Whether you’ve never visited New Orleans or have lived here for many years, this city is always bustling with something new and exciting to experience. While New Orleans may be known for its festive spirit, what you might not know is that it is also home to one of the fastest-growing tech hubs in the country. This year, we’re proud to be hosting Collision, “America’s fastest-growing tech conference,” April 26-28, drawing speakers and attendees from some of the world’s hottest tech companies.
With the conference tucked between the two weekends of Jazz Fest, there will be no shortage of activities to keep you entertained. Lucid HQ is here to share our insider tips on how to make the most out of Jazz Fest and the City of New Orleans while you’re in town for Collision.
Jazz Fest: Where the Food’s Just as Important as the Music
When you hear “Jazz Fest” you probably imagine a concert featuring New Orleans-style music, and you’d be partially right, but this two-weekend-long-plus festival is much more than that. Major artists such as Pearl Jam, Van Morrison, and The Red Hot Chili Peppers are among this year’s headliners, in addition to the area’s best-known performers of jazz, blues, zydeco, brass, gospel, and more, all spread out over 14 stages.
The inside scoop: Any Jazz Fest pro knows that what you eat is just as important as staking out the perfect spot to hear your favorite band.
Food and music are two defining characteristics of New Orleans culture, and we have a devoted group of “foodies” at Lucid who are ready to share their favorite Jazz Fest treats.
Most of us at Lucid can’t get enough crawfish. Hannah Udell, Fulcrum Tech Analyst, sticks to the classic Crawfish Monica, a creamy pasta dish that is a staple at Jazz Fest. Patrick Stoudt, Fulcrum Client Success Manager, recommends the crawfish bread, and Jessica Inman, Director of Operations for Federated Sample, says she can’t resist the seafood stuffed mushrooms (with extra sauce); she beelines for them as soon as she enters the festival. If crawfish isn’t for you, there are plenty of other traditional New Orleans dishes such as jambalaya, po-boys, and red beans and rice to try.
In addition to the delicious food and music, we recommend that you check out the various arts and crafts tents for a deeper understanding of our city’s rich culture. All made locally, these crafts represent the melting pot of cultures that make New Orleans so unique.
Best Bets for Coffee to Start Your Day
If you haven’t figured it out yet, we love to eat and drink here. We also appreciate good coffee in this city as much any other. Revelator, Pulp and Grind, Merchant, and Stumptown Coffee (in our brand new Ace Hotel) are all spots near Collision perfect for a cup of coffee or a quick bite in the morning. Not only will you find great coffee and healthy options to keep you fueled for a day of learning and a night of exploring the city, but they’re also close to the Convention Center and offer free wifi, making any of them a perfect place to start your day.
Lucid also has you covered at nearby Peche, where we’ll have a free wifi network set up just for Collision attendees. Look for these Lucid hotspots all over the city during the conference!
Beyond Bourbon Street
When looking to explore the rest of the city, fear not because New Orleans is far, far more than just the stereotypical bar scene on Bourbon Street. The city is home to a plethora of colorful and diverse neighborhoods just waiting to be explored.
For those of you who want more than the typical tourist experience, take Federated Sample Project Manager Paul Rossnagel’s advice: rent a kayak or canoe with some friends in the Bayou St. John neighborhood. You can listen to the music from Jazz Fest as you float down the bayou. While in Bayou St. John, check out Parkway Bakery & Tavern for some of the best po-boys in town.
For a more educational experience, swing by the country’s official World War II Museum, located in the Warehouse District, just steps from Collision. If art’s more your scene, Hannah Udell recommends walking down Julia Street and checking out the galleries.
If the line’s too long at the legendary Cafe du Monde, Hannah also recommends getting your beignets from Morning Call in City Park; while there, check out the New Orleans Museum of Art or take a walk in the park’s sculpture garden.
If you don’t get enough music at the official Jazz Fest, or don’t have the extra days to attend, head to Frenchmen Street for live music at bars such as Snug Harbor and Spotted Cat, or Maison and DBA, (also recommendations of Hannah Udell). On your way downtown to Frenchmen, make sure to stop at the Carousel Bar in Hotel Monteleone for a drink. Yes, the bar is actually spinning! If that thought makes you too dizzy, Mike Mercuri, Business Development Manager for Federated Sample, recommends grabbing a hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s in the French Quarter as you make your way to Frenchmen Street.
More Places to Eat and Drink
In the land of drive-through daiquiri shops – yes, those actually exist here – and more restaurants per block than most cities, knowing where to get a good drink and eat a great meal is imperative.
For wine drinkers, Lucy Warburton, Senior Manager, Product Marketing, recommends Bacchanal. Located not far from the French Quarter in hip Bywater, this unique wine shop has an amazing backyard with live music nightly and a delicious menu of small plates. Yutaka Hitomi, IT Specialist, recommends drinks at Cure, an Uptown bar known for its craft cocktails. If you want to do a little exploring while Uptown, it’s also worth taking a walk in Audubon Park or along Magazine Street, a five-mile stretch of shops, restaurants, and bars.
You can’t go wrong at famous New Orleans restaurants like Commander’s Palace, Galatoire’s, and Brennan’s. These upscale, established restaurants serve traditional Creole cuisine that everyone should try. If you’re looking for something a little less fancy (and less touristy), we recommend newer additions like Cochon, Peche, and Compere Lapin, all within a 5 to 10-minute walk from Collision. In nearby Treme, Willie Mae’s Scotch House is home to some of the best southern fried chicken you can find. Mike Mercuri also recommends checking out Dat Dog in any of its locations around the city. A customizable hotdog restaurant where the employees wear Hawaiian shirts, Dat Dog has a unique and fun vibe. Cajun restaurant Jacques-Imo’s is yet another lively and delicious dinner choice Uptown, loved by locals and tourists alike. After dinner, you can catch a live show at the popular Maple Leaf Bar next door.
Okay, we could go on and on, but we’ll stop here 🙂 We hope you enjoy your time in New Orleans during Collision. From the entire team here at Lucid – Welcome! We’ll see you there. In the words of Collision’s founders, “Come for tech, stay for jazz”. Happy festing!