In the Biz: Unconventional Resolutions

Tourism must-dos in 2020

There is something inherently human about measuring and marking time. For eons, our ancestors needed to anticipate the cycles of nature for hunting animals and gathering vegetation, and after agrarian culture began, they marked seasons for managing crops. In modern times, most of us have no idea when planting season is, and instead, we rely on our smart watches to inform us we haven’t slept or walked enough today.

It is January, when getting enough sleep and hitting 10,000 daily steps might be part of your New Year’s resolutions. But let’s be real with each other, we live in New Orleans. We sacrifice our sleep for a late night at Kermit’s Tremé Mother-In-Law Lounge and the most we walk is during Mardi Gras. Therefore, I challenge you to some more realistic resolutions this year.

New Orleans is one of the world’s greatest cities. That’s why we share it with so many visitors. And haven’t you ever felt a little bit envious of them — those tourists in the French Quarter on a Wednesday afternoon when you are there for a dry business luncheon? When you are getting from Point A to Point B, do you notice the architecture or the blooming flowers in February? When was the last time you visited a museum?

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In 2020, make a resolution to really live where you live. Carve out some time to see firsthand what draws 18.51 million visitors who spend over $9 billion (in 2018) to our area. Here are some suggestions.

Dine healthy at a new restaurant. This month is your best shot at eating healthy — but only if you limit your king cake eating to just Jan. 6. Instead of going to your favorite neighborhood restaurant and ordering a salad, try a new restaurant and order from the Eat Fit menu options. More than 125 local restaurants participate in Ochsner’s healthy eating program and mark items with the circular logo. Find you next dining experience at ochsner.org/eat-fit.

Ride the Algiers ferry. The residents of Algiers were hit hard with the months-long shutdown of ferry service at the end of last year. In December, the RTA hired a new company that promised to restore service early this year. As soon as it is operational, board the ferry and remind yourself of the power of the Mississippi River. For $2 each way, you can reconnect with the reason we all live here. Be sure to visit the restaurants and stores in Algiers as well, and help them rebound from months of lost sales.

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Attend a convention. The New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center is the sixth-largest convention facility in the United States, and it’s getting bigger. The convention center construction on Convention Center Boulevard is ongoing, and the convention center is moving ahead with three development firms to submit proposals for the planned development of a 39-acre mixed-use project, and that doesn’t even include the new 1,200-room hotel it also intends to build. To be a truly informed citizen, not just an angry person sitting in traffic, why don’t you attend a convention there this year? Be it professional development or a jewelry show, check out the convention center facilities for yourself.

Visit a museum for free (then make a donation). Museums are not just for tourists and school field trips, they are institutions that preserve our culture and push our boundaries. Thanks to Art for All, a program through the Helis Foundation, many of our prestigious museums are free for Louisiana residents. With your valid ID, Contemporary Arts Center (CAC) is free on Sundays, New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) is free on Wednesdays, New Orleans Botanical Garden is free on Wednesdays, Ogden Museum of Southern Art is free on Thursdays, and the Louisiana Children’s Museum is free one day every other month. If you love your experience, consider buying a membership before you leave. Some of our smaller institutions are free year-round, including: House of Dance and Feathers (by appointment), The Historic New Orleans Collection, Newcomb Art Gallery, Diboll Gallery at Loyola University, The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, The Cabildo and The Presbytère.

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Jennifer Gibson Schecter was once a tourist in New Orleans herself and is now proud to call NOLA home. She also writes the Wednesday Tourism Blog on BizNewOrleans.com.

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