New Orleans, LA Overview
When To Go
The late Spring, Summer and early Fall can be dreadfully hot and humid. Best times are October-May.
New Orleans is accessible from anywhere in the country by air. It is about 3 ½ hours from New York or LA, 2 ½ from Chicago and 1 ½ hour from Dallas.
Public transportation is good (cabs and streetcars and now Uber) and even though the city is somewhat spread out, it works pretty well.
Things To Do
Scenic Audubon Park on the edge of the Garden District features a 1.8-mile jogging path that winds through oaks covered in Spanish Moss. The circular path wraps around a lagoon and the Audubon Clubhouse Cafe. City Park, one of the largest urban parks in the U.S., has several miles of walking trails, including the paved 3/4-mile path that wraps around Big Lake. The Wisner Bike Path runs along Bayou St. John, beginning at Lafitte Street and North Jefferson Davis Parkway and continuing down Wisner Boulevard to Beauregard Avenue and Lakeshore Drive. The whole path is 4.7 miles and is wide enough for bikes and pedestrians.
The New Orleans Lakefront offers ample opportunity for joggers with several miles of levee as well as paved paths along Lake Ponchartrain. The Lakefront area spans roughly two miles.
Take the New Orleans Original Walking Cocktail Tour when you first get to town. It will help you decide where you want to spend the rest of your time. New Orleans Culinary Tours and Tour New Orleans are also good choices. Tours.
New Orleans is home to the NFL World Champion New Orleans Saints and the NBA’s New Orleans Pelicans. Tickets.
Opened in 1911, this beautiful museum features exhibitions of African, Asian, Native American and Oceanic art. The sculpture garden is magnificent.
Presents Louisiana life during the Civil War. Opened in 1891.
New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum
There are a number of Voodoo Museums in NO, but this is the best, in large part because its dark and brooding setting just seems appropriate for the topic. It’s actually kind of spooky.
The Audubon Nature Institute offers Experience Packages that include their Zoo, insectariums and Aquarium. Perfect for children.
Plantations, cemeteries, historic homes, churches, public parks and more. Visit Sights
New Orleans.com has the most up to the minute lists of all cultural events including dance, the opera, the symphony, theater and more.
New Orleans was voted Best Music Scene by the readers of Travel + Leisure Magazine. Much of the city’s music has shifted from the Quarter to other places in the City like Frenchmen Street in the Faubourg Marigny, a historic neighborhood within walking distance of the Quarter. DBA features a great mix of local rock, soul and brass in a great intimate setting; Snug Harbor, and The Blue Nile draw renowned jazz bands and solo performers, while restaurants such as The Three Muses and the Marigny Brasserie cater to the late-night crowds. Head to the Hi Ho Lounge for acoustic bluegrass. Don’t miss the “blues” at House of Blues and the great jazz club The Spotted Cat Music Club. Also try Three Muses on Frenchman. Intimate, no cover and not crowded.
Many hotels like Windsor Court, The Ritz Carlton, The Roosevelt and Le Pavillion offer live music in their lounges.
On the first Saturday of every month head to the Warehouse District where galleries keep their doors open late and serve hors d’ouevres, wine and music. Here’s some notable galleries;
Callan Fine Art, 240 Chartres Street, 19th and 20th Century European and American Art
Martin Lawrence Galleries 433 Royal Warhol, Chagall, Picasso
Windsor Fine Art, 221 Royal Street The Masters
Kurt E. Schon, 510/520 St. Louis 18th 19th century paintings
M.S. Rau Antiques, 630 Royal
Keil’s Antiques, 325 Royal
Antiques de Provence. 623 Royal
Royal Street in the Quarter has antiques shops, galleries, jewelry and more. Riverwalk Marketplace is home to chain stores and high tech shops. Unique fashion and antique stores line Magazine Street in the Garden District and local art dominates Julia Street in the Warehouse District. Shopping.
New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival – April
New Orleans Food and Wine Experience – May
Oyster Festival – June
New Orleans Seafood Festival – September
New Orleans Film Festival – October
- The French Quarter where every day is a party
- A Hurricane at Pat O’Brian’s
- The Garden District, a neighborhood of spectacular 19th-century mansions built in styles ranging from Greek Revival to Gothic. Home of Commander’s Palace restaurant
- Any meal at Commander’s Palace
- Lafayette Cemetery while you’re in the Garden District
- Jackson Square bordered with stunning historical buildings and centered with its monument to Andrew Jackson
- A ride on the St Charles Avenue streetcar, the oldest streetcar in the country
- No visit is complete without a stop at Café Du Monde for beignets
Good to Know, Good to Go
News and Resources
Food & Drink
All our lodging recommendations offer breakfast, but you’re in New Orleans, so get out and try something new. You can’t come to NOLA without a café au lait or chicory coffee and beignets. Café du Monde gets the publicity and is touristy, but who cares?. It’s legendary. Locals flock to Slim Goody’s Diner . Also try Wakin’ Bakin‘for their cheddar sliders with eggs and bacon or Biscuits and Buns on Banks for their biscuits and slow cooked brisket or the chicken and waffles. Last, but not least is Brennan’s, around since 1946 and recently completely renovated. Breakfast starts at 8am and the bar is open! An elegant alternative for a delicious breakfast.
Ruby Slipper Café (three locations). Great food, (A pair of poached eggs over house made corned beef hash and an open faced buttermilk biscuit, accented with a horseradish cream sauce and finished with Hollandaise), al la carte pricing and killer Mimosas. Commander’s Palace Jazz Brunch, always an event and worth at least one visit for brunch, but it’s expensive. Brennan’s, touristy for sure, but I love this place. Café Amalie, has great food, a courtyard setting and is the most romantic brunch spot in town. You are in New Orleans so enjoy the music at the House of Blues Gospel brunch. If that doesn’t get you on the straight and narrow nothing will. The Grill Room at Windsor Court has an a la carte jazz brunch that is very reasonably priced. Bubble bar and “build your own mimosa.”
With $.25 martinis and great food, it’s hard to skip Commander’s Palace for lunch, but Couchon, in a renovated warehouse has become a favorite of both locals and tourists serving terrific small plates with an emphasis on pork. Café Amalie is the kind of place you could while away an afternoon. Galatoire’s offers delicious food and a glimpse of locals and politicians in their seersucker suits and bow ties. Very entertaining.
There will come a time during your NOLA visit that you’ll have had your fill of Cajun and Creole food and crave a good old burger. At Port of Call, the waits can be long, so bring some refreshment, but you’ll be rewarded with an amazing burger, huge and dripping with cheeses and sautéed onions. Company Burger is also a local favorite and they have cocktails!
Blue Oak has won the “Best BBQ” in the reader’s poll for the Gambit publication.
Drago’s seems to have the best selection, Acme Oyster House has been there for 100 years, we loved Bourbon House, big and comfortable and John Besh’s Luke is more sophisticated and has lots of other shellfish.
Bacchanal is a wonderful little place with live music every day, a free wine tasting on Saturdays from 3-5pm and delicious comfort food. Fantastic outside courtyard. Orleans Grapevine in the Quarter offers wine flights, good casual food and courtyard seating. Swirl Sensational Wines offers a mostly European list. Patrick’s Bar Vin, also in the Quarter, is elegant and sophisticated with beautiful décor to enjoy while sipping your favorites. Delachaise has 350 wines, 36 under $36. The Delachaise Voted BEST FRIES in Louisiana 5+yrs, BEST DATE PLACE, BEST PATIO. BEST WINES BTG, BEST Wine List.
Happy Hour on the porch at the Columns Hotel is so – old south. Beautiful Victorian bar inside. Loa Bar has amazing drinks in a very romantic candlelit setting. Cure, is the new kid on the block, but its artisan cocktails, small plates and great vibe has catapulted it to the top of a very competitive bar scene. French 75 at Arnaud’s is a wonderful throw-back to another time. With Edith Piaf playing the background, a bar built in the 1800’s and legendary Chris Hannah behind the bar, this is a man’s man bar. Did I mention the cigars? Don’t miss a drink at the Carousel Revolving Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. For a great rooftop experience head to Hot Tin. Amazing city views.
Where to hang late in the afternoon before you head back for a nap? Luke, one of John Besh’s places, offers Happy hour every day from 3-6pm, with 75 cent oysters, plus half-price wines by the glass, house brand liquors and draft beers. The Bourbon House has dollar oysters on the half shell, $3 Abita drafts, $4 glasses of house wine, and $5 small plates of items like truffled Romano potato chips or red bean hummus. Also try Red Fish Grill which offers 50-cent oysters, two-for-one draft beer, and two-for-one glasses of house wine, Monday through Thursday from 3-6pm.
While Away a Rainy Day
Erin Rose, just off Bourbon Street has a great mix of people; locals, artists, musicians and tourists, fantastic Po’ Boys and very reasonable prices. Finn McCools on Banks has tons of TV’s, great place to watch soccer, voted “best Neighborhood bar”. Drink Pimms Cups at Napoleon House. Ride your bikes, bring your dog to Wrong Iron on the Greenway, a wonderful outdoor space with 50 beers, 10 wines, 5 cocktails, and 4 frozen drinks all on tap, plus a selection of food trucks.
Grab a po-boy or muffaletta at Central Grocery and a six-pack of cold beer, and head over to Woldenberg Park and the river for a picnic with a wonderful view Mississippi River. Watch the boats — from cruise ships to cargo vessels and everything in between.
After Dinner Fun
See music in “Things To Do” and Wine Bars above. Lafite’s Blacksmith Shop is an 18th century cottage and one of the most photographed buildings in the Quarter. A warming fire, candlelight and piano music make this one of the best places for a romantic after dinner drink. Enjoy the dueling pianos at Pat O’Brien’s Piano Bar and the elegant Sazarac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel is a great spot for an after dinner drink. Feel like dancing? Try the Davenport Lounge at the Ritz or for a big loud dance club, visit the Republic. Local’s love music venue Tipitina’s.
During World War II, distilled spirits were in short supply, but rum was plentiful, so the experts at Pat O’Brien’s perfected “The Hurricane” for which it is known today. The place attracts all the tourists, but we love it, especially the outside courtyard.
The St. Charles Streetcar
The streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world, in operation since 1835. The beautiful route where ancient oak trees form a canopy over parts of the street , pass gorgeous mansions, Audubon Park, Tulane and Loyola Universities and historic churches.
This 1,300 acre outdoor oasis was created in 1854 making it one of the country’s oldest urban parks. Historic oaks (one is 800 years old), a Botanical Garden (don’t miss the Japanese Garden), a Sculpture Garden, a Carousel Garden Amusement Park, an 18 hole golf course, miles of biking, jogging and walking paths, a wildflower field and “Monet-esque” bridges make this a truly special place.
Classic Cocktail Hop
As New Orleans is definitely a drinking town, we love this from Thrillist; ” Go on a classic cocktail hop: Have a Sazerac at The Sazerac bar, Ramos Gin Fizz at the Empire Bar, a Vieux Carre at the Carousel bar, a Brandy Crusta at the French 75 Bar, a Grasshopper at Tujague’s, a Brandy Milk Punch at Brennan’s, a Pimm’s Cup at the Napolean House and so on.”
Or, “Go on a non-classic cocktail hop: Have Hurricanes at Pat O’Briens, Hand Grenades and Shark Attacks at Tropical Isle, and, naturally, Purple Drank at Jean Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.”
The best place for traditional jazz, Dixieland and ragtime…maybe anywhere.
Where To Stay
AAA Four Diamonds Lodging
OVERVIEWLocated in the center of the business district and minutes from the Superdome and the French Quarter, Le Pavillon sits on land once a plantation. Built in 1907, this grand hotel has an amazing collection of art, antique furniture and architectural features. You’ll marvel at a 17th century hand carved wood fireplace, full and half...…View Property Details
Maison de Ville
OVERVIEWMaison du Ville is a charming B&B only a block from wild Bourbon Street, yet you would never know it. It is a tranquil oasis where rooms encircle a wonderful brick patio centered with a fountain and the crowds seem far away. Built in 1783, apothecary Antoine Amede Peychaud was one of the earliest residents....…View Property Details
The Ritz Carlton
OVERVIEW It is hard to match the elegance of the Ritz Carlton in New Orleans. Located on the edge of the French Quarter it is close to most everything and a wonderful base for exploring the city. The gorgeous lobby opens onto a stunning courtyard filled with trees, bushes and colorful flowers. It is a...…View Property Details
OVERVIEW Another New Orleans hotel with a long history, the 116 year old Roosevelt has been through a number of incarnations, the latest after the devastating Hurricane Katrina. Originally opened on New Year’s Eve at the stroke of midnight in 1907, the 500 room hotel was sold to Dimension Development after the hurricane in 2005...…View Property Details
AAA Four Diamond Dining, AAA Four Diamonds Lodging, Best Weekends Hall of Fame, Forbes Four Star Dining, Forbes Four Star Lodging, Forbes Four Star Spa, Wine Spectator Award Winning List
OVERVIEW A $22 million renovation has restored Windsor Court to the top of the list of New Orleans hotels. All 316 guestrooms have been refurbished, the Grill Room and Polo Lounge refreshed, a Cocktail Bar has been added to the lobby and a new spa has debuted. It is the only hotel in New Orleans...…View Property Details
Where To Eat
Chef/owner John Besh is a nationally acclaimed chef and a certified rock star in New Orleans. He was named "Top 10 Best New Chefs in America" by Food & Wine Magazine, won the prestigious James Beard "Best Chef-Southeast" award and is a frequent guest on The Today Show. He owns no less than nine restaurants,…View Restaurant Details >
For many, myself included, Commanders Palace is the quintessential New Orleans restaurant. I mean how can you not love a place that offers $.25 martinis at lunch. Owned since 1974 by the legendary Brennan family, Commander's Palace launched the careers of renowned chefs Paul Prudhomme and Emeril Lagasse and current chef Tory McPail was recently…View Restaurant Details >
Domenica, which means "Sunday" in Italian is another John Besh restaurant and is the perfect place for a casual meal and an alternative to the local Cajun and Creole food. High ceilings and communal tables evoke a traditional Sunday supper in a rustic Italian village. Located in the renovated and historic Roosevelt Hotel, the friendly…View Restaurant Details >
Another New Orleans institution, Galatoire's, has been open in the heart of the French Quarter since 1905 when Jean Galatoire came to New Orleans from a small town in France. He brought classic French cooking and married those techniques to fresh ingredients from Louisiana. Now the fifth generation of Galatoires and their descendants continue to…View Restaurant Details >
Irene's was a wonderful little find from a local who suggested it after I said I had had my fill of Cajun and Creole food. Tucked away on a back street, it quickly became clear that this was a local's favorite. Even though they take reservations, you'll still have to wait, in fact the joke…View Restaurant Details >
Oddly for a town with such French influences, there are few French bistros, but Meauxbar is a local's favorite and its latest incarnation is under the guidance of restaurateur Robert LeBlanc who operated the Poydras Street restaurant Ste. Marie, which has closed. He has brought his entire staff over to Meauxbar including executive chef Kristin…View Restaurant Details >