10 must-do's in the Big Easy during SmileCon

New Orleans welcomes dental community Oct. 17-19 with food, fun

Big Easy: New Orleans, the site of SmileCon 2024, offers a rich mix of culture, cuisine and charm. Photo courtesy of Jeff Anding/

From gumbo to gators to ghostly tours and more, New Orleans has plenty of ways to keep dentists and their families entertained during SmileCon 2024 from Oct. 17-19.

"I have traveled many places in and outside of the United States. There is still no place I’ve visited to date that holds a candle to the culture, cuisine, merrymaking and charm of New Orleans, especially given New Orleans blends all of that into one giant gumbo pot,” said Glenn C. Dubroc Jr., D.D.S., chair of the American Dental Association Committee on Local Arrangements.

Below are some of Dr. Dubroc’s suggestions of things to do during your stay to make the most of your time in the Big Easy.

• Stroll through the historic French Quarter. Enjoy the sights and sounds of New Orleans’ most famous neighborhood. Explore the eclectic mix of bars, restaurants and shops as jazz music fills the air and street performers delight with their magical displays.

• Munch on beignets at Café du Monde. Start your day off right with the crispy, fluffy confections from the famed café or treat yourself in the middle of the day for the tastiest of pick-me-ups. You’re on vacation, right?

• Explore the cornucopia of New Orleans cuisine. Why stop at beignets when you have gumbo, jambalaya, crawfish etouffee, muffalettas, po’ boys and more waiting for you at restaurants across town? With flavors inspired by the rich Creole and Cajun heritage of the area, New Orleans cuisine cooks up a delicious world all its own.

• Treat your ears to jazz. If you walk down Frenchmen Street in the heart of the Marigny neighborhood, you’re sure to stumble upon some world-class jazz in one of the music clubs that line the street. Stop in and stay awhile as you let the notes wash over you.

• Take a walk on the spooky side … if you dare. What better time to visit New Orleans than October, the month of Halloween? Countless walking tours — focused on ghosts, vampires and more — will take you to the most famous haunts of the French Quarter as guides regale you with torrid tales of murder and mayhem. If scary isn’t your speed, celebrate the season at Audubon Zoo with the family-friendly Boo at the Zoo.

• Behold the beautiful Garden District. Ride one of New Orleans’ iconic streetcars to the Garden District, where stunning mansions await. Fans of gothic horror can visit the former home of Anne Rice, author of “Interview with the Vampire,” the classic tale set against the backdrop of Ms. Rice’s hometown.  

• Paint the town red. The legendary nightlife in New Orleans is hopping, with a spot to match every vibe, whether you’re looking for a glass of French wine on a warm patio or hurricanes on the dance floor. Cheers!

• Glimpse a gator. Looking for a break from the city the whole family can enjoy? Put on your explorer hats and head out on a swamp tour, where you might just come face to face with a Louisiana alligator.  

• Journey to the past. Dig deep into the war that changed the world at the National WWII Museum, where immersive exhibits, multimedia experiences and a wide array of artifacts and first-person oral histories await you on your educational journey.

• Enjoy some fishy family fun. Be transported to the underwater world of the Mississippi River, Caribbean Sea and more at Audubon Aquarium. The site houses more than 3,600 animals from over 250 species, including the rare white alligator.

Discover more about New Orleans at SmileCon registration opens May 8 at

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