Moon New Orleans
Beloved Local Spots, Music & Food, Neighborhood Walks
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- Explore the City: Navigate by neighborhood or by activity with color-coded maps, or follow a guided neighborhood walk through Uptown, the Warehouse District, Treme, and more
- See the Sites: Learn about African American history at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, ride the St. Charles Streetcar, and sip a little something while you shop on Magazine Street. Take a leisurely bike ride in City Park, appreciate the wild beauty of the bayou, and explore 300 years of history in the city’s famous cemeteries.
- Get a Taste of the City: Enjoy funky eateries serving Asian-Southern fusion, vegan soul food, and modern Latin fare, or head uptown to the classic French-Creole restaurants and corner po-boy shops. Savor sweet beignets with cafe au lait, sample Cajun classics like alligator and boudin, and dive into a delicious bowl of gumbo
- Bars and Nightlife: Sip a Sazerac in the Roosevelt Hotel or a Ramos Gin Fizz straight from a shaker machine, listen to the live music on Frenchmen Street, discover the best gay bars in town, and take your cocktail to go. Sample stouts at a local microbrewery, see what’s on draft at the first cidery in New Orleans, and find out where the locals go to laissez les bon temps rouler
- Local Advice from proud New Orleanian Nora McGunnigle
- Flexible, Strategic Itineraries for music lovers, foodies, history buffs, and more, plus easy trips outside the city including Jungle Gardens, Bayou Teche Brewing, and the Blue Moon Saloon and Guesthouse
- Tips for Travelers including where to stay, how to safely bike around the city, and advice for LGBTQ+ visitors, international travelers, families with children, and more
- Maps and Tools like background information on the history and culture of New Orleans, easy-to-read maps, full-color photos, and neighborhood guides
DISCOVER NEW ORLEANS
In New Orleans, we want visitors to understand what really makes it special here: It’s not cheap beads and giant drinks on Bourbon Street, but the smell of jasmine, the sound of music floating on the humid air, the flavors of a city that loves food beyond most anything else. This is a tremendously sensory place, where you may suddenly smell the spicy scent of crawfish boiling in someone’s backyard, hear a school marching band practicing for next year’s parades, or feel the refreshing condensation clinging to a can of cold soda or beer.
Feel the history flowing through the city—through its music, food, celebrations, and most importantly, its people. Sure, if you come to party, you’ll find that here. But if you stop and listen to what the city whispers to you as you wander its streets, you’ll understand New Orleans on a whole different level.
This is not an orderly or easily digested place. It’s got jagged edges, grime, and sweat. Underneath all that, there’s a raw beauty that, if you’re lucky, you’ll get a glimpse of. This city and its people are full of surprises—some glorious, some heartbreaking—but you need to seek them out and find them for yourself. No book can guide you to the “perfect” New Orleans experience. That’s for you to discover.
10 TOP EXPERIENCES
1 Celebrate Everything! From Mardi Gras and Jazz Fest to Southern Decadence and Essence Fest, there’s always something to celebrate in the Crescent City.
2 Ride the St. Charles Streetcar: This is this oldest continually operating streetcar in the world; its route is a great way to take in the sights and sounds of St. Charles Avenue.
3 Listen to Live Music on Frenchmen Street: Stand outside and let the music wash over you. These four blocks of venues with nightly live performances let you choose what you’re in the mood for… and then move on when you’re ready for something else.
4 Wander City Park: You never know what you’ll come across—the New Orleans Museum of Art’s outdoor sculpture garden, swamps with egrets and pelicans, or a weekend festival or two.
5 Sip a Cocktail: New Orleans is where the Sazerac and the Brandy Crusta were born. There’s no better town to enjoy a fancy cocktail than the “cradle of civilized drinking”.
6 Shop on Magazine Street: This six-mile stretch of shopping, eating, and drinking begins in the Warehouse District and ends at Audubon Park. The Uptown portion offers the densest array of indie boutiques, galleries, and vintage clothing shops.
7 Get Artsy on Julia Street: This four-block stretch, also known as the Arts District, is home to the studios and galleries of internationally acclaimed artists. Buy some local art or handicrafts, or just browse to your heart’s content.
8 Feast for Days: From classic French-Creole restaurants and hidden po’boy shops to funky Vietnamese eateries, the culinary scene has endless options for foodies.
9 Experience the Louisiana Bayou: Go on a swamp tour just outside the city and see how many gators you can spot.
10 Take a Cemetery Tour: Because New Orleans is at such a low elevation, all bodies are interred aboveground. Take a guided tour of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 or St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 to see countless beautiful and haunting tombs.
EXPLORE NEW ORLEANS
THE BEST OF NEW ORLEANS
This itinerary has been designed to be easygoing, with the option to explore more if the spirit moves you. There’s so much to do in New Orleans, it’s hard to fit it all in on one trip. Plus, the languid Southern atmosphere precludes hurrying anywhere. This itinerary assumes you’re landing in New Orleans in late morning or early afternoon on the first day.
I recommend finding a hotel that’s away from the hustle and bustle, but still close to the action. Staying in the Faubourg Marigny at Auld Sweet Olive Bed & Breakfast or the Hotel Peter and Paul makes for easy access to both the French Quarter and the Marigny via bus. Staying at an inn on Esplanade Avenue, like La Belle Esplanade, allows easier access to City Park and the Tremé by bus or by bike. Staying on or near St. Charles Avenue, at the Pontchartrain Hotel, the Henry Howard Hotel, or The Columns Hotel, means you have streetcar transportation right outside your door.
AFTERNOON: FRENCH QUARTER
Once your flight lands, check into your hotel. Spend some time at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint for a musical introduction to the city. Walk up to Royal Street and head west, stopping at shops and galleries including No Rules Fashion and M.S. Rau Antiques.
At this point you’ll likely be thirsty, hot, and ready for a snack. At SoBou you can grab a traditional Pimms cup, Sazerac, or a creative cocktail from the bar’s talented staff. Try the Louisiana sweet potato beignets or the crawfish-boil fried chicken on a stick.
Check out the Pharmacy Museum for some odd medical history. On the ground floor is a display of questionable medical practices, including voodoo gris-gris and potions. On the second floor, you’ll find exhibits on midwifery, optometry, and the role of the doctor in the 19th century.
EVENING: CENTRAL BUSINESS DISTRICT (CBD)
Next, cross Canal to leave the French Quarter and enter the Central Business District, and hit the Sazerac House to learn about the history of the Sazerac and general New Orleans cocktail history, watch the distilling process, tour the facility, and have some samples. To continue with this theme, the Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel is only a few blocks away.
When you feel refreshed, head to the new South Market District near the Superdome. There are a variety of restaurants to choose from depending on your mood, from casual sandwiches at Aglio to beautiful Louisiana-Southeast Asian food and cocktails at Maypop.
NIGHT: FAUBOURG MARIGNY
After dinner, take a cab or ride share or the Loyola/North Rampart streetcar line to Frenchmen Street and see what grabs your interest—there are tons of different bands playing, some with cover charges, some not, and it’s easy to club hop from spot to spot listening to New Orleans music.
DAY 2: MID-CITY
Yesterday was a big day, so today is more relaxed (but still fun-filled). Make your way to the Canal streetcar line and take the Cemeteries or City Park line. Depending on when you get moving, check out Biscuits & Buns on Banks for breakfast or Neyow’s Creole Cafe or Piece of Meat for lunch.
Take the streetcar on Carrollton going toward City Park. Get off at the end and check out the New Orleans Museum of Art, then go to the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in back, and make your way to the New Orleans Botanical Garden. After enjoying all that beauty, head to Wheel Fun Rentals to explore the other parts of City Park and Bayou St. John by bike, kayak, canoe, or pedal boat.
After you’ve worked up an appetite, get some Cajun food at the nearby Toups Meatery and take the streetcar heading downtown. Get off at Chickie Wah Wah for some low-key live music. Once the show’s over, if you’re up for it, head back up on the streetcar to Twelve Mile Limit or Revel Cafe & Bar for a nightcap.
DAY 3: UPTOWN
Go to Commander’s Palace for weekday lunch or weekend brunch. The restaurant is accessible via the St. Charles streetcar.
Now it’s time to do some serious walking, shopping, snacking, and thirst-quenching with a stroll up Magazine Street starting at Washington Street, and going up to Napoleon Avenue. Grab a cold beer to go from Craft Beer Cellar for your walk. There are countless shops, cafés, and even a few galleries that you’ll want to stop and check out. A few of my personal faves are Zèle NOLA, the Magazine Antique Mall, and Levee Baking Co. Just past Napoleon is the fantastic Ashley Longshore Studio Gallery.
Make your way to Freret Street for a pre-dinner beer at gastropub Freret Beer Room or a cocktail at High Hat Cafe, which doubles as a diner. Have a nice Italian dinner at Ancora.
For post-dinner entertainment, head down Freret Street to Cure, one of the best cocktail bars in the city. Afterward, take a cab or ride share to catch some live music at Tipitina’s on Tchoupitoulas, Le Bon Temps Roule on Magazine Street, or the Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street.
THE ARCHITECTURE OF NEW ORLEANS
The French Quarter, Central Business District, and Warehouse District are the earliest settlements of New Orleans. These areas were where people lived in Creole cottages and worked on the docks, in banks, or at the market. Because the French Quarter burned down a couple of times, most of the buildings aren’t as old as the city itself. But just walk down any block in the Quarter to find amazing examples of restored Creole cottages and townhouses with wrought iron balconies. The CBD and the Warehouse District, the city’s two centers of commerce, have very different building styles, including art deco and beaux arts.
Start your day with a coffee and pastry at Croissant d’Or Patisserie on Ursulines Avenue, a historic building with a cool courtyard. It’s the former location of Angelo Brocato’s gelateria (now in Mid-City), which occupied the space in the early 20th century. You can see the tile work for the “Ladies’ Entrance,” which separated men from women for purposes of decorum. The marble-topped tables and the rest of the interior and enclosed courtyard give off an old-world European feel.
Just around the corner, the Old Ursuline Convent and Museum is one of the very few buildings that didn’t burn down in either of the fires that engulfed New Orleans in 1788 and 1794. Go in and check out the historic structure, which was built in 1745.
Heading toward Jackson Square on a side street called Pirate’s Alley is Faulkner House Books, located in the building where William Faulkner lived in 1925. Note the interior and exterior glass fan-window transoms, antique shelving and cabinets, and worn brick floors.
Across Canal Street from the French Quarter, the 1907-opened Roosevelt Hotel has an intriguing past entwined with former Louisiana governor Huey P. Long. The governor had his own room here, and it was said that he built Airline Highway just so he could get to the hotel’s Sazerac Bar from Baton Rouge more quickly. The palatial lobby, with soaring vaulted ceilings, mosaic tile flooring, plaster work, art deco murals, and brass accents, is one of the most breathtaking spaces in town.
Across the street from the main entrance of the Roosevelt is the pristinely restored The Orpheum, a beaux-arts palace and former vaudeville hall built in 1918. See if you can step in to take a look at the lobby.
Several of the city’s hotels have been creatively repurposed from commercial structures. A few blocks south of the Orpheum and the Roosevelt is The NOPSI Hotel, where the city’s power and transportation company once stood. The structure was originally built in the 1920s in the art deco style. About four blocks east, The Eliza Jane was built to honor the first woman publisher in the United States. She worked in the old Daily Picayune offices, one of the seven warehouses that have been pulled together to form today’s hotel. The Peychaud Bitters factory was once in one of these warehouses as well.
The International House Hotel, just northwest of The Eliza Jane, is a beaux-arts-style building that was built in 1906, originally as a bank. Here, owner Sean Cummings has a Banksy piece on display, called Looters, which he had restored and preserved after it was vandalized and painted over.
Grab dinner and drinks at Jewel of the South, which is set in a meticulously restored 1830s Creole cottage. The dark-wood interior feels authentic to the building’s age, and the reintroduction of a once-lost cocktail classic, the Brandy Crusta, adds to the sensation of stepping back in time.
A DAY FOR MUSIC LOVERS
Music is everywhere here, so it’s easy to head to the nearest event or the closest show. Even just making your way up and down Frenchmen Street will expose you to more music than you know what to do with. Another option is to take a music history-themed walking tour of the city. For up-to-date events information, check out WWOZ (on the radio or online) or Offbeat Magazine (in print or online). If you need a place to start, here are a few ideas.
If you’re around for the weekend, plan on starting your day with a jazz brunch. There are a few options to choose from. Check out Atchafalaya or Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, or Buffa’s, a bar on Esplanade that also serves food.
If it’s Sunday, you may want to head over to the Tremé for the 10am jazz/gospel Mass at St. Augustine Catholic Church, an experience like no other.
Take the North Rampart streetcar or just walk to Louis Armstrong Park, where the roots of New Orleans music began with 18th century enslaved Africans congregating in Congo Square on Sundays. There are fantastic statues of jazz musicians—obviously Satchmo, but also great pieces celebrating jazz pioneer Buddy Bolden and gospel queen Mahalia Jackson, and a statue commemorating the Mardi Gras Indians, a historically African American group that puts on dance performances wearing intricate handmade costumes.
Afterward, check out the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint. Not only are the exhibits well-curated and fascinating, but they also offer free live performances during the week (most Tues.-Thurs.) at 2pm. In addition to the curated exhibits, you can arrange to take a tour of the museum’s collection of artifacts, including sheet music, instruments (Louis Armstrong’s first coronet!), photos, original recordings (like the first ever jazz recording in 1917), and more.
Head across the street to the Louisiana Music Factory to peruse all sorts of local artists and music styles that were born or simply flourish here. Then take the #5 bus to Piety Street and browse Euclid Records to immerse yourself in new and used recordings, with a serious local music selection across all genres. The staff will be more than happy to geek out with you about music. Hop back on the #5 bus to have a pre-dinner drink and listen to live music al fresco at Bacchanal Fine Wine & Spirits.
After you’ve had dinner, it’s time to catch a show or two. Start out with the early show at Preservation Hall, which has been one of the city’s top places to hear true New Orleans jazz since the ’60s. If you splurge for the Big Shot tickets, you’ll get a reserved seat; otherwise, prepare to wait in line. The shows are just an hour long, so you’ve got plenty of time for more if you’re up for it.
For something more modern and rougher around the edges, head to North Rampart Street where it turns into St. Claude Avenue. That’s where all the funkiest music clubs are. Catch a show at the Hi-Ho Lounge or Saturn Bar. Saturn is across the tracks in the Bywater, so plan on grabbing a ride rather than walking.
THE TOP SIGHTS IN NEW ORLEANS
NEW ORLEANS JAZZ MUSEUM AT THE OLD U.S. MINT
It’s a decommissioned mint building! It’s a museum dedicated to jazz! It’s an academic treasure trove of colonial-era documents and maps! Basically, the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint (click here) is a one-stop shop for New Orleans history through several different lenses.
THE NATIONAL WWII MUSEUM
For any U.S. history or WWII buff, The National WWII Museum (click here) has it all, including a fully immersive experience that lets you follow the path of one of the hundreds of personal stories that the museum has gathered. There is so much information to absorb and so many things to do that you’ll need a strategic plan and a good dose of caffeine for a visit here.
BLAINE KERN’S MARDI GRAS WORLD
This is the best place to experience Mardi Gras at any time of the year. A must-see for anyone not in town during Mardi Gras parades, Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World
- On Sale
- May 26, 2020
- Page Count
- 300 pages
- Moon Travel