The Big Easy, NOLA, N’awlins – no matter how you refer to it, there’s no denying the unique spirit of one of the South’s most interesting cities. From the historic neighborhoods and jazz culture to the incomparable cuisine and haunting tales, the soul of New Orleans is felt wherever you go.
The 2018 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon takes place on Sunday, March 4 starting at Poydras St. at Camp St. and ending at Roosevelt Mall in City Park. Make it a full race weekend by taking the opportunity to explore the city’s diverse offerings.
Friday, March 2
Health & Fitness Expo Day 1 starts at noon at the New Orleans Morial Convention Center – Hall J. Get there early to pick up your race packet and peruse the vendors who will have booths with running merchandise, including fitness apparel, accessories, health and nutrition products, and information. The expo is free to attend and open to the public, which means any non-race attendees traveling with you can pick up some swag too.
Enter the World of Mardi Gras
Of all the events New Orleans is known for, Mardi Gras tops the list. The city’s celebration is extravagant to say the least. If you’re lucky enough to be here for Fat Tuesday in February, you’ll have a chance to experience this one-of-a-kind atmosphere. However, a trip to Mardi Gras World can give you a glance into the wonderful world of Mardi Gras all year long. Plus, it’s an easy 5-minute walk from the Convention Center. Mardi Gras tours start every half hour and last approximately an hour. Guests will see what goes into creating the extravagant Mardi Gras floats and the history of where the carnival excitement stems from.
Grab Lunch with the King of BAM!
As one of the most well-known chefs of the South, famed restaurateur Emeril Lagasse chose New Orleans as his flagship restaurant. Emeril’s Restaurant pays homage Creole and Cajun cuisine with lunch options such as the Oyster Po’ Boy, Chicken & Waffles, and Andouille Crusted Gulf Drum to name a few. The food is top-quality, but the restaurant itself is low-key. Casual dress works just fine; they just request no sleeveless shirts for men.
Explore the Sculpture Garden at NOMA
Stroll through the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden at New Orleans Museum of Art to witness 64 sculptures placed throughout the beautiful live oak and magnolia-filled landscape. You can take a free audio tour through your smartphone or just pass through at your leisure to admire the art. Admission to NOMA is $12, which includes entrance to the Sculpture Garden. It’s open until 6:00 PM on Fridays, meaning you have plenty of time to wander post-lunch.
Dine at a Casual NOLA Staple
Ask both visitors and locals alike where they should go to eat a traditional po’ boy, and most likely they’ll point you to Mother’s Restaurant. Mother’s has been around since 1938, and what they offer is a no-fuss, flavorful menu of Creole and Cajun goodness. They’re famous for their Ferdi Special, which is a ham and roast beef po’ boy served with au jus gravy. But there’s also crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, gumbo, and red beans and rice that make up the menu. If you can’t make it for dinner, Mother’s is also open for breakfast. Ever tried a shrimp creole omelet or a egg po’ boy? If not, you can have your first here.
Saturday, March 3
After a full day of food and exploration, you still have another chance to stop by the Health & Fitness Expo to pick up any last-minute goods on Saturday starting at 9:00 AM. The Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans 5K also takes place on Saturday for those who want to warm up for the marathon or pace themselves with a shorter race. But there’s still plenty of New Orleans left to see! Here’s a sample roadmap to guide you through day two.
Start with Breakfast Beignets at Cafe Du Monde
Saturday is the perfect day to make the French Quarter your homebase. The streets are filled with art, music, food, and other locally inspired shops and stops. Start at Cafe Du Monde, a place where people flock from far and wide to stand in line for their famed beignets and chicory coffee. Expect a generous dusting of powder sugar on those pastry delights – consider yourself warned!
Schedule a Garden District Tour
A walk around the French Quarter allows you to view some of the most beautiful architecture of the city. From hidden courtyards to wrought-iron balconies, you’ll feel transported back in time thanks to the architecture that makes up this area. The Garden District is one of the top destinations for travelers. Take a walking tour, and learn about famous people who live or have lived in and around the area.
Visit the Grave of Marie Laveau
Voodoo priestess Marie Laveau is revered in the South and you can visit her grave in St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. In addition to the unique, above-ground tombs of New Orleans cemeteries, you may feel the spirit of Marie Laveau and the urban myths and beliefs that surround her tomb. If you want to get an up close look and pay your respects, new Archidiocese rules say you must be accompanied by a licensed tour guide. Book your tour ahead of time so you don’t miss out on the weekend you’re scheduled to be in New Orleans.
Sample Creole and Cajun Cuisine
Gumbo, jambalaya, and red beans and rice are all part of the staples of Louisiana cooking. The best place to go is subjective to who’s giving the recommendation. But it’s safe to say that when in NOLA, it’d be tough to find a dish you didn’t like. Creole and Cajun flavors are bold and filled with spice. Make your way through the French Quarter and see what piques your appetite.
Sunday, March 4
The Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans Marathon, the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans ½ Marathon, and the Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll New Orleans 10K all get going on Sunday morning. If it’s your first time to run the course, you’ll have a course full of music and a crowd cheering you on every step of the way. If you’ve been running Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathons for years, there still may be some surprises in store for you since the musical entertainment changes from year to year. We’re always looking for ways to make the race bigger and better.
Once you’ve crossed the finish line, take the day to celebrate at post-race concert and continue your tour of New Orleans. Make the most of your time in this hospitable city, and create a list of all the things you still want to do next time you return. Laissez le bons temps rouler!