New Orleans, the grande dame of the South, offers something for every visitor no matter whether it’s your first visit, or your 100th.
With the mantra of “Laissez le Bon Temps Rouler,” New Orleans is a city known for fun. From lavish architecture, exclusive boutiques and the always expanding food scene, this city devotes itself to the good life.
You could easily spend 10 days exploring the city’s different neighborhoods, but there’s plenty to do outside of the city too. Here’s a sample itinerary if you had 10 days to spend in the Crescent City.
Let’s start with a French Quarter classic. While the neighborhood these days is rife with rowdy tourists – especially between Canal and St. Ann– it’s still a landmarked, historic district full of intriguing shops and architecture.
If you’re staying at the newly refurbished The Jung Hotel and Residences at the foot of Canal Street, then it’s an easy stroll to Café du Monde where you can recharge with classic beignets, café au lait and people watching.
Afterwards, you can wander Royal St. for a little gallery hopping. This is where you’ll find the esteemed M.S. Rau for serious antique collectors, dozens of art galleries and one-of-a-kind clothing boutiques.
It’s also the location of the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), which showcases rotating exhibitions curated by former New Yorker Andrea Andersson.
No trip to New Orleans is complete without local, live music, so after dinner head on down to Frenchmen Street. The Spotted Cat, DBA, and 30/90 are also good choices with acts ranging from blues to brass band jazz. But don’t go too early, the Frenchmen scene is a late-night spot.
Late nights are best followed by late mornings with brunch. The Ruby Slipper Café is a local favorite serving classics like omelets and eggs Benedict (and cocktails, of course!) While traditionalists can appreciate Breakfast at Brennan’s.
In the afternoon, you can discover what makes Creole cuisine so delicious by taking a cooking class with the New Orleans School of Cooking or even a culinary tour.
Get out of town and explore River Road. You can rent a car and do your own self-guided tour of Plantation Country or you can join one of the many tours that take people to Oak Alley and Laura Plantations. After a leisurely day spent in the country, take in some New Orleans jazz at Preservation Hall back in the French Quarter.
Ride the Streetcar through the Garden District and enjoy the sweeping live oaks overhead and the stunning 19th century mansions. You can take the streetcar all the way to the Riverbend or get off at the Lower Garden District and walk over to Magazine Street for a day (or two) of shopping.
Magazine Street will charm you with its six miles of specialty boutiques, cafes and art galleries, where you can find anything from restored vintage dresses (Century Girl) to custom-made suits for men at Luca Falcone to a local favorite ‘Krewe,’ the home of stylish eyeglasses.
Head to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. The 1300-acre park offers a botanical garden and a sculpture garden all surrounding the city’s first Art Museum. There’s even a lake near the entrance where you can go on gondola or paddleboat rides.
Continuing with the outdoor theme, it’s time for a trip into the Bayou. An hour away from New Orleans, you can go on an airboat ride through the swamp, see alligators and meet local shrimpers and fishermen who supply the city with seafood.
Back in New Orleans, head Uptown to the Riverbend for shopping. This neighborhood features a cluster of boutiques, jewelers, and art galleries. One “must-see” destination is Yvonne Lafleur’s boutique where New Orleans’ debutantes have shopped for decades. The boutique includes street wear, lingerie and bridal gowns.
The funky Bywater neighborhood is the opposite side of the French Quarter and offers trendy eateries and drinking spots like St. Roch Market, a food hall housed in an elegant 19th century Victorian and Bacchanal where you can enjoy wine in a garden setting.
On your final day in New Orleans, choose a tour. Buzz NOLA offers bike tours, you can ride the Creole Queen which is a paddleboat tour on the Mississippi, or a build-your-own distillery tour around the new crop of breweries.
What will you do on your next trip to the Crescent City? ■