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New Orleans for Lovers

Sunset Over the Mississippi
New Orleans for Lovers
From sunsets over the Mississippi, picnics in the park, and top-notch hotels to sybaritic spas, cozy corners, and classic cocktails, the Big Easy is big on romance.
By Geraldine Campbell, AFAR Local Expert
Photo by age fotostock
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    Sunset Over the Mississippi
    Sunset Over the Mississippi
    There’s no shortage of dreamy spots to catch the sunset in New Orleans. Local romantics head for a riverside section of Audubon Park nicknamed "The Fly" to watch the sun sink over the Mississippi. Just downriver from the French Quarter is Crescent Park, a perfect spot to watch ships sideslip as the sun sinks. For a different view of the river, take the ferry to Algiers Point and stroll along the waterfront path, taking in a view of the French Quarter. Travelers with transportation might opt to head to Lakeshore Drive to catch the last minutes of daylight fade over Lake Pontchartrain.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    Love Potions and Couples’ Treatments
    Love Potions and Couples’ Treatments
    When in New Orleans, it’s all too easy to party with your partner into the wee hours—and pick up where you left off at breakfast the next day. The city’s spas are here to help you recover from those boozy brunches and last calls. Try the Polynesian Escape massage and scrub at the Ritz-Carlton, which includes lunch afterwards. The Spa at Windsor Court invites you to sweat solo in the steam room or sauna before reuniting for a side-by-side massage or pedicure treatment. The Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Roosevelt Hotel has a suite for couples’ therapy as well, and offers custom facials for men and women.
    Photo courtesy of The Ritz-Carlton
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    Po’ Boys, Parks, and Picnics
    Po’ Boys, Parks, and Picnics
    Stock up on provisions, fold a blanket under your arm, and spend your lunch in one of New Orleans' green spaces. In the French Quarter, head to Verti Marte for one of their famed overstuffed po'boys, then wander to Jackson Square and find a bench to enjoy. Or take a streetcar uptown and stop at St. James Cheese Company to pick up their Ploughman's Lunch with a trio of cheese, salad, and crusty bread—before walking to Audubon Park for a leisurely lunch. Food truck Taceaux Loceaux floats around uptown—look for it when it's in front of Kingpin Bar, and head to the pocket park across the way to dine.
    Photo by Carmen Troesser/age fotostock
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    Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
    Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
    You’ll get powdered sugar all over your face, but it's still worth visiting Café du Monde for a beignet treat. Bring your sweetie and be prepared to share: Each order comes with three beignets. Pralines are another classic New Orleans snack, and Aunt Sally's, in the French Quarter, or Tee-Eva's uptown, are among the classic places to find the candy. In warm weather, you’ll want to head uptown to queue up at Hansen's Sno-Bliz, where you can figure out what to do next by chatting with the locals in line. Sucre has two locations—French Quarter and uptown—and serves as a magnet for those nearby who find themsevles craving macaroons, chocolates, or gelato. For those late-night cravings, make for Bakery Bar, which pairs cocktails with mildly sinful doberge cake.
    Photo by Paul Broussard
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    New Orleans’ Top Tables for Two
    New Orleans’ Top Tables for Two
    New Orleans has been venturing beyond the tried and true, with superb results. Compère Lapin has attracted attention nationally with its West-Indies-by-way-of-New-Orleans approach to fine dining. For more traditional Creole fare, although adapted to modern times, catch the St. Charles streetcar to Upperline Restuarant, where owner Joanne Clevenger hits the sweet spot between neighborhood bistro and destination dining. French Quarter icon Brennan's has come under new ownership (to another branch of the Brennan's) and upgraded the kitchen and dining room without venturing too far from its classic roots. For a more continental vibe in an intimate French-Creole building, Chef John Besh’s August pairs local fare with impeccable service.
    Photo courtesy of Besh Restaurant Group
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    Cozy Up Over Cocktails
    Cozy Up Over Cocktails
    There's always a bar for you and your sweetheart in New Orleans, but some watering holes are more romantic than others. Start out with a classic cocktail at elegant Arnaud’s French 75, with white-jacketed bartenders and French café music piped in. In Mid-City, Revel Cafe & Bar is hosted by Chris McMillian, who knows the cocktail history of New Orleans better than anyone, and makes drinks to match. If you're looking for a bit more aloha, aim for Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29, a neo-tiki bar run by the author of a half-dozen definitive tiki cocktail books. Out in the Bywater, end the evening by sharing a bottle at Bacchanal, a wine store and bar with live music in a funky backyard.
    Photo by Annene Kaye
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    Take a Stroll in the Big Easy
    Take a Stroll in the Big Easy
    New Orleans is best discovered on foot, so grab your honey by the hand and start with a stroll through the French Quarter. Weave in and out of antique shops on Chartres and Royal streets, or just admire the wrought-iron balconies, musicians, and colorful characters. Marvel at the Garden District's leafy streets, lined with fine examples of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture. The neighborhood is also home to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which was established in 1833 and is bordered by beautiful magnolia trees. You'll feel miles from the city strolling beside the Mississippi at Crescent Park—walk to the "rusty rainbow" pedestrian bridge, and then loop back through the Bywater and Marigny neighborhoods.
    Photo by Simon Reddy/age fotostock
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    Exploring Plantation Country
    Exploring Plantation Country
    The city is full of diversions, but plantation country offers up another world. Rent a car and head west along the Great River Road, and you’ll find yourself amongst grand homes, period antique shops, and oak-lined drives. Highlights include Laura Plantation, where you can tour the main house, sugarcane fields, gardens, and slave quarters. San Francisco Plantation and its extravagant architecture inspired author Frances Parkinson Keyes to write the novel, Steamboat Gothic. Oak Alley is the most romantic of antebellum mansions, set off the river down a remarkable corridor of ancient live oaks.
    Photo by David Lyons/age fotostock
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    Dinner and a Show
    Dinner and a Show
    After a dinner in the French Quarter, head to Frenchmen Street to take in your choice of local acts. Actually, you don't have to choose—you can wander from one nightclub to the next, and settle in where you feel most comfortable. Among the best: Spotted Cat and d.b.a., which sit across the street from one another and are always hopping with local trad jazz and the occasional Cajun band. Finish off your stay with a detour to the Louisiana Music Factory, where you can pick up CDs of your favorite discoveries from your rambling through the city's clubs. If you'd rather remain in the French Quarter, an hour or so spent at Preservation Hall will give you a glimpse of New Orleans of years past, with extraordinarily talented musicians, many with close with links to the city's storied musical past, 

    Photo by Jim West / agefotostock