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LGBT Choose Your Own Adventure Itinerary: Downtown Edition

This LGBTQ itinerary is all about embracing life and being yourself.

lgbtq new orleans
In New Orleans it doesn't matter where you're from, or what you do, all that matters is that you be who you are. (Photo Credit: Rebecca Ratliff)

New Orleans is a city known for being open to pretty much everything. Ideas. Art. Music. And most importantly, people. Especially to the LGBTQ community. So, in honor of embracing life during your upcoming jaunt to NOLA, I’ve put together an eye-opening, mind-expanding, heart-thumping, dare-defying itinerary just for you. The best part? You don’t need to leave the downtown area.

Downtown LGBT ADVENTURE Itinerary

Cafe Lafitte in Exile. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

Raise a glass in America’s Oldest Gay Bar.

New Orleans is home to America’s oldest gay bar, rich with LGBT history. Cafe Lafitte in Exile dates back to 1933 (the end of Prohibition) and boasts famous, frequent patronage of icons like Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote throughout the years.

Why it’s cool: It’s almost a rite of passage. Grab your favorite boy toy or gal pal and raise a glass to being able to love whoever you want.

Discover How Gays Saved the Quarter. 

The gay community rallied together to save many of the  French Quarter’s most cherished buildings. (Photo: Paul Broussard)

It’s almost unimaginable to think that people once thought to tear down parts of the historic French Quarter, but it’s true. Without the perseverance of the LGBTQ community, much of the Quarter would not look as it does now. Especially the courthouse. A gay history tour is a great way to learn about LGBT contributions that have helped keep the French Quarter beautifully restored.

Why it’s cool: The history of New Orleans is fascinating. And learning the role the gay community had in saving it is pretty cool, too.

Shucks! It’s Oyster Fest

If you’re in New Orleans between June 3-4, check out Oyster Fest. (Think Bubba Gump talking about shrimp, only with oysters.) This fun festival, located at Woldenberg Park near the Aquarium, will be jam-packed with entertainment like Bonerama, Flow Tribe, Johnny Hayes & The Loveseats, The Mulligan Brothers, Brass-o-holics, and Bag of Donuts, to name a few.

Why it’s cool: It’s a free festival that centers around food, music and more food. If you didn’t go to Jazz Fest or French Quarter Fest, make it to this one.

This is a photo from the incredibly moving production of “As One” performed in Brooklyn in 2014. And now its come to New Orleans, and is sure to be an opera you won’t want to miss. (Photo: Ken Howard)

See an emotional theater performance

If you’re here between June 2-4, see New Orleans Opera’s play As One, a transgender story about a young woman named Hannah learning to embrace who she truly is inside. VIP cocktails served opening night!

Why it’s cool: This is expected to be an eye-opening play filled with music that carries the emotion throughout the 75-minute performance.

The courtyard at Cafe Amelie. (Photo: Rebecca Todd)

Eat like a local

Here are a few fun, French Quarter places to satisfy every culinary craving:

  • Cafe Amelie is one of my ultimate favorites. This gay-run restaurant (manager and chef are husbands) is hidden away in a secret courtyard that is simply enchanting. The food and drinks are spectacular.
  • The Court of Two Sisters is another great place to grab a bite to eat. Their historical courtyard is enchanting, especially as the sun sets.
  • Located in the old carriage house of local landmark developer Don Andres Almonaster y Roxas, Sylvain is steeped in history and flavor. If you make it to this restaurant while you’re here, you have to try their burger. It’s mind-blowing.
The Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street. (Photo: Cheryl Gerber)

Listen to some incredible music downtown

Three top spots to march to the beat of your own drum:

  • House of Blues New Orleans always has a killer lineup. Not to mention, they have a great Gospel Brunch on Sundays, too.
  • Stroll down Frenchmen Street and finding good music is about as easy as shooting fish in a barrel.
  • Preservation Hall is located on St. Peter Street in the Quarter and provides music lovers with an intimate setting to listen to authentic New Orleans jazz. From ensembles to current interpretations of jazz that mix funk and soul together, Preservation Hall is an incredible place to drink a tasty beverage and become swept up in this living tradition.

For more information and news on the city’s LGBT community, sign up for New Orleans’ LGBT e-newsletter here.

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