Want to get away for a chic jaunt without leaving the country? Our globe hopper Lori Duran shares tips for 72 hours In New Orleans, where a weekend in the French Quarter can provide memories forever.
With the motto Laissez les bon temps rouler, New Orleans is celebrating its 300th anniversary this year, much like our San Antonio. This culturally significant city has plenty of music, history, architecture and world-famous cuisine to fill a weekend getaway. The epicenter of New Orleans, the French Quarter, is just 13 blocks wide and less than 10 blocks long, yet its compact size and walkability makes it a perfect destination. Here’s how to make the most of it.
Top-notch French Quarter Hotel Monteleone is particularly beautiful, and it has a long history as well. In fact, many Southern authors stayed here, including William Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and Truman Capote. When you arrive and drop off your bags, take a quick spin at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge to unwind after your plane ride. If you are hungry try out their highly-rated Criollo Restaurant. Staying at the Monteleone means you are easy walking distance to everything including both the French Quarter and Canal Street.
When you’re ready to explore, take a stroll down Royal Street and Bourbon Street and take in a little people watching and shopping at the galleries and antique shops. There is something for everybody on these two streets. Myriad famous bars serve some of New Orleans’ iconic libations like the famous Ramos Gin Fizz at the Old Absinthe House and the Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s. After all the walking and shopping, fuel up at either Sylvain, the oasis of style on Chartres Street, or perhaps the casual Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar, at the corner of Bienville and Decatur. At the end of the day, the rooftop heated pool at the hotel is the perfect place for some serious relaxation.
Start the day at Café Du Monde for café au lait and beignets. Established in 1862, it is an ideal spot to succumb to the joys of good coffee served with freshly made square donuts smothered in powdered sugar. From there it’s a short walk over to charming Jackson Square to see St. Louis Cathedral, as well as the stately history museums: The Presbytere, and The Cabildo. In the mood to explore an open-air art market? Head to Jackson Square, a great place to wander and photograph the colorful buildings and ironwork balconies.
Treat yourself to lunch at Galatoires for an exquisite meal that truly represents New Orleans. Be sure to make reservations for this frozen-in-time classic, where uniformed waiters serve up specialties such as redfish, bouillabaisse, Oysters Rockefeller, and turtle soup. It has been said Galatoires has the ambiance of a perpetual cocktail party. The whole French Quarter resonates with music as musicians set themselves up on street corners, parks and any public spaces. Classic jazz can be experienced at nearby Preservation Hall, which has its own legendary house band. After an afternoon spent discovering the quarter, an exceptional dinner can be had at any of the city’s many chic and fabled restaurants, including Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, and the Napoleon House.
Get the day off to a great start at Café Beignet on Royal Street which is the perfect place to get breakfast whether it will be more beignets or another option from their great menu. Then walk over to nearby Canal Street which never contained a canal but instead became the city’s main pedestrian and streetcar passageway. Head off in any direction from Canal Street and you will see something of interest. Check out legendary local stores such as Adler’s, Rubenstein’s and Meyer the Hatter or national merchants at The Shops at Canal Place including Brooks Brothers, Saks Fifth Avenue, Chanel and Tiffany & Co. If you have time, be sure to hop on the New Orleans streetcars along Canal Street and finish your weekend with a historic ride into the garden district. Get off at Washington Avenue to see the opulent mansions that were symbols of wealth in antebellum Louisiana. After a long weekend in this sultry city, you’ll feel recharged and reinvigorated, and likely making plans for a return visit soon.