December Birthday: NOLA Style

In December of 2015 MadMan and I went to New Orleans for my 22nd birthday. He’d been before when he was young; however, I had never been. Typical for December, it rained most days so there was little chance for scenic photos. The rain; however, didn’t stop us from really enjoying the drinks, history, and food that was around. 

new orleans madlady
NOLA tradition: Dollar on your shirt for your B-Day!

I went to New Orleans for my 22nd Birthday. On my birthday, we ate at the House of Blues. When I got desert our server told me to pin a dollar to my shirt for the rest of the night citing it was a local tradition and that everyone would know what it meant.

As the night went on, I realized how right she was. Everyone was telling me happy birthday and the bouncers at the strip clubs were giving me money! (MadMan was both amused and perturbed by this.) What my wonderful server meant was the local tradition means birthday people get a dollar because it’s their birthday. Not only did I receive dollars, I also received free drinks (from some places) as well as the dessert from the woman who told me to put the dollar on my shirt in the first place.

A Misunderstanding:

When we went to New Orleans we were told to walk to Cafe Du Monde to eat breakfast one morning. We weren’t told much else. Everyone said that we would love it and that the food was great. They didn’t know us very well. While we appreciate the history and the length of time that the place has been open, we were very unprepared for our experience.

New Orleans 2015

We walked up to the outdoor porch and didn’t see a hostess nor a sign to take a seat. We waited around for about two minutes before we saw someone else walk up and just sit down. We were about to get up and leave five minutes later when a server spoke to us. She said “Two?” and “What would you like to drink?” we responded yes and two waters. She left. Less than a minute later she brought us back two waters and two plates of powdered sugar with some puff looking things inside.

Boy were we confused. We didn’t understand why we were given this without even seeing a menu. After getting my phone out and doing some google searching we determined that our friends and family had forgotten to tell us the most important detail. This breakfast place only served one thing.

MadMan in New OrleansYou can just imagine our faces and confusion coming into the whole situation blind. Traveling Tip #2: If your friends tell you you just have to go somewhere. Do research first. Make sure you know what’s going on.

Another option is to read about all of our travels. We will make sure that you know what we did wrong. Learn from us.

Learning to Blend in:

When we plan trips, we do quite a bit of googling (but apparently not enough on food.) One thing we always focus on is the scams of the city we are visiting. Being from a town where the crime is rather high, I know that tourists are targeted often. Here are the biggest scams and events you will experience while in New Orleans.

  • Never take a bet. Especially if it involved your shoes.
    • If one person comes up and says something along the lines of “I bet I can tell you where you got your shoes.” tell them that you got them on your feet and walk away.
    • If someone tells you that you have a shoe untied, don’t look down right off the bat. They are waiting for you to do this at which point the helper behind will grab your wallet (from your back pocket) and run.
  • Watches. More a strange story.
    • We were approached by two children no older than 15. They asked if we were interested in buying a watch. We said no. They then asked if we would like some weed. We told them no walked away. They stepped in front of us and asked us if we wanted crack. It’s a normal tactic, just keep walking, they’ll leave you alone. It worked for us.
  • Never wear a backpack & Always say you’re local.
    • Wearing a backpack makes you a target. I don’t even wear a purse. Less for someone to grab.
    • If someone asks if you’re vacationing, tell them you are visiting an aunt. People will scout someone who they know is a tourist as a better target than someone who might know the city a bit better.

Our Top New Orleans Picks:

We encourage you to try to incorporate these places into your visit. They have been tested and approved.


  • House of Blues: Good spot for dinner as well as listening to music.
  • The Ruby Slipper Cafe: Right down from where we stayed. Amazing breakfast.
  • Nicholas Girod House: Called the Napoleon House, this place was my all time favorite. The waiter thought it was funny how happy I was with the setting and the food. (Okay, I was STARVING, but it was amazing.)
  • Cafe Du Monde: Desert-like breakfast. Great breakfast if you love sugar.


  • Escape My Room New Orleans: Who doesn’t love a good escape… not funny?
  • Saint Louis Cemetery: Open during the day, super fun. While there are many cemeteries open to the public, the best ones often require a tour. They offer many free tours around the town and others are $5 a person. Great to get history as well as views.
  • Haunted Tour: This link will take you to the one we took. It was great and had a good bit of history as well. They have many kinds of tours to choose from.
  • National WWII Museum: MadMan loved every second of this place. Great for children and history buffs.
  • St. Louis Cathedral: Even if you are not catholic the architecture here is STUNNING.

Have you ever been to New Orleans?

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