1. French Quarter
The French Quarter is the city’s oldest and best-known neighborhood. Most visitors make a beeline to Bourbon Street, and many first-timers think the Quarter is nothing but a party. But there’s a lot more to do here - gorgeous architecture, a ton of history, fabulous antiques, local boutiques, great food, music, and views of the Mississippi. It’s family-friendly, with the Aquarium of the Americas, the Cabildo Museum, carriage rides, street performers, and more fun for kids. Stay here if you want to be in the middle of it all, with easy access to other neighborhoods.
While the Quarter is home to newer, award-winning restaurants, dining at one of New Orleans’ historic fine dining institutions is a must. Galatoire’s offers a glimpse into the city’s unique dining culture; most of the waiters, dressed in tuxedos, are local and have worked at the restaurant for decades, and many high-society locals are longtime regulars. The bright walls, black-and-white tile, and white tablecloths serve a refined but celebratory atmosphere. Dine on shrimp rémoulade, trout almondine, and other New Orleans classics for a memorable experience.
Located in the century-old Creole restaurant Arnaud’s, the French 75 bar offers a step back in time. The dark, intimate space is adorned with monkey lamps and other original vintage decor. Order a classic cocktail like an Old Fashioned or a sidecar, or ask the expert bartenders for an inventive concoction. Either way, you’ll be impressed. Try the soufflé potatoes, an Arnaud’s specialty, then check out the intriguing Mardi Gras museum upstairs.
Running parallel to Bourbon Street, one block over is one of the Quarter’s most elegant routes. From Canal to Esplanade, you’ll find a beautiful stretch of art galleries, antique shops, fine jewelry, street performers, and picturesque buildings adorned with intricate ironwork. For a unique experience, check out M.S. Rau Antiques. The 25,000-square-foot gallery features an incredible collection of high-end antiques, art, and sculpture. Ask to see the “secret room”, and you’ll be amazed at the rare, museum-quality artifacts on display.
Family-owned and operated since 1886, the Monteleone is one of the most recognized hotels in the city. Its opulent rooms were favored by writers such as Anne Rice, Truman Capote, Tennessee Williams, and William Faulkner. The star of the hotel is the Carousel Bar. Locals and tourists frequent this revolving bar for classic cocktails and musical entertainment. It’s a must-do on any visitor’s list, and as a guest, you can imbibe to your heart’s content and stroll right onto your room. You can also enjoy a meal at Criollo, with its ingredient-driven menu presenting the fusion of flavors that make up Louisiana cuisine.
If you do just one thing…
Get beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde. Enjoy an order on the covered outdoor area and watch the crowds go by on Decatur, or take it to go and sit on the edge of the Mississippi. Your visit to the Quarter isn’t complete unless you’re covered in powdered sugar at some point.