New Orleans City Guide
“America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.
Everywhere else is Cleveland.”
― Tennessee Williams
As a former NYer, current San Franciscan, and lover of New Orleans, I thought it was time to finally do a NoLA City guide! This guide will focus on the more unique places we’ve found in our numerous trips to the Big Easy and skipping over the quintessentials (ahem Cafe DuMonde).
Where to Stay
Y’all know I love a good AirBnB, but when I go to New Orleans and know I’m going to be drinking out in the humid Mississippi air all day, I truly love the creature comforts of a freshly cleaned hotel room. My number one place that I always stay for at least one night is Loft 523 (previously reviewed here). We’ve also recently discovered Hotel Peter and Paul - a gorgeous new hotel opened up in a converted church and rectory, complete with a lush garden and minimalist, yet gorgeous, styling. Looking for a more “local” approach and want a great AirBnB? I recommend staying in the Marigny neighborhood; super close to the French Quarter but full of charm and a little nicer. For a taste of the LOCAL New Orleans life and a quieter place to rest your head, I cannot recommend enough staying at the Bella Inn in Uptown - a charming AirBnB with sweet hosts and the sweetest spaniel.
Where to Eat
You already know about Cafe DuMonde, but as a vegan(ish) foodie, we’re going to skip right over that and into my personal faves. Let’s start in the trendy Marigny; just steps from Bourbon Street, this more classically New Orleans neighborhood has some of our favorite eateries in the city. Three Muses is on the border of Marigny and the French Quarter and has possibly my favorite veggie dishes ever (the tofu rice bowl with house-made vegan kimchi), not to mention wonderful cocktails and live music - the perfect New Orleans Jazz experience. There’s Shaya, an amazing modern Israeli restaurant miles away from the hustle and bustle of drunkards on Bourbon Street - nestled in a quiet area of the city, this place has amazing pita, veggie dishes, and more! Nearby is also Saba, with similar faire and adorable outdoor seating. For Po Boys, vegan and non, there’s Killer Po Boy, but if you’re looking for a classic southern experience but make it vegan, you need to check out Seed. The main point though is, don’t just grab food in the French Quarter because it’s close; I’ve found those places to be overpriced and subpar, and mostly just good for a walking drink to-go.
Where to Drink
If you go to New Orleans and didn’t get a hand grenade, did you even go? Sugary jokes aside, the main reason anyone goes to New Orleans is to drink in the streets. While SF allows drinking in public too, NoLa is a whole other breed of party central. You obviously know to hit up Bourbon Street, but what if you’re not into getting diabetes? I GOT YOU. First up, you’re going to grab what insiders know New Orleans for - a Sazerac - at none other than The Sazerac Bar. You’ll round the corner for the totally ‘grammable Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone (they also have a great brunch!). If you’re doing the classic tourist thing on Bourbon Street and need a break, I recommend heading south to Mimi’s on the Marigny, a great bar loved by locals and visitors alike which also boasts amazing (and vegan friendly) food as well!
What to Do
There’s no shortage of fun to be had in New Orleans, that’s for sure! Obviously, you can walk around the French Quarter, taking in the sites of Jackson Square and the famed basilica, people watch, shop the local artisans, get your drink on.
For nature lovers, you can do a swamp tour of the bayou, go swimming on Lake Ponchartrain, or take a breezy stroll along the Mississippi river to Audobon Park and have a relaxing picnic.
If you’re into gambling and nightlife, there’s a number of casinos along the riverwalk, most famously Harrah’s.
And of course, what would a trip to New Orleans be without jazz? We try to catch out Jazz while eating at Three Muses or drinking; Apple Barrel is another great bar with live music 7 days a week.
Lastly, end your night of drunken fun at the New Orleans night market. Here you can find local artisans selling their pieces, everything from jewelry, to photos, to painting, and upcycled clothing. The amount of cool items we have bought at this market over the years is insane!