New Orleans has my heart! Often imitated, but never duplicated, this is one unique city in America showcasing the diversity of a melting pot culture. Apart from being a world class food city, it is also known for spectacular cocktails, colorful nightlife, appealing live music, art galleries, and a plethora of historical sites to keep you busy for days.
I have visited New Orleans at least 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 (recently updated for some new activities). It’s very drink and eating heavy, as those are some of my favorite pastimes, and I often have no caloric 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 as the city grows, I find new gems with every visit. What are some of your favorite places?
One Day, Drink Heavy, Self Paced Walking Tour in the New Orleans 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 do have a chance to drop some presents on you. Nevertheless, this is a good place to start for an introduction to New Orleans cuisine with a taste of the famous Beignet.
Over the past few years the brand has expanded to other locations, namely Canal Street and Jackson’s Brewery, but I still prefer the Royal Street location:
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 take a peep at the numerous galleries and souvenir shops. When your dogs are barking, just take a turn towards Jackson Square and snag a carriage ride tour.
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. In my recent opinion, if they have the BBQ shrimp on special, it is devine and should not be missed!
1109 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116
5. Head to a museum, or 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. The World War 2 museum is quite entertaining (an more importantly, air conditioned!) as they take you on a story of two world theaters in which the US fought. Additionally the New Orleans Collection is a free museum that takes you through the history of the city, from early settlers to modern times. And last but not least, 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. All of these activities are sure to allow you to burn more calories than consume.
520 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130
6. Head down Bourbon to Lafitte’s Blacksmith House 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.
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 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 piece live jazz band. If you are truly a fan of music, don’t miss Richard Scott’s sessions (schedule online).
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 tourist trap, and there are 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 bonanzaa.
610 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70130
11. Now that you’re drunk enough for dinner, head to Port of Call for a large, reasonable steak dinner.
At a reasonable thirty five dollars (at the time of writing), you can get a large 14 ounce rib eye, served with a salad and a baked potato side the size of your headache! They also have large burgers, and if you are adventurous, grab yourself a large monsoon drink.
Port of Call
838 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116
12. Bonus activity! If its Sunday, grab a bloody mary at the Golden Lantern and watch a talented drag show.
Sundays at the Golden Lantern are for Fundays. The show starts at 3 pm and goes on as long as there is entertainment. Sometimes I think the bartenders are entertainment enough at this cheerful local bar, and anytime of the week is worth a stop!
The Golden Lantern
1239 Royal St, New Orleans, LA
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 places I missed?