I had to avoid the temptation to categorize New Orleans the entire time I visited, because it’s one of those places that evades comparison. Part Caribbean, part European, part American, the Crescent City ranks as one of the most beautiful and unique cities in the US with a textured and complex history.
Here are some of my picks
- Atchafalaya (Garden District)–great brunch spot. Gets busy, but enjoy the Bloody Mary bar and jazz
- District Donuts (Garden District)–grab a doughnut, slider, and cold brew (maybe not in that order)
- Ruby Slipper (Marigny)–solid brunch spot in the Marigny
- Who Dat Coffee (Marigny)–get the King Cake scone during Mardi Gras. Decent coffee
- The Orange Couch (Marigny)–get a mochi
- Café du Monde (French Quarter)–a tourist classic, but makes good and zippy cafe au laits. Go mid-afternoon to avoid the crowds.
- Copper Monkey (French Quarter)–late night food spot near Bourbon Street with mozzarella sticks
- Spitfire (French Quarter)–good, craft coffee in the Quarter
- Johnny’s Po-Boys (French Quarter)–decent po-boys, they have good lunch specials
- Café Envie (French Quarter)–European feeling cafe at the end of Decatur with good lattes
- Napoleon House (French Quarter)–historic restaurant and bar. Try the muffaletta
- Mother’s (CBD)–jumbalaya and bread pudding!
- Morning Call (City Park)–another NOLA beignet/au lait spot. Creamier and less zippy than Du Monde, but nice after running to the park
- Bean Gallery (Midcity)–good coffee, shows some traces from Katrina
- The Joint (Bywater)–BBQ place with spicy mac and cheese and good pulled pork sandwich
- Pizza Delicious (Bywater)–neighborhood pizza joint with good slices
- St. Louis Cathedral (French Quarter)–pop inside the cathedral
- Jackson Square (French Quarter)–bring beignets here and people watch
- Chartres Street (French Quarter)–keep walking down this street towards the Marigny for some beautiful architecture
- Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo (French Quarter)–touristy but fun
- Bourbon Street (French Quarter)–proceed at your own risk. Desolate and interesting during the day
- The Historic New Orleans Collection (French Quarter)–great, free museums detailing the city’s history
- Presbytère (French Quarter)–really great hurricanes exhibit, and there’s also a Mardi Gras exhibit on the second floor
- Jean Lafitte’s National Park Visitors Center (French Quarter)
- Beckham’s Books (French Quarter)–used bookstore with a cat inside
- B.E.E Galleries (French Quarter)–nice art gallery
- Royal Street Galleries (French Quarter)–spend some time popping into the numerous galleries on this street
- Hermann-Grima House (French Quarter)–beautiful antebellum house used for shooting in American Horror Story: Coven (Delphine’s House)
- Faulkner Books (French Quarter)–beautiful bookstore next to the cathedral inside Faulkner’s house
- Buckner Mansion (Garden District)–can’t go in here, but the house from Coven and a good example of the Garden District architecture.
- Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (Garden District)–really beautiful, famous, and quiet place to walk around
- Defend NOLA (Garden District)–a store that sets everything up to be photographed for people’s Instagram accounts to the point of being infuriating
- Garden City Books (Garden District)–bookstore with tons of signed books
- New Orleans City Park–go for a run down Esplanade to this park and explore
- Esplanade–beautiful street separating the Quarter from the Marigny
- Mississippi River–watch the boats go by
- A Bicycle Named Desire (Marigny)–bike rental place
- Crescent Park (Bywater)–cross over the train tracks and watch the sun set over the river.
- Biking through the Bywater and Marigny
- Louis Armstrong Park (Treme)
- The Back Space (French Quarter)–literary, grunge bar with drinks named after authors in a quieter part of the Quarter
- Pat O’Brien’s (French Quarter–Bourbon)–the iconic bar of Bourbon Street. Explore the huge space and get a hurricane to say you did it
- The Swamp (French Quarter–Bourbon)–the place with the electric bull
- Cats Meow (French Quarter–Bourbon)–karaoke
- Carousel Bar (French Quarter)–inside the Hotel Monteleone serving expensive cocktails and the classic NOLA Sazerac.
- Markey’s (Bywater)–neighborhood bar with shuffleboard and good beer selection
- Frenchmen Street (French Quarter)–lots of famous New Orleans music venues. I went to d.b.a but Preservation Hall is the most famous.
- Frenchmen Street Art Market and Art Garden (French Quarter)–cool vendors and a good break from all the noise
Get a day pass ($3) and ride the buses and street cars across the city. It’s also a pretty walkable city, so make sure to enjoy looking around the different, beautiful streets.
- Fontainebleau State Park and Lake Pontchartrain Causeway–beautiful, swampy park across the longest bridge over water in the world