From trendy boutiques to outdoor wine bars, there's more to New Orleans than just beads and Bourbon Street.
Hop on a quick flight to the Big Easy—Alaska and United both offer direct options from SFO—for endless live music, Creole eats, craft cocktails (they still have hurricanes if you must), and a healthy dose of humidity and Southern charm.
Mardi Gras goes till Fat Tuesday on February 25th; you've got the perfect excuse to escape the West Coast.
The Best Restaurants, Cafes, and Food Markets in New Orleans
New Orleans restaurants provide the expected Creole comforts alongside less expected delights (think gourmet hummus), and of course hangover cures.
Nosh on endless pieces of warm fluffy pita with gourmet hummus—plus small salatim plates and Mediterranean entrees—inside a stylish converted house at Alan Shaya's Saba (5757 Magazine St.). On not-too-humid days, try and snag a reservation on the patio. // For thin crust pies with toppings ranging from smoked pork with pickled peppers to brisket with braised collard greens (not to mention the addictive garlic knots), stop by Pizza Domenica (4933 Magazine St.); get half-price pizzas from 3pm to 5pm on weekdays. // If you're in the mood for pasta in a a swankier space, head to sister restaurant Domenica (123 Baronne St.) in the Roosevelt Hotel. // In the Marigny district, Paladar 511 (511 Marigny St.) is a romantic spot for seasonally changing dishes Italian dishes including housemade pappardelle and pan-seared snapper. // Stop by Tchoupitoulas Street newcomer Barracuda's large outdoor patio (3984 Tchoupitoulas St.) for tacos—plus discounted nachos and margs on tap during Saints games and happy hour. // A one-time gas station in the Bywater has been converted into the stylish taco spot Galaxie (3060 St. Claude Ave.). Go for mezcal cocktails and fresh tortillas. // If you're down to splurge, make a reservation at Coquette (2800 Magazine St.) for Southern dishes with local produce inside a brick-walled space beneath twinkling chandeliers. // For authentic New Orleans cuisine, snag a table at Jacques-Imo's (8324 Oak St.). Offerings include fried green tomatoes, crawfish étouffée, and fried chicken. // Open since 1911, Parkway Tavern (538 Hagan Ave.) is known for its poboys and sides, best enjoyed on the laid-back patio. // At bustling Pêche (800 Magazine St.), you'll find seafood-centric dishes such as oysters, jumbo coconut shrimp, and seafood gumbo.
If you can't pick just one place to dine, head to the St. Roch Market (2381 St. Claude Ave.), an airy, revamped 1875 marketplace with vendors serving up a wide variety of dishes. Grab avocado toast at The Daily Beet or a poboy at Elysian Seafood. // Another beloved marketplace, Auction House Market (801 Magazine St.) is also home to a selection of artisanal vendors. Snap a selfie in front of the famous lip wallpaper in the bathroom, then grab a table—plus oysters and a craft cocktail from the bar—for prime people watching.
A trip to New Orleans wouldn't be complete without beignets at the iconic Cafe du Monde (800 Decatur St.). Pop by after a night out—they're open 24 hours—for an order of three powdered sugar-dusted pillowy donuts for under $4. If you can't squeeze in a visit to the OG locale, grab some for your flight at the airport outpost. // French Truck Coffee (multiple locations) is a must for espresso drinks and chicory-infused Vietnamese iced coffee. // Counter-service Satsuma (multiple locations) serves healthy-ish breakfast and lunch eats like a green egg sandwich, vegan curry scramble, and green juices—a perfect revival after a few too many hurricanes. // Need something stronger? Enjoy daytime cocktails alongside Southern-style dishes—think polenta and eggs and fried green tomatoes—at The Country Club (634 Louisa St.). Saturday drag brunch here books months in advance.
Where to Drink + Hear Live Music in New Orleans
Wine Bars + Craft Cocktails
While finding a table is no easy feat, Saturday afternoons are best spent at the casual Bywater wine bar Bacchanal (600 Poland Ave.). Order a cheese board, select a bottle, and then head out back (or upstairs on rainy days) for daily live music. // Nearby, Saint-Germain (3054 Saint Claude Ave.) has wine bar seating and an intimate garden, plus an adjoining dining room with a five-course tasting menu. // Grab a cocktail and tapas at the vintage oak bar inside Mimi's in the Marigny (2601 Royal St.), and maybe even play a round of pool. Don't miss the views of Royal Street from upstairs. // Sexy vibes and craft cocktails abound at Cure (4905 Freret St.), an Uptown bar housed inside a renovated firehouse.
Take a pass on Bourbon Street—thank us later—and head to Frenchman Street for live music and drinks any night of the week. Start at the famous Spotted Cat Music Club (623 Frenchman St.), and then make the rounds to tiny Apple Barrel (609 Frenchman St.) and Blue Nile (532 Frenchman St.). Or, just follow the music. // Head Uptown to the Maple Leaf Bar (8316 Oak St.) and catch the iconic Rebirth Brass Band playing every Tuesday night for just $20. // No trip to New Orleans is complete without jamming out to music at iconic Tipitina's (501 Napoleon Ave.). Shows tend to sell out, so grab tickets in advance. // Colorful murals ensure you won't miss Kermit's Treme Mother in Law Lounge (1500 N. Claiborne Ave.), a neighborhood mainstay with live music and Fish Fry Fridays. // On Wednesdays, you'll find the Treme Brass Band—they also frequent "second line" street parades—performing at Treme dive venue Candlelight Lounge (925 N Robertson St.).
Shopping on Magazine Street + Beyond in New Orleans
You can easily spend an entire day perusing picturesque Magazine Street's endless shops (the street literally stretches for miles). Work your way from one end to the other on foot, or hit a couple key stops.
Magazine Street Shopping
San Franciscans will feel right at home with a trip to brick-walled Warby Parker (3964 Magazine St.), while New Orleans–based small-batch eyewear brand Krewe (1818 Magazine St.) also stocks trendy shades. // Explore impeccably designed rooms filled with designer pieces from the likes of Frame, Amo, and L'Agence at hybrid interior design studio and clothing boutique Rivers Spencer (3909 Magazine St.). // Since 1993, Pied Nu (5521 Magazine St.) has been a minimalist-chic destination for women's clothing and accessories (Clare V. bags, Redone jeans, Rachel Comey statement pieces), and bath and home goods. // The luxe Pilot and Powell (3901 Magazine St.) is home to brands beloved fashion mavens (Ganni, Loeffler Randall, Marni); check out their Instagram for regular events and designer pop-ups. // Shop "broken-in luxury" in the form of high quality, hip menswear and tailored apparel for women at Alabama-based Billy Reid (3927 Magazine St.). // Pick up your last minute Mardi Gras costumes at Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St.), a vintage store with plenty of kooky, sparkly, and over-the-top finds.
More Shops in New Orleans
At the Ace Hotel, find the Louisiana outpost of Marfa, Texas boutique Freda (600 Carondelet St #130), stocked with clothing, apothecary goods, and jewelry handmade by local designers. // Next door, DNO (600 Carondelet St #140)—short for Defend New Orleans—carries its own line of locally proud graphic apparel. Dedicated to uplifting the community and its spirit, a portion of proceeds are used to support local cultural organizations. // Anchor & Arrow Dry Goods Co. (3528 Dauphine St.) stocks curated vintage finds for men and women, plus home goods, inside a hip Bywater space. // Grab elevated souvenirs, gifts, and apparel at The Good Shop (1114 Josephine St.), a collaborative that stocks ethical, eco-friendly goods by area makers.
Old World + Modern Luxury at New Orleans' Boutique Hotels
Art Deco design meets hipster energy at The Ace Hotel (600 Carondelet St.). Cool off with a frosé and a dip in the rooftop pool, where finding a chair on weekends can be tricky. Munch on pasta at the popular in-house Italian restaurant, Josephine Estelle, or grab a cold brew at Stumptown Coffee in the lobby. // Opened in Spring 2019, Maison de la Luz (546 Carondelet St.) has 67 impeccably designed, art-filled rooms, as well as a funky bar with zebra-print stools. // When the building was first erected in the mid-1800s, the now-hip Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery (535 Tchoupitoulis St.) was a warehouse for coffee and trading goods. Today, the space has a variety of rooms, a shop stocked with local maker wares, an artists-in-residence program, and rotating art. // Book a stay in one of the historic Roosevelt Hotel's (130 Roosevelt Way) 504 rooms. The luxurious stay also has a rooftop pool and an ornate gilded lobby that's worth a trip alone. // Located inside a revamped Catholic church and schoolhouse, the Marigny's Hotel Peter & Paul (2317 Burgundy St.) offers one-of-a-kind rooms with plenty Southern charm. Be sure to grab dinner in The Elysian Bar.
Things to Do in New Orleans
Parks + Cemeteries
At City Park (1 Palm Dr.), you'll find 1,300 acres of outdoor attractions including a golf course, walking trails, and a mini amusement park, as well as the New Orleans Museum of Art. Explore the park's lakes and bayous via rented kayak, or wander through the tranquil Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden. // If you don't have time to venture all the way to City Park, take the streetcar up St. Charles from the French Quarter—ogle all of the picturesque mansions along the way—to Audubon Park (6500 Audubon Park Trail) for a stroll beneath the oaks; picnic at the edge of the Mississippi River, or visit the zoo. // Dating back to the 1700s, New Orleans' cemeteries are famous for their ornate above-ground tombs. Visit Metairie Cemetery (5100 Pontchartrain Blvd.) and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (425 Basin St.). Too spooked to visit on your own? Local nonprofit Save Our Cemeteries offers tours. // If you're around in late winter, be sure to check out the Mardi Gras parade calendar.
The Arts Scene in New Orleans
While New Orleans is best known for its music scene, there is also vibrant visual art in Crescent City. At artist Brandon Odums' aka BMike's Studio Be (2941 Royal St.), a 35,000-square-foot warehouse gallery, you can explore larger-than-life spray-painted murals and neon works that reflect the black experience. After, wander the Bywater neighborhood for endless street art. // Uptown at Ashley Longshore Studio Gallery (4537 Magazine St.), you'll find colorful, glittery art featuring plenty of pop culture references that speak for itself.
FitnessBurn off all those beignets with a class at Uptown's Romney Studios (5619 Magazine St.). With boxing, cycling, megaformer, pilates, yoga, bosu, and more, there's something for every wellness junkie. The studio also has a new Garden District location, MVMT (1320 Magazine St. Suite 103), where they offer a a trampoline workout called Bounce. // Take a dance cardio or HIIT class at the be-rainbowed Body Shoppe (4537 Freret St.), then grab a smoothie at the in-house juice shop or brunch on Freret Street.