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

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Christmas 2014 in New Orleans (photo highlights)

Happy New Year! Tonight (Jan. 5) wraps up the Christmas season in New Orleans. Tomorrow (Jan. 6) is the twelfth night of Christmas and officially starts the carnival season, which ends with Mardi Gras. There are two parades Tuesday – Joan of Arc and the Phunny Phorty Fellows.

It’s a nice tradition – extending Christmas and taking more time to enjoy the festivities. Towns, businesses and residents leave their trees and lights up until Jan. 6. Then, the Mardi Gras decor comes out. Some people even transition their Christmas trees to Mardi Gras trees.

Santa visited the fish at Audubon Aquarium. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

Santa visited the fish at Audubon Aquarium. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells/NewinNOLA.com)

Before we dive into the carnival season, we wanted to take a moment to say farewell to Christmas and New Year’s. New Orleans, you sure do know how to do the holidays.

We’ve highlighted some of our favorite holiday events and moments below. What were your favorite holidays moments in New Orleans? Suggestions for what we should do next year?

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Meetup: Louisiana Seafood Festival this Saturday (Oct. 11)

We love seafood! How about you? If you’re like us, The Louisiana Seafood Festival is perfect for you. Free admission and tons of seafood vendors. You pay for what you eat so you control how much you spend.

Mr. B's served bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits at the 2013 Louisiana Seafood Festival. So good. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

Mr. B’s served bacon-wrapped shrimp and grits at the 2013 Louisiana Seafood Festival. So good. (photo by Carlie Kollath Wells, New in NOLA)

#NewinNOLA tip: It’s cash only so bring your money.

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Meetup group for new people in New Orleans

Our friend, Satyajit Dixit, has started a Meetup group that’s perfect for meeting other newbies. Meetup is an online community that helps people “meetup” in real life. Some groups are general interest, while others are grouped around specific interests.

Meet Sat (he’s the guy in the middle). He organizes the “Exploring New Orleans” Meetup group.

Satyajit "Sat" Dixit, pictured in the middle, organizes a wonderful New Orleans Meetup group. (image via Meetup)

Satyajit “Sat” Dixit, pictured in the middle, organizes a wonderful New Orleans Meetup group. (image via Meetup)

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Thanks to our 3,000 Instagram followers!

Woohooo! Three thousand –  3,000!!!! – of you have signed on for this @NewinNOLA journey on Instagram. We couldn’t be more honored that you’d share your time with us.

Thank you for making us feel welcome in New Orleans. Thank you for sharing what you’ve learned about the city. Thank you for going on this adventure with us. Thank you for asking questions and suggesting better ways to do things. Y’all rock!

We're on Instagram (@newinnola)

We’re on Instagram (@newinnola)

In addition to right here on NewinNOLA.com, you can follow us on:

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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)

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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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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Louisiana Seafood Fest meetup on Sunday

We’re doing an informal food outing tomorrow (Sunday, Oct. 13) at the Louisiana Seafood Fest and would love to see you. The fest is free and has free cooking demonstrations and music. newinnola-meetup-logo

We each pay for the food we eat. Cash only. Food samples are good for sharing (I’ll bring extra forks). Food vendors and their dishes:

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How to get a library card in New Orleans

It’s easy to get a library card in New Orleans and you don’t have to have a New Orleans driver’s license (but you should get one). new-orleans-library-card.jpg A NOLA library card gets you access to thousands of print books, e-books, audiobooks, DVDs and magazines.

How to get a New Orleans library card:

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