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Experience New Orleans Like Varla Jean Merman

Photo: Paul Broussard

Ever wonder what’s the best way to spend a beautiful day in New Orleans? Well, we have the answer. Actually, Varla Jean Merman, one of New Orleans’ favorite drag queens does. We were lucky enough to spend the day with her as she showed us some of her favorite things to do in the city.

Photo: Paul Broussard

First, fuel your day with a delicious brunch spread at Horn’s. This local joint nestled between Touro and Pauger Streets in a quaint part of the Marigny has eclectic artwork and neighborhood vibe. On a nice day, you can sit outside and take in the sights if this incredibly artistic neighborhood. The menu is huge and has almost anything you could want. We recommend the crawfish étouffée – a must have if you’re visiting New Orleans. If you’re looking for breakfast food, you can’t go wrong with one (or two) of their many omelette options.

Photo: Paul Broussard

Once you’ve finished eating, it’s time for a little exercise. Grab a bike at A Bicycle Named Desire or a BlueBike and make your way over to the beautiful Crescent Park. This urban oasis is filled with a ton of gorgeous flora native to Louisiana. You also have an incredible view of the city’s skyline and the Mississippi River from the park.

Photo: Paul Broussard

Next, head to the Riverwalk, which boasts many outlet shops and a close walk to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. Afterwards, get aboard the mighty Steamboat Natchez. Getting to view the city from the river gives you a new perspective on New Orleans. Make sure your phone or camera is fully charged because there are so many great photo ops you won’t want to miss.

Photo: Paul Broussard

Then, head to one of Varla’s favorite bars in the city: Good Friends. Located in the perfect spot (one block off Bourbon Street) you get a nice balance of being near all the action without the crowds. The bar is always staffed with plenty of (cute) bartenders so you never need to wait long. We certainly encourage you to take your drink to the balcony for some people watching. You truly never know who or what you’ll see in New Orleans.

Photo: Paul Broussard

After a few cocktails, channel your inner Varla and head to Fifi Mahony’s for wig shopping, which is located on one of Varla’s favorite streets, Royal Street (Varla took us there and we tried on about 10 different wigs and headdresses and loved them all). There’s no end to the different looks you can make for yourself here.

Photo: Paul Broussard

After you leave Fifi’s, shop your way down Royal Street. You might even have your very own pretty woman moment (“Big mistake. Big. Huge.”). Royal Street is one of the best shopping/walking streets in the city. There’s a brass band on seemingly every corner and shops that have antiques, unique art, and souvenirs. A few of our favorites include Krewe du Optic for sunglasses and Goorin Bros for a cool hat.

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