Monday, January 26, 2015

Spring Runaway: New Orleans Jazz Fest

Our insider's guide to one of America's best fests (and cities)


With one of the best music festivals in one of the world’s most fun cities, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Fest is a no-brainer. Luckily we’ve spent years researching the topic.

Here's our insider’s guide to the festivities.

Ground Zero
Ground Zero for the festival, taking place April 26-May 5, is the New Orleans Fairgrounds, a sprawling open space of Cajun food, music stages, and sun-soaked partiers. This is where each day begins, where you’ll rock to dozens of bands from The Black Keys to Phoenix to Frank Ocean from about noon to 7p.
1751 Gentilly Blvd., Mid-City (504-410-4100). $50 per day here.
French Quarter
For a quick stop in the French Quarter, bypass the throngs of drunks and head to the quiet end of Bourbon Street to the chilled-out Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of America's oldest bars. Built in the 1720s, the brick bar is a no-frills candlelit space to drink Abita and Dixie Blackened Voodoo Lager while listening to the piano man cover “Free Bird” and “Gin & Juice.”
941 Bourbon St., French Quarter (504-593-9761)
Crash Pad
A short trolley ride leads you past the leafy estates of the Garden District to your room at the Park View Guest House, an 1800s-style mansion of velvet curtains, period antiques, and free wine tastings in the afternoons. Your room is like something out of the Lincoln-era White House, with a balcony overlooking the majestic oaks of Audubon Park.
$159 per night and up. 7004 St. Charles Ave., Uptown (888-533-0746)
Dinner Bell
For some real ‘Nawlins food in a real 'Nawlins hood, take a short walk to Jacques-Imo's where chef Jacques Leonardi is cavorting with the clientele while serving amazing duck and andouille sausage gumbo, blackened redfish with crab-chili hollandaise, and shrimp and alligator cheesecake in a lively, colorfully authentic space.
8324 Oak St., Carrolton (504-861-0886)
Live Music
Then head next door to The Maple Leaf, where live local bands are blasting out horn-heavy brass party sets seven nights a week. With an artist painting the band as they play, weekly crawfish boils, dogs roaming the bar, and a secret backyard patio covered with foliage and benches, it’s the perfect place to hang out and drink until the sun comes up.
8316 Oak St., Carrolton (504-866-9359)
Morning Beer
But just because the sun comes up doesn’t mean it’s time to go home. It means it’s time to hit Snake and Jake’s Christmas Club Lounge, a tin shack of Christmas lights, cigarette smoke, and plenty of canned Schlitz. Strike up a conversation with a local at this uber-friendly dive, then take your drink in a cup for the walk home with your new soon-to-be walk-of-shame partner.
7612 Oak St., Carrolton (504-861-2802)

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