New Orleans has my heart! Often imitated, but never duplicated, this is one of the unique cities of America that showcases the diversity of a melting pot culture. Apart from being a world class food city, there is no shortage of nightlife, live music, art galleries, or historical sites to visit.
The start of a new year marks the beginning of festival season for New Orleans, and the cooler weather makes it a perfect time to visit.
I have visited New Orleans over a dozen times over the years, but I still never run out of things to do, or new places to check out. Here’s a self guided walking tour I send to all my friends keen on recommendations for the French Quarter. It’s very drink and eating heavy, as those are some of my favorite pastimes, and I have no restraint when it comes to the famous food groups New Orleans is known for: Beignets, Po Boys, Cocktails, and Fried Chicken. I realize I’m missing a few more famous places, but bear with me as this list grows. I go back to New Orleans frequently, and find new gems every time I visit! What are some of your favorite places?
Suggested self-paced walking tour around the French Quarter:
1. Breakfast at Cafe Beignet
Start at Café Beignet on Royal street for breakfast, there’s usually a line, and if you sit outside the sparrows will poop on you. Nevertheless this is a good introduction to New Orleans Cuisine with a taste of the famous Beignet.
334 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
2. A long walk down Royal Street
Following breakfast, take a long meandering walk down Royal Street to look at the art galleries and souvenir shops. Take a turn towards Jackson Square and maybe snag a carriage ride.
3. Double back to the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone for a drink
By now you’ve probably worked up a thirst! Head over to the carousel bar at the historical Hotel Monteleone where you can try America’s first cocktail, the Sazerac. It’s usually packed, but if you are lucky, you’ll get there in time to snag a seat at the bar. With the free salty snacks, it’s not a bad way to spend the rest of the day! It’s one of the few places where you can say the bar is spinning, and it’s not really you 😉
Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel
214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
4. Go to Coops for lunch and get the taste plate for the rabbit gumbo
Coops is a bar that’s known for their food. And the surly waiters will let you know that! Regardless, I’m still addicted to their fried chicken, which I think is some of the best in the FQ.
1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
5. Head to a historical home tour to say you did something besides drink all day
The history of New Orleans is the real draw of the city, and if you are a history fan like myself, you’ll be remiss to not try out a tour. Several homes in the FQ have been remodeled to their peak grandess of the 1800’s and turned into historical tours, like the Gallier House or the Beauregard Keyes House.
6. Head down Bourbon to Lafitte’s for a drink
I’m not a fan of Bourbon Street, but since you’re here, might as well check out a few gems. At the end of Royal, Lafitte’s is an old blacksmith’s shop turned bar, and considered to be one of the oldest original buildings in New Orleans.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
7. Then you get hungry and go to Pat O’s for a hurricane and some alligator bites
Since you’re on Bourbon checking out the crowds, you might as well head to Pat O’s. Pat O’s might be a tourist trap, but it’s a is famous for their scenic courtyard and as the place that invented the hurricane.
718 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116
8. Walk to Fritzel’s for a drink and live music
Fritzel’s is one of those rare gems on Bourbon Street. Aside from the raucous clubs and all night dancing and drinking, Fritzel’s is a laid back, live music venue. during certain times of the day you can see a 3-5 peice live jazz band.
Fritzel’s European Jazz Pub
733 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
9. If you are really drunk, go to the Cat’s Meow and sign up for karaoke
If you dare! Or you can just people watch 🙂
701 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116
10. If you want to get more drunk, go to Tropical Isle and have a hand grenade
Tropical Isle is also a pretty touristy place, with a bayou theme and several locations just along this short strip of Bourbon Street. Their claim to fame is the drink called the Hand Grenade which can only be described as an Everclear, Midori bonanza.
610 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130
There’s a ton of activities missing from this list as I usually just share this as a first timer’s road map to the French Quarter. But this list was meant to grow! What are some of your favorite places?
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