By Clint Demeritt

New Orleans is a city dripping with character – and not because of the humidity

NOLA (as it’s called) offers boatloads of delicious food, grand architecture, lively music and friendly locals. From gumbo to zydeco music to St. Louis Cathedral, “The Big Easy” has iconic experiences for all the senses, which can be a little too much to take in during just one trip.

Since you are going to &THEN to absorb all you can about data and marketing, you might not have the time to soak in all that amazing New Orleans culture. Luckily, you can get a lot of those quintessential New Orleans experiences by exploring one of New Orleans’ most famous neighborhoods: The French Quarter.  

The French Quarter is one of New Orleans’ oldest and most vibrant districts where you can really get a feel for the soul of the city. Also, it’s only a mile and a half away from the &THEN event location at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. The quarter is famous for its European architecture, narrow stone streets, lush courtyards and iron-railed balconies.

Also known as Vieux Carre, this area offers fun souvenir shops, restaurants, bars and voodoo temples to explore. The famous Bourbon Street is home to many bars and jazz clubs permanently buzzing with the Mardi Gras spirit. And make sure you wander around Jackson Square while listening to the street zydeco bands and marvel at St. Louis Cathedral before you indulge in some beignets.

Beignets are the official state doughnut of Louisiana and New Orleans’ most famous food in a city known for its delectable cuisine. If you mention your trip to a NOLA expat, they will probably ask you if you ate some beignets. They can best be described as big puffy funnel-cake-like pastries, fried to a golden brown and buried in powdered sugar.

There are plenty of places to get beignets in the city, but the mecca for these fried treats is the original Cafe Du Monde, across from Jackson Square. This location has been slinging beignets since 1862 and is now open 24 hours a day. For extra NOLA flavor, order some chicory coffee.

It may not be Nashville, but New Orleans revels in its rich jazz history. The city is packed with jazz joints, but Preservation Hall, Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub and The Spotted Cat Music Club are most often mentioned when talking about NOLA’s most happening spots. Presentation Hall features an old-school jazz hall headlined by New Orleans’ most masterful musicians. But Preservation Hall is an extremely popular tourist spot, so you might want to get an online VIP ticket to skip the hourslong line and secure a front-row seat.

Fritzel’s is a German-style beer hall on Bourbon Street that attracts many international travelers and performers. But if you are a jazz fanatic, you may want to head to Frenchmen Street, which is lined with great jazz joints without the hectic party atmosphere. Start off with The Spotted Cat, which often attracts talented local acts on its intimate, window-backed stage.

And if you can’t get enough of New Orleans, consider taking a walking tour or downloading an audio tour. The city is nearly 300 years old and has attracted a lot of interesting characters throughout its history, especially if you are a fan of the macabre. Ghost stories linger on almost every corner of the French Quarter. From jazz-loving ax murders to bayou-dwelling werewolves known as Rougarous, there is a lot of great folklore to explore while you’re in town for DMA &THEN.
This article is brought to you by &THEN, DMA’s annual event. Click here to join the leaders of the marketing community and explore how data transforms marketing in New Orleans, October 8-10. Save over $400 with early-bird pricing when you register before July 13.