Outside of New York, Los Angeles, and now Las Vegas, there aren’t many better outright “tourist destinations” in the NFL beyond New Orleans. It’s a unique experience unlike any other, as the combination of food, music, and culture is something that you can only find in New Orleans. On top of that, it’s hard to find an NFL city that is more intrinsically tied to its team than the New Orleans area and the Saints. As a Southern port city that was originally a French colony, the area has a one-of-a-kind blend of French, Spanish, and Southern cuisine and entertainment. But as much as Mardi Gras, Voodoo Fest, and Jazzfest are “New Orleans,” so too are the New Orleans Saints.
What to Eat
When you think of New Orleans, you think of po’boys, and you can’t find a better one than at Mother’s on Poydras. It’s just a few blocks from the Superdome down Poydras, and while the line might go out the front door, it moves fast. Know what you want (FYI, you probably want a debris po’boy), place your order, and then enjoy one of the better hole-in-the-wall lunch spots in the city.
Central City BBQ
To be fair, when you think of New Orleans, you probably don’t think of barbecue. That being said, Central City BBQ is changing the perception of southern barbecue. Central City is walking distance to the stadium, just under and on the other side of Highway 90. On game days, Central City will usually run a special of beef ribs until they run out, and they’ll almost certainly run out. If they’re out of ribs, a fine fall-back option is the brisket, but you won’t feel like you’re settling once you dig into a plate of perfectly-cooked brisket.
Biggest tourist attraction
National World War II Museum
The museum underwent massive renovations after Hurricane Katrina, and it’s now an absolute must-see if you haven’t had a chance to visit. Unlike the Aquarium of the Americas or the Audubon Zoo, the World War II museum isn’t something that you should only book a few hours out of your day to enjoy. If you truly want to experience the museum and everything it has to offer, you should plan on spending an entire day there.
Under the radar attraction
Speaking of museums, the Voodoo Museum is another great experience in New Orleans. The Voodoo Museum is a bit of a walk from the Superdome, but it’s definitely worth the trip. Unlike the World War II museum, you could probably get everything out of the Voodoo Museum in just a few hours and you won’t need to worry about quite as much foot traffic. If you want to turn it into a full-day event, consider taking one of the cemetery tours at night or a reading with an on-site psychic, both of which are offered by the museum.
Game day experience
For as strong as the tie is between the city and the Saints, the Superdome surprisingly doesn’t have as iconic a tailgating scene as other NFL stadiums. If you want to drive yourself, you’ll probably need to be willing to shell out $20-$40 for parking. You can try to park at Champions Garage until it fills up, but the parking garage next to Dave & Buster’s on Poydras rarely fills up on game day. If you want to Uber, drop-off shouldn’t be an issue, but consider having the Uber pick you up away from the stadium, maybe at the Home Depot on the other side of the highway.