Gay New Orleans: Decadence and so much more

When most people think of New Orleans, Mardi Gras is the first thing that comes to mind. But this city is a fun place to play year-round with its liberal open container law, large and diverse group of bars open 24-hours a day. Most of the venues are clustered in a small area of the French Quarter around St. Ann and Bourbon Street--which makes it easy to barhop and explore all that New Orleans gay life has to offer.

You'll find all types of people here from the most serious bears to the twinks on the dance floor of Oz or Parade. Most holiday weekends bring in big crowds and Labor Day draws the biggest for Southern Decadence, an all-gay (and mostly male) version of Mardi Gras.

48 Hours in New Orleans

As you awaken at the start of another day in life, you discover the faint sound of a jazz horn. Suddenly you remember you're on vacation in New Orleans, the city that really never sleeps. Sure we all could just come and stay belligerently drunk the entire time, but it would be a shame to miss this city's magnificence. Besides you don't want blurred vision to drown out this city's charm.

Starting off around 10AM, we should definitely grab a bite to eat at La Peniche. Here brunch is a Marigny neighborhood ritual. After stuffing down a delicious Belgium waffle, as I would, make your way to Royal Street. During the day time, all the shops and art galleries that line Royal Street leave the doors open for a friendly welcome. You will find trendy clothing stores like Rab Dab and at least one art gallery that will fit your tastes. Dont be fooled, Royal Street strolling can take up the better half of the afternoon due to the amount of shops. Be sure to stop in at the Court of Two Sisters in the 600 block for refreshments. The heat here can catch some by surprise.

Around 3PM you should find yourself at Canal Street, marking the end of Royal Street and the French Quarter. Now is a safe time to drink without the risk of locals pointing and whispering under their breath, just kidding! Walk one block over and you will find yourself on the famous and infamous Bourbon Street. Beware, in the daytime this street is open to vehicular traffic. You'll find that the drink specials in the afternoon are very much something to take advantage of. With some bars offering 3 for 1 drinks, its will be hard to find a place back home with the same specials. The best part is you can take the drinks with you as long as its in a plastic cup.

5PM: Feeling a little pretty from all your happy hour specials, you should find yourself at Jackson Square. This historic block is home to the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, as well as, the Almonaster and Pentabola apartments. This block is the most recognized New Orleans fixture aside the Superdome. Since you probably have a good buzz going and tired or walking for a while, take advantage of the mule-drawn carriage rides through the French Quarter. You can board them at the very front of Jackson Square along Decatur Street. The tour guide will fill you in on history as well as point out the hot spots. All you have to do is sit back as the ambiance that is New Orleans passes you by.

After the carriage ride you should grab a bite to eat, after all its been a long time since brunch. Around 7PM mosey on down to Yo Mamas Bar and Grill for signature burger creations youll only find here. After dinner, head back to your hotel and freshen up or take a nap if you need to. The club scene normally wont get busy until after 10PM. Remember at 2AM nobody makes you leave!

As the night gets going so should you. The Bourbon Pub and The Oz are the two places to see and be seen. Dance the night away at either or both! They are right across the street from each other. Be careful though, the sun comes up quick when your having fun and leaving the bars after it rises is known as The Walk of Shame.

Day 2 might have a later start than the day prior and thats totally understandable. Around 12 make your way to the corner of Canal and Carondelet Streets. For $1.25 you are about to ride the historic St. Charles Street Car. Riding through the Garden District be sure to notice the beautiful mansions that line St. Charles Avenue. When your arrive at Carrolton Avenue, get off the trolly and you will be at Louisiana Pizza Kitchens door step. Grab a quick lunch and walk around in the Riverbend area of the city. Phillips is also just a few blocks away from you if you need a good happy hour. You can also visit the Audubon Zoo while you are in this area of the city.

Once you make your way back downtown it should be late afternoon take advantage of the bargains you can find in the open-air French Market. Many street vendors are here to sell the most random mix of items youll ever find. As the sun goes down, the market closes and you should make your way to EAT for dinner. After dinner, head back to the hotel and freshen up because the night is young and the clubs will be waiting.

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