Cafe du Monde is a classic tourist destination that serves top quality food, a combination that's rare in any city. Even if you normally avoid tourist destinations, make an exception for this place. Don't be put off by the long lines and crowded patio, put yourself into N'Awlins time and kick back. Everything takes as long as it takes. The chickory coffee comes with or without milk (order it with), the beignets come buried in powdered sugar ("dusting" isn't a word they understand in NOLA) and the whole experience gives you a chance to sit down, take a break from the heat and eat fresh hot donuts. What's not to love?
Located on the edge of the French Quarter, Cemetery Number 1 in New Orleans is the oldest in the city. Here, because of the swampy areas, the deceased are buried above ground so their coffins don't float to the top during the rain. You will also find the tomb of Marie Laveau- the legendary voo doo queen. Legend has it if you leave an offering for her, spin around three times and knock three times on her tomb she will grant your wish.
The Garden District has a lot of things going for it but I'd put Slim Goodies at the top of the list. They're renowned for their sweet potato pancakes (light, fluffy, amazing) and clever names for their breakfast mashups like the above Jewish Coonass with crawfish etouffee over eggs and potato latkes. They're always busy and service is casual, relaxed New Orleans style but the food is worth the wait.
On the banks of the Mississippi River lies Mardi Gras World, a working warehouse for the building and storage of Mardi Gras floats. Visitors can take an hour-long tour of the facility, which show the floats in various stages of creation. Pieces of floats are often reused from year to year and this can also lead to unusual groupings of props placed around the dens. (See photograph of an alien sneaking up on an unsuspecting couple!) Highly recommended for families and photographers!
Living in New Orleans, I often wondered where the St Charles streetcars 'slept' at night. Turns out there is a barn off of Carrollton Street where the cars are housed when they are not running. There is nothing more iconic in the city than the streetcars.
Located in a warehouse in New Orleans' Ninth Ward, the Old New Orleans Rum Distillery was the brainchild of a local artist in 1999. The distillery survived the devastation of Hurricane Katrina and is still going strong and are now being distributed by Budweiser. You can tour the distillery for $10, which includes one of their rum drinks upon arrival and samples of each of their signature rums. The tour is informative and impressive, considering all of their rum is made by 8 full time employees. Be sure to pick up a bottle while you're there, as well as a card detailing recipes for each type of rum.
Insects are beautiful... insects are creepy. Get your fill of both sides of the coin during a visit to the Insectarium on Canal Street. On the beautiful side, there are the gorgeous iridescent butterfly specimens on display, and of course the numerous live residents in the butterfly garden. To get a dose of creepy, all you need to do is look in the glass display case with the giant cave cockroaches crawling around.
But if that’s not creepy enough for you, there is an endlessly fascinating collection of specimens ranging from fantastic giant katydids to huge African beetles, and all variety of live insect displays. Spiny Devil Walking Stick anyone? Fun and educational. Don’t miss it!
No trip to New Orleans would be complete without a visit to Pat O'Briens for a hurricane. The story goes that in the 1940s, because it was difficult to import scotch during WWII, bar owners were forced to buy large amounts of rum and the bartenders at Pat O'Brien's came up with this cocktail and served in a glass shaped like a hurricane lamp. It's a huge tourist attraction so get there early and enjoy the quiet of the courtyard before things get too rowdy!
...With a new chapeau! Meyer the Hatter, a New Orleans institution, offers pretty much any kind of hat you might be looking for. After you have made your purchase go directly across the street to the Pearl Oyster Bar (another institution) and order up a dozen or more. I would recommend August for dinner but be sure to reserve well ahead for this gem of NEW New Orleans cooking from John Besh.
Molly’s is considered a journalist bar. When Andrei Codrescu lived in New Orleans he frequented the place. The owner keeps it open during hurricanes, and in the days after Katrina, the bar kept the neighbors that did not evacuate in warm beer and bourbon—when the rest of the city was flooded. A bumper sticker above the cash register says “Make levees, not war.”
New Orleans has heart unlike any city in America. The spirit and resilience of the locals is palpable and the heritage is historic and deep. Jazzfest highlights the unbreakable spirit and the music just makes you want to dance...laissez le bontemps roulez (let the good times roll!)
If you're in New Orleans and looking for some quiet time (what?), consider heading across the river to Algiers Point. "The Point" is a residential section of New Orleans on the west bank of the Mississippi River, a neighborhood of Creole cottages and other architectural gems mostly in Victorian, Italianate and Greek Revival styles. It's easy and fun getting across the river on the Canal Street Ferry (also called the Algiers Ferry), which is free for pedestrians and bicycles. It leaves every half hour from the foot of Canal Street, next to the aquarium. While on the ferry and when you get across the Mississippi, you'll enjoy great views of the city skyline, the French Quarter and St. Louis Cathedral (seen in this photo). Walk the quiet streets of Algiers Point and take in stunning architectural details, peaceful parks and charming cafes. Stroll along the riverfront path to watch the...
EAT New Orleans is one of best breakfast places in the French Quarter. The food is fresh and local, the portions are enormous, and the quality is outstanding. They also have a great location on a corner so diners can sit in the window while watching the foot traffic pass them by.
A Sazerac is composed of whiskey and absinthe and nowhere has classier digs for this signature cocktail than the Sazerac Bar of the Roosevelt Hotel in downtown New Orleans where the low lights flow over heavy wood tables and the big leather armchairs are usually occupied by business men making world altering deals. The Sazerac is a simple cocktail and one of America's oldest with the merest hint of an exotic history since the US ban on absinthe was only recently lifted. Now that it's all legal, NOLA visitors can sink into the soft leather chairs, order a Sazerac and start planning their own world domination.
Sweet and salty, creamy and crunchy, full of caramel and smoky roasted tidbits, the bacon sundae at the Green Goddess is worth all the hype. In addition to unusual desserts, the Green Goddess offers a menu combining Asian, Latino and Creole flavors, an extensive cocktail menu, and outdoor patio seating. When the temperatures and humidity soar to unbearable proportions, head for Green Goddess and get a sundae and a drink. Or maybe two.
After you've had enough of the French Quarter and eaten too many oysters and beignets, jump on the cable car and head over to Audubon park. It is beautiful any time of year, it great for people watching, and a great place to get away from the busier parts of NOLA. Pack a snack, stroll around the park, and find a bench at one of the many ponds to relax and take in the beautiful southern scenery.