New Orleans is a crazy, fun, and wild city. With music venues open until the wee hours of the morning and a devil-may-care attitude that permeates the air day and night, it’s difficult not to get caught up in all the excitement.

But sometimes, even though girls just wanna have fun, we don’t necessarily want to get crazy. When I travel, I like to insert myself into the culture as much as I can, but also not give in to all the unhealthy practices I encounter.

In New Orleans, I’ve found there are plenty of things to do without the debauchery. Here are some of my favorites.

Enjoy the mornings

Most New Orleanians and visitors stay up late at night and require some extra sleep in the morning. If you’re an early riser, mornings are the perfect time to enjoy some rare peace and quiet. I love getting up early, grabbing a coffee and walking the quiet streets of the French Quarter. Morning also is a great time to have breakfast at one of the many restaurants that open early, but haven’t yet filled up with the hungover masses. (One of my go-to restaurants, the Clover Grill, actually is open all night.)

After breakfast, head to Jackson Square or the riverfront, sit on a bench, and enjoy your caffeine as the early morning ships chug by.

Viewfinder Tip: Café du Monde, the famous beignet-and-coffee cafe in the French Market, is open 24-hours.

Eat well

I’ve become disciplined about eating well when I travel. Not only do I want to feel good on the road, but I don’t want to go home carrying extra weight that’s not in my luggage. (Fortunately, airlines can’t charge for that kind of weight if you do slip up!)

Sticking to a diet is a bit of a challenge in New Orleans—the joke is that you likely won’t see a salad any time during your visit—but eating well is not impossible. On one of my recent visits, my bicycle taxi driver, who requires a daily diet of 6,000 calories, listed a half dozen restaurants in New Orleans that specialize in vegan food. One of them is Seed, on Prytania. Another is Bhava, on Chartres.

Most other restaurants are used to accommodating special requests from guests. If your diet is gluten-free, sugar-free, dairy-free, vegan, vegetarian, pescetarian, or anything else, just ask.

Cafe au lait from Cafe du Monde


Skip the Hurricane

You’ll notice that most people walking around the French Quarter are carrying a glass, bottle, or “go cup” filled with some sort of alcoholic drink—typically a Hurricane, Sazerac, or beer.

You might not want to abstain completely while in New Orleans, but consider at least refraining from daytime drinking (oh my gosh, that must sound so odd to someone who’s never been to NOLA). Not only are sober days healthier, but you can use this time to take the Hop On-Hop Off bus for a tour of the city, visit the World War II Museum, check out Mardi Gras World, or enjoy hundreds of other activities, such as taking a riverboat cruise or photographing homes in the Garden District; you would miss all of this if you spent all of your days imbibing.


Baby, it’s hot outside for much of the year in New Orleans. Instead of braving the sweltering heat for a run, luxuriate in the air conditioning of the hotel gym and get your workout in there. This will make you feel healthy and will enable you to eat that extra plate of hush puppies without feeling guilt.

I find that the hotel gyms in New Orleans rarely get used, and take advantage of this to spend quality time with weights or on the treadmill with the places all to myself. Two gyms I’ve liked include the fitness center at the Sheraton New Orleans Hotel, and the Bourbon Orleans Hotel.

What do you like to do in a city as a healthy alternative?