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Arts & Culture

A Guide to Literary Adventure in New Orleans

Expedia Viewfinder teamed up with GoNOLA to highlight ways to experience New Orleans’ literary side.

Sweeping oak trees, bayou shadows and literary geniuses make New Orleans a writer’s dream destination. Between Expedia Viewfinder’s love for exploring a city in new ways and New Orleans’ scholarly scene, it made sense to partner with GoNOLA to create a literary-inspired vacation in the South. From attending writers festivals to touring homes of late authors, the Crescent City is the place for a bookish getaway for any type of traveler.

Literary Festivals to Inspire

Get in the thick of things by attending some of New Orleans’ biggest literary festivals of the year. One of the hottest tickets is the Tennessee Williams New Orleans Literary Festival, happening March 25-29. Honoring the late playwright who wrote the sultry classic A Streetcar Named Desire, the festival includes panels, plays and presentations from big-name authors.

The Saints and Sinners Literary Festival is another major event, which spotlights the LGBT community. Founded in 2003, the festival is designed to offer new, innovative ways to discuss the impact of HIV/AIDS on the community. This year’s event takes place March 27-29. Open to all people and preferences, it’s a place to discover emerging artists and voices.

Literary Homes to Explore

Pack those comfortable shoes and explore New Orleans’ literary scene with a walking tour. Perhaps due to the music in the streets, romantic atmosphere and eclectic spirit, New Orleans has played home to a number of literary visionaries.

Head to 624 Pirate’s Alley, where William Faulkner wrote The Sound and the Fury. Then make your way to 632 St. Peter St. to experience where Tennessee Williams penned A Streetcar Named Desire. Also check out the Hotel Monteleone, where a coterie of writers once stayed, wrote and drank. Famous visitors have included Anne Rice, John Grisham, Truman Capote and Ernest Hemingway, among others. There’s also an area in this historic hotel that displays a number of books written within its walls.

Literary Meals to Enjoy

After all that walking around the city, it’s time to refuel. Luckily, there are a number of restaurants and bars that have a certain je ne sais quois when it comes to Creole food and literary magic. Make a stop at the Backspace Bar and Kitchen. The décor combines stained hardwood tables with brick walls for an antique atmosphere. The drinks are inspired by famous authors and include cocktails like William Faulkner’s favorite mint julep and the Vesper Martini, which was the first drink superspy James Bond orders in the book series. To top it all off, the restaurant serves up Death in the Afternoon, the cocktail Hemingway invented.

Stanley is another top choice for Southern dining with a literary twist. When at the namesake, it’s only right to order the Eggs Stanley (cornmeal-encrusted oysters with poached eggs, Canadian bacon and Creole hollandaise sauce), which was named after the famous character Marlon Brando played in A Streetcar Named Desire. The restaurant is also located near the annual Stanley and Stella Shouting Contest, held during the Tennessee Williams Festival, which has Streetcar fans doing their best impression of the famous Stella scene.

Create your own story during a literary trip to New Orleans. The romantic and historic city is a sacred spot for writers, literary lovers and eager travelers alike. Bring your camera, remember your notebook and pens, and follow our tips for a literary vacation in this classic city along the bayou.

Jennifer Cuellar
Staff Writer for Expedia

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