Though Super Bowl XLVII on Feb. 3 will mark a record-tying 10th time New Orleans has hosted the big game—Miami also holds that distinction—the city feels like it’s gearing up to host its first. The combination of legendary food, a 24-hour party scene and good-natured locals makes The Big Easy’s festive football atmosphere hard to top. If you want to be there to watch the San Francisco 49ers battle the Baltimore Ravens in the game already being dubbed the “Harbaugh Bowl” (brothers Jim and John Harbaugh are head coaches of the opposing teams), you’ll have to be resourceful since most hotel rooms are spoken for. If you’re one of the lucky ones heading down to New Orleans (or just want to live vicariously), our Startle.com editors have the scoop on all the spots where NFL fans can enjoy Super Bowl week like a pro.
Essentially a theme park for pigskin junkies, the NFL Experience (Jan. 30-Feb. 3) puts fans about as close to the action as they’ll get without actually putting on pads. There are book readings with NFL players and on-the-field clinics for young fans. Replica locker rooms and a traveling Hall of Fame exhibit will get adults fired up. Autograph sessions with former players and a close-up of the Vince Lombardi Trophy should captivate everyone in between. $20 to 25, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
While the sound of children tossing around a football might put some in a festive mood, others probably will prefer to hear some actual music. That’s where the inaugural Verizon Super Bowl Boulevard (Jan. 31-Feb. 3) street party will more than satisfy. It will feature four stages of local music acts daily, plus interactive events for fans, food vendors, live television broadcasts and a larger-than-life “XLVII” floating on a barge along down the scenic Mississippi River. Free, Woldenberg Park.
Where to Eat
One of the most unique experiences during Super Bowl week will be Taste of The NFL, a wine and food event where a respected chef from every NFL city pairs with a current or former player, including 11 Hall of Famers, to form 35-plus food stations for the public to enjoy. Proceeds from the Feb. 2 event benefit food banks in all 32 NFL cities. $600, Ernest N. Morial Convention Center.
Organizers are also trumpeting New Orleans’ game as the first walkable Super Bowl, meaning fans can get to events, parties and restaurants without a car. Le Pavillon Hotel, just a five-minute walk from the Superdome, has a champagne Sunday brunch fit for an offensive lineman—think waffle, omelet and carving stations, and a buffet with everything from eggs benedict and quiche Lorraine to seafood gumbo and smoked salmon. Red Fish Grill, also within walking distance to the Superdome, expects to be even busier than it was during the 2002 Super Bowl when it served 15,000 oysters. And when it comes to crazy cocktails, you’ll find them everywhere on Bourbon Street, but we think Loews New Orleans Hotel’s Swizzle Stick Bar’s “Wait ’Til Next Year” is the early MVP. It’s a mix of amber rum, Angostura bitters and various citrus juices, and is bar chef Lu Brow’s drinkable ode to the Saints’ woes.