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Why Your Next Weekend Getaway Should Be to New Orleans

The always-on NOLA party scene makes for a great change of pace. Here’s how to dial up the fun this (or any) weekend.

Why Your Next Weekend Getaway Should Be to New Orleans

Jackson Square was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1960 .

The decadent feeling of jetting off to New Orleans for a weekend is one easily matched to a city known for letting the good times roll. Music spills out from alleyways flanked by graceful architecture treasures, innovative cuisine streams out of bustling kitchens, and warmth flows out of locals eager to share their hometown with visitors.

Helping to streamline the travel experience is the new Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport—the 972,000-square-foot facility that includes in-line baggage screening, a consolidated security checkpoint to three concourses and 35 gates, and lots of concessions options.

Once you’ve landed amid the strains of Satchmo, here’s how to spend your weekend in the Big Easy.

Immerse yourself in music on the Mighty Mississippi aboard the Riverboat Louis Armstrong.

Immerse yourself in music on the Mighty Mississippi aboard the Riverboat Louis Armstrong.

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What to Do Walking in the French Quarter is always a worthy way to spend some of those scant weekend moments, whether it’s your first or 50th trip to New Orleans. Yet while the elegant architecture never ceases to inspire, you’ll also want to check out some of the newer additions.

The New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) opened a six-acre expansion of the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, free to the public and featuring new sites for sculpture, an outdoor amphitheater and stage, and a gallery. The Louisiana Children’s Museum moved to a family-friendly campus in City Park, with indoor and outdoor environmental experiences that include sensory and edible gardens, a floating classroom, and a restored interpretive wetlands area. If your passion for play tends to be more water-based, look for the 3,000-passenger Riverboat Louis Armstrong that doubles as a music venue.

Of course, live music aficionados will have no trouble finding more established outlets, either. Head to Frenchmen Street to hear jazz and blues in the intimate, appropriately weathered surroundings of the Spotted Cat Music Club and discover the eclectic mix of performers playing at d.b.a.

The city loves a celebration, of course, and you can always join the crowds at Mardi Gras and Carnival, as well as the French Quarter Festival and New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. But you’ll find just as much magic at lesser-known events like NOLA on Tap (Louisiana’s largest beer festival), Southern Decadence (Labor Day’s LGBTQ festival and parade) and November’s Oak Street Po-Boy Festival, which showcases more than 60 versions of the famous sandwich.

Pour on the fun at Jewel of the South.

Pour on the fun at Jewel of the South.

Denny Culbert/Leila Wagner, leila@jewelnola.co

Where to Eat and Drink It’s hard to go wrong in a city that embraces its culinary wealth—from old-school Creole to trendy gastropubs. Beloved chef Donald Link opened Ristorante Gianna in the Central Business District, with James Beard Award-winning chef Rebecca Wilcomb helming the kitchen and serving rustic Italian dishes rooted in Louisiana tradition. Over in the offbeat Marigny district, warm and inviting gastrobar The Franklin reopened under the culinary leadership of Dane Harris, celebrating New Orleans’ food and drink culture, vivacity, and love for art and design. And the French Quarter’s Jewel of the South, from bartenders Chris Hannah and Nick Detrich, features a thoughtfully curated cocktail menu as well as small plates.

Not sated? The Lower Garden District’s Thalia, by Coquette’s co-chefs Kristen Essig and Michael Stolzfus, brings a modern approach to regional comfort food with a focus on community and sustainability. And to prove you can never have too many tacos, Barracuda, a taco stand and laissez-faire margarita garden on Tchoupitoulas, is the spot to wind down over the weekend. Before you know it, it’ll be time to plan the next New Orleans weekend trip to do all the things you missed.

Create your own French Quarter festivities at the W New Orleans.

Create your own French Quarter festivities at the W New Orleans.

Where to Stay Jazz up your weekend stay in the Crescent City when you check in to the W New Orleans French Quarter. The sleek, 97-room boutique hotel may be tucked among historic buildings, but its rooms channel NOLA hipness with bright contemporary colors and funky wall art. Stepping up the luxury quotient are comforts like an outdoor courtyard pool, flat-screen TVs, and a “Whatever/Whenever” policy that gets you what you need exactly when you need it.

Discover true Southern charm at The Ritz-Carlton New Orleans, set in a 1908 Beaux Arts building on the edge of the French Quarter. Take your pick of more than 100 treatments in the city’s largest spa, listen to live jazz Wednesday to Saturday evenings in the Davenport Lounge, and explore local cuisine at M Bistro.

In the heart of downtown and just steps away from the French Quarter, the Le Méridien New Orleans takes the hotel game to the next level, with plush bedding, an indulgent rooftop pool, and a contemporary design style that calls to mind the city’s European heritage. Plus, your room key has a dual function: It’s part of the Unlock Art program, which offers complimentary admission to some of the city’s art museums.

Dialing up the fun, the Moxy New Orleans Downtown/French Quarter Area serves up everything a lively New Orleans weekend requires: swanky rooms, smart TVs, fast Wi-Fi, and a 24-hour lobby bar with craft cocktails and fresh coffee to help regulate your pace. Need to add a snack in the middle of the day or night? Find necessary provisions at the onsite “24/7 Pick Ups” convenience store.

Discover how Marriott can help you craft more amazing weekend getaways at Marriott.com.

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