In addition to being a talented speaker and writer, Valerie Grubb is a New Orleans resident with great thoughts on how to enjoy the city while at SHRM17. I asked Valerie to share her can’t-miss recommendations for New Orleans -- other than the conference of course!
Oh my, I live in New Orleans so that is a tough one. There is SO MUCH to see and do! It can be tough for some folks, but I highly recommend not letting the humidity get you down. Trust me, it’s brutal but if you accept that it’s going to be an awful hair period while in town, you’ll do fine. Leave the hair spray at home and brings lots of deodorant!
Now, as far as things to do…
If this is your first time to NOLA:
- Explore the Quarter: walk around Jackson Square (interesting street people to watch), Royal Street (art galleries galore) and Bourbon Street (debauchery and an assault on your nose!). Be sure and go to the rear of St. Louis Cathedral (on Royal Street) to see the Jesus statue at night. It’s beautiful (and you’ll see why they call it Football Jesus!).
- Take the St. Charles streetcar to the end of the line to see the staggering homes along the Avenue. It’s amazing to see these monster homes – and soundly illustrates the money that was in New Orleans at the turn of the century. Dress in as little clothes as possible as there is NO air-conditioning on the streetcar.
- Take a cemetery tour – I will always peek in a cemetery in New Orleans if I’m walking by one (there are several around). I find it fascinating to quietly stroll amongst the above-ground tombs, reading the dates of the deceased. I also always look for a local volunteer to give me a quick tour of the interesting history of the cemetery as well as its inhabitants. It’s well worth it! If you want a more structured tour, chat with your hotel concierge or SHRM’s tour desk.
- EAT! New Orleans has more James Beard nominees than any other city in America! Find your food passion then RUN to the nearest restaurant! Commander’s Palace is a raging favorite for upscale fare along with Sylvain’s in the Quarter and Delachaise on St. Charles in the Garden District.
- I also love Muriel’s on Jackson Square – that was the first restaurant I ate at when I moved from NYC to NOLA in January 2016. It has a special place in my heart (and a table perpetually set for a ghost so be sure and stop by for a drink! Take your drinks upstairs to one of the best balconies in the French Quarter!). That said, it’s tough to be a bad restaurant in this city so you should be fine wherever you go.
- Listen to music: It’s hard to find bad music in New Orleans – in fact, it’s very tough to get a gig here as the competition is so fierce. Locals will kill me for saying this, but head to any of the clubs on Frenchman Street and you’ll hear fantastic music from world-class acts.
If you’ve been a few times before:
- I love a good swamp tour! There are several around (some far, some farther) – I suggest checking with your hotel or SHRM’s hospitality desk to arrange (including pick-up/drop-off at your hotel).
- Take a bicycle tour through the French Quarter. Now remember it’s RAGING HOT so this is not for the faint of heart! That said, it’s a great way to feel like a kid again and see (and hear) a fair bit about the city.
- NOLA has some amazing museums so if you’ve got time, check them out. Depending on your interests, we have art (New Orleans Museum of Art), bugs (Insectarium), animals (Zoo), Dark Arts (Voodoo Museum and Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo) and another quintessential NOLA favorite – Mardi Gras. To great options to get the feel of this beloved almost month-long-festivities, visit the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture (1010 Conti Street in the French Quarter) OR take a tour of Blain Kern’s Mardi Gras World where the Krewe of Orpheus stores their floats. I am a member of this Krewe so look for the sea serpent and you’ll see my float for the 2016 parade! It was my first time riding and let me just say it was a TOTAL BLAST!
EAT – but you know this already if you’ve been to New Orleans.
DRINK – yea, you got this covered too.
LISTEN TO MUSIC – as always, the city will not disappoint!
Check out Part 1of this interview here.