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WHERE TO SLEEP
Hotel Peter and Paul
The newest addition to the vast list of hotels, b&b’s and guesthouses is this fabulously restored church and school in the heart of the Marigny. Never mind that the location couldn’t be more prime, the insides of these 4 buildings are so stunning you will never want to leave. You have the choice to stay in the Schoolhouse, the Convent or the Rectory, which also houses the Elysian Bar with its beautiful courtyard and yummy cocktails. You can even host an event fit for a saint in the Church! The results of this four-year restoration project have proven to have been worth it, this is definitely my pick for the next stay-cation!
For those who are familiar with the Ace hotel chain, it is a place to see and be seen. But don't be deterred by the hipsters, there is an awesome rooftop bar and pool, a Stumptown coffee and a wonderful restaurant, Josephine Estelle. Located in the rapidly growing CBD area of downtown NOLA.
Want a more refined stay? The 116 year old hotel was restored to it's original grandeur and reopened in 2009. There is also a rooftop pool and a luxurious spa.
Even if you don't stay here stop in for a spin at the Carousel Bar. This classic New Orleans hotel is located in the heart of the French Quarter. It too has a nice rooftop pool and bar.
International House Hotel
New Orleans' original boutique hotel. Located a few blocks from the French Quarter with a nice cocktail bar in the lobby.
W French Quarter
Unlike most other W hotels this location is a bit less trendy. Perfect location in the French Quarter with a beautiful outdoor pool and great onsite restaurant, Sobou.
If you want to feel like the rich and privileged this is the place for you. With just 31 rooms, this historic compound from the early 1800s evokes true southern charm. Sunbathe in the French Quarter courtyard or hang out on one of the balconies and people watch.
Located directly on the streetcar line close to the French Quarter is this newly remodeled hotel. Equipped with John Besh restaurant, The Caribbean Room, the rooftop bar, Hot Tin, with stunning views and rooms decorated to reflect the city's French and Spanish influences.
The Catahoula Hotel
A newly opened 35-room boutique hotel in the CBD with a Peruvian style Pisco bar in the lounge and a rooftop terrace that has live music and the occasional movie night. The rooms range in style and size from a 400 sq. ft. suite with a balcony to a bunk room with 4 beds to accommodate a group of traveling friends. The vibe is youthful, hip and stylish but all housed in a restored Creole townhouse from the mid-1800s.
Henry Howard Hotel
This 150-year-old building that houses an 18-room boutique hotel is located a short streetcar ride from downtown New Orleans. Even though it is somewhat removed from the action it is in the gorgeous and lush lower garden district, surrounded by the mansions and oak trees of Prytania St. The rooms all have unique elements but a beautiful custom wallpaper and tiles tie them together. Don't skip out on pre-dinner cocktails in the parlor or on the lovely patio. This is a great place to stay if you want a little more peace and quiet without sacrificing comfort, style and hospitality.
WHERE TO EAT AND DRINK
Hands down my favorite restaurant in the city. This is the first restaurant James Beard winner Donald Link opened in the city, and in my opinion the best. If the lamb neck is on the menu, you have to get it. You will spot more locals here than tourists.
Second only to Herbsaint, this is Donald Link's other stunner of a restaurant. Don't bother coming if you don't want a healthy dose of gulf seafood. Amazing oysters and shrimp as well as whole grilled fish and specials reflecting the daily catches.
With 2 locations you can hit up this breakfast and lunch spot when you are uptown and downtown. Great fresh squeezed juices, coffee, sandwiches and salads. They also have a smaller juice and coffee spot in the CBD called Pulp & Grind.
My go-to coffee shop in New Orleans, using Counter Culture beans and has a great food menu. Stop in for roasted veggies and poached eggs or yummy vegan and gluten free baked goods. Perfect for the morning after a decadent meal.
Church Alley Coffee
A cafe with a dedication to sourcing great beans from some of the best roasters in the country and a healthy, simple menu using as many local ingredients as possible.
This quaint coffee shop tucked away on Poland Ave. in the bywater serves up a great coffee and yummy locally made pastries and yogurt. Come on a Saturday or Sunday morning for special brunch pop-ups.
Starting off as a food truck this Mediterranean spot graduated to brick and mortar due to popular demand. The falafel platter is always a favorite of mine but I also never miss the oppportunity to eat lamb when it is on their menu. Located next to Swirl Wine Bar you can kill two birds and visit both.
★Pho Tau Bay
Probably the only thing Emeril Lagasse and I have in common, this is our favorite Vietnamese restaurant in NOLA, and trust me, there are many amazing and authentic Vietnamese restaurants here. PTB opened in 1982 on the other side of the Mississippi River from the city but moved in 2016 to the medical district of downtown New Orleans. I love the pho tai and bo kho with french bread.
In the recently redeveloped Freret neighborhood, this pizza place is one of the best in town. With a pizza oven shipped over in pieces from Italy, Ancora is making authentic Neapolitan style pies, house-made salumi and has an extensive southern Italian wine list.
I think the name says it all right? This Bywater spot has been generating buzz since it was just a pop-up started by two friends from college. Expect huge New York style pies, some of which you can get by the slice, garlic knots and a killer caesar salad. I go for the pizza personally but I hear the pasta is pretty great too.
Also located in the Freret corridor, Cure is responsible for being one of the first businesses on the street to draw new interest back to the neighborhood. Considered one of the best cocktail bars in the nation and nominated for a James Beard. This is great spot to come and have a classic cocktail or something specially crafted by the talented bartenders.
This is an oldie but goodie, if you can find a seat. This one time wine shop turned wine bar turned wine bar/restaurant/music venue is an institution in the bywater. With the beautiful courtyard and recently refurbished upstairs bar you can come for a glass or stay for a few bottles!
This newly opened Freret St. restaurant is quickly become a regular spot for me. They have simple but tasty fare and a killer wine list to pair with your meal. If you are in the neighborhood but a little too early for dinner, stop by for their great happy hour menu, a tinto de verano and chicken liver mousse will only set you back $10.
This newer kid on the block, relatively speaking, is in the same neighborhood as Bacchanal but has a totally different vibe. This wine shop/bar is local fave to hang out in and have a few glasses of wine and a cheese board while catching up with the neighbors or playing a game of spades.
Plum Street Snoballs
Some may argue this but these are the best snowballs in the city! Maybe I'm biased because I have lived in walking distance my whole life, but make no mistake, Plum Street has been an uptown classic since its original opening in 1945. My favorite flavor is orchid cream vanilla!
Poboys are found all over the city but these are some of the best. Around since 1911 with only a few owner changes this bakery has been a midcity mainstay serving classics like fried oyster, fried shrimp or roast beef as well as some nouveau combinations. All poboys come "dressed" unless otherwise specified.
St. James Cheese Company
The uptown location of this shop is half restaurant/half retail, specializing in cheese imported from all over the world. Stop in for a sandwich or pick up some picnic stuff and head over to Audubon Park. There is now a location in the CBD too!
Stein's Market & Deli
Don't be turned off if you meet Dan Stein himself, he can be rude and abrasive and sometimes just mean, but he is a puppy at heart. This Philly-born transplant opened up a great deli specializing in Jewish and Italian food. They bake some of the breads in house but look to the experts in New York and Pennsylvania for some of the staples. Come here for a great sandwich and matzoh ball soup or pick up some stuff for a picnic to go. They also have one of the best and most unique beer selections in town.
Ice Cream 504
This place makes me so happy, not only because it's AMAZING ice cream but Michael, the owner, always puts a smile on my face. He makes all the ice creams fresh and in house using no stabilizers or preservatives. My absolute favorite flavor is almond peach petit-four but don't take my word, stop in and sample a few. No visit to Freret St. is complete without some ice cream.
A classic New Orleans-Italian pastry and gelato shop that has been around for over 100 years. The Brocato family has Sicilian roots and has been treating this city to their family recipes since 1905, with everything from traditional spumoni, anise cookies and hand-stuffed to cannolis to local, seasonal flavors like satsuma granita and jasmine flower gelato.
Take the ferry across the Mississippi from the foot of Canal St. and take a stroll for a couple blocks to this wonderful coffee shop and roasters. You can get an iced coffee to-go and wander around the quaint Algiers Point neighborhood or stick around and get a slice of pie. Either way is gonna be awesome. Pick up a freshly roasted bag to bring home as a souvenir!
Located on the roof of The Pontchartrain hotel this cocktail bar not only has yummy drinks but they also have THE BEST view of the entire city! Try going in the mid-afternoon or early evening before it gets too crowded otherwise expect a wait.
The couple that opened this Southeast Asian inspired eatery are alums of one of my favorite restaurants, Herbsaint and man do they have SKILLZ. At this point I have tasted most of the menu and none of it is even slightly disappointing. Working with local farms and fishermen they have managed to meld southern ingredients with flavors from Thailand and Vietnam. Must orders are the brussel sprouts and the half of a chicken.
WHERE TO SHOP
Specializing in menswear, this cool shop is located in the Ace Hotel. Stocking small, indie clothing labels as well as mens' accessories, shoes and a great book selection.
Sister shop to Freda in Marfa, TX. This unique shop in the Ace Hotel has local artisans jewelry and bags as well as clothing and shoe designers from around the US. This boutique is worth checking out for their awesome selection of fragrances and body products alone!
A wonderfully curated vintage shop just off popular Frenchman St. in the Marigny. Whether you are looking for retro sneakers, mesh in a variety of forms or funky, chunky jewelry this is your place to go.
Starting as a small apparel line just before Katrina, Defend New Orleans stores now carry a full line of mens, womens and kids t-shirts, tanks and sweatshirts as well as locally published books and zines, artwork and accessories.
Located in the LGD, this shop focuses on handmade and designed in NOLA technical backpacks, shoulder bags, and accessories. If you are lucky enough to be in town for a sample sale, don't miss out on great buys!
This amazing chef's dream of a shop specializes in knives but also has a large selection of small, beautiful culinary publications and locally produced food items. Expect to walk in to a warm southern welcome and walk out with more than just a fun new kitchen tool.
If you are in search of the perfect souvenir or gift, look no further than Dirty Coast. Around since 2004 this company started off selling witty and relevant t-shirts online and have since graduated to multiple brick-and-mortars and stock numerous locally made and designed gifts. It is the first place I look when shopping for things to bring to friends who live out of town. I also own a number of their t-shirts, new and vintage designs ;)
Saint Claude Social Club
A lady-owned boutique with an incredible array of vintage clothing, unique jewelry and accessories and velvety soft leather shoulder bags. They also have a handful of yummy perfumes, candles and palo santo incense to freshen up your home. This store is a delight to all my senses!
This GORGEOUS shop run by two local interior designers will definitely make you swoon. They have a great collection of vintage furniture, antique dishware, luxurious textiles, Aesop soaps, scents from Coqui Coqui (a wonderful line from the Yucatan region of Mexico), and the most beautiful selection of candles and parfums from Byredo.
A wonderfully curated music shop that specializes in underground collectible records. The owner has impeccable taste when it comes to music and is always spinning something cool in the store. Disko Obscura also happens to be a small recording studio and label that releases small production, high quality electronic vinyl. The storefront shares space with a satellite DNO so you can pick up a new shirt to go with your new album purchases.
This French Quarter boutique is totally worth the hassle of trying to find parking. I love coming here to find a sweet card for a friend, a unique piece of jewelry or if I am splurging on myself, a gorgeous painting. This shop is the perfect stop when looking for something special for yourself or a loved one.
Glitter Box N.O.
In a man's world it is SO refreshing to see so many femme-identifying people supporting one another and band together to make our voices louder. Glitter Box is an amazing shop dedicated to supporting femme creators, makers, artists and entrepreneurs and has an incredibly curated collection of work in an adorable storefront on Royal St. They also provide great learning workshops, pop-ups for new designers and even tarot card readings. This is a store you can feel great about supporting!
Goods That Matter
A sweet little shop who shares its space with local jewelry designer Rachel Adamiak that is committed to creating and selling well-designed goods that when purchased give back to all different communities. Whether you are buying a REBUILD candle whose proceeds benefit various disaster relief funds, natural bug spray that donates to The National Park Service or BirdProject soap that aids in the ongoing Gulf Coast cleanup post BP oil spill you can feel good about the quality of products at this shop as well as the charities you have helped contribute to.
WHAT TO DO
This 1,300 acre park located in midcity is approximately 50% larger than NYC's Central Park and has enough activity to fill a whole day. Whether you want to pack a picnic and take a paddle boat out, play a game of put-put or want to wander the sculpture garden and New Orleans Museum of Art, City Park has something for anyone at anytime of year.
Abita Springs daytrip
Take a roadtrip across Lake Pontchartrain on the world's longest bridge over a body of water, the Causeway Bridge. Once you reach the northshore you will head to Abita Springs, home to the Abita Brewery, Abita Brew Pub restaurant and the UCM museum of oddities.
There are many bodies of water to kayak in and near Louisiana. If you don't feel like traveling far from the city you can rent a kayak at Massey's in midcity and head to the bayou or you could fling a little farther and go on a guided swamp tour. There are endless tour operators here but two of my favorites are Canoe and Trail and New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours - I'm a fan of the moonlight paddle in the Manchac swamp with Canoe and Trail or the daytime paddle of the Honey Island Swamp with NO Kayak Swamp Tours!
Take the streetcar from uptown or downtown and make a pit stop at this great park. Much smaller in size than City Park but still a great green space to run or bike in or have a lagoon-side picnic.
Just off of Magazine St. behind Audubon Park is an all-time favorite place of mine, the Audubon Zoo. The zoo here has changed shape since my childhood but has held the integrity it started with in 1916. With a commitment to conservation and environmental education, this zoo remains of the best in the nation. A local tip- once inside the gates make sure to find the Roman Candy man, this local confection has been made onsite in the wagon since 1915.
Cocktail tour in the French Quarter
There are a few tours available but this one is my personal favorite... I think... I can't remember the whole thing, haha. So the point is, pace yourself, there is no need to drink the whole cocktail at every stop! But seriously, this is a unique tour of the quarter with a knowledgeable guide who provides some history of the city of New Orleans by way of the cocktails made famous here.
Get a tattoo
There are a plethora of tattooers and the tattooed in this town but don't be mistaken in thinking all tattoo shop are created equal. Make sure to do your research but my 2 recommendations if you want stellar artwork and lovely conversation are The Tattoo Museum or Downtown Tattoos. Just make sure to plan in ahead and make an appointment before coming to town.
Well this is pretty vague because honestly, every month is festival season in New Orleans and Louisiana. Some of my favorites are Jazz Fest in April and May, Festival International in April, Southern Decadence over Labor Day weekend and the Oak Street Poboy Festival in November. To find the festival nearest your visit check the Louisiana Travel website.
This may sound cliché but this is the best time of year. I LOVE Mardi Gras! I have never missed one in my 33 years and I don't intend to. This almost month long event has a little something for everyone, whether you have a family or plan on spending your bachelor(ette) party here during this city wide celebration you will enjoy yourself.
Take a ferry ride from downtown New Orleans to the historic neighborhood of Algiers Point. This sweet little part of the city oozes charm and has plenty of coffee, booze, and food options to make it the perfect field trip from the French Quarter. Make sure to check the ferry schedule and have exact change for the $2 fare.
Specializing in core based workouts on surfboards that balance on bosu balls. Definitely a killer ab workout!
★Maple Street Pilates Studio
Go to Laura Romney's class, she is the best in the city.
Ballet barre workouts in a studio on Magazine St.
Choreographed spin classes with great music, not unlike Soul Cycle (just sayin').
Shake your tail feather while burning some calories, there is definitely a class for everyone here.
Go to Audubon Park or City Park for great trails or you can run on the St. Charles streetcar line for a city view. Also, check the race calendar, New Orleans is a great, flat route and running a race is an awesome way to see the city.