NEW ORLEANS — The Clean Show—officially the World Educational Congress for Laundering and Drycleaning—will settle once again later this week in the Crescent City for the fifth time in the show’s 36-year history.
More than 400 companies from the laundry and dry cleaning industry are registered to exhibit their products and services at this year’s event, encompassing approximately 200,000 net square feet of the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Though the show has a shorter schedule than years past—beginning Thursday, June 20, and wrapping Saturday, June 22—plenty has been packed into the three-day convention.
With all the hustle and bustle that the show can bring, however, New Orleans does have plenty to offer visitors for relaxation and ways for people to take it easy in the city known as the Big Easy.
With a world of culture right outside the Convention Center doors, visitors at the end of each convention day have every opportunity to do as the locals do: “Laissez les bons temps rouler,” or let the good times roll.
SHOP AND DINE
Considering the eclectic aura that thrives here, this melting pot of cultures shines when it comes to food and dining.
A quick hop back on the Riverfront Streetcar to the French Market will lead hungry hounds to the Cafe du Monde, famous for its French-inspired beignets (square fried pieces of dough covered in powdered sugar) and chicory coffee au laits.
If you’re looking for a taste of savory Creole cuisine, The Praline Connection, located at 542 Frenchmen Street just off the French Quarter, serves up crawfish or shrimp etouffee, alligator sausage, barbecue oysters, as well as other favorites.
For those looking for a sweet fix, Brennan’s has the cure with its famous Bananas Foster, served since 1951. A marriage of butter, sugar, cinnamon, rum, banana liqueur and bananas is flambéed in a pan, creating a caramelized concoction, served with a side of vanilla ice cream.
If shopping is on your agenda, Magazine Street’s six miles of shops run the gamut from clothing boutiques to art galleries.
The lower part of the street was initially used as a commercial and industrial storage area. Centuries later, Magazine Street is now teeming with more than 150 stores, according to Frommer’s. Retail shops begin at the intersection of Magazine Street and Felicity street, or “Lower Magazine,” pick up at Washington Avenue, and again at Jefferson.
During your shopping excursion, set aside some time to veer off course and stroll around the Garden District around Washington Avenue. The city’s historic antebellum mansions can be found here, and up toward the intersection of Prytania Street and Washington Avenue lies another area for shopping enthusiasts.
Of course, another shopping destination is the French Market, where you can buy local produce at the farmers market, and practice your bargaining skills at its flea market. Purveyors of various goods from all over the world flock here to sell crafts, fashions, New Orleans memorabilia and more. Hours vary by vendor, according to the French Market’s site, but vendors are usually open between 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Word to the wise for international visitors flying in for Clean—save your shopping receipts. Louisiana offers international visitors a sales tax refund at nearly 900 of its stores, including most of the major shopping centers in the city. Simply present an international passport or an official picture identification upon your purchase, and you’ll receive a voucher to obtain your refunds at the Refund Center at Armstrong International Airport, or the Downtown Refund Center in the Riverwalk Marketplace.
WEATHER THE WEATHER
In the words of the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau, the city has a “subtropical climate with pleasant year-round temperatures.” It sees sunshine an average of 67% of the time in June, but with the rays comes the summer heat. Average June temperatures can top 90 F.
To stay up-to-date on local weather, many smartphone apps can deliver concise weather forecasts. But for those who truly want to dress according to the weather, Swackett provides fun, visual outfit recommendations for you to consider.
Frommer’s explains that T-shirts and shorts are acceptable attire at most establishments (the exceptions being fine restaurants), so loose, light clothing is the way to go when sightseeing.
But for fashion-conscious travelers who don’t want to compromise fashion for the extreme heat, lightweight fabrics such as cotton, linen or madras provide style not only during the day, but when dressing up for the nighttime. A linen blazer and linen dress pant can make up a perfect outfit for a more formal dinner, without feeling too stuffy.
Those who are unable to bear the New Orleans humidity can take comfort in indoor activities, as many establishments are air-conditioned. Those who absolutely can’t stand the heat can wait to go out until the evening, as June lows average around 70 F.
ENJOY THE BIG EASY
Still undecided about what to do, or which sights to see? Trying to fit some sightseeing into a three-day show schedule can be challenging, but online resources such as Frommer’s and TripAdvisor have multiple listings and ideas of attractions to visit on a limited schedule.
The New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau at 2020 St. Charles Ave. can also help you navigate your way throughout the city, and even make trip recommendations around your specific interests, according to Frommer’s.
The Visitor Information Center at 529 St. Ann St. in the French Quarter can also make recommendations. Open Tuesday through Saturday between 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., the center has walking and driving tour maps and booklets on local sights.
One other resource: the locals. Don’t be shy to ask the grocer at the farmer’s market which restaurant he recommends for authentic Cajun cuisine, or the shopkeeper at the antique store which museums to check out. Not only can they direct you to local attractions, but they can also point you toward some hidden gems.
With many things to see and do in New Orleans, make sure you relish in the local flavor during Clean 2013.