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Young Ophthalmologists
Insider's Guide to New Orleans, Pt. 4: Soak Up Some Culture
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You'll definitely get a sense of the city's ambiance by eating, drinking and dancing locally during your stay in New Orleans. But if you truly want to get in touch with the city's joie de vivre, be sure to save some time after the Annual Meeting ends to explore some of New Orleans's cultural institutions and attractions.

In this final installment of the YO Info Insider's Guide to New Orleans, local ophthalmologist Blake K. Williamson, MD, provides his recommendations for the best tours, the best museums and the best strolls around "The City that Care Forgot."

Tourist Stuff
If you’ve never been to Nola, the first thing to do is take a horse-drawn carriage tour. All the carriages park at Jackson Square, and you can pick whichever one you want to ride. Tours usually last 30 to 45 minutes, so grab a beer before getting on and drink while you ride! They can take you all around the French Quarter and will point out some famous spots while providing you with some great anecdotes — it’s a great way to get acclimated!

Blake K. Williamson, MD
Dr. Williamson — New Orleans local.

Be sure to also get in touch with the folks at Friends of the Cabildo, as they represent the best tour guides in the city. You’ll have all kinds of people in the city hand you brochures for walking tours — avoid them! Instead, call this group and arrange for a private walking tour of the French Quarter. They usually last about two hours, and your guide is often a PhD in Louisiana history. They’ll show you all of the the historic buildings in the quarter and give you factual information — it’s definitely more expensive to do it this way, but it’s so much better!

Speaking of tours, make sure to take a cemetery tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1. I know it sounds strange to tour a cemetery but it’s very popular — Nola has the most beautiful cemeteries in the world outside of Pere Lachaise in Paris.

And if the weather is nice and you are in the mood for visiting a bunch of alligators, take an airboat tour of the swamps! Many different outfitters will take you to Lafitte, a nice little Cajun town 20 minutes from the heart of the city.

Last but not least, I’d also take the Canal Streetcar from the downtown area up St. Charles Avenue to see all the beautiful Southern plantation homes and mansions.

 
 

Culture
If the weather is nasty and you want to get inside, the best museum in town is The Contemporary Art Museum in the Warehouse District. And if you’re really in the artsy mood, then Julia Street in the Warehouse district has all the best art galleries, all in a row. Make sure to walk down Royal Street in the French Quarter for antiques and art shopping as well.

The D-Day exhibit at the National World War II Museum is also incredible! I’d highly recommend the 4-D IMAX movie directed and narrated by Tom Hanks.

For the best bookstore in Nola — and one of the best in the country — check out Faulkner House Books, where William Faulkner actually lived when he wrote his first novel, Soldier’s Pay. They have tons of first editions and signed copies of all the famous authors — Faulkner, Fitzgerald, Hemingway, etc.

While you are out strolling, make sure to grab a bench in Jackson Square and listen to all the street performers in front of the St. Louis Cathedral. And if you’re Catholic (or even if you’re not!), mass inside the cathedral is a treat, as it’s one of the oldest continuously operating cathedrals in the country.

All work and no play make an ophthalmologist a dull doctor! Keep these battle-tested insider tips in mind and remember that the Annual Meeting provides many opportunities to mix a bit of pleasure with your business.

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About the author: Blake K. Williamson, MD, is a resident at Tulane University.

 
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