listings about activities and events.

One of the newest attractions, JAMNOLA (2832 Royal St. Tel. 504-233-9152. jamnola.com), is described as the city’s first “experiential pop-up,” an interactive museum in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood that invites visitors to pose with the works of more than 20 local artists. Also new (and perfect for Instagram) is the ARTmazing Selfie Gallery (309 Decatur St. Tel. 504-354-8633. www.artmazinggallery.com), where the pop-art exhibits are designed to provide engaging photo opportunities.

The newest major attraction in the Central Business District, meanwhile, is Sazerac House (101 Magazine St. Tel. 504-910-0100. sazerachouse.com), which opened in 2019 as an immersive venue that showcases the history of cocktails and the influence of spirits on New Orleans. Still to open this year is the Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience (818 Howard Ave. Tel. 504-345-8585. www.msje.org), which will have exhibits highlighting the relationship of Jewish people in the southern United States.

Jackson Square New Orleans

Jackson Square New Orleans
Photo: Mark Chesnut

With a vibrant nightlife scene and decidedly welcoming environment, New Orleans rolls out the rainbow carpet. Even as LGBTQ bars made changes to accommodate pandemic-era safety guidelines, the friendly vibe never faded. The city’s generally warm year-round weather, in fact, has made it a great place to maintain social distancing while sitting outdoors at lively bars like Good Friends (740 Dauphine St. Tel. 504-566-7191. www.goodfriendsbar.com) and the legendary Café Lafitte in Exile (901 Bourbon St. Tel. 504-522-8397. www.lafittes.com), which dates to 1933 and attracted patrons like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. Today, it’s a great place for a drink and perhaps an evening of conversation and karaoke.

Related:  6 Hotels To Heat Up The Romance In New Orleans

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