If a last-minute trip to The Big Easy is on your radar, then two things are certain: the Tigers will win and New Orleans, unlike other historic destinations, can be experienced like a local in just a few days.
The city’s heartbeat is out on the streets and though there are gorgeous places to stay, New Orleans is not the trip to loll about a hotel room. Charge your phone, bring your walking shoes and keep your sipping hand free. There’s no open container law; “go cups” are a real thing and as a traveler, it will maximize your ability to wander and experience.
I’m asked this question often: what do I do and where do I stay in New Orleans? The macro answer is don’t stay in the French Quarter, have lunch twice and get your tarot cards read by Elie Barnes.
Barnes is New Orleans’ most reviewed psychic so before you walk up to a street vendor in a jingling scarf, book an appointment with her at Omen (on Decatur St). Even a doubter will leave with a full heart. Grab coffee at one of French Truck Coffee’s many locations and opt for an early lunch followed by a later lunch. In this foodie mecca not to double book the midday meal would be a crime.
Lastly, the French Quarter is the city’s biggest draw, a 24/7 wonderland, which means garbage trucks looping “the Quarter” at 4am every day. For this reason alone, opt to stay in the neighboring Warehouse District, full of comfortable boutique hotels.
One last tip: Some music venues – and pedicabs – remain cash-only (the quickest way to zip around the French Quarter). Bring small bills to tip musicians too, which is not only customary but expected.
Where to stay:
ACE Hotel (check out their secret jazz club, 3 Keys)
Old 77 Chandlery
Worth standing in line for:
Acme Oyster Bar
Coops (the two-piece fried chicken plate will change your life)
SABA (order the blue crab hummus with clarified lemon butter)
Bywater American Bistro
Turkey and the Wolf
Mother’s Restaurant (no visit to New Orleans is complete without a debris po’boy)
Music (not on Frenchmen Street):
Le Bon Temp Rule (Soul Rebels play at 11 p.m. Thursdays)
Gumbo bucket list:
R’evolution, Death by Gumbo (poured tableside over a rice and boudin-stuffed quail)
GW Fins, Seafood Gumbo
Mr. B’s, Gumbo Ya Ya
Tujagues (the no-chair bar-rail is an institution)
The Chart Room
Port of Call
LOA (ask Tara Jill to make you an off-menu cocktail)
Jewel of the South
French 75 at Court of Two Sisters
Sazerac at Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt Hotel
Pims Cup at Napoleon House (order a toasted half-muffuletta here)
FYI-“2020 Carnival season” kicks off with Epiphany (or Twelfth Night) on January 6 and runs through Fat Tuesday, February 25.