In such a lovely city, I wanted to make a quick list of my top, favorite things for when I return. If you want to read my walkthrough of my trip to New Orleans with more details about the individual places I mention here, check here, here, here, and here.
After trying three different beignet places across the city (!) I can say that I absolutely have a favorite. While I found Cafe Beignet’s ice cafe au lait a wonderful treat in the heat, the beignets were doughy and a bit too heavy. Cafe du Monde is by far the most popular spot for beignets in the city and feel free to head there for the experience of Jackson Square park, but my favorite beignets in the city is Morning Cafe in New Orleans’ City Park. Light, fluffy, and with cans of sugar for your own choosing, these were my absolute favorites.
This one is a hard choice, just because the food is so varied and wonderful. Trust me, if I lived in the South I would be so unhealthy just because the food is sooo good. Still, Cafe Amelie stands out for me. While still delivering some great Southern grits, it doesn’t feel as heavy of a meal as Pere Antoine. Admittedly a bit more on the expensive side, but there is a great atmosphere and the food is genuinely amazing.
Honorable mentions: Bennachin and Coops are great if you are looking for specifics, Bennachin for the West African fare and Coops for the Southern fried chicken!
It’s hard to pin down a specific area because we enjoyed so many of the small boutiques and stores! Everyone raves about Magazine Street in New Orleans, but a lot of the more interesting shops–or at least the ones I find interesting–are toward the other end of Magazine, farther from the Lafayette Cemetery and the Garden District where we were. But one of my favorites was the Frenchman Art Market. Typically open from the evenings until morning, I really enjoyed the atmosphere and the music from the streets. You hear a lot of music from the surrounding bars and there are frequently musicians playing on the street between gigs. The art that is sold is also so diverse and from 3-D shadow art to jewelry, prints, and clothes!
Note: That being said, do take some time to walk down Royal Street and look into some of the galleries. A lot of them are open without appointment, so feel free to roam!
We went to quite a few places including: Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, World War II Museum, New Orleans Museum of Modern Art, Louisiana State Museum, and (although I didn’t really talk about this one because it was quite quick) Historic New Orleans Collection. Among those museums and tours, I really enjoyed the World War II Museum.I loved seeing all the historic memorabilia and watching the films that they had to show. It had a really interesting walkthrough for history buffs and I think it’s something for all ages and very family friendly.
Ultimately, my favorite thing about New Orleans is just how friendly people are to talk to. Where I am from in the Bay Area, people will generally leave you to your own business but help you if you look lost, and in New York–well, it’s New York and I wouldn’t have it any other way. But in New Orleans, people are very friendly with the Good mornings, How was your day and mannerisms that I haven’t had since my etiquette class days enforced by my mother. I cannot possible picture anything other than utter silence during my car rides here in the Bay Area, but the drivers we had in New Orleans told us their back story, where they were from, about their family, how they happened to become drivers—one of them actually started driving people around in order to talk more! Still, whether it was people from New Orleans or the people who were also visiting and traveling–the culture and area seemed to lend itself to a very social atmosphere.
So if you get the chance, talk to people! Get to know the people and they’ll tell you about the city and their lives in the area, from food recommendations to history and old quirks.