New Orleans is a uniquely vibrant city that offers a wide range of attractions in or near the French Quarter.
For Trop Rock music fans and Parrot Heads who descend upon New Orleans every January for Pardi Gras, here are a few of the experiences we highly recommend:
Oscar of New Orleans
Ladies, one of your first stops should be at the French Market, where you’ll find Oscar Donahue and his fabulous, inexpensive jewelry.
“Oscar of New Orleans” credits the Parrot Heads for allowing his business to survive post-Katrina. He knows we’re coming and will have a vast array of parrot earrings and pins, in addition to his other colorful creations. His latest specialty is the Blue-Footed Booby! Find out more information about Oscar and his creations here:
Of course, the official bar headquarters of Pardi Gras is the fantastic Tropical Isle – Bourbon. Owned by Pam Fortner and Earl Bernhardt, they’ve been showcasing what is now known as Trop Rock music since the 80’s. Pam and Earl are extremely generous folks and have been such an important part of Pardi Gras from the beginning.
Pam and Earl also own two more Tropical Isle locations, The Funky Pirate bar and the Orleans Grapevine restaurant, which is located across the street from the entrance to the Bourbon Orleans hotel. Here you’ll find some of the very best gumbo in the city, along with delicious entrees. From 5-7 pm and again from 9-11 pm, you can get a gratis basket of bacon to go with your drinks.
If you’d like to know more about the Tropical Isle musical history and Pardi Gras check out our article:
The Tropical Isle Hand Grenade
Tropical Isle is the home of the “strongest drink on Bourbon,” the Hand Grenade. Pam and Earl met at the 1984 World’s Fair in New Orleans which eventually led to their first bar in the French Quarter. They knew they needed a signature drink to stand out among the crowd. Find out how they created this iconic drink:
Every year at Pardi Gras, Friday afternoon finds a large group of attendees slowly ambling up Bourbon Street for the annual Pub Crawl. There are so many interesting bars off Bourbon and we’ve had several articles about some great spots for libations. The grandfather of the New Orleans bars in the French Quarter would have to be Pat O’Brien’s.
You can get the iconic hurricane in the Main Bar (cheapest price), the lovely and lushly landscaped Courtyard, or enjoy the piano sing-a-longs in the Piano Bar. It’s here that you’ll find Alvin Babineaux, who makes the art of percussion uniquely wonderful as he plays “the tray.” Standing between the two pianos, Alvin has been here for decades. Learn more about Alvin here:
Surprisingly, there are two top-notch tiki bars within a block of each other. These two tiki hotspots also have generous happy hours Monday through Friday.
Check out Latitude 29 and its owner, “Beachbum Larry” for some historical tiki libations. This tropical spot is located within the Bienville House hotel and you can discover more here:
Find the red door at Felipe’s on the same street and venture up a flight of stairs to discover Tiki Tolteca. The menu is loaded with tasty tropical treats and the tiki atmosphere vibe looms large here. Find out more here:
The Carousel Bar
I had a wonderful time chatting with bartender extraordinaire Marvin Allen at the legendary Carousel Bar in the historic Hotel Monteleone. This talented mixologist takes pride in the fine selection of liquors used at the bar and can conjure up a personalized cocktail, as I discovered, when he came up with the “Muir Special.”
Riding the carousel while enjoying the finest drinks is a truly unique experience. Find out more about Marvin, the Carousel Bar and get my cocktail creation recipe at
Want to Get Married in New Orleans?
Did you know, that Pam Fortner is also a wedding officiant? She has performed wedding ceremonies throughout the French Quarter and you can learn more about Pam’s interesting sideline job at:
And speaking of weddings, someone will be celebrating a 6th wedding anniversary on Saturday at Pardi Gras this year…. It’s me! My husband, Don and I were married in the middle of Bourbon Street when we took the stage with our minister after the music ended at the Pardi Gras Street Party.
We followed with a second line band and enjoyed our wedding cake at the top of the Tropical Isle. It was certainly a day to remember! Pictures can be found here: Pardi Gras Wedding
I hope you’ll arrive in New Orleans for Pardi Gras ready to have fun, greet old friends, make new ones and hear some terrific music! Find me there and let me know if you visited the great places listed in this article…. We’re going to have a blast in NOLA!