If you are looking for something relatively cheap (could be free depending on how you swing it) to do outside of the French Quarter, we suggest going for a walk or bike ride in City Park. It’s about 20 minutes outside of the French Quarter but has a botanical gardens, play area for kids, old cobblestone bridges under oaks with Spanish moss adorning its branches. We started our park visit with a cafe au lait and beignets at Morning Call. It’s much cheaper than the more well known and popular, Cafe Du Monde. In addition there was no line, and you’re in charge of the powdered sugar ratio that goes on top of your beignets, which for me is a huge bonus. After our sugary, but delicious breakfast, we spent the rest of the morning walking around admiring the freshly blossomed flowers and modern art display near the Modern Art Museum, (within the park). Some of the artwork was….well, really modern but some of the pieces we really enjoyed.
We worked up an appetite on our art walk, so we headed to St. Roch Market, an indoor food hall that has over 12 different vendors serving up affordable and delectable drinks and food. We all opted for a different vendor so we could get some variety and of course had to get some fresh cocktails at The Mayhaw Bar. Dennis had a pork shoulder sandwich that used two fried plantains instead of bread from Fritai, which serves haitian cuisine. It was on point! Liz had a blackened catfish po boy at Elysian Seafood…and (because I couldn’t not order this), crawfish poutine from Fête au Fête. Laine, our friend we met up with in NOLA, got the muffuletta with a side of red beans and rice from Fête au Fête as well. If you haven’t had either of those dishes when you’re in New Orleans you’re not doing it right. Fête au Fête is currently rated in the top 5 list for muffuletta in New Orleans. All of the food was superb!!
Just walking around the city is entertainment. There are so many fun shops, cute boutiques, wild bars, and beautiful buildings. After stopping at St. Roch’s we walked around the neighborhood and saw some of the mardi gras floats at a local shop (known for decorating elaborate and beautiful outfits for the weeklong celebration). I think this really captures the essence of the city.
Whether it’s your first time or your 20th time to New Orleans, the French Quarter is always worth a visit. We still strongly feel you should avoid Bourbon street like the plague, but to each their own. This trip we really wanted to hear Jazz music in it’s “original” style and paid the hefty entry fee into Preservation Hall ($20 cash only per person). We waited in line for nearly 45 minutes but got great seats on the floor right in front of the band. We only snagged a few photos inside because there was no photography allowed while the band played. The show lasted about an hour. They were wonderful musicians and stuck to the “true” classics of Jazz. It was a late show (from 11 to 12), so maybe it could be attributed to being tired, but we both felt it lacked the passion we’ve seen from other live jazz musicians in the city before. We really enjoyed the music but felt the heart of the music wasn’t there. The players all seemed like they were there to do a job and not there because they loved playing music. If you’ve never gone, I definitely would go it’s one of those bucket list items you have to do. Also the ambiance adds a whole nother’ layer of enjoyment, but I wouldn’t go twice. Other great spots for live Jazz Music are The Spotted Cat, The Davenport Lounge (inside the Ritz so it’s pretty fancy), Little Gem Saloon, or Three Muses. You could also just walk up and down Frenchman St. which is now for having more of a local crowd and lots of live music and happening bars.
If you’re just looking for a good drink without needing live music, we’d suggest going to Hot Tin Roof Bar. It’s a rooftop bar on top of a really nice hotel that has great views of the city and any drink you could ever dream of. Another fun bar (in the French Quarter) is Carousel Bar. The bar is actually a rotating carousel. Seats are highly sought after and around 4 – 6 this place gets PACKED. It’s fun, and has a variety of people from hotel guests, business people having a drink after work, and tourists walking in off the street. Sometimes there is live music but not always guaranteed. Nothing exceptional about the drinks (your normal bar fare). We wanted to make it to the Rusty Nail in the warehouse district one night, which is a bar with a lovely patio for you to enjoy that serves wine, beer, and cocktails. We heard it’s just adorable. You’ll have to let us know! We did however end up getting a drink at Bar Tonique which is just outside the French Quarter. It was a small place but had lots of fun cocktails to try as well as craft beer and wine. We enjoyed sitting in the brick room people watching (it’s amazing how drunk some people get in this city)!
Another area of New Orleans that isn’t visited by the tourists as often as I think it should be, is Magazine Street. The actual Magazine street is a commercial road that runs for several miles through a residential area of New Orleans. The homes in that neighborhood are as classic as they get. Super historic, very southern, and often eclectic. There are lots of boutiques, antique shops, and great restaurants like Shaya (known as being one of the best restaurants in New Orleans) or Cavan, where we had Saturday Brunch that was FREAKING AMAZING. Seriously, it was so good!
We went to a fancier dinner one night (and by fancier I mean our whole meal didn’t add up to $20, instead each plate was at least $20). It was a nice treat and it was awesome. Gabrielle’s New Orleans just reopened it’s doors in late 2017 after Hurricane Katrina, 12 years after the terrible storm devastated the city. It’s loved by the new orlean’s people and was welcomed back with open arms and happy hearts. We were glad we could experience the restaurant!