If you are a NOLA newbie, making friends can be a little difficult at first. Everyone seems to have grown up together and formed extremely close-knit relationships. You aren’t wrong. People are born, raised, live and die in this town so the friendships are very close. But don’t worry, the locals are used to new people coming in and out of the city and welcome them with open arms. The one request we have of those new to town is simple: If you don’t like New Orleans, then get the stick out of your ass and keep it yourself. Maybe all you need is some friends to help to acclimate to the city.
1) Exercise & Fitness Classes
I’m guessing it has something to do with the delicious rich food in this town but New Orleanians loves to / has to exercise. The city is full of gyms, yoga studios, fitness classes, running groups, cycling enthusiasts, pilates addicts. If you have young children in your family, there are playgrounds in every neighborhood if you want them to become part of a sports team. Adult kickball leagues (we have a few) are a really fun way to meet people and let your inner kid free.Saturday mornings host a yoga and pilates in City Park’s breathtaking Sculpture Garden on a donation basis. There are all kinds of fitness and health classes throughout the city and a great opportunity to find friends and do something healthy for yourself at the same time.
New Orleans is a town full of philanthropists. Maybe because residents saw so much kindness from the volunteers that came to rebuild the city after the Hurricane or just because we love this city so much that we want to give back to our communities, either way, there are thousands of volunteer programs in the city to join and meet like-minded people. You can find a cause that is personally close to you or you can help speciality groups. If you’d like to volunteer with animals join the ASPCA or the Villalobos Rescue Center. For more community driven groups, the YLC is the Young Leadership Council and they do a number of project throughout the city from installing bike racks to running adult literacy programs. You can volunteer at the city’s public schools, libraries or hospitals or for groups like Habitat for Humanity, building homes and community structures for the benefit of the city. Whatever you like doing to help is appreciated and is a great way to meet some new people.
3) On the Job
Hopefully you have moved to the city and been able to find steady employment. If you have, look around your office or work environment and see if there is anyone that is friendly, fun or has tried to reach out to you. Tell your coworkers that you are new to town and want to know what to do, where to go, what’s fun. If they are a good resident, they will do their very best to show you all of the amazing things that the city has to offer. Ask them to take you out, show you around, maybe you can meet some of their friends, and before you know it your social calendar is going to be full. Read my other article Five Invites You Should Always Accept to find out about some more New Orleans traditions that are great ways to meet people and have a ton of fun.
4) Sport Games
If you haven’t noticed the intense pride concerning the local sports teams then you must be deaf, blind and dumb. New Orleanians are dedicated and loyal fans. When the Saints have a losing game, everyone is pissed Monday morning. When the Saints won the Super Bowl, the city exploded and had a freaking city-wide holiday. I was in college at that time and practically tanked my semester (Super Bowl followed Mardi Gras so I actually have little recollection of this time, but the pictures tell me I had a damn good time). But if you can acquire some Saints or Pelicans tickets, go and invite people that you have met. New Orleans doesn’t have a lot of sports teams, but the ones we do have are awesome and we take great pride in supporting them. And we love to see people new to NOLA supporting our teams too.
Even if you are out of college, taking a cooking or art class can be a really easy way to make some new friends. The public universities in the city like Delgado Community College and the University of New Orleans provide affordable rates for taking a few classes but other classes are available at a number of facilities. Don’t worry about being the oldest kid in class, these are urban institutes, meaning a lot of the student body are students returning to finish their degrees or professionals looking to improve their job options. No matter the age, school is an easy way to meet people and begin relationships.
However you decide to go about it, New Orleans is a town of weirdos, freaks and crazy people and they’re looking for you just as much as you’re looking for them. Just get out there and be yourself. Authenticity is always attractive and accepted in NOLA.