My family and I spent New Years in New Orleans and enjoyed some amazing food and experienced the beautiful (crazy) city. Though it might not be as similar to Paris as the nickname suggests, New Orleans is an old southern city, so much like Savannah it has European-influenced design (as it was settled by both the French and Spanish) and beautiful live oaks that line the streets. We admired the architecture and explored the neighborhoods and restaurants of the city. I’ve put together some of my favorite restaurants, neighborhoods, and tips to create a mini city guide to New Orleans in case you ever visit!
Find the best food. New Orleans is 8th on Food & Wine’s list of the top food cities in the world, and it definitely lives up to its fame with an amazing array of French, Creole, Southern and modern fusion restaurants, plus their seafood is super fresh. Here are some recommendations to get you started: Booty’s (for breakfast or lunch), Maurepas (for an amazing brunch), Superior Seafood (for an American & Creole lunch, see photos above and below), Borgne (for a delicious seafood dinner), and La Thai (for a highly-rated Thai dinner).
Stay in an Airbnb. There’s nothing wrong with the hotels in New Orleans, but I highly recommend finding an Airbnb in the city. They’re great because you get to experience the city through its residential neighborhoods you can often get a better deal from an Airbnb than from a hotel (plus you get a kitchen and living room). We stayed in an adorable red cottage (see photo above) and I really enjoyed walking around and seeing all of the houses in the neighborhood we were in. Just make sure you do some research your neighborhood before you commit.
Shop on Magazine Street. Magazine Street is the best street for shopping, especially for home decor and antique lovers. It also has great restaurants mixed in among the shops. I loved looking in Loisel (vintage & modern furniture), Red Arrow workshop (local home decor and apparel — see photo above), Aux Belles Choses, and Linens & Decor NOLA.
Plan a stroll through the Garden District. The Garden District is famous for it’s well-kempt, beautiful old houses, with lush gardens and huge live oaks all along the streets. If you love houses as much as I do, you’ll want to stop and take a picture at every house! There are big traditional houses and sweet small cottages but they’re all so charming. I especially love the traditional one-story New Orleans home with 18-foot ceilings and tall floor-to-ceiling shuttered windows across the front. You can find a tour of the Garden District here.
Prepare for the French Quarter. This is New Orlean’s craziest, most touristy, and most beautiful part of town. You’ll definitely end up finding something to do in the French Quarter, if not ten things. The French Quarter is home to New Orlean’s beautiful old European architecture, their most famous beignet cafés, lots of art galleries, the French Market, and, most famously, Bourbon Street.
TIPS FOR NAVIGATING THE FRENCH QUARTER
· if you can’t find parking in the quarter, there’s a parking lot at North Rampart and Iberville that’s pretty convenient to the area.
· skip Café du Monde and head to Café Beignet for a classic NOLA beignet experience.
· for art lovers, you won’t want to miss the Martin Lawrence gallery – they have original works by Picasso, Dali, and other famous artists
· for hat lovers, head to Fleur de Paris for 20’s and 30’s fashion and handmade hats
· if you love architecture and interiors, head to the Beauregard-Keyes House and the Gallier House