Photo via American Bicycle Rental Company.

Five ways to let the good times roll in NOLA–besides Mardi Gras

At just 81 miles away, New Orleans is the ultimate weekend getaway spot for many Baton Rougeans, and for good reason. It truly is the heart and soul of Louisiana culture, filled with plenty of great food, swanky music and so much more. With so many choices on what to do during a three-day vacay in the city, it can be hard to navigate the must-dos. Personally, I prefer to avoid the tourist trap tours and voodoo shops in exchange for a different experience in the Big Easy, one made up of specialty sips, pop art and Instagram aesthetics.

Read on for five fun things you ought to do next time you visit NOLA:

Photo via Ashley Longshore

1. Visit the Ashley Longshore Gallery on Magazine Street:

It’s hard to walk down Magazine without peering through the decorated windows of the Ashley Longshore Gallery. It is the pop-art studio of your dreams, donned in glitter, butterflies and witty slogans, all created by a native New Orleans artist and now big-time social icon Sarah Ashley Longshore. Next time you’re in town, pop into the gallery and pose for a few pictures to post afterward.

2. Take a class at the New Orleans School of Cooking:

Just because you live in Louisiana doesn’t mean you’re automatically a Creole master chef, but you know what they say, practice makes perfect. The New Orleans School of Cooking, located in the heart of the French Quarter, is known for bringing plenty of fun and flavor into the kitchen during it’s Louisiana-inspired cooking classes. Participants can learn all things Creole cuisine–from how to make the perfect roux or sweetest praline to everything else in between. If you can’t make it to a class, be sure to visit the school’s general store and pick up a cookbook or a few spices to try mimicking a recipe or two at home.

Photo via Hot Tin.

3. Have drinks at Hot Tin:

It’s no secret that rooftop bars are some of the greatest places to have a drink and soak up all the good views. However, one rooftop bar on St. Charles Avenue is bound to become your new favorite. Hot Tin, a chic 1940s-inspired bar located on the top floor of The Pontchartrain Hotel, is known for serving up tasty specialty drinks and the best views of downtown New Orleans. And if you’re looking for a place just as unique to grab a bite either before or after Hot Tin, be sure to try out Jack Rose, a swanky and delicious restaurant located on the ground floor of the hotel. Oh, and be sure to snap a quick pic with Lil Wayne–you’ll know what I mean when you see it.

 4. Browse exhibits at the National World War II Museum:

Ranked as the No. 2 museum in the country and No. 8 in the world, The National World War II Museum is in a category in and of itself in the state of Louisiana. What started as a local D-Day museum in 1991 has transformed into a Congress-dubbed “National Museum,” and for good reason. Not only is the museum filled with exhibits documenting WWII, but it is also a place to remember and celebrate lives from both the past and present.

Photo via American Bicycle Rental Company.

5. Rent a bike and cruise through the Quarter:

Now guided tours can be informational and bar crawls can be fun, but embarking on your own self-guided tour gives you the freedom to do and see as you please. The family-owned American Bicycle Rental Company offers bike rentals by the hour or by the day for visitors looking to see the the city from a different set of wheels. Each bike comes with a basket and a lock, so don’t worry if you want to stop for an Instagram Story, or a Bloody Mary or two. Also, if you happen to be in NOLA during festival season, biking to the fairgrounds is a fun and easy way to burn calories and save money on long Uber rides.

What’s your favorite way to let the good times roll when you visit the Big Easy? Let us know in the comments below.