My new favorite domestic destination has to be New Orleans. This crazy place has me spellbound. It presents a gritty vibe and radiates a feeling unlike any other spot across North America. As any local will tell you, there’s way more to this city than just Mardi Gras. Here, we present an essential guide to the Big Easy.
Situated in the heart of the French Quarter, Monteleone is considered one of the city’s most celebrated inns. Modern updates include a spa as well as a rooftop bar and pool. The hotel is allegedly haunted, with reports of ghost sightings and strange occurrences. Tip: Check out the revolving Carousel Bar & Lounge off the lobby.
This architectural jewel boasts luxurious accommodations and amenities from its prime locale in the Garden District adjacent to a charming streetcar route. Tip: Grab a drink at rooftop bar Hot Tin, which nods to one-time resident Tennessee Williams.
The Roosevelt New Orleans
This place was made for history buffs and those who want to step into the most sophisticated scene in the city. The elegant Sazerac Bar just off the ornate, oversize lobby is where the namesake drink was invented. Now part of the Waldorf Astoria family, the Roosevelt recently underwent a complete restoration.
Located in a modest, industrial-looking building, this is the place to go for that elusive authentic New Orleans music experience. The drinks cost a fraction of what most clubs charge, and the jazz is top-notch. Tip: Check out the world-famous Treme Brass Band every Wednesday.
Preservation Hall Jazz Band has embodied the joyful spirit of traditional New Orleans jazz for more than 50 years. There is no beverage service here, but you can BYOB from the bar next door. Tip: Skip the lines by buying Big Shot tickets online.
The Spotted Cat Music Club
The Cat, as it’s known by locals, is NOLA’s quintessential jazz club. The Faubourg Marigny icon has become an international destination for jazz. Reservations are not taken, and cash is the only form of payment accepted.
Contemporary Arts Center New Orleans
The focal point of the Warehouse District, the center is home to bold experiments across all media. The historic structure blends the city’s timeless architecture with contemporary materials and works from both local and international artists.
National WWII Museum
Offering a moving tribute, this museum tells the story of the American experience in the war that changed the world. Tip: Don’t miss Beyond All Boundaries, a remarkable cinematic experience produced and narrated by Tom Hanks.
New Orleans Museum of Art
The city’s oldest fine arts institution has an impressive permanent collection comprising some 40,000 works (think Magritte, Picasso and Sargent). On top of that, there’s also a five-acre sculpture garden featuring more than 60 pieces by international artists.
A NOLA institution since 1893, Commander’s is known for its haute Creole cuisine, Old World service and convivial atmosphere. The walls are even painted Commander’s Blue. It’s a place where every table seems to be celebrating something. Tip: Go for the live jazz weekend brunch and request a table outside.
A Friday lunch at Galatoire’s is an absolute must while in New Orleans. It’s a weekly ritual with a splendid display of ceremony. Note that reservations are not accepted for the downstairs dining room. Tip: There’s no menu, so order what the waiter tells you.
It’s easy to slip back in time at this French Quarter landmark. This eatery is known for its reasonably priced Creole fare and its signature muffuletta: a dinner plate–sized Italian sandwich piled high with ham, mortadella, salami, provolone, Swiss cheese and olive salad.
Parkway Bakery & Tavern
Since 1911, Parkway has served hands down the best po’boy in town. The local favorite is the “dressed” fried shrimp po’boy. Tip: Beat the long lines by grabbing a seat in the bar.
This unpretentious Uptown cathedral for oyster lovers is famous for its freshly shucked bivalves and gleaming raw bar in a mahogany-rich old-school setting. Tip: If oysters aren’t your thing, try the buttery barbecue shrimp.
Arnaud’s French 75 Bar
The phrase “best in NOLA” is uttered far too often, but it fully applies here. Named for the Champagne cocktail, Arnaud’s French 75 Bar recently won the James Beard Award for best bar. Tip: Have a bartender score you a table when no reservations are available.
Half a block off Bourbon Street, this friendly Irish pub is one of the city’s best-kept secrets. It’s more of a locals bar (read: no tourist prices). The intimate room is covered in framed vintage photographs, car parts autographed by drag racers, and other memorabilia from NOLA’s glory days.
Located in Faubourg Marigny, Kajun’s is open 24/7, 365 days a year. It’s a diverse haven for locals, service-industry workers and adventurous tourists. Karaoke starts every night at 5.
Read this article as it appears in the magazine.