This is the riverboat Natchez. It does daily cruises on the Mississippi River. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

Must-do things in New Orleans for first-time visitors

First time in New Orleans? Hosting friends/family who have never been to New Orleans before? We’ve got you covered. The city is jam-packed with things to do, but there are a few classics you need to hit. These are the places everyone is going to ask you about when you get home. This list should keep you busy for a two or three-day weekend trip. And, please bring your appetite.

This is the Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 near the Mississippi state line. There's free Community Coffee inside if you stop by. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

This is the Louisiana Welcome Center on I-10 near the Mississippi state line. There’s free Community Coffee inside if you stop by. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

BASIC ADVICE

Wear comfortable shoes. You are going to do a lot of walking and our sidewalks are uneven. Skip the fashion show and wear something you can walk several miles in. No one cares if you are wearing sneakers, slip-ons or flip-flops. Most places don’t have a dress code and won’t care what your footwear looks like.

In the summer, grab a hat if you are going to be outside. We have plenty of hat stores here if you want to buy one. Here’s more advice about picking a hat and where to get one in New Orleans.

Leave your big purse at home. Minimize what you are carrying around. Get a small, crossbody purse, small clutch or a wallet in your front pocket. Big purses are easy to grab on the street and you don’t want to juggle it in a crowded bar. Continue reading

Christmas in Jackson Square, New Orleans (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

Caroling in Jackson Square – what you need to know

We’re caroling in Jackson Square tonight (Dec. 21) with a thousand or so of our closest friends.  It’s a free, magical event in New Orleans. Open to everyone. And again, 100 percent free.

The event starts at 7. Gates open at 6:30 p.m.

French Quarter Festivals Inc. hosts Caroling in Jackson Square. (photo via FQF Inc.)

French Quarter Festivals Inc. hosts Caroling in Jackson Square. (photo via FQF Inc.)

Song sheets and lights are provided. Arrive early because this is a popular event and you want to get inside the gates. Christmas attire is encouraged. Think sweaters, Santa hats, bells, etc.

You stand while you carol so wear comfortable shoes. Don’t bring chairs unless you physically need one.

If it is raining, the event will be moved inside the cathedral. Seats/pews are available on a first come, first serve basis.

Plenty of places to park:
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picnicking at the Fly in New Orleans (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

Good places to picnic in New Orleans

Lazy summer/fall days call for a picnic with friends, especially at dusk when things cool off a little bit. Plus, this is a budget-friendly form of entertainment.

You can go all out for a picnic, but a poboy or a bucket of chicken are easy options for quick meal with a gorgeous view. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

You can go all out for a picnic, but poboys and chips are good options for quick meal with a gorgeous view. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

We keep a blanket in our trunk so we’re ready to go at a moment’s notice. And no need for a fancy spread if you are picnicking on a whim. A bucket of Popeye’s or a poboy is equally as festive as a basket full of homemade goodies, in our opinion.

GoNOLA offered up suggestions for picnic destinations in New Orleans. Here are some of our favorite places to picnic in the city. Have another suggestion? Tell us in the comments.

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photo by Carlie Kollath Wells / New in NOLA

Happy 4th of July (meetup info)

Happy 4th of July, y’all! Hope you are making the most of this three-day weekend. Want to watch fireworks tonight? Our Meetup friends are having a watch party tonight in the French Quarter. The group is meeting at 8:45 p.m. Click here for more info.

Happy 4th of July, y'all! How about this tasty snoball from Hansen's?! Yum. (photo via @NewinNOLA on Instagram)

Happy 4th of July, y’all! How about this tasty snoball from Hansen’s?! Yum. (photo via @NewinNOLA on Instagram)

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creole tomatoes at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Photos from Creole Tomato Festival in New Orleans

The French Market held its 28th annual Creole Tomato Festival last weekend in New Orleans. We tried the famous tomatoes, watched a Creole tomato-eating contest and ate some yummy tomato dishes.

Check out our food photos here.

Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Creole Tomato Festival at the French Market (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

oyster artichoke pasta at the 2014 New Orleans Oyster Festival (photo by Carlie Kollath/New in NOLA)

Our food pictures from the 2014 New Orleans Oyster Festival

We filled our belly June 1 at the New Orleans Oyster Fest (first-timer tips). The food-centric fest was held in downtown New Orleans at Woldenberg Park. Fav part – free admission.

The day started with an oyster-eating contest in the rain was rounded out with sunshine and food.

Check out our Storify post for food pix from the fest.

In a Half Shelf blog also has a spectacular photos and tips. Check them out.

Oyster Festival 2013 in New Orleans (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New Orleans)

New Orleans Oyster Festival 2014 (schedule, tips, map)

The 2014 New Orleans Oyster Festival is this weekend (May 31 and June 1). The food is the same both days, but the music is different.

Want to see the oyster shucking contest? That’s Saturday at noon. Interested in the oyster eating contest? That’s Sunday at 11:45 a.m.

We’re tagging along with a Meetup group going Sunday at 11 a.m. Join us 🙂

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The Oyster Fest serves up all sorts of bivalve goodness. Here are some of eats in 2013. (photos by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

The fest is at Woldenberg Park, which is next to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas (map). We like this festival because it is free admission and there’s parking around the French Quarter. When we take a car, we usually park in the garage above Saks Fifth Avenue. Tip – if you get in before 9 a.m. at most garages, parking is $10 for the entire day.

You can also take a bus or streetcar and not fool with parking at all. It takes a little longer than driving, but it’s cheaper than parking and you don’t have to worry about a designated driver.

We went to the fest last year and had a really good time. See our pix.

Tips we learned about the New Orleans Oyster Festival:

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photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com

Good places to get raw oysters in New Orleans

Happy Oysters on the Half Shell Day! Really, it’s a holiday. How do you like your bivalves – raw or on the half shell?

Our favorite oyster restaurants in New Orleans so far:

• 50 cent oysters during happy hour at Superior Seafood. This restaurant is right next to the streetcar line at St. Charles and Napoleon. It has nice indoor and outdoor seating. Happy hour is from 4 to 6:30 daily. It also has tasty frozen drinks.

Superior Seafood on St. Charles has happy hour specials for raw oysters. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

Superior Seafood on St. Charles has happy hour specials for raw oysters. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, NewinNOLA.com)

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crawfish boil invite created by PS Creative (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Our first New Orleans wedding

The New in NOLA crew was fortunate to celebrate the blessed matrimony of two of its own this weekend. Congrats to Margaret and Chapman!

They went with a New Orleans-themed wedding and we thought it was spectacular. From the faux street tiles on the cake to the brass band to the hot sauce favors, there was so much #NOLAlove in the air.

Only in New Orleans - an alcohol detector at the rehearsal party. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

Only in New Orleans – an alcohol detector at the rehearsal party. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/New in NOLA)

A few things we learned about New Orleans weddings from this experience:

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image via aboutmi.tistory.com

New Orleans shopping mall guide

With the holiday shopping season upon us, new-to-NOLA residents might be wondering where the best places are to get all of their shopping done. While I’m big into shopping locally at the unique New Orleans boutiques that call Magazine Street and the French Quarter home, sometimes you just have to make a trip to … the mall! Here’s an overview of the shopping malls around New Orleans, and what makes each one special.

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