New Orleans for Lovers

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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
    There’s no shortage of dreamy spots to catch the sunset in New Orleans. Local romantics go to a section of Audubon Park nicknamed “The Fly” to watch the sun sink over the Mississippi. For a different view of the river, take the ferry to Algiers Point and stroll along the waterfront path, taking in a tableau of the French Quarter. From the Quarter itself, pick a spot in Woldenberg Park, or head to the rooftop of the Roosevelt Hotel to watch the sunset from the pool. Travelers with transportation should 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
    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 Marie Laveau Voodoo Love massage and bath at the Ritz-Carlton: Complete with flickering candles, incense, and Laveau's love potion, it’s an amorous treatment for two. 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
    Stock up on provisions, fold a blanket under your arm, and take your lunch in New Orleans' green spaces. In the French Quarter, go right to Johnny's Po-Boys for fried oysters, meatballs, or a hamburger on Leidenheimer French bread, then share it all on a bench in Jackson Square. Or take a streetcar uptown and stop at St. James Cheese Company to pick up their famous Hooks sandwich—that’s Wisconsin Hooks Cheddar, turkey, avocado, basil, and tomato on ciabatta—before walking to Audubon Park for a leisurely lunch. For a true N'awlins experience, you’ll need to stop first at Broadview Seafood to pick up spicy crawfish, crab legs, and corn on the cob to go before heading to City Park for your own crawfish boil.
    Photo by Carmen Troesser/age fotostock
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    Satisfy Your Sweet Tooth
    You’ll get powdered sugar all over your face, but it's still worth visiting Café du Monde for a sweet 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, is the classic place to find the candy. But trek to Pralines by Jean, on St. Charles Avenue, to sample what many argue are the creamiest pralines in town. In warm weather, you’ll want to visit Piety Street to cool off with a signature Vietnamese Coffee Sno-Ball. And if you’re still undecided about dessert, you can never go wrong with a slice of Emeril Lagasse's banana cream pie at his eponymous restaurant.
    Photo by Geraldine Campbell
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    New Orleans’ Top Tables for Two
    Located in an intimate French-Creole building, Chef John Besh’s August pairs local fare with impeccable service. The confections by pastry chef Patricia Morton are reason alone to make reservations here. R'evolution has generated buzz for its nouveau Creole cuisine, polished good looks, and impressive wine list. In Uptown, dine on the moules frites at the cozy La Crêpe Nanou, or visit Gautreau's for dim lighting and a romantic ambiance. (Even better, it's still somewhat under the radar thanks to its quiet location on a residential side street.) Try Lilette, a sleek Magazine Street staple, for French- and Italian-inspired plates. Then head next door for a cocktail at the bar opened by Lilette’s chef-owner John Harris.
    Photo courtesy of Besh Restaurant Group
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    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. In other words, skip the frozen Irish coffee at French Quarter dive Erin Rose in favor of a French 75 cocktail at the upscale Arnaud’s. Drop into the Hotel Modern for drinks at Bellocq, a bar named for a turn-of-the-century photographer who shot images of New Orleans’ courtesans and madams. The sultry décor is inspired by the 19th-century brothels of the Storyville red light district, and the time period informs cocktails like the cobbler, a combination of various spirits, simple syrup, and fresh fruit served in a tin cup. In the Bywater, share a bottle at Bacchanal, a wine store and bar with live music in the backyard.
    Photo by age fotostock
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    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, street 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. Or, let a guide take the reins on a walking tour. You’ll find someone for all interests, from general ambles in the French Quarter or Garden District to tours themed around ghosts, voodoo, or cocktails.
    Photo by Simon Reddy/age fotostock
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    Exploring Plantation Country
    The city is full of diversions, but plantation country is worth a detour. 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. For an overnight trip, head to Oak Alley, a stunning antebellum mansion with cottages available to spend the night.
    Photo by David Lyons/age fotostock
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    Dinner and a Show
    In September 2013, following a lengthy renovation, the Saenger Theatre reopened for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. Seasons include national acts such as Bonnie Raitt and Dave Matthews as well as the Broadway in New Orleans series. For music and other performances, check the calendar for the Civic Theatre, a beautiful Beaux Arts venue built in 1906 which has been meticulously renovated and reopened after a period of disuse. And Galatoire's 33 is an offshoot of the original restaurant, a Creole institution, with similar fare and a prix-fixe menu geared toward theater goers.
    Photo courtesy of Will Crocker/Saenger Theatre