Why fly to the Big Easy when you can just spend days driving there? They say it’s not the destination, it’s the journey that counts and in this case, also the beignets. Cruise down memory lane to New Orleans. Feels like you can hear the jazz music floating through the streets and taste the po’ boy sandwiches already! Especially if you have po’ boy sandwiches around.
New Orleans isn’t just a place, it’s a feeling. NOLA is a celebration of song and an explosion of color. It’s movement and magic and history and art. It feels like the whole city is pulsating and the lucky visitor is welcomed to dance along.
A visit to Bourbon Street, while touristy without a doubt, is a fun place to start. The neon lights, radioactive drinks, and bustling crowds feel like everyday is Mardi Gras. And while you may think the namesake hints at what you’re likely to find mixed in your drink, it’s actually an homage to the name of France’s royal family at the time of the city’s development in 1721.
Right at the tippy top of Bourbon Street, be sure to check out Jean Lafitte’s BlackSmith Shop Bar, a dark and musty tavern that’s managed to survive two great fires and is considered the oldest structure in the entire United States used as a bar. It truly feels like time travel and you’ll be enchanted by the ambiance.
More drinks and memorable ambiances live at Carousel Bar where you can sip on something cooked up by head mixologist, Marvin, at an actual carousel in Hotel Monteleone; at Arnaud’s French 75 where you can (and really must) order its namesake cocktail, or feel a little extra fancy at Sazerac Bar .
Talented musicians and riveting jazz music blanket the streets...in a good way! You can hit up Maison Bourbon and The Jazz Playhouse along Bourbon Street or venture out to the greater French Quarter (and famed Frenchman Street) for renowned venues like Blue Nile, Preservation Hall, d.b.a., Tipitina’s and the memorably titled Chicken Wah Wah among many, many others. Stroll the streets and if you hear something good, pop in, drop a tip, and move on to the next amazing musical experience.
The French Quarter is both the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans and, as you may have guessed, one of the most delicious (as in lots of great things to eat!) For a cup of that famous Louisiana hickory coffee and mouthwatering desserts--they’re called beignets and are little sugar-dusted bites of heaven-- look no further than Cafe du Monde under the big green tent. Established in 1862, this iconic location is open 24 hours a day and always in high demand!
Still in need of some caffeination? Get your full coffee fix at French Truck Coffee, the unmistakable bright yellow shop where they make their own beans and they can be found at various locations around the city.
If you plan on eating pretty much nonstop from morning till well, the next morning in this kind of town, kick off your day with a must-have breakfast at Brennan’s where it’s all about Creole cooking and Bananas Foster for dessert. Get your hands on a local favorite, the muffuletta sandwich, at Central Grocery and Deli which looks exactly as advertised! Class it up with outdoor seating in the courtyard of Cafe Amelie surrounded by a jungle of plants and high brow menu items.
If you’re looking for a little culture fix, New Orleans also offers an array of museums covering art, history, and even Mardi Gras. History buffs hustle on over to the National WWII Museum which uses personal storytelling and artifacts to begin to unpack this massive and world changing war. The New Orleans Museum of Art known as NOMA, boasts an amazing art collection that dates from Italian Renaissance to today as well as a five acre sculpture garden. IF you’re looking for something a little off the beaten path, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum, The Old Ursuline Convent Museum, or The Museum of Death might be right up your alley!
If you want to get away from the hustle and bustle, take a walk and take a look at the mind-blowing rainbow that is the Bywater neighborhood in New Orleans. Filled with Bohemian vibes, cute cafes, thrifty shops, the Bywater boasts some of the most colorful homes you’ve ever seen that are just asking for a photo op.