America has only three great cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans. Everywhere else is Cleveland.
Tennessee Williams, or Mark Twain, or someone of considerable taste
Bienvenue a New Orleans!
We fell in love with this city for its historical French influence, exquisite architecture and diverse neighborhood, louche Southern charm, incredible resilience and mystery, and its ability to turn up the jazz and just dance on the street!
The French Quarter is certainly world famous, but there’s actually a lot more to do than chug a questionable hurricane or two on Bourbon Street. Check out the beautiful Audubon park and feed the birds, explore the historic mansions of the Garden District, visit the National WWII Museum, take a ride on the streetcar, or just investigate the nooks and crannies of New Orleans’ magnetic and unique neighborhoods.
Whether it’s your first or tenth time, we hope you love the city as much as we do!
Our Favorite Spots, by Neighborhood
(See them all on our customized map, HERE!)
- Willa Mae’s Scotch House: for their amazing, incredible, finger-burningly fresh fried chicken. The best I’ve ever had. Period.
- Parkway Bakery & Tavern: for no-frills, delicious poboys.
- St Louis Cemetery I and II: granted, the walk to these cemeteries is a bit shady. But if you find grand old mausoleums as romantic as I do, and enjoy wandering up and down rows of white marbled tombs, reading the fading inscriptions on the arches of marbled tombs, and pondering the lives and ages of the past, these cemeteries are for you. Feel free to visit Marie Laveau’s grave if you want to capture that witchy, mysterious New Orleans of the past.
- Cafe Beignet: dare I say that I prefer these to the ones at Cafe Du Monde? I do. I think these are lighter with a more delicate crispness. There’s one located in a little enclave right off of Bourbon Street, a green oasis filled with the crooning of Frank Sinatra covers, in case you need some respite from the chaos. But the main cafe is located on Royal Street.
- Cafe Du Monde: the landmark destination for beignets. The one located at Jackson Square has the famous green and white striped awning and the requisite people-watching. Get a cup of chicory coffee to cut the sweetness of the ton of powered sugar lavished on the crispy pastries.
- Killer Poboys: killer and unusual types of poboys.
- Arnaud’s French 75: it’s an oyster bar and it serves some of America’s best cocktails (including the delicious champagne-based French 75). Why are you not there already?
- Hotel Monteleone: Home to the Carousel Bar, where you whirl around very slowly while failing to take non-blurry selfies in the mirrors that line its awning. Oh, and classic New Orleans cocktails. Mostly the people watching and the Instagramming.
- Cat’s Meow: if you ever wanted to be on American Idol with a stage and audience, but people are too drunk and enthusiastic to judge, and the wait is only three hours at peak times rather than, say, a whole day, then this is the place to be. We might be here after the wedding to karaoke our hearts out…
- Faulkner House: More classy than the above. Faulkner lived in New Orleans for a while, and this charming and tiny store tucked away in an alley near St Louis Cathedral has loads of gorgeous books, and a few framed letters to and from Faulkner and his contemporaries like Flannery O’Connor.
- St Louis Cathedral: Gorgeous cathedral that makes up most of the silhouette of Jackson Square. Unfortunately, you have to be Catholic to be married here, darn it.
- Jackson Square: a perfectly exotic green space filled with local artists, card-table psychics, and tourist traps, but mostly full of wandering crowds and incredible four piece brass band so intimately known in the community that wandering musicians will sometimes drop in and join in. The energy is fantastic.
- Cafe Amelie: nestled a beautiful courtyard with cooling palms and a bubbling fountain, with delicious Louisiana cuisine and charming bartenders who will whip up a sazerac, wink at you, and say it’s on the house since it’s your first time in New Orleans. Southern hospitality at its finest.
Central Business District
- Mother’s: old-fashioned and plentiful Creole food. We’ve never tried their self-proclaimed World’s Best Ham, but we love their jambalaya, greens, and red beans & rice.
- Sazerac Bar: home of one of New Orlean’s signature drinks. Located in the gorgeous and historic Roosevelt Hotel, you can’t help feeling classy when you walk in. If rye whiskey, absinthe, and bitters isn’t your thing (IT SHOULD BE), try the Ramos Gin Fizz and pretend a young Faulkner is scribbling away in a dark corner.
- National World War II Museum: If you’re a history buff (like Travis), this is your Disney World. One could easily spend 4 or more hours absorbing all the moving pieces of the wars in Europe and Pacific. Individual stories come to light, in both the displays and the real WWII vets who visit or volunteer at the museum.
- Ace Hotel: the definition of hipster cool, and a relatively new addition. I hope I get to stay there some day, but in the meantime, I will grab myself some Stumptown Coffee and lounge in their industrial minimalist lobby on their sumptuous leather couches and pretend that I do, okay?
- The Halal Guys: the New Yorker in me misses this so, so, so much. And there’s one in New Orleans!
- Frenchman Street: Wander up and down and soak up the energy and spirit of New Orleans without competing with the drunk frat brothers and top-optional sorority sisters of Bourbon Street. Here be the real music. Also, at the right times, you may see crazy things like a mobile DJ mounted on a pedicab start a spontaneous dance party on Frenchmen. Just saying.
- The Spotted Cat Music Club: some of the best musicians I have ever heard play here, and that’s high praise since quality sound streams out of every club on Frenchmen Street. There’s always a little space to dance.
- Frenchmen Art Market: infinitely Instagrammable, there are legit artists and artisans lining the aisles of the Art Market with beautiful, local things. Pick up some truly unique and useful souvenirs here. The fairy lights cast a warm glow on the whole thing, and look for the dilapidated phone booth and Breakfast at Tiffany’s inspired bathtub sofa.
- Art Garage: if there’s any event here, or you get a chance to go in, run. This unique and dramatic space is home to some amazing pieces of fun art. With some music and a bar, it couldn’t get more Baz Luhrmann than this. PS: We almost had the wedding there.
- Fry and Pie: we ran into this stall after exploring the Art Garage. I can’t attest to their fries, which seem AMAZING (they have gyro fries with tzasiki and everything), but their pies: [insert moan here]. So delicious, we had to get some for the wedding. The proprietors are amazing and lovely, and though we were their only customers on a lazy Saturday at 4 pm, they set out a candle and sat a china plate with a mini pie in between us like it was a romantic date. Also, nothing is better than shoving delicious chocolate pie in our faces while trying to discern the meaning of the colorful murals on the walls, one of which includes Fidel Castro staring lasers at a fetal Uncle Sam.
- N7: I (Christine) love secret restaurants. Travis just loves food in general. N7 is great for both, tucked away behind a nondescript plywood fence that opens onto a renovated tire shop, now more French vintage garden than mechanic. The French-Japanese fusion cuisine is incredible, and nothing is better than talking and laughing with friends in the twilight breeze with one of their gorgeous rose wines in hand.
- Marigny Opera House: Solange got married here. I looked into it, but it really wasn’t quite in our budget. If there aren’t any shows around or if you aren’t into opera, feel free to walk around all draped in white and imagine what it would have been like to be at that wedding.
- Tee-Eva’s Pralines: Yes, it looks questionable on the outside. And when you walk in, the feeling doesn’t really go away: there’s a barred partition separating you from the proprietor, Ms. Tee Eva’s granddaughter. But she’s as Southern friendly as one could ever be, and you’ll soon find yourself loading up on old-fashioned, creamy pralines and eyeing the mini pecan pies lasciviously. If you want to cut the sweetness with some good old salt, Tee-Eva’s doles out gumbo and jambalaya as well.
- Plum Street Snoballs: I’m not exactly convinced that there’s a big difference between a New Orleans snoball and a plain old snow cone. I think it may be the texture. Granted, I (Christine) have never had an actual snow cone. I can tell you this for sure: There’s definitely very little difference between a snoball and Asian shaved ice, except for the toppings. But this place is the epitome of a classic New Orleans snoball emporium: it’s a rickety old place painted butter yellow with a line out the door, the charming hand-painted mural says it’s been around since 1945, and the student employees are the epitome of efficiency. Travis may have laughed at me for getting grapefruit juice with condensed milk, but I got my millennial pink treat all to myself while he drooled all over his own watermelon snoball. And that’s why we work well together.
- McClure’s BBQ: one of the best BBQ places in New Orleans. Apparently they roast whole hogs as well, and we were very tempted to get one to make our wedding into a crazy luau. We’re happy to present their delicious BBQ and crazy good sides instead.
- Ruby Slipper Cafe: If you haven’t already died yet from being stuffed taxidermy-style with good New Orleans food, you can wake up and go to the Ruby Slipper Cafe for inventive southern brunch. The one in the Garden District isn’t as packed as the others, and though we slipped in 30 minutes before closing, the bartender was incredibly gracious, chatted with me about our wedding plans, recommended the huge house mimosa, and reminded me that there are no open container laws in New Orleans as he passed me a to-go cup. There’s candied bacon and BBQ shrimp & grits and this Frankensteinian combination of carrot cake & french toast that happens to be the most delicious thing, ever.
- Trashy Diva Clothing Boutique: If the airport somehow loses all your luggage, if you’re in the mood for some retro clothes, or if you’d really like to shop local, Trashy Diva Clothing is for you. Why did I bring it up? Because it’s right around the corner from the venue (with several locations through the city), and our incredibly cool hostess who owns the beautiful mansion at which we’re holding our wedding also runs this store.
- Audubon Park: There are so, so many birds here. I think it’s a bird reserve. So if you hate birds or you’ve watched too much Hitchcock, maybe skip this. But if you want to see the largest, most courageous swan you have ever seen from a foot away, or laugh at the gaggles of ducks shaking their little tail feathers in the warm sun, or picnic on the pretty grounds, or run the long trails (what is wrong with you, hm?), or jump up onto Newman Bandstand and give a little impromptu performance, you can do all of that at Audubon Park. There’s also a zoo here, as well as a golf course, and a little girl genius who plays zippy violin duets with her little brother for band camp money while her father takes pictures and smiles. (She’s quite good; slip her a dollar.)
- Tree of Life: Across the street that splits the park, and around the zoo, there resides an incredible old oak tree. People for ages have married there, picnicked around its base, and generally come to admire it. Climb the lower branches and look up in awe.
Clearly, we’ve only touched on a few places, a few experiences. Feel free to wander and add to our list – be sure to let us know!
Topical guides to the city:
For design minded friends
For the artistic, romantic souls
For the local culture seekers
For the beautiful and the damned