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WALK (& SHOP)
Getting around on foot is the best way to counter all those inevitable calories, even if you’re just walking from one end of the French Quarter to the other, over and over again. Stroll it, observe it (it’s never boring, is it?), drink it in (literally, if you wish), and check out these only-in-NOLA shops along the way: the Maskarade (630 St. Ann St., map), chock-full of gorgeous masquerade masks at all price points; Kitchen Witch (631 Toulouse St., map), a delightfully cramped indie bookstore specializing in rare, pre-owned books on food and cooking, plus new Creole/Cajun/Louisiana cookbooks; and Esoterica Occult Goods (541 Dumaine St., map), where Lady Mimi sells such hocus-pocus “positive magick” items as spell kits, tarot cards, ritual tools, potions, and the most charming little voodoo dolls in town. Note: If you’re walking at night outside the French Quarter, check with a local that the area’s safe.
Of course, New Orleans has plenty of other great neighborhoods ideal for combining exercise with exploration (read: get out of the Quarter too!). Making good use of the streetcars, take a wander through the lush Garden District (St. Charles streetcar) as well as Mid-City (Canal streetcar), where we suggest you walk along the St. John Bayou and into pretty City Park (pictured above).
Get out on the dance floor at any of NOLA’s music clubs, such as Uptown’s Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St., map)—where, if it’s a Sunday, you can burn off the night’s complimentary crawfish/shrimp boil dancing to the bluesy funk stylings of local icon Walter “Wolfman” Washington—or the always-crowded Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen St., map) in the Merigny, where happy dancers commandeer a small section of real estate in front of the stage (Treme fans will recognize this place). Of course, you can always make like the revelers in this video and pop into a lively French Quarter bar for a quick boogie—at nearly any hour, for that matter.
We’re partial, however, to the legendary Tipitina’s (501 Napoleon Ave., map) weekly Cajun fais do-do, shown above. Otherwise host to top local bands and touring acts, come Sunday at 5pm, Tip’s is taken over by this traditional Cajun folk-dancing party, with lively Cajun/zydeco music usually provided by Bruce Daigrepont ($10 entry). Don’t worry about not knowing the steps (and how could you know them?): The friendly old-timers and young protégés who show up week after week are happy to teach newbies a few key moves—and/or swing them with abandon across the checkered floor.
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