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New Orleans city guide

How to get the best out of The Big Easy.

New Orleans can’t be pinned down to one identity. She is — much like her famous gumbo — a collection and compilation of all that’s come and gone in her storied, occasionally sordid, 302-year history. There are reminders of the thousands who fled the Haitian slave revolts in the city’s antique ironwork, Second Line parades and classic Creole dishes. Touches of European influence also abound, from Spanish architecture to French street names.

Yet, intriguing history isn’t the only reason to venture to The Big Easy. The city’s newest restaurants and cocktail bars have only cemented its reputation as a top-tier culinary destination. NOLA's arts scene also continues to thrive, from the street performances of the French Quarter to the galleries of the Marigny. Even as the city looks toward its bright future, New Orleans is invested in maintaining its unique character. Whether you’re looking for Creole and Cajun cuisine, live music or striking architecture, read on for a comprehensive guide to New Orleans. Then, check out the local sites our five notable locals frequent in town.

Words by Jenny Adams

Photography by Jenny Adams

French Quarter

The city’s oldest neighborhood is best known for its carefully preserved Creole townhouses, exquisite ironwork, and tropical courtyards. Established in 1718, its colonial era Caribbean and European influences still permeate in daily life, from the Second Line brass bands that march down city streets to the savory gumbo served in so many culinary enclaves. It’s easy enough to lose an hour watching a street performer or perusing the fine antiques while sipping a to-go cocktail along Royal Street.

Image courtesy of New Orleans & Company


Located just across from the French Quarter, the Marigny is known for its art galleries, live music on the famous Frenchman Street, sunny outdoor cafes, street cats and shotgun shacks painted every color of the rainbow. Down-home lunch spot Horn’s and live music venue d.b.a. are located here, as are the upscale Melrose Mansion and Elysian Bar at Hotel Peter & Paul. A stroll through the charming Marigny just might entice you to become a local.

Photography by Jenny Adams

Bywater / St. Claude

Cross the train tracks into the Bywater, past impressive street art, and head for Crescent Park. This 1.4-mile linear green space follows the curve of the Mississippi River along the top of a levee. Then, venture through the residential blocks for a mix of stately 19th century homes, Creole cottages and industrial warehouses that are home to local businesses. Bordering the north side of the Bywater, St. Claude Avenue is a food and drink destination with affordable and creative dishes, from hipster Chinese to a wine dive with $4 glasses and old-school board games.

Photography by Paul Broussard

Warehouse District

If you’re an art or history buff, New Orleans’ warehouse district is worth a visit. Here, old brick factories and metal warehouses resurrect as galleries, breweries and salons. The WWII Museum attracts international crowds and Julia Street’s Gallery Row has become a nexus for procuring or perusing contemporary art pieces.

Fine Dining

Courtesy of Arnaud's


(504) 523-5433, 813 Bienville St, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States

With 17 dining rooms and a capacity of 950, family-run Arnaud’s is one of the largest and oldest restaurants in the French Quarter. Guests can savor upscale Creole cuisine beneath turn-of-the-century chandeliers in the main dining room, listen to a quartet inside the Jazz Bistro or indulge in aperitifs at the romantic French 75 Bar.

Courtesy of Paladar 511

Paladar 511

(504) 509-6782, 511 Marigny St, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

This former hosiery factory is now home to one of the city’s best restaurants for upscale, modern Italian fare. Light streams through the massive iron windows during brunch service, spotlighting meals such as the lemon ricotta pancakes with blueberry compote. Dinner highlights include the lamb tortellini in brodo with mushroom conserva, watercress and pecorino and the pan-seared snapper with summer squash, black garlic and butter beans.

Courtesy of Peche


(504) 522-1744, 800 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

The interior design and dishes at this Warehouse District restaurant honor travels through Spain, South America and the Gulf Coast region. Chef Ryan Prewitt won a James Beard Award in 2014 for his devotion to sustainable, small-operation fishing and dishes such as the house catfish with pickled greens in chili broth.

Local Flavor

Photography by Jenny Adams


(504) 459-4676, 1940 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

There’s a “grandma’s attic” ambiance to this breakfast and lunch spot in the Marigny. Rough wood spans its floor, ceiling and walls, with faded photos and personal memorabilia serving as decor. For another personal touch, owner Kappa Horn makes and sells the café’s coffee mugs. Items such as The Crabby Wife -- a biscuit topped with a crab cake, crawfish éttouffée and over-easy eggs -- make the menu caloric heaven.

Photography by Jenny Adams

Red's Chinese

(504) 304-6030, 3048 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

A low ceiling traps fragrant chili oil and garlic aromas in this no-frills space on St. Claude, where Louisiana favorites find minor roles alongside classic Cantonese recipes. The General’s Chicken -- made with fried chicken doused in peanuts and a tangy, orange ginger sauce -- is a crowd favorite here, but the Cheeseburger Fried Rice and Kung Pao Pastrami come in close for second-place.

Up and Coming

Photography by Denny Culbert


(504) 218-8533, 225 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Justine’s interior pairs hot-pink neon and bold paint colors with smoky Parisian mirrors and antique brass railings. Its menu celebrates European technique in plates such as the steak frites and escargot, while raw oysters and remoulade nod to the restaurant’s Gulf Coast home. Rare absinthe and Armagnac bottles, as well as cocktails including the delicious Chartreuse Fizz, make for an upscale bar program.

Photography by Carrie DeMay


(504) 814-6200, 308 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States

Reservations are recommended at this one-room eatery where Southern ingredients (such as crumbled fried chicken skins) are paired with Latin American dishes (like the mussels steamed in an aji amarillo soup). The Cavatelli faux “pasta” is made from lima beans topped with sundried tomatoes, and the bar sources rare mezcals and tequilas.

Courtesy of Thalia


Thalia St, New Orleans, LA, USA

Tucked on a side street in the Lower Garden, this casual, 40-seat space hones the talents of chef-owners Kristen Essig and Michael Stoltzfus to bring big flavor without the fuss. Essig and Stoltzfus are also the team behind nearby fine-dining concept Coquette. At Thalia, they serve up Bolognese with pork shoulder and chicken liver alongside the wedge salad with egg mousse and pickled Shrimp Louie.

Craft Cocktails

Courtesy of Cane & Table

Cane & Table

(504) 581-1112, 1113 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Aged mirrors and antique chandeliers maintain the understated vintage charms of Cane & Table, a French Quarter cocktail bar housed inside a building constructed in 1830. The bar’s cocktail program and food menu draw inspiration from New Orleans’ past as a trade epicenter during the colonial era. Caribbean influence abounds, from the arroz con pollo entree to the Banana Spider cocktail crafted with bananas, cherries and lemongrass.

Courtesy of Manolito


(504) 603-2740, 508 Dumaine St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Manuel Carbajo Aguiar was a legendary Cuban bartender who perfected the art of slinging cocktails at El Floridita, a Havana haunt that was once a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. This quaint French Quarter outpost is named after Aguiar, and its menu of daiquiris, mojitos and martinis nod to the citrus flavors of Old Havana.

Courtesy of The Franklin

The Franklin

(504) 267-0640, 2600 Dauphine St, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

If you’re craving a martini, head to this dapper hideaway in the Bywater. The Franklin specializes in the classic cocktail, offering guests choices of the dry, wet, smoked and Gibson varieties. For another vermouth option, The Rosita cocktail is crafted with smoked tequila, Punt y Mes vermouth and Aperol.

Courtesy of Galaxie


(504) 827-1443, 3060 St Claude Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

A 1940s service station designed by Walter Teague has taken on a new life at Galaxie, a cocktail bar and Mexican street food restaurant located in the city’s Bywater neighborhood. Guests can fill up on tacos and quesadillas as they choose from more than 30 types of mezcals, with each selection available in 1-ounce pour flights.

Hotel Bars

Courtesy of Compère Lapin

Compère Lapin

(504) 599-2119, 535 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Intricate tile floors and exposed brick pay homage to this building’s former factory days. Today, it’s home to The Old 77 Hotel & Chandlery. Its lobby hosts the Where Y’Art gallery while the adjacent restaurant/bar, Compére Lapin, crafts its own works of art in the form of cocktails such as the Melonious Funk, made with local vodka, melon shrub and spiced salt.

Courtesy of The Elysian Bar

The Elysian Bar

(504) 356-6769, 2317 Burgundy St, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

Happy hour -- or Aperitivo Hour as it’s known here -- happens daily from 3 to 6 p.m. at this Marigny hotel bar, which is housed inside the rectory of a former church. Monastic relics and gingham curtains round out the bar’s refined interior design. The Elysian’s cocktail list offers modern takes on classic cocktails. The Mai Tai, for example, is crafted with elderflower essence for a Parisian twist.

Photography by Stephen Kent Johnson

Bar Marilou

(504) 814-7711, 544 Carondelet St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Maison de la Luz is an ultra-posh hotel located down a vine-covered alley in the Warehouse District. The hotel is off-limits to non-guests, but its opulent Bar Marilou is open to everyone. The bar’s design is reminiscent of a Wes Anderson movie set (blood-red walls, velvet sofas and fringed barstools) and the drinks are just as unique. Try the Brave Margot made with rum, Campari, pineapple, falernum, lime and absinthe.

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Luxury Hotels

Courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans

The Ritz-Carlton

(504) 524-1331, 921 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112, United States

The French Quarter’s Beaux Arts building dates back to 1908, when it opened as the Maison Blanche department store. Elegant hotelier brand Ritz-Carlton arrived in 2000 and quickly converted the property into the city’s de facto living room with afternoon tea service and nightly jazz concerts.

Courtesy of The Windsor Court

The Windsor Court

(855) 264-1283, 300 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Offering sweeping views of the Mississippi River from many of its 316 guest rooms, this pet-friendly hotel with a 65-foot saltwater pool and full-service spa is the definition of Southern hospitality. Lounge at the Waterman Poolside Bar, dine at The Grill Room, or grab coffee to go at Café Anglais.

Courtesy of The Pontchartrain Hotel

The Pontchartrain Hotel

(504) 941-9000, 2031 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

The brick facade of The Pontchartrain Hotel has been synonymous with luxury since the property first opened as an apartment building in 1927. After it became a hotel in ‘40s, The Pontchartrain lured luminaries including Tennessee Williams and Frank Sinatra. It still caters to an upscale crowd today, particularly since its renovation in 2016.

Boutique Hotels

Courtesy of the Melrose Mansion

Melrose Mansion

(504) 944-2255, 937 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Famed New Orleans architect James A. Feret built this stately Victorian mansion in 1885 as a single-family home.  Today, it’s a sophisticated Marigny choice with polished ebony floors, Carrera marble bathrooms, sub-zero suite refrigerators and a glittering pool. Accommodations include nine suites within the mansion itself and five more rooms inside the adjacent Napoleon House.

Photography by Kathleen Fitzgerald

Henry Howard Hotel

(504) 313-1577, 2041 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Greek Revival architecture. Corinthian columns. Galleries with extensive ironwork and walk-through windows. This Lower Garden District townhouse hotel offers 19th Century NOLA nostalgia combined with modern, sleek touches such as black-iron, four-poster beds by local Doorman Designs and toiletries by Beekman 1802.

Courtesy of The Soniat House Hotel

The Soniat House Hotel

(504) 522-0570, 1133 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Each of Soniat’s four Grand Suites boasts a private balcony overlooking the French Quarter. Buttermilk biscuits are served in the courtyard each morning and the resident cat, Claire, might join you for cocktails on the balcony in the afternoon. Thick curtains, antique nickel fixtures, gilded mirrors and Persian carpets put the final touches on this authentic New Orleans boutique hotel.


Courtesy of New Orleans & Company

Royal Street

Royal St, New Orleans, LA, USA

Many of the businesses on this stretch of the French Quarter boast a century or more of sales in estate jewelry, crystal chandeliers, fine French antiques, first-edition books and art from every medium. The live soundtrack is provided by street performers playing trumpets, tambourines and violins.

Courtesy of Visit New Orleans

Canal Place

(504) 522-9200, 333 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

At Canal Place, visitors will find familiar names including Anthropologie, Tory Burch, J. Crew and Saks Fifth Avenue alongside local jewelry designers Reagan Charleston and Mignon Faget. The airy indoor mall is located on the edge of the French Quarter and Food Truck Fridays provide creative, delicious options for snacking.

Photography by Chris Granger

Magazine Street

Magazine St, New Orleans, LA, USA

The entirety of Magazine Street could provide visitors with a full day or two of shopping. In the Lower Garden District stretch -- between St. Mary Street and Jackson Avenue -- there is an enticing mix of home goods (Sunday Shop, Spruce Nola, and Miette) and women’s fashion (Elle Boutique and Century Girl Vintage).


Courtesy of Courtesy of New Orleans & Company

Bayou St. John

Bayou St. John, New Orleans, LA 70119, USA

The ideal neighborhood for New Orleans visitors looking to get outdoors, Bayou St. John is named for the tributary of water that surrounds it. Rent kayaks or paddleboards to get out on the water or take in the views from the Lafitte Greenway, a 2.6-mile bike and pedestrian trail. Yoga classes and picnics frequently pop up along the water’s edge and in the gardens of the adjacent City Park, as well.

Courtesy of The Sazerac House

The Sazerac House

(504) 910-0100, 101 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

This three-floor interactive museum is dedicated to New Orleans’ official drink –– The Sazerac. The property’s 500-gallon still produces rye whiskey and the process is visible through the front windows off Canal Street. Tours begin upstairs, transporting guests to the 1800s via animated films, historic advertisements and an animated bar experience. The gift shop sells thick denim and leather aprons, rare bottles and gleaming home bar kits.

Photography by Paul Broussard


With their gleaming, dark green exteriors, distressed, wooden seats and leather strap handles, New Orleans’ streetcars navigate a modern city with vintage charms. They also offer visitors a convenient way to tour the city. Restored in 2016, the Rampart Line passes through the northernmost section of the French Quarter, rolling through Congo Square and Louis Armstrong Park. The Riverfront Line’s red trolleys curve along the Mississippi River, past Harrah’s Casino and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas. The St. Charles Line has been in operation for 150 years, offering views of the city’s massive antebellum mansions and Spanish moss-covered live oak trees.

Live Music

Courtesy of The Music Box Village

The Music Box Village

4557 N Rampart St, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

At Music Box Village, fairy lights illuminate ramshackle “houses” in a Bywater yard.­­ These structures are the instruments. The Pitchbo, for example, is played by physically sliding doors to simulate guitar and bass notes. Its upper floorboards create melodic string sounds. Solange Knowles, Animal Collective and Wilco are among the many noted acts who have played collaborative, monthly concerts at the non-profit-run music venue.

Courtesy of Bacchanal Wine

Bacchanal Wine

(504) 948-9111, 600 Poland Ave, New Orleans, LA 70117, United States

This small wine shop appears unassuming enough from the outside. But inside, European, New World and biodynamic labels line the racks as charcuterie and cheeses are displayed inside a glowing fridge. Gather a cooler, a glass and your bottles and head to the backyard where live funk, brass and jazz bands play underneath palm and citrus trees.

Courtesy of Preservation Hall

Preservation Hall

(504) 522-2841, 726 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Preservation Hall is a music venue, non-profit organization and event space rolled into one.  The organization has been dedicated to the preservation of traditional New Orleans jazz since 1961. At the newly-launched “If This Hall Could Speak” series, The Preservation All-Stars employ brass, blues, spirituals and spoken-word to tell their stories of growing up in The Big Easy.

Courtesy of New Orleans & Company


(504) 942-3731, 618 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

Live music bars are plentiful on the Marigny’s famous Frenchman Street, which also boasts an open-air nightly artist market and myriad food options. But d.b.a. sets itself apart by hosting up to eight local and regional music acts per day. Its craft cocktails and extensive beer and whiskey options cement the antique saloon vibe.


Courtesy of the New Orleans Jazz Museum

New Orleans Jazz Museum

(504) 568-6993, 400 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116, United States

This 70,000-square-foot Greek Revival building takes up nearly a block of the French Quarter. Inside, you’ll find exhibits like Louis Armstrong’s first trumpet and Fats Domino’s favorite piano. There’s a distinct focus on jazz, but all New Orleans music is celebrated here. The best time to arrive is 2 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, when the museum hosts a free concert upstairs.

Courtesy of National WWII Museum

National WWII Museum

(504) 528-1944, 945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130, United States

Expect to spend several hours engrossed in the exhibitions at this six-acre museum campus dedicated to memorializing the history of WWII. Interactive exhibits include “The Arsenal of Democracy,” which tells the story of American life during wartime through oral histories and artifacts; and “The Road to Tokyo,” which recounts the lead-up and aftermath of Pearl Harbor. One of the museum’s newest additions, Beyond All Boundaries, is a 4-D film and sensory experience produced by Tom Hanks.

Courtesy of New Orleans Museum of Art

New Orleans Museum of Art

(504) 658-4100, 1 Collins Diboll Cir, New Orleans, LA 70124, United States

The neoclassical Beaux Arts building houses a permanent collection of 40,000 works from America, Europe and Asia. New Orleans was a temporary home for Impressionist artist Edgar Degas, and his famous Portrait of Estelle Mousson Degas hangs inside. Outside, the 12-acre Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden displays more than 90 pieces surrounded by reflection pools and Louisiana’s famous 200-year-old live oak trees.

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