best of the big easy: my guide to new orleans
New Orleans is definitely one of our country's most unique cities, the French Quarter looks like you're in Europe and the shopping and dining is like no other. Chances are if you haven't been yet, you've heard of Bourbon Street - but there's so much more to this gem of a city. This guide will include everywhere to hit up during your trip to the Big Easy!
where to stay
Location is important for a trip to New Orleans because many parts of the city are walkable. In my opinion, the best place to stay is in the French Quarter. You'll be a short walk away from a majority of the restaurants and landmarks you'll want to visit during your vacation. The Bourbon Orleans Hotel, Hotel Mazarin, and The Roosevelt are all great options in walkable locations, but there are plenty of options if those don't fit your budget. I wouldn't stay far out from downtown to get a deal, because you'll end up spending much more on parking garage fees.
where to drink
It would not be a proper city guide without including all the drinks you should try during your visit. In fact, many of these must-try cocktails were invented in the Big Easy and are a huge part of the city's culture. First up, Pat O'briens. Right in the heart of the city, you cannot miss this place! Stop in here to watch the dueling pianos and have a Hurricane...they invented it! Another can't miss bar - The Sazerac for a (you guessed it) a sazerac. Another New Orleans invention, this drink is made to perfection at this hotel bar inside of The Roosevelt. If that's too strong for you, I also recommend the gin fizz here! It wouldn't be a trip to New Orleans without visiting Commander's Palace, I'll touch on the food here later, but drinks wise you have to try their famous 25 cent martini. Yes, its 25 cents! Three martini lunches are quite popular at this spot, and for the price you can't pass it up. I'll warn you now though, that's the only bargain menu item. In the beautiful Garden District of NOLA, Commander's Palace is an upscale restaurant that has amazing food. We go every visit for lunch!
where to eat
New Orleans is an amazing food city, from crawfish and oysters to beignets, you won't want to miss these spots! For oysters you'll want to hit up Felix's in the French Quarter. The char-grilled oysters are to die for, I promise even the pickiest eater will love them. Expect to wait awhile to get in, but it is sooo worth it. Another New Orleans invention, the muffuletta at Central Grocery & Deli is a must try. The sandwich was invented here and is unique to New Orleans, it's rare to see it anywhere else in the country and it wouldn't be the same as having it from the original deli that created it. The sandwich is made on large sesame loaf rounds and can feed 3 people, so don't order one per person! Make sure you save room, because a few steps away from Central Grocery is Cafe Du Monde - home of the beignet and cafe au lait. Open 24/7, you have no excuses for skipping this essential spot! Their chicory coffee makes for a unique cup and who doesn't love fried dough covered in powdered sugar? Beignets are truly worth the hype and unless you've had them from here, you haven't had a proper one yet.
On to the more upscale options, Commander's Palace, which I mentioned earlier for their 25 cent martinis, is also an amazing place to have a meal. I've been for lunch a handful of times and it never disappoints. In the beautiful garden district, just a short trolley ride from the French Quarter, this restaurant is one you'll want to add to your list. The restaurant serves amazing creole food in a beautiful venue. If you dine here, make sure you order dessert. The creole bread pudding is...*chef's kiss*. In the French Quarter, another great option is GW Fin's. Their menu is based off the day's catch and there was nothing on the table that we didn't think was a 10/10. Maypop, in the business district, was one of my favorite meals during my last visit. Think Louisiana style cuisine meets asian fusion and that's Maypop, and it's incredible. This spot is definitely more modern than the other picks, but still something very unique to the city. They also boast an amazing cocktail menu. Brennan's is also a quintessential spot to dine on creole food and eat their famous banana's foster. I've personally never been (couldn't get a a table) but have only heard people rave about it, so definitely get a reservation.
where to explore
The French Quarter isn't the only area you'll want to visit during your trip. Make sure you take the trolley to Magazine Street for quaint cafes, boutiques, and art galleries. The French Market at the end of the French Quarter is also a must see - there's tons of food vendors and small businesses selling locally items from candles to jewelry. The antique stores around the city are also one of a kind, most notably M.S. Rau on Royal. They have ultra high end antiques - everything from fine art to Napoleon's desk. To get right on the Mississippi, stroll down Moon Walk and burn off some beignets, or continue the party and drink down Bourbon St - it's up to you! No matter where you end, it's impossible to not have a great time in New Orleans.
Till next time,