Having spent part of last week working in New Orleans, I have a few postcards to share with Mes Amies from The Big Easy – more specifically, the ever-popular French Quarter:
As evidenced in that photograph, the French Quarter is a popular tourist destination at least in part because it boasts such beautiful architecture. The streets are lined with these iconic buildings and gorgeously detailed balconies.
That, and its hard not to embrace the laid-back, easy vibe of the people and this city. On two different trips now I’ve found myself wandering the streets of the French Quarter and then panicking that I’d lost track of time. Thankfully I had not, and made both of my flights, but just getting into that easygoing mindset is no easy feat for a planner like me. Must be that New Orleans magic.
Here, a few must-see agenda items and ways to enjoyably lose track of time in New Orleans French Quarter:
Skip the airport food and head straight to Mothers after checking into your hotel (especially if you’re staying in the adjacent convention district of hotels, this is super close).
A local institution, this no-frills dining will possibly become a daily staple during your trip. The Po’boys are simply incredible, and my fellow diners tried both the gumbo and a shrimp plate that were all gone before long. Order in line, grab an empty table and wait for the delivery of heaping plates. Pictured: Debris Po’Boy (roast beef and gravy) and White Bean Ham Soup.
Walk off the meal with a stroll down Bourbon Street. By day, a relatively tame place (though it seems you can certainly find a bar to serve you regardless of the time, if that’s your game.) Whether or not you’re partaking, its worthwhile to get your own glimpse of where the majority of frivolity takes place come Mardi Gras season.
And if you are ready for a drink, you might make your way to famous Pat O’Briens where the Hurricane was created. There are multiple spaces here to enjoy your cocktail, but I recommend the Piano Lounge where dueling pianos take requests and the people-watching is really fantastic. Cheers!
Another site to take in is the heart of the French Quarter, Jackson Square. You can wander through the green space itself dotted with park benches, or shop along its perimeter as those streets are closed for pedestrians only. When the weather is nice local artisans display their wares, and a musician is likely to be filling the surrounding area with tunes.
Saving the best for last would be a stop into Cafe du Monde. This is an absolutely cannot-miss in every tourist guidebook for two reasons: One, because it is open 24 hours. And two, because it is just.that.good.
You know those tourist places that are over-hyped and disappointing? Not the case with Cafe du Monde. I’ve stopped in during each of my three visits to New Orleans, spanning across at least a decade, and the experience was familiar and delicious each time.
You can visit the To Go window for your treats, but I recommend sitting for the full experience and a slightly-less-messy eating option. Grab any unoccupied table in the seating area (sometimes that alone is a feat) and await your server’s attention.
My no-fail solo order is 1 small cafe au lait for here, 1 to go and 1 order of Beignet (but I am a caffeine fiend!). The fried squares of dough come in a trio piled high with powdered sugar. Dig in and delight in the simplicity. The cafe au lait is the perfect pairing, and one of my favorite cups of coffee to enjoy.
Are you heading to New Orleans soon? Have you experienced any of these classic French Quarter sights – have anything to add? Let me know in the comments!