If you’re considering a trip to New Orleans, I’d highly recommend it. I’m not exactly sure where I got the idea in the first place, before I decided to book my ticket. Okay, it was mostly the French history that initially drew me to this town. It would be just like a mini European vacation, with cheaper airfare! The allure of 80+ degree weather in October certainly didn’t hurt either. I asked my boyfriend Josh to go with me since he’d never been either. He was in, so we went and we had an awesome time.
Some people told me that five days might be a little too long to spend in the city, but I’ve found that I like staying in one spot a little longer than most people. Not so long that I run out of things to do, but long enough to really absorb my surroundings. The last few days we were there were some of the best. It always takes some time to get acclimated and discover the real [insert city here]. Based on the time I spent exploring the Crescent City, here is my must-see/do/eat (mostly eat) list:
The Top 5: New Orleans Edition
1. Magazine Street & Uptown
The longer we spent in New Orleans, the more I was able to distinguish between the different neighborhoods, each with it’s own personality. The warehouse/arts district with all the museums and fun restaurants was pretty cool too, but in the end, I preferred the offbeat charm of Uptown. An impressive six-mile stretch that runs from the French Quarter to the Garden District, Magazine Street has no shortage of charming boutiques, antique shops and restaurants. If you wish you could live in Anthropologie (I know I do), then you’ll want to check out Louisiana-based Discoveries. Pop into Sucré for a sweet treat or stop by one of the myriad other bars and restaurants.
2. Check out the bookstores and live jazz music on practically every corner.
This was so funny to me. The city of New Orleans has one of the more lax open container laws in the country. So just about everyone is walking around with an alcoholic beverage of some sort. Yet there are tons and tons of bookstores. So if you feel like wandering into a bookstore, Hurricane in hand, you are free to do so. Also abundant is live jazz music. You’ll find just as many people playing out in the middle of the street as you will inside bars and restaurants. It’s one of the defining features of the city.
3. Go old school.
When I was asking around about what to do and see in New Orleans, I was told that I must go to either the Commander’s Palace or Galatoire’s. These long-established restaurants represent the New Orleans of days past, but people still love to go for the experience. Broussard’s has one of the best happy hours in the city. For three dollars, you get a generous portion of mussels and fries or a Pimm’s Cup.
4. Get out of the city.
Bourbon Street is great, but if you need a break from the crowds, hop on a streetcar and ride it out to the City Park. This is not your average urban green space. Oh no. This is a sprawling 1,300-acre nature preserve that’s apparently been around since 1854. You could easily spend an entire day here. So many activities! There’s the New Orleans Museum of Art, a botanical garden, mini golf and regular golf. We were only there for a morning, so we just wandered around the sculpture garden and took goofy pictures.
5. Restaurant Lüke
I debated including any one restaurant on this list since there are too many good ones to choose from. For my birthday dinner, I followed a coworker’s advice and ended up going with one of the newer John Besh restaurants. This ended up being the right choice. If you do go, I highly recommend the shrimp and grits. As a birthday surprise, the manager brought out not one, but TWO amazing desserts and two glasses of bubbly, on the house. I’m not sure which was better—the food or the service. Not a bad problem to have, eh? It turns out southern hospitality is a real thing!
Well that’s my list. It definitely doesn’t even begin to scratch the surface of all this vibrant, historic city has to offer, but there you have it. What about you? Have you ever been, and if so, what are some of your favorite spots?