New Orleans dos and don'ts

Coming down to New Orleans is a bit like traveling to another country. Life in the Big Easy is slower, more laidback and has its own language and customs. Get your New Orleans trip off on the right foot with these tips.


  • use the terms ma'am and sir liberally. The South takes its manners seriously.
  • claim your Mardi Gras throw (a trinket tossed from a float) by stepping on it first, then grabbing it with your hand. Otherwise, you're liable to be trampled!
  • expect to hear 'where y'at?' instead of 'how are you?'
  • keep your shirt on…unless it's Mardi Gras, of course
  • visit the 9th Ward and other neighborhoods devastated by Hurricane Katrina. Witness the damage for yourself, then do something about it (perhaps by visiting or


  • honk your car horn. Things move a bit slower in the South - practise patience.
  • throw things back at the Mardi Gras floats - except at the Krewe of Tucks', which permits parade goers to toss unwanted beads into the toilet atop the float
  • pronounce it pray-leens. It's praw-leens.
  • park your car within two blocks of a parade route. That's not rock-star parking you've found, it's a fine waiting to happen.
  • bring your diet to New Orleans - there's nothing fat-free about this town!