I have three friends from Ireland living in New Orleans for the summer, and have made it my mission over the past few months to give them unique New Orleans experiences. Most of these experiences, it seems, end with us stuffing our faces. Between the gumbo, the poor boys and the beignets (oh, the beignets!), we’ve all gained roughly 20 pounds each. It is safe to say they don’t have food like this in Ireland.

While I definitely wouldn’t consider myself a New Orleans newbie (I was raised in south Mississippi by a mother who was fond of the Audubon Zoo), I still feel like a tourist sometimes. This summer, I’ve been able to explore our fantastic city and discover some places that combine the things all New Orleanians love – great food, great music and a great time.

Enter the dynamic duo: Ye Olde College Inn (3000 S. Claiborne Ave., 866-3683, is located right in front of Rock ‘n’ Bowl and is the perfect place to grab a bite before heading over to the lanes. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 4 to 11 p.m., Ye Olde College Inn has a menu that features all sorts of Louisiana cuisine.

New Orleans fare includes barbecue shrimp; fried green tomatoes with boiled shrimp and a housemade remoulade; turkey and andouille gumbo; crawfish Delacroix; shrimp and smoked gouda grits and a variety of gourmet poor boys. Do not leave before grabbing dessert, either – their fried bread pudding poor boy is top-notch.

If you’re not in a food-induced coma after your Ye Olde College Inn feast, waddle your way over to Rock ’n’ Bowl, which features New Orleans musicians most nights of the week. Even if the lanes are all booked, you’ll have just as much fun sitting back and enjoying the music. This, my friends, is the good life.

-Taylor Burley

New L’Auberge Casino Hotel in Baton Rouge
777 L’Auberge Ave., Baton Rouge, 261-7777,
Want to try something different? L’Auberge, a brand-new Casino Hotel, is opening in Baton Rouge this summer. Designed by the team behind Las Vegas hot spots such as The Wynn and The Bellagio, L’Auberge captures the atmosphere of a Southern river lodge with a laissez les bons temps rouler attitude. Mickey Parenton, vice president and general manager, says, “L’Auberge Baton Rouge brings a premier property to the southeast region of the state. From the entertainment and gaming to the cuisine and level of service, we’re excited to draw even more people to the region and show them how amazing Louisiana is.”  

– Mirella cameran

541 Bourbon St., 524-7611,
If you fancy a sojourn in one of the oldest cities in America, try the Four Points by Sheraton French Quarter, located at the heart of this historic city.

Formerly known as The Inn on Bourbon, guests can enjoy a recent multi-million dollar renovation. Café Opera is the new hotel restaurant under esteemed chef Philippe Andreani; the Puccini bar has new cocktails to try, and the rooftop pool is as great a spot for relaxing as it ever has been. If you can tear yourself away from the stylish guest rooms, the city’s finest attractions are on your doorstep.

– Mirella cameran