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New Orleans – The Big Easy

As I consider past and future trips to New Orleans, Romans 6: 1-2 comes to mind… “What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?”

New Orleans is best known for Bourbon Street and Mardi Gras, for drunkenness and debauchery.  More recently, the city has been mourned and scorned for the devastation and injustice related to Hurricane Katrina.

Despite the obvious dark side of New Orleans, the city is a charming destination offering visitors a festive atmosphere for soaking up a slice of rich American history and soaking up the roué of rich local cuisine.  Furthermore, New Orleans is the birthplace of jazz and home to a vibrant music scene that echoes throughout the city.

But before you go, know what and where to avoid.

Travel Advisory:  Mardi Gras is the French term for Fat Tuesday a day of feasting on richer foods prior to Lent which begins on the following day, Ash Wednesday.  While the festivities began with good intentions, modern Mardi Gras season now begins weeks earlier and bears more resemblance to ancient hedonistic celebrations, not to mention idol worship.  The disturbing behavior of women flashing the privates in exchange for Mardi Gras beads is now common to French Quarter parades and festivities.  If you feel the urge to attend a Mardi Gras parade, we strongly urge attending a parade outside the quarter, in Uptown or Metairie.

 

The French Quarter

The French Quarter is New Orleans’ cultural epicenter packed with restaurants, antique shops, art, museums… and night clubs and bars.  While The French Quarter stretches nearly 100 blocks, Christian Travelers will want to focus their visit along the streets west of Bourbon Street.  There, you’ll find Jackson Square, The French Market, and plenty of food and shopping options.

Travel Advisory:  Bourbon Street is world famous for it’s a bars, clubs, and street nightlife, most of which should be avoided for the discerning traveler and is not at all suitable for children or youths.  Lively crowds and music may entice visitors, but beware.  Bourbon Street attracts non-stop drunk and disorderly conduct by allowing public consumption of alcohol and even selling alcohol along the street.  The biggest reason to avoid Bourbon Street and immediate intersecting blocks are the adult entertainment establishments.  Though you won’t likely be directly “exposed” to what’s going on inside, these establishments post inappropriate and sometimes explicit pictures outside in an effort to attract men, and women, inside.  These so called gentlemen’s clubs are nothing of the sort.  If you are a gentleman, prove it by avoiding Bourbon Street.


One street southeast of Bourbon Street and you’ll find yourself on Royal Street amidst dozens of fine art and antiques galleries.  Though more suited for adults than children, many antique shops feature antique weapons, swords and guns, that quickly capture the attention of otherwise fidgety boys, and men.

Travel Advisory:  New Orleans is also known for voodoo which has been in the city since the early 1700s.  These days New Orleans voodoo is reduced to underground practice while others take advantage of commercial profits that stem from mainstream interest in voodoo as stimulated by movies and even a Scooby Doo cartoon. Don’t support this perversion; avoid the Voodoo Museum or any of the voodoo shops that dot The Quarter.

 

Jackson Square

Shortly after the founding of New Orleans, the city was divided into blocks with a common area, Place D’Arms, which is now known as Jackson Square, after Andrew Jackson.  On the northwest side of the square, sat the church and governor’s mansion together establishing this area as the center of life in New Orleans.

St. Louis Cathedral is the most recognized landmark of New Orleans.  Named for Louis IX, the sainted king of France, it is the oldest U.S. Catholic cathedral in continual use.   The diocese dates back to 1720, while the existing church dates back to 1794.  The cathedral celebrates Mass each day.  Two gift shops are available for those you want to indulge.

Along the outside of Jackson Square’s iron fence are dozens of artists and vendors that setup shop under the shade of oaks or umbrellas.  Here you can get a portrait sketched or painted, or browse the street gallery of accomplished local artists.

Travel Advisory:  Jackson Square is well known for street vendors.  In addition to legitimate art, you’ll find palm readers, card readers, and other swindlers.  If you have kids in tow, you may have some explaining to do.  If you’re without kids and feeling bold, take a seat and witness to these lost souls.  I love the story told in the book Radical by Dr. David Platt, pastor of the Church at Brook Hills, who tells about setting up his own table in Jackson square to minister to the sinister.

On the river side of Jackson Square is our favorite spot in New Orleans, Café Du Monde Coffee Stand on Decatur Street.  Far from the coffee stand it began as in 1862, Café Du Monde is now one of the world’s most famous cafés.  But it’s not the coffee that attracts thousands of visitors each year.  It’s the beignets.  These French style square doughnuts are covered in powdered sugar and ooh-so mouthwatering good.  Beignets are served as an order of three served best with a coffee or hot cocoa.  Café Du Monde is open 24 hours a day, every day except Christmas.  The café is covered, but outdoors.  If you visit in the summer, a nighttime visit may be the only tolerable time while in the winter you’ll want a jacket appropriate to the cooler temperature.  Note that tables along the river side of the seating area are also near the trash dumpsters and workers’ smoking area; sitting closer to the Decatur side is advised.

 

The French Market

The French Market began in 1791 making it America’s oldest public market.  Its six blocks, stretch from Café Du Monde to the flea market that neighbors the Old U.S. Mint.  No longer a simple trading post, The French Market has an updated farmers market and several restaurants, sweets shops, and gift shops.  At the northeast tip of the market sits the flea market where you never know what you’ll find.  If you forgot to pack a pair of sunglasses or need a straw hat to block the sun, never fear, the flea market will have what you need.

 

Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall is a venue dedicated to the preservation of New Orleans Jazz.  Since its 1961 founding Preservation Hall has been a haven to jazz musicians and fans.  Located at 726 St. Peter in The French Quarter, doors open 8:00 pm nightly with music at 8:15 pm.

 

Travel Advisory: What could make a hedonistic, addictive culture worse?  Casinos.  At the end of Canal Street sits Harrah’s New Orleans casino.  The casino opened in 1999 taking advantage of already inebriated tourists.  Harrah’s doesn’t typically have the crude advertising found in Las Vegas or Atlantic City, but it’s a good idea to avoid the area when walking between the Quarter and Warehouse District.

 

Other Things To Do in New Orleans

The Warehouse District: The southwest border of The French Quarter is Canal Street which marks the beginning of what is known as the Central Business District.  Therein sits the Warehouse District housing more famous eateries, museums and art galleries.

Museums:  New Orleans has many museums to give visitors a taste of New Orleans and Southern history, arts, and culture.  For those with a little extra time, we’d recommend the following museum options.

  • Louisiana State Museum encompasses 5 French Quarter landmarks housing historical and cultural artifacts and works of art.  The properties include the Cabildo, site of the 1803 Louisiana Purchase, the Presbytere, and 1850 House all on Jackson Square.  Madame John’s Legacy is located on Dumaine Street.  Situated as the corner of The French Quarter at Peters Street and Esplanade Avenue is the Old U.S. Mint, the only to serve as a Federal and Confederate mint.
  • The National World War II Museum is located on Julia Street in the Warehouse district.  Prior to being designated by Congress as America’s office World War II museum, the museum’s focus was on D-Day and other amphibious landing using the LCVP or Higgins boat build in New Orleans.  For more information, click www.NationalWW2Museum.org.
  • New Orleans’ zoo dates back to the 1884 World Expo and now encompasses 58 acres as The Audubon Zoo which consistently ranks as one of the country’s best.  I’ve had the privilege to experience a behind the scenes tour of the zoo and it is truly impressive, rivaling other better known properties.

 

New Orleans Restaurant Recommendations

The saying is that “some people eat to live, but New Orleanians live to eat.”  As a result, the city offers one of the most incredible – and incredibly diverse – concentrations of exceptional dining and unforgettable cuisine in the world.

Let’s face it… the best reason to visit New Orleans is the food.  There are so many restaurant choices that an exhaustive list is nearly impossible.  Below are a handful of personal favorites for the traveler with just a few days to get a taste of New Orleans.

  • Antoine’s Restaurant has been around since 1840 making it America’s oldest family run restaurant.  Antoine’s offers legendary food at reasonable prices, located at 713 Rue Saint Louis.
  • Broussard’s features courtyard dinning for unparalleled ambience at 819 Rue Conti.
  • Commander’s Palace in the Garden District has been a New Orleans institution since 1880 with famous customer then and now.  The celebrated chefs that have done stints at Commander’s Palace include Emeril Lagasse.
  • Mulate’s serves up Cajun food and live music in a family friendly environment.  One of the few restaurants left that still serves traditional gumbo, red beans and rice, and etouffée.  Located at 201 Julia Street and Convention Center Boulevard in the Warehouse District.
  • NOLA is one of Emeril Lagasse’s New Orleans restaurants, located at 534 Saint Louis Street.  Other options include Emeril’s and Delmonico.
  • Ralph Brennan’s Red Fish Grill is one of the most family friendly restaurants in The French Quarter.  Whether looking for fish, gumbo, or other local varieties, look no further than Red Fish Grill at 115 Bourbon Street (and walk no further down Bourbon than this restaurant – see travel advisory).
  • Tujague’s is the second oldest restaurant in New Orleans.  Founded in 1856, it continues its creole dining roots conveniently located in The French Market at 823 Decatur Street.

 


Where to Stay

Our recommendation is to not stay directly in The French Quarter or on Canal Street, despite many reputable options.  This recommendation is based on noise levels and increase panhandling that occurs in these areas.  Instead, we’d recommend the riverside of the Central Business District between The French Quarter and Warehouse District.  There you’ll find reliable hotel brands such as Loews and W.  Windsor Court Hotel is our pick for favorite places to stay in New Orleans, located one block off of South Peters at 300 Gravier Street.

 

Where to Worship

Vintage Church is located at 4523 Magazine Street in Uptown New Orleans.  Vintage Church is part of the Acts 29 network of churches.

12 Comments

  1. I am so excited, My husband and I are planning a trip to New Orleans and were concerned about the adult stores, alcohol consumption and voodoo. You have addressed all of our concerns. Thank you so much.

    • Agreed! Our family will travel with another family. I feel like I have the greater Christian influence in the group. I hope to steer our group closer to some particular sites rather than other “sights.”

  2. The Arena Football League and the New Orleans Arena football team the “Voodoo” will be hosting a Faith and Family night on May 2nd at the Smoothie King Center. The opening act will include worship songs by a local Christian churchs as well as good clean family fun. Anyone who is interested in coming and is apart of a church or spiritual organization can buy group tickets at a discounted rate (as low as $8 a person) by contacting aflvoodootickets@gmail.com At the end of the game there will be a meet and greet on the field to get autographs and pictures with the players.

  3. I disagree with much of what you say to avoid. I do agree that children and young adults should never be found on Bourbon Street, even during daylight hours. My husband and I are strong Christians and have enjoyed many visits to the Crescent City. Only if you have drinking problems, gambling problems or are tempted by the Voodoo and gentlemen’s clubs do I say avoid those areas. We, as Christians, can not bury our heads in the sand and pretend that Bourbon Street doesn’t exist. You can still have fun on Bourbon Street without imbibing or taking part in the seedier side of it.

  4. Want to know if Beth Moore is coming to speak in New Orleans and is so when please? I would love to come hear one of her presentations but am having a problem figuring out her schedule. Thank you.

  5. New Orleans- What a beautiful wonderful, creative city, but remember, you can preach the gospel of Jesus Christ wherever you go.

  6. Hi, are there any Christian Guest houses or hostels in New Orleans?

    • Great question. I wish we had an answer, but don’t often come across establishments that are marketed as such. If you are not inclined toward a hotel or inn, click our links to Trip Advisor and search for a bed and breakfast that is living their faith, if not marketing it.

  7. Visit the “Raven’s Nest” at 815 Toulouse St just off of Bourbon Street. It is an intercessory prayer center for our team “Raven Street Church” that has been sharing the Gospel in the Quarter for 22 years. http://www.BigGrace.com

    • Tony, Thanks for sharing Big Grace !

    • Dear Pastor Troy Bohn, thanks for sharing this information regarding the “Raven’s Nest” what a wonderful ministry offered in the heart of the French Quarter. God bless -K

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