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Be prepared for two things in New Orleans: unrelenting humidity and constant gracious hospitality.
In the French Quarter, make your base the modern boutique W Hotel or classic Andrew Jackson Hotel, both imbued with New Orleans style. For the budget-friendly, consider a guest house: Garden District’s St. Charles Guest House features a beautiful porch for afternoon cocktails while Dauphine House, located on the eastern side of the quarter in Faubourg Marigny, features a resto/bar area close to hot spots Snug Harbour, The Praline Connection and Café Brasil.
Start your day at Café du Monde for café au lait and beignets on Decatur Street and a stroll along the Moon Walk (named after a former mayor) which lies beside the mighty Mississippi River. The Quarter provides lots of fun spots for lunch: Central Grocery for a muffaletta, the New Orleans version of an Italian subway sandwich or Red Fish Grill for local fish and seafood specialities. For a mid-afternoon break or early evening cocktails, head to historic Napoleon House for a Pimm’s Cup cocktail in the courtyard or to the Court of Two Sisters for a glass of wine. A stroll around Jackson Square or along Bourbon Street will give you a dose of local street performers and artists. K Paul’s Louisiana Kitchen or Emeril Lagasse’s NOLA are mid-price choices, for fine dining head to Antoine’s for classic French or modern Stella! for nouveau creole.
Mardi Gras masks or parasols can be found along Canal Street, while for the best selection of local jazz, make a beeline to the Louisiana Music Factory. For serious shoppers head uptown to Magazine Street. From antique shops to funky clothing, with a good dose of cafes, bars and art galleries, Magazine Street is a credit card magnet: Dirty Coast (t-shirts), Spring (women’s clothing), Red Carpet (women’s clothing) and Ruby (denim). Bellanoche and Hazelnut (home décor) will encourage you to redecorate, while Belladonna and Empire will fuel anyone’s love of the dusty antique shoppe.
“Laissez le Bon temp rouler!” - as they say in New Orleans.
Photo credits: Magazine Street sign - NewOrleansOnline.com and Jean-Paul Gisclair
French Quarter - NewOrleansOnline.com