There is so much to see and do in the unique city of NOLA that trying to pack it all into a weekend may seem like quite a daunting task, but I’ve put together a list that may help narrow things down and provide a well-rounded experience of all that this charming Louisiana city has to offer.
MARIE LAVEAU’S HOUSE OF VOODOO
With character seeping from its pores, Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is the place to be for those interested in learning about New Orleans’ eerie past and curious about the supernatural. With potions, masks, and interesting (albeit creepy) voodoo dolls hanging from all over, you’re sure to get the chills at least once while exploring this gem. But don’t take any pictures in the shop—it could ruin the aura and render the magic useless!
MURIEL’S JACKSON SQUARE
Located right on the north corner of the famous Jackson Square in the French Quarter, Muriel’s Jackson Square is a great place for a special night out. Each of the dining areas offers a different ambience—one resembles a beautiful garden terrace, one a Victorian era fine dining atmosphere, and balcony dining upstairs when weather permits. For an added bonus, grab a seat by the window for your ultimate people-watching pleasure.
CAFE DU MONDE
A New Orleans staple, Café du Monde has been serving up the best beignets and café au lait in the city since 1862. The seating area is covered but you still get the feel of a quick bite in an outdoor market because of the open-air concept. If you’re lucky, catch a jazz band outside setting the mood for your fried pastry-eating pleasure.
Just a short streetcar ride away from the French Quarter, Commander’s Palace is located in the Garden District of New Orleans, right across the street from the famed Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. If you really want to feel like royalty, make time for a meal in this unique dining venue if it’s the last thing you do while in New Orleans! While being shown to our table, we walked for a good 5 minutes through different rooms of the restaurant and felt as if we were really wandering through a palace. Try the bread pudding if you really want your socks knocked off—I swear this was like heaven melting in my mouth. The .25 cent martinis didn’t hurt either!
BRANDY MILK PUNCH
Apparently very popular in the southern United States around the holidays, brandy milk punch was my favorite new drink I tried while in New Orleans. I’m normally not a fan of hard liquor, but when mixed with milk, vanilla, and cinnamon, how can you really go wrong? Try this as an after-dinner treat or with breakfast and you’ll really be lounging in style like a true southern Belle.
THE CAMELLIA GRILL
The Camellia Grill is a small breakfast spot seeping with character that was established in 1946. You’ll be seated at a breakfast bar wrapping around two main server aisles with other hungry patrons. You can see all of the food being cooked only steps away and the bow-tied service is quick and friendly. NOTE: This is a loud place—not recommended for those who have had a bit too much to drink on Bourbon Street the night before and suffering from a New Orleans style “headache”.
IRVIN MAYFIELD’S JAZZ PLAYHOUSE
According to our hotel concierge, “it’s the only classy place on Bourbon Street”. Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse is inside the beautiful Royal Sonesta New Orleans hotel and is the perfect place for that easy-going jazz atmosphere you envision when thinking of the New Orleans music scene. With amazing small plates such as Louisiana crab cakes and chicken and waffles, as well as some killer signature cocktails, this is the perfect place for a night out if you’re looking for something a little less rowdy than Pat O’Brien’s or the Bourbon Cowboy.
THE ROOFTOP AT THE OMNI ROYAL ORLEANS
The rooftop at the Omni Royal Orleans is definitely in the running for New Orlean’s best-kept secret, but unfortunately (or fortunately—I guess it depends on how you look at it), it’s only open to guests of the hotel. There’s a pool, lounge area, and seasonal bar, as well as a viewing deck with arguably one of the best views of the French Quarter out there. Grab some good photos and take a dip in the heated pool for a relaxing evening off the town, then head back to your room with a soft robe and glass of wine for the night!
CAFE FLEUR DE LIS
Tucked away on one of the less busy streets of the French Quarter (Chartres St), Café Fleur de Lis is my preferred pick for a quick meal boasting great prices. The menu has so many tasty dishes to choose from, you could go there for breakfast, brunch, or lunch and leave with a happy tummy all the same. Serving some of the best eggs benedict in the city as well as a mean hand-breaded shrimp po’ boy, you won’t want to miss this little eatery if you can help it!
ROYAL HOUSE RESTAURANT
Right on the trendy and artistic Royal Street, the Royal House Restaurant is an elegant and upbeat oyster bar boasting some of the most traditionally “New Orleans” type cuisine such as gumbo, jambalaya, and of course—oysters! The distressed brick walls are adorned with ship parts, anchors, mermaid plaques, and old fishing nets and the ambience is very NOLA! If you like seafood, this is a great stop to get your oyster fix and to have a fun night out.
FAULKNER HOUSE BOOKS
On an out of the way side street near the artists of Jackson Square, we stumbled upon Faulkner House Books and got lost in the pages of some books about New Orleans history, drinks unique to the city, the history of voodoo, and romantic poetry. If you’re interested in books specific to the city or even just a novel to get away from it all on your plane ride home, check out this cute little hideaway amongst the streets of the French Quarter.
These are just some highlights from my recent trip to New Orleans that I hope will become yours as well. Of course, feel free to ask questions or leave your personal favorite New Orleans spot in the comments, whether it be a well-known tourist spot or a place only the locals know—I’d love to compare notes!
CAITLYN WITHOUT A COMPASS