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Exploring NOLA


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New Orleans is like no other city in the world. This winter, explore its storied streets and colorful neighborhoods on cruiser bikes. You’ll cover more ground, see more than just the French Quarter, and feel like a kid doing it. Here’s a sample weekend by bike in the Big Easy.

Day 1: Arrival-Friday Afternoon

Pre-arrange for Joy Ride Bike Rentals to deliver cruisers to your hotel. Hit Bourbon Street and Pat O’Brien’s for refreshment. Sit in the main courtyard with the fire fountain and order a Hurricane—dark rum, passion fruit and other ingredients. It’s a NOLA institution and a good way to start your weekend.

Walk down Bourbon to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a bar housed in a French Colonial circa 1732. Named after the 18th century privateer Jean Lafitte, Lafitte’s is a throwback to powdered wigs and gold doubloons especially at night when the primary illumination is candles.

Take a break from Bourbon and walk to Decatur Street for Cajun fried chicken at Coop’s. Just down Decatur, you’ll find one of the hippest and least touristy bars in the Quarter—Pravda! It’s reminiscent of simpler, more paranoid times when Soviet comrades toiled endlessly for Uncle Joseph.

Day 2: Saturday

Ride Uptown on Magazine Street and stop at Mojo’s for coffee. This neighborhood joint attracts hipsters, professionals and at least one Hollywood actor. John Goodman visits—I was told—when he’s staying in his nearby crib. For breakfast, pedal the eight blocks to the Blue Plate Café on Prytania. “Sue’s Special”—biscuits topped with ham, poached eggs and creamed spinach—will soak up the previous night’s tippling.

Ride down Coliseum Street toward Audubon Park. Along the way you’ll pass the opulence that is old New Orleans—regal Victorian mansions once inhabited by tobacco tycoons, sugar kings and now modern celebrities. Stop by Lafayette Cemetery, one of the oldest (1833) in the city and see how they bury their dead below sea level. Audubon Park is a peaceful oasis among the freneticism of New Orleans. Stop at Bird Island in the middle of the lagoon. Thousands of birds—snowy egrets, cormorants, mallards, little blue herons, night herons—all going about their business. Ride over to Magazine Street, lock up the bikes and just amble along the quirky storefronts. For lunch hit Ignatius Café with its hobo décor and jambalaya.

After all this riding you’ll need refreshment. No better neighborhood bar than the Avenue Pub with more than 40 taps of craft beer and a balcony overlooking St. Charles Street. Grab tapas upstairs at Mimi’s in the Marigny, a locals’ place with lots of colorful characters. Ride to Frenchman Street and the Spotted Cat and listen to the amazing New Orleans Cotton Mouth Kings or whatever great local act happens to be playing.

Day 3: Sunday & Departure

Have beignets and chicory coffee at Café du Monde. Ride to Jackson Square and watch the artists paint and the gypsies prognosticate. Down the street, stroll the French Market, a big flea market with plenty of kitschy souvenirs. Ride along the Mississippi, watch the barges and the paddle-wheelers plying the big muddy. Wake yourself out of the dream and fly home.

[tips]
Where to Stay: Plenty of big name choices in the CBD, a central location. For a historic New Orleans B&B, try the Royal St. Courtyard (royalstcourtyard.com) with rooms starting at $99.

Bike Rentals: For $80/3 days, joyridebikerentals.com will deliver and pick up your bikes. Also try bicyclemichaels.com (Frenchman Street).

Music Info: frenchmanst.com

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