New Orleans continues to be my favorite city in the world. It’s vibrant unique culture and diverse tolerant population of characters continues to draw me back, again and again. It’s impossible not to fall in love with the people, the food, and the music of this incredible city. After a few years away, I returned to New Orleans this time for Jazz Fest, which I hadn’t been to since before Katrina. Although some of my New Orleans Travel Guide remains the same, there’s a few new haunts I fell in love with listed below the photos.
STAY: Every neighborhood in New Orleans has it’s own unique feel and vibe, but I always encourage you to think outside the French Quarter when staying in this city so that you really get a feel for the varied cultures and differing architecture of the city. While hotels and bed and breakfast’s abound, there’s also a great selection of rooms and entire homes on Airbnb and VRBO to choose from when visiting my favorite city in the world.
- The Garden District: up river from the French Quarter, St Charles winds it’s way along the river bank into a neighborhood filled with colossal columned porches, lush overgrown green gardens, and wrought iron gates. Magazine Street offers hip new restaurants, small independently owned boutiques and now, a trendy but delicious donut store. Stay here if you want to really embrace that southern gentility and envision yourself drinking champs on a porch while the streetcar rolls by.
- The Marigny used to be a secret, but it’s proximity to Frenchman Street and it’s laundry list of amazing nooks and crannies to explore has made it more popular. The Marigny’s eclectic mix of late-Georgian, one-story Creole cottages and shotguns that are vibrantly colored make you want to wander down a different street every day on your way through town. Stay here if you want to be close to the nightlife, but just out of the way of the French Quarter drunkards.
- Mid-City is perfect if you’re coming to New Orleans for a festival. It’s proximity to the fairgrounds means that you can walk to the fest while you’re feeling sparky during the day, but taxi and LYFT around to the nightlife at night when your feet are feeling the pressure. From grand mansions, to shotgun doubles, to Victorian style homes, you’ll see a varied mix of architecture here, but none lacking in charm. Make sure you head to the Parkway Tavern on your way home from the fest one day. It’s one of the best po-boys in the city.
EAT: this list gets longer every time I return to New Orleans. It’s been over a decade since Katrina and the restaurant scene here has really flourished in recent years. There are a few of my stand-out favorites on this list, and some new ones that I discovered this trip around.
- Elizabeth’s in the Bywater (don’t skip the Praline bacon), Slim Goodies Diner in the Garden District, and The Ruby Slipper Cafe are breakfast standouts. The Ruby Slipper now has locations all over the city. Cake Cafe and Bakery in the Marigny is also a great breakfast stop-off, where breakfast is served six days a week all day.
- Jacques-Imo’s is still one of my favorite restaurants in the city. It’s raucous atmosphere, incredible menu and alternative vibe have me returning again and again. Expect a bit of a wait, but you can always head next door to the Maple Leaf for a drink. For a real experience, come here on Tuesday night for dinner and then head on over to the Maple Leaf to see Rebirth Brass Band play their weekly show.
- The list of restaurants on this page with James Beard awards is astounding and La Petite Grocery is part of that club for good reason. The turtle bolognese was incredible and it didn’t hurt that I made new friends while dining at the bar.
- Our meal at Shaya was a stand-out: modern Isreali cuisine prepared fresh, prepared fresh with a huge side of warm, brick fired pita. You must order the hummus!
- There are certain dishes that I spend my life dreaming and replaying over and over and over again in my head and Cochon‘s wood fired oysters are now on that list. I’ve always maintained that I’d want my last meal on earth to be the mushroom strogonoff that I once had at South Congress Cafe in Austin, TX, but these oysters may be claiming that top spot.
- Enjoying a Pimm’s Cup at the historic Napoleon House is a must-do.
- If you can get in, Bacchanal is a wonderful way to while away the evening. Part retail wine store, part patio, this Bywater haunt has become incredibly popular in the past few years and there is now usually a line around the corner to get in. Skip it on the weekend and on festival weeks but if you are around in the off season, you might be able to score a seat on their deck and listen to music mid-week.
- If you can’t score a seat at Bacchanal, the Tasting Room offers an eclectic dining menu and boutique wines from around the world. It’s dark, cozy and just what you want a wine bar to be. It’s perfect for lounging on the couch, reading a book and sipping wine in the event of poor weather.
- Sitting on the deck of the Columns Hotel in the Garden district and whiling away the afternoon with a bottle of champagne will never lose it’s charm with me.
- Get lost on foot: the New Orleans Tours at Your Feet walking app offers guided tours of the French Quarter, the Garden District, Haunted Homes, and Cemeteries in the area.
- If it’s your first trip to New Orleans, the World War II Museum is a must-visit. It’s grown considerably in the past few years, but it remains informative and the exhibits are related to local history and people.
- The Presbytere in the French Quarter houses a New Orleans cultural exhibit on mardi gras and it’s customs, along with an exceptional exhibit about Katrina and it’s aftermath.
- Fest it up: the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival, Voodoo Festival and Mardi Gras continue to be huge draws to this city. They are all amazing, but there’s also something to be said for just going for
the shrimp and gritsno reason at all.