You could say New Orleans is having a moment. It has recently been recognized as a top city by Travel + Leisure and Conde Nast Traveler, and this year, it’s celebrating its tricentennial. With celebratory events scheduled throughout the year, there’s no better time to travel to the “Big Easy.” The three-hundred-year-old city is a true melting pot of cultures, with influences from Europe, the Caribbean, Latin America, and Africa that can be seen in its food, language, music, and traditions. To jumpstart your journey, our Luxury Travel Experts have handpicked their top things to do in New Orleans.
1. NOLA is the hometown of jazz. You can find music on just about every corner of the city every night of the week. Our personal recommendation for a jazz fix – head to Frenchman street. Frenchman, in the Marigny, is a strip of a couple blocks with tons of bars and restaurants. Most of them have live music. The Spotted Cat is famous and hosts some great jazz but gets very claustrophobic on Saturday nights. Bamboula’s has a nice big space and always has live music playing. But, for our absolute favorite place to hear music, go to d.b.a. This is hands-down our favorite bar for listening to music in New Orleans. It’s in the middle of Frenchman Street, has a huge space with a huge bar featuring a worldly beer list, and they host some awesome music. Try to snag one of the coveted window booths to hang out and people-watch as you enjoy the music.
2. Wander through the French Quarter to Jackson Square. The scene is charming: iron balconies draped in hanging plants, leafy courtyards with fountains, and narrow cobblestone streets. Founded in 1718, it is the oldest section of the city and designated a National Historic Landmark.
3. Stop at Cane & Table for a rum cocktail. Built into an old carriage house on Decatur Street in the French Quarter, the quaint cocktail bar and restaurant is a place to sit and stay awhile, and through the back, you’ll find a greenery-surrounded patio.
4. Take a long stroll down Magazine Street. There are some wonderful shops, bars, and restaurants all along the street and fun places to stop for sweets too (SnoBalls; macarons at Sucre). A couple fun shops include Funky Monkey for thrifting and randomness and Storyville or Fleurty Girl for cute/nicer New Orleans-themed t-shirts.
5. Eat. With so much good food to be found in the city, it’s no wonder our Luxury Travel Experts had many opinions on just what to eat in NOLA.
- The best Italian food in the city can be found at Mandina’s off Canal in Mid-City. It’s a neighborhood family-owned joint in a sweet pink building and has been a local favorite for generations.
- For the best po’boys in the city, head to Parkway Bakery. The word is out about this authentic local favorite following their appearance in USA Today, but locals agree that it’s praise well deserved. For a personal favorite, get a fried oyster po’boy, dressed.
- Eat the Beignets at Café du Monde (this is a given, but it’s very important). Some people prefer Cafe Beignet (for their huge beignets) or other spots, but we say “don’t mess with a classic” and enjoy Cafe Du Monde.
- Get the muffuletta at Central Grocery on Decatur Street. It’s the home of the original muffuletta Italian sandwich.
- For gumbo, head to the Gumbo Shop in the French Quarter. The local-approved eatery is just around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square and serves up authentic gumbo and Creole staples in a casual atmosphere.
- Order the chargrilled oysters at Acme Oyster House. The wait is worth it, promise.