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January 15, 2013

Big Easy Style for Super Bowl XLVII


New Orleans Superdome, New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau
Mercedes-Benz Superdome, New Orleans, Louisiana (New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau)

Seven years ago, Hurricane Katrina devastated the Big Easy, but the citizens and the spirit of New Orleans were resilient and built back, some say stronger and better. Being named the destination for Super Bowl XLVII was a cherry on top of a headline year. Transplants to the area will tell you that New Orleanians are football fanatics; everyone hangs their Saints flags and wears their football jerseys, and, on game day, New Orleans gets almost eerily quiet as everyone is huddled around the TV to watch their beloved team. But even though the New Orleans Saints will not make an appearance at this year's big dance, the townspeople of New Orleans will be sure to show all who visit a good time.

Whether you're going to the game or just happen to find yourself in New Orleans the weekend of February 3, you're almost guaranteed a great time. Even the Bleacher Report named this city as the "Best NFL City to Party In." So here are a few tips on getting around and what to see/do over Super Bowl Weekend.

Away.com's New Orleans Travel Guide

Getting Around
The Loyola Avenue line is New Orleans's first new streetcar line since 2004. With the grand opening set to take place on January 28, this line will operate from Union Passenger Terminal with stops near the Hyatt Regency and the Superdome, and it will also link to the Canal Street car for access to the French Quarter and Convention Center. Note that there is also the St. Charles line and the Riverfront line, which all connect with the Canal Street line between the French Quarter and the Central Business District.

If you can read a bus map (don't worry, most of us can't...), then the RTA bus system is also an option to take you places like The Audubon Aquarium, Saint Louis Cathedral, the Superdome, and many museums and historical sites.

Walk. I know some might scoff at the idea of walking, but New Orleans is a a very walkable city, and it might be the best way to get around and avoid traffic (especially if you happen to have on your drinkin' britches and beer goggles).

Things to Do
Swing by Woldenberg Park, a beautiful area between the Mississippi River and the French Quarter, to experience the Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard. Verizon is putting on this free, four-day event to celebrate the big game with local music, food, and fan events.

Ticket holders can stop by Champions Square outside of the dome for live entertainment and authentic New Orleans cuisine.

The Super Bowl also happens to fall during Mardi Gras celebrations (January 28 - February 12), so be sure to check out one of the 60-plus parades that will take place all over the city, from the French Quarter to Slidell.

While you're in town, check out some of the famous historic sites. Start at the New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau on St. Ann Street and get a brochure to take a self-guided tour through the French Quarter. You'll take in all the 18th- and 19th-century history of New Orleans on foot.

You can't visit the Big Easy, home to an estimated 4,000 musicians, without taking in some jazz, Zydeco, blues, or funk music. Beyonce will be singing at the half-time show, but Bourbon Street swings and dances almost 24/7, so take advantage.

Places to Grab Some Grub/Drink
Walk-On's, off Poydras Street across from the Superdome, was voted the #1 Sports Bar in America by ESPN, and it's the pinnacle of sports bars. Grab a beer, eat some bar food, and watch a game with all your friends, cause at Walk-On's they may not know your name, but they're automatically your friend if you have a drink in your hand.

Looking for something a little more French and a little swankier? Ste. Marie, also off Poydras Street, is inspired by Paris's champagne houses. The menu changes, but this a good place to grab some food or just a drink.

Need some pizza to soak up the beverages? Reginelli's near the stadium is a local favorite. It's not Little Caesars, so don't expect to walk in and have a piping-hot pizza in five minutes, as this place makes artisan pizza, but its carefully crafted pizzas are worth the wait.

For food/drinks away from the Superdome: get some gumbo at the Gumbo Shop off St. Peter Street, beignets with café au lait from one of the markets near Jackson Square, Court of Two Sisters near Royal St. with daily jazz brunches, and dinner at Antoine's Restaurant off St. Louis Street. The last option is a splurge, but it's been a tradition since 1840 and is a must.

And if you spent all your money on your Super Bowl ticket, have no fear, some of the greatest bargains can be found during happy hours around the city. The drinks are cheap and the food is something to linger over—after all, that's the way you're supposed to do it in the Big Easy.


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