New Orleans, Louisiana, is, in my opinion, the most unique city in America, and it’s also a favorite of mine! There is something so special about it and I always feel so at home there. Wandering with no particular destination in mind just enjoying the atmosphere is my perfect day.
My very first stop each and every visit and my favorite place to go in NOLA is Cafe Du Monde! NO trip to NOLA would be complete without a stop here, it’s an institution! You’ll find Cafe Du Monde across the street from the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square park. There is no substitution!
The St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest Catholic cathedral In America. There are many great places to explore in New Orleans, The French Quarter, The Warehouse District, Magazine Street (six miles of shopping!), and the Garden District to name just a few. I can count on a completely different experience each and every time I visit! In a city as diverse as NOLA there are many choices, but here are some of my favorite things to do with and without the kids when I visit the Crescent City.
As I mentioned above Cafe Du Monde is probably my favorite place in NOLA. It’s open 24 hours a day every day of the year except Christmas and, as their website mentions, when the occasional hurricane passes too close. You can get three beignets and a cup of coffee for under $5! They are served hot and with about a cup of powdered sugar on top! It’s not a full day in NOLA without a trip to Cafe Du Monde. There is always a line for both indoor seating and the to go window, but if you’re not in a hurry it’s kind of fun to sit down and get table service. Otherwise the take out window line moves fairly quickly and you can see a trail of sugar leading away from the place in all directions!
The Acme Oyster House is sooooo good and although there is almost always a line to get in you can drink hurricanes outside while waiting! The shrimp po boys are great but I had the “10 napkin roast beef” and it was to die for! You’ll definitely need those 10 napkins and probably a few more! By the way this place isn’t just for tourists the locals love it too!
Mothers Restaurant is an institution and has been around since 1938. They are famous for their Ferdi Special a sandwich with debris, which are the little bits of meat that fall off during cooking. There are always long lines here and it’s not just tourists, but locals too!
Commanders Palace, located in the Garden District, is definitely worth a visit! I had the Sunday Jazz brunch here and it was a real experience! From the truly southern welcome when we walked in to the balloon bouquets on each table to the three piece band to the turtle soup. Plan ahead for this one, you’ll need reservations. If you have time, the Lafayette Cemetery across the street is worth a stop.
Emeril’s Delmonico is located on the St. Charles Street car line in what looks to have been an old house. The restaurant has not only great food, but extremely warm hospitality. We had Easter Brunch here loved it. They take reservations and walk-ins. Clancy’s is another fine dining restaurant located uptown. This was a place recommended to me by some local friends. The Food was amazing! Reservations are a must.
During our most recent trip in April 2015 we stayed at the Hyatt French Quarter and we really enjoyed this hotel. Its located on Iberville and Canal streets. One foot in the Quarter and one foot out which makes for a great location when staying with the kids! The rooms were fairly large and quite up to date. We ordered room service and the food was some of the best room service I’ve had anywhere. The lobby bar and coffee shop were both new and had fun decor. The coffee shop was called Powdered Sugar which I think is such a cute and clever name considering all the streets in town are covered in powdered sugar from all the beignets! It was overall a very pleasant place and I would definitely stay here again. There is a pool, but it wasn’t heated and so we didn’t get in. We stayed over the Easter holiday, so the photo is of my little guy with his easter bunny loot!
The Royal Sonesta is located inside the French Quarter on Bourbon Street. I stayed here on my girls trip and it was probably my least favorite of all four hotels I’ve stayed in. If you stay here request a courtyard room. Otherwise it will be very loud. The rooms are spacious, but rundown and due to it’s location you’ll need to show your key before you can come in and out during certain times of the day and night. We chose to enter and exit from the other side just to avoid being flashed. There is a pool, but we never found time to use it.
The Roosevelt Hotel is located just across Canal street which is the dividing line between The French Quarter and the Central Business District. We stayed over the winter break and everything in town was decorated beautifully. In fact The Roosevelt is famous for their holiday decorations which were spectacular. My photos don’t do it justice! In addition to all the amazing lights and trees, they also had an entire French Quarter including the Cathedral made entirely of gingerbread and candy! The rooms were very spacious which is reminiscent of older hotels and it was nice for the boys to be able to spread out a bit.
Tim and I stayed a the Hotel Monteleone 16 years ago when we were engaged and so it wouldn’t be fair to give it much of a review. However, I will say that the location is good, right on the fringe of the quarter on the Canal side and it’s famous for it’s revolving Carousel Bar.
Bourbon Street If you’ve never been to NOLA I’m sure you’ll find your way to bourbon street! You’ll probably see a bit of this and that, LOL! but in my opinion those with something worth seeing are never the ones showing. 😉
Tipitinas located in the Garden District is a famous place for music and drinks I went there with the girls and had a great time!
The motto at Pat O’Briens is: “Have Fun” and who can argue with that!? A New Orleans institution, you’ll find Pat O’Briens, just next to Preservation Hall and across the street from the Rev Zombies Voodoo shop. The Hurricanes here are big, strong and the color of Kool-aid! They have a huge bar with lots of room to spread out, but if you’re not in the mood to hang out in one spot just get your hurricane to go and head across the way to the Rev Zombies Voodoo shop and sign up for a Haunted History Tour! It’s perfectly acceptable and legal to walk around with alcoholic beverages in NOLA.
Lafittes Blacksmith Shop claims to be one of the oldest bars in the US. It’s located on Bourbon Street, but further down from all the hullabaloo with beads and such! It has a long history and is considered to be haunted. Definitely a fun place to visit and if you go on a Haunted History tour it’s one of their stops.
Located on St. Peter’s Street in the French Quarter The Rev Zombies voodoo shop is a fun and quirky shop to visit! There are many things of interest to look at and a variety of voodoo dolls and other items to purchase. This is also the meeting spot for my next entry below.
Haunted History Tours is a great tour company where you can book a tour through the cemeteries and other parts or New Orleans. By day if you want to learn about New Orleans history or a ghost tour by night if you want silly fun! I’ve done both multiple times and it’s always interesting! Our kids came along too! These are not jump out and scare you tours. They focus on legend, history and humor! They do a great job of changing things up from time to time, so you’ll enjoy a different experience every time.
St. Louis Cemetery #1 is located on Basin Street this is the oldest extant cemetery in New Orleans. It’s still in operation! It’s a fascinating place to visit and I highly recommend taking a tour. New Orleans has a fascinating and long history and a lot of it is explained during the cemetery tour. This tour is very appropriate for kids although younger ones might find it a little dry. There is a nearby visitor center with bathrooms and interesting exhibits to look at.
Faubourg Marigny is the neighborhood bordering the French Quarter on the other side of Esplanade. A quirky area with a lot of jazz clubs and good food! We found a fun casual place to eat called Dat Dog and visited the Frenchmen’s Market. This was our first time visiting this area and I think we will definitely want to come back and explore more!
The Frenchmen’s Market is an evening art and flea market located on Frenchmen’s street in the Faubourg Marigny. It’s open from 7 pm and it’s very family friendly. My little guy loved drawing with chalk on the floor of the outdoor “living room” in the center of the market while Tim, Simon and I took turns browsing around.
The Audubon Zoo. We’ve been to this zoo twice and at last count I think we’ve hit close to 20 zoos around the world (maybe that will be another post?!), so we consider ourselves zoo connoisseurs! Visiting the same zoo twice means we think it’s up there pretty high on our zoo list! They have some unusual animals here and we particularly enjoyed seeing the white alligators and they have a white tiger too! They also have a really nice Louisiana swamp section featuring local animals and foliage. If you’re not too grossed out by their long tongues there is an area where you can feed the giraffe carrots. You can even get alligator jambalaya at the zoo cafe!
The Audubon Aquarium of the Americas is located along the river front this is a nice aquarium and while we haven’t been to as many aquariums as we have zoos we’ve certainly seen our share! It’s pretty self explanatory so I won’t say much, but it is a nice place to take the kids in between cemetery tours and antique shops!
The Insectarium is located on Canal Street just across from the Quarter and a few blocks from the aquarium this place is pretty neat! I’ve been to one or two bug zoos but this place takes the cake! It’s huge and really well done. Definitely worth a visit especially if your kids are into this kind of thing. Mine were!
Located on Chartres Street in the French Quarter, Bee Galleries is the current home of a number of local New Orleans artists. My favorite happens to be Mark Bercier and I recently had the opportunity to visit the Bee Gallery and to purchase one of Mark’s paintings! This was a dream come true for me! Not only did I bring home this fabulous painting, but I also had an opprtunity to speak with Mr. Bercier and let him know just how much I admire his work! The title of this painting is Silence.
We loved Graphite Galleries located on Royal Street in the Quarter and we visited a number of times trying to make up our minds. The owner was incredibly gracious about showing our boys around and explaining all the art to them. I’m sure we will visit again when we next visit NOLA.