Because I lived in New Orleans in the years before I became a Beverly Hill-ian (no one really says that), and we spend a great deal of time there during the summer and holidays, I definitely have some yeas and nays on things to do in the Crescent City. I originally published this list on BeverlyHillsMom, but felt it needed a little updating. Not too much has changed, but now there are much better online resources for me to grab for the update.
Good Neighborhood over view Map you probably barely have time to explore the French Quarter (aka Vieux Carre’), The Central Business District (aka CBD or Warehouse District). the Garden District and Uptown. I have lists for other areas but no one ever has the time to do everything I want them to. You may find that you love one particular area and you can spend your whole vacation exploring it!
I always stay either at the Omni Royal Orleans or the Windsor Court. I always have, since I was five. Old school New Orleans service, fantastic dining, fun cocktailing, super secure and accessible. Always ask for a balcony room!
Great map of New Orleans restaurants ( see list of favorites below):
Map of what I think are the best points of interest in the French Quarter. There IS life beyond Bourbon Street.
Great map for walking in Garden District – try Commander’s Palace for lunch or Casamento’s before or after your walk. Be sure to note Colonel Short’s Villa, an historic Irish Georgian antelbellum mansion located on the corner of Prytannia and Fourth Streets. It was beautifully restored by my dear friend, who lived there with his husband for over two decades.
Good guide to walking tours of New Orleans cemeteries
Museums at Jackson Square with terrific exhibits including a costume collection of evening wear and Mardi Gras finery. Did you know that more evening wear is sold in New Orleans than anywhere in the world? Our men know what time to wear which tux, and ladies still wear opera gloves and evening gowns to the balls.
Museums and art galleries in New Orleans are fabulous and aplenty. I think I’ll have to make a an entire separate post about them.
Listen to radio station 90.7 in your room and check listings for music around town. GO SEE LIVE MUSIC in the small venues! If WWOZ is telling you about it, it’s worth checking out. Support this amazing jazz and heritage organization by donating during their pledge drives. (Hint: you can get your VIP Jazz Fest tickets by donating – keep an eye on the website for their drive dates.
Off the hook fabulous hats and perfumes way up at the end of the streetcar stop – the best milliner in the USA! Make an appointment and let Miss Yvonne et cie fix you up.
Best taxi – seriously, this matters I took a ride down the freeway one night with a drunk and blind idiot from the airport I should’ve taken a United Cab. I know, I know, we all use Uber a lot now, but those guys at United are old school locals who will get you the hell there and will know how to not get stuck in a parade.
Do indulge in your inner wierdo and get some costume stuff!
Fifi Mahony my very favorite for real girls and wanna be girls! Tons of outrageous wigs, makeup, jewelry, and cool Quarter cats to help you find the fierce inner you
The most counterculture clothing and shoes will be found at the end of Decatur Street near Esplanade. I usually buy at least one thing around there each trip to treat my inner Goth.
French Quarter Food:
Note: I am sort of old school here. I only have so many hours to put all that food in me, and these are my ultimate don’t miss
Acme Oyster Bar great po boys, seafood baskets and shucked oysters
Bayona best gourmet cuisine -tell Regina and Susan I sent you. I booked reservations there in their fifth year. I might actually ask for my old job back, I loved it there so much.
Galatoires – Best creole seafood – go for Friday lunch – they don’t take reservations; just get there as early as you can and wait for a table – try to get table downstairs
Cafe du Monde is the ONLY place to get a beignet, the creole donut, with cafe’ au lait and great site for people watching too.
Southern Candymaker Best pralines in town!
French Quarter Cocktails ( keep in mind you can get them in a go cup and walk around, or stay and soak up some atmosphere):
The Carousel Lounge at the Hotel Monteleone fun to sit and spin at the bar, or people watch from the windows
I always stop by Napoleon House for a Pimm’s cup cocktail which is very refreshing on a hot summer day
Pat O’ Brien’s Don’t have the hurricane you might throw up, but it’s fun to sit in the courtyard by the flaming fountain and have a party pic made. There’s also have a great piano bar
Stop at any daiquiri joint you might pass, they help beat the heat, just keep in mind they are much more powerful than you think – it’s like Jamba Juice with 151 proof! best to have these while moving around.
Central Business District Food:
Emeril’s Great restaurant from Emeril LaGasse eclectic –
Mother’s Killer po boys and best gumbo in town (the ONLY gumbo in town, really)
Willa Jean – I discovered this industrial design cafe during the pandemic and I now have cravings for their entire menu, especially the pimento cheese with fried saltines and the black & white cookies
Casamento’s best po boys, fried crab claws and shucked oysters uptown
Commander’s Palace – another Brennan family Nola institution – great brunch; try the turtle soup – great cemetery across the street
Franky and Johnny’s great juke joint WAY uptown awesome poboys, onion rings, daily specials and alligator pie!
Brigtsen’s – Frank Brigtsen still cooking up serious creole recipes – I took a delicious cooking class from him a couple of summers ago – make that appointment at Yvonne LaFleur, then go manger at Frank’s
Camellia Grill – old school short order counter service with amazing waffles and burgers.
I actually LOVE to talk about New Orleans, so if you have a question for me, just send me a note, and until then – Laissez les Bontemps Rouler!