If you've ever heard someone say it's always Mardi Gras in New Orleans, you should believe them, because it's true -- at least, on Bourbon Street.
New Orleans' motto is the French saying, "Laissez les bon temps roulez," which roughly translates to "Let the good times roll." Nowhere in the city is that attitude more prevalent than on Bourbon Street, and the adjacent streets in the city's French Quarter.
Trust me, I let the good times roll on many an occasion when I was in college. They weren't THAT good, though -- in case you were wondering if I was involved in wild, naked debauchery.
New Orleans was an easy weekend escape for me, because the University of Southern Mississippi, where I attended college, was only an hour and a half drive from the heart of New Orleans.
To paint Bourbon Street as just a row of bars, in which to get drunk, is unfair to the many types of businesses located on that street. They do block off large sections of the street to cars every night, however, so drunk people can walk around somewhat safely.
But, take food establishments as an example of Bourbon Street's diversity. One of the best restaurants I ever experienced was the Clover Grill, which is in the more residential, 900 block of Bourbon Street, several blocks away from the bars and general insanity.
The restaurant is the only place I've ever seen where they place the hubcap from a car over a hamburger patty on the grill to increase the cooking temperature. The burgers are delicious, though. So juicy. Yet, they are not as delicious as the fries, which are TO DIE FOR.
Also, the restaurant does not serve alcohol, and the food is cheap, which is a large part of why its a favorite among locals as a place to sober up after partying down the street.
Other things to look out for on Bourbon Street are the shops. They really only come in two types: The Voodoo Shops, and the sex shops. There are some souvenir shops, but if you've ever been in the souvenir shops on Bourbon Street, you know they are just less offensive versions of the sex shops.
Now, as far as Bourbon Street's infamous bar life goes (I know that's what you really want to know about), I will save you the trouble of trying to figure which ones to definitely hit up. There are only two "must see" bars, and the definite "must see" may surprise you. True, everyone knows about Pat O'Briens, with its famous hurricanes that you can chug in the bar's courtyard. I won't lie to you, it's definitely a place to check out. In fact, it's a no brainer as far as bars on Bourbon Street go.
However, if you want to know the ultimate bar to visit, go to the Tropical Isle, which is in the 700 block. This place is the home of the infamous "Hand Grenade," the bar's signature drink, which will leave you wasted faster than the "Hurricane." It comes in two forms: Liquid, or frozen slush.
The "Hand Grenade" is rumored to be at least 100 proof, but the owners of the Tropical Isle won't divulge all of its ingredients. It's easy to sit at the bar, down a few of these, while a live band performs 1970's and 1980's rock standards and Jimmy Buffet tunes.
The wild partying that takes place on Bourbon Street is thanks to the alcohol provided at places like Pat O'Briens and the Tropical Isle.
True, Bourbon Street can be a place of debauchery, where almost anything goes, but it's still a diverse place with a little bit of something for everyone.
I suggest you go sometime, and give it a try.
Curt Yeomans covers education for the Clayton News Daily. He can be reached via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.