This is My Town: Explore what makes New Orleans, well, New Orleans

By: Lesley Ann Saketkoo, MD, MPH

New Orleans Scleroderma and Sarcoidosis Patient Care and Research Center

University Medical Center – Comprehensive Pulmonary Hypertension Center

Tulane University School of Medicine

Louisiana State University School of Medicine

New Orleans combines the music, food, and community of diverse African heritages with strong Caribbean, Native American, French, and Spanish influences. The survival and hardship of enslaved people and continued civil inequity birthed and burnished a shining, legendary music and food culture. The heartbeat of New Orleans’ culture is shared humanity in our vulnerability to suffer greatly and to feel joy, with allegiance to the power to uplift, soothe, and reassure that even in the darkest of times, we are not alone—we have music, community, food, and color.


Each year, Mardi Gras Indians sew elaborate ‘suits’ worth tens of thousands of dollars as reverence to centuries of brave Native Americans who protected and guided passage for enslaved people to free living. On Mardi Gras day, tribes parade their new suits in competition, remembrance, and to strengthen community.

The New Orleans Backstreet Museum is a testament to this humanity—and like most everything else in New Orleans—is a short cab ride away! Indians pop up at any of our great music venues, parades, and ‘just because’!

New Orleans is the city of continuous parades, with brass bands striking up and rolling the ‘first-line,’ with celebrants of all occasions: death, marriage, political causes, social clubs, birthdays; followed by the legendary ‘second-line’ of friends and strangers called out of homes, shops, etc, with or without handkerchiefs or fancy umbrellas to dance behind. To catch a scheduled second-line or Indian event visit:

The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint is an amazing sensory documentation of historical, cultural, and musical history not to be missed.

Whitney Plantation reconstructed from intense scholarly efforts supported by the Haydel family (original plantation owners), is the only U.S. plantation accurately reflecting all plantation-living people.

Catch Garden District or French Quarter walking tours, or the Steamboat Natchez for some great New Orleans history.

Pull up to the bar at Revel and be delighted as internationally acclaimed historian/mixologist Chris McMillian recounts all manner of spirit and cocktail history, especially the one he’s making for you!

Canopied Life

New Orleans is graced by natural life. Audubon Park (labyrinth, loop, and river walk) and City Park (New Orleans Museum of Art, boating, biking, botanical gardens, beignets(!), and more) festoon their gentle, giant, hundreds-of-years-old oaks. Explore the Coquille path at Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, where one experiences Louisiana’s wildlife in their natural habitat, including alligator friends, which are personal favorites. Meander from Magazine Antique Mall Shopping and stroll through Lafayette Cemetery. Bayou kayaking is also an unforgettable experience.

Art Life

Stella Jones Gallery showcases stunning regional work. University Medical Center displays dazzling local art with all welcomed to walk through.

Courtyard Enchantment

French Quarter favorites: Sylvain, Napoleon House, and Court of Two Sisters typify Spain’s charming influence of Moorish internal courtyard design and centered water source.

Porch Life

Central to New Orleans’ concept of confluent humanity, whether on your own, at your neighbors, or at the Columns Hotel with a mimosa or mint julep in hand, porch culture has a strong presence in New Orleans.

City Lights

Fly up to the Hot Tin Rooftop Bar in Pontchartrain Hotel for open-air vista of our sparkling city and bridges at night or take the ferry from Riverwalk for $1. Return to Algiers Point and enjoy New Orleans’ lights from the water.

Gifts: Mignon Faget Jewelry and Fleurty Girl novelties offer best one-stop shopping for authentic gifts.

Enjoy your time with us in New Orleans! Expect to be greeted by strangers as if you’ve known them all your life. Remember if you are in New Orleans, you are a New Orleanian!