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What the Locals Do in New Orleans
Tired of time-share hawkers and tap dancers? Want to spend some time enjoying New Orleans the way locals do? Step one: get out of the Quarter.
Get Some Exercise
Go for a jog along the St. Charles Avenue streetcar tracks. You'll have plenty of company anywhere between Jackson Avenue and the university area—just follow the well-worn trails along the wide median (to really pass for a local, refer to it as the "neutral ground"). Keep an eye out for streetcars as well as vehicles crossing the tracks. If that sounds too risky, hit the paths in City Park, or rent a bicycle and head for Audubon Park, where you can get on a paved jogging and bike trail that runs along the Mississippi River levee well into Jefferson Parish.
Find a Market
The Crescent City Farmers Market sets up at the corner of Girod and Magazine streets in the CBD on Saturday mornings; on Tuesday from 9 am to 1 pm, it's held Uptown at Tulane Square, on Leake Avenue at Broadway. While you may not want to lug a bag of broccoli back to your hotel, there's always some good prepared food for sale (and a guest-chef-created weekly Green Plate Special), local chefs foraging for ingredients, and an entertaining bunch of vendors. If you happen to be around the first Saturday of the month (except July and August) head to the Freret Market uptown, a food, art, and flea fest where the merchandise is high quality and the crowd never less than colorful.
Queue Up for Breakfast
Locals have their favorite brunch spots, where on weekends you'll find lines of hungry customers stretching onto the sidewalk. Both Surrey's Café and Juice Bar (1418 Magazine St., Garden District 504/524–3828 and 4807 Magazine St., Uptown 504/895-5757) for huevos rancheros and exotic fresh juice, and Slim Goodies Diner (3322 Magazine St., Uptown 504/891–3447) for sweet-potato pancakes, are open weekdays, when there's less chance of a wait. Thanks to word-of-mouth advertising, Elizabeth's (601 Gallier St., Bywater 504/944–9272) gets its share of tourists, but the Saturday and Sunday brunch crowd still mostly consists of neighborhood denizens.
Hang Out by the River
Locals love Riverview Drive—better known as The Fly —the riverside stretch of Audubon Park behind the zoo, even if they have no idea how it got its nickname (probably from a butterfly-shape building that used to stand here). There is a Little League baseball complex (where spectators can sip Abita beer sold at the snack bar) and a football-soccer field, but most people are content to spread out on a blanket, have a picnic or barbecue, and watch the ships go by on the Mississippi. The nearby dog park, on the levee just upriver from the park, is another popular gathering spot, especially in late afternoon.
Whether it's at the incredibly diverse array of boutiques on the "six miles of style" that make up Magazine Street or at the stately antiques dealerships in the French Quarter, locals prefer to spend their money at businesses owned and staffed by New Orleanians. If you love the city, shop, eat, and sip locally instead of spending money at malls or national chain restaurants and bars. Look for the lime-green-and-blue "Stay Local!" logo stickers on store windows.
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