It took me way, way too long to tick this one off the list. This legendary city has taken its share of licks over the years from crime to hurricanes. But there is only one Big Easy and it certainly merits a visit. The stars of the show are architecture, food, music and a unwavering dedication to the good life.
Here's a simple guide for a first visit. A long weekend will be a great start, but I could spend a week or two there without a struggle.
Where to Stay
If you are in an RV, we suggest the French Quarter RV Resort. It's about 4 blocks from the French Quarter, safe, neat and worth the cost (about $110 at last check). If you are hoteling it, something along Canal St. or near the river is okay. But the best is a boutique hotel in the Quarter.
French Quarter RV "Resort"
Where to Eat
The challenge is NOLA is simply manufacturing enough appetite to take advantage of all the places you want to try. They take cuisine seriously in this town and you will have some of the most memorable meals of your life. Use your apps, talk to locals, or just follow your nose. As long as you avoid chains and most places on or adjacent to Bourbon St. (the rest of the quarter is generally excellent), you will not be disappointed.
A few places we can recommend:
Napoleon House - For Po' Boys, Jambalaya & Bourbon Cocktails (and this is just lunch)
Brennan's - Creator of Banana's Foster
Palace Cafe - Perfect for Sunday brunch.
Irene's - Top notch food and service in a great space.
Amelie - Try a Sazerac cocktail, which legend has it was the very first cocktail ever
Sylvain's - sublime, even sober
Ruby Slipper - Out of this world breakfasts
Cafe du Monde - Beignets are no better than anywhere else, but it's part of the experience.
Port of Call - Big drinks, tasty burgers.
Cafe du Monde
Where to Party
Bourbon St. pre-game
Bourbon Street rages every night of the year, and it's a parade of hedonism everyone should see. However, unless you are 22 or a member of a bridesmaids party, the scene may wear on you after a few hours. And that's fine, just take your party a block or two off of Bourbon to carry on the evening at a restaurant or music joint. While on Bourbon St., don't succumb to the temptation to buy a giant daiquiri in a big plastic flute or penis glass (unless you are in a bridesmaid party). Skip Pat O'Brien's Irish Bar (if you've seen one Irish bar...). Famous, but for no good reason anymore. Just a trap for us tourists.
What to See
Just walking the Quarter, primarily off Bourbon St. is a joy if you appreciate architecture and the pageant of life. I love Royal Street, and Frenchman's Street is a less touristed option.
Another great area for architecture buffs is the Garden District, which is an easy street car ride away. The World War II museum is also excellent for history buffs that have the time or need the air conditioning.
This is the heart of New Orleans and a good place to rest after you've wandered the Quarter for a few hours. This is where you will find Cafe du Monde, river views, and the obligatory street entertainers. The music is great. And there was even a comedian who had trained his cute little dog to fetch dollar bills from the audience. People couldn't get them out fast enough.
All That Jazz
The music is everywhere. We never went to a club because we got to enjoy so much great music on the street. But if you are a connoisseur, you've come to the right place.