A city steeped in history and celebration, New Orleans boasts prized architecture, sweet sounds of music, and a rich food culture. Lauren Cason, director of marketing, communications and governmental affairs for the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau shares some of her favourite places.
Best place for live music: Anywhere on Frenchmen Street you will find great, local jazz music seven nights a week. The most popular section of Frenchmen Street is a short strip in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood, just down river from the French Quarter. It is the thriving epicenter of New Orleans music and culture, with an eclectic mix of people, clubs, restaurants and venues to form one of the most energetic and vibrant cultural spots in the world. Some of my favorite spots are The Spotted Cat, d.b.a., Apple Barrel, Three Muses and The Maison.
What to eat: New Orleans is a foodie city and one of the few American cities with its own original cuisine including dishes like crawfish etoufee, jambalaya, po-boys, muffalettas, gumbo and more that can’t be found anywhere else. For a fine meal in a classic creole restaurant, it doesn’t get more authentic than Antoine’s Restaurant, which will be celebrating its 175 years of service in 2015. There are newer restaurants, too, like Peche and Borgne that infuse New Orleans’ culinary traditions with haute cuisine.
Family activities: There’s no doubt about it. The place to be for fun-loving families is New Orleans. Kids will love our world-class Audubon Nature Institute featuring four properties Uptown and in the French Quarter: the Aquarium, Audubon Zoo, Insectarium and IMAX theater. Creative families will enjoy a stroll through the French Market, America’s oldest public market, as a treat for all the senses. Nearby, they can pick-up a beignet (powdered donut) at Café du Monde or one of Aunt Sally’s Pralines for an afternoon treat. There’s no shortage of activities for both parents and children to enjoy.
Secret spot: My favorite “secret spot” is Oak Street located in the Carrollton/Riverbend neighborhood. Lined with coffee shops, restaurants and local galleries, this section of town is perfect for an evening stroll with friends.
French Quarter highlight: Most days of the week Royal Street is designated as a pedestrian mall and filled with musicians, artists and other street performers. This is my favorite place to walk for creative inspiration and window-shopping.
Where to go dancing: With so many live music venues across the city you can’t help but move with the music, but to pick a favorite would be hard. The Maple Leaf on Oak Street always has exciting live music.
Favourite cocktail: As the official cocktail of the State of Louisiana, the sazerac would have to be my favorite cocktail. However, there are several close contenders for second including the Ramos Gin Fizz at Tujagues, the Vieux Carre cocktail at the Carousel Bar or a French 75 from Arnaud’s. We’re a “spirited” city, and there is no shortage of watering holes.
What to photograph: New Orleans is one of the world’s most iconic cities, with recognizable photo spots all over. One of my favorite places for grabbing photos is in the Walda & Sydney Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park. Of course, you’ll want to gather photos of your adventures in the French Quarter, and of the food. The food-images tend to be mouth-watering.
3 must-see attractions: Jackson Square, St. Charles Streetcar and Frenchmen Street.
When to visit: With a sub-tropical climate, New Orleans is great to visit year-round. The most popular visitor season is Spring (Mardi Gras through May) and Fall (October and November), but visitors can find a great value when they book in the off-season.
If you want to visit New Orleans, call 1-800-665-4981 to speak with a travel agent or browse our New Orleans hotels.