Best of Nola
Updated: Mar 29, 2020
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to visit- I love the food, music, and spooky attractions. I've been several times with friends and family, but during my most recent trip a couple weeks ago I made a list of all my favorite things to do. I hope this helps you when planning your next trip, or encourages you to experience a new city unlike anywhere you've been before!
Outside of Mardi Gras there are still plenty of fun things to do in & around the French Quarter. I'll start with the most important thing- food!
1) Cafe Beignet
Unpopular opinion, but I prefer this to the famous cafe ranked #2 on my list, just because unlike Du Monde, Cafe Beignet offers amazing food in addition to their delicious namesake. Beignets are a Louisiana staple, and should not be missed (Personally, I think Cafe Beignet makes the best ones I have ever had). I love the location on Bourbon Street because it's located in the Musical Legends Park and offers amazing live music that really captures the soul of the city. It's free to get in, and you can order coffee/ food while listening to some great jazz music. If you want to get brunch, I recommend the location just catty-corner on Royal street. It features a cute outdoor courtyard and awning for pictures.
Address: 311 Bourbon Street & 334 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
2) Cafe Du Monde
Of course I had to mention this famous spot- its a New Orlean's classic, and rightfully so. Its iconic location on Decatur street is open 24/7, and I for one have had way too many 2 AM trips to satisfy my cravings. Du Monde was established in 1862 as a coffee stand, and has since grown into the expansive outdoor cafe we know today. Its menu is simple- only coffee and beignets- but that's all it needs to maintain its status as a food lover's paradise.
Address: 800 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
I hadn't ever been to Brennan's before this year, but it is definitely a place I'll be coming back to again and again. This is the cutest spot ever, and the all-pink building is great for photos. We got dressed up and had the best three-course brunch ever, starting with a cinnamon apple fritter and ending with eggs Benedict. The staff were super friendly and helpful, and I loved everything about it. 10/10!
Address: 417 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA, 70130
4) Willa Jean
This is a new chain in Louisiana that offers lots of healthy options. They're known for their amazing bakery and our sweet waiter even gave us some chocolate chip cookies for free! Lots of locals eat here and it is a great place for a quick bite or bottomless mimosas for brunch!
Address: 611 O'Keefe Ave, New Orleans, LA 70113
Like I said, I'm very into the spooky side of New Orleans, and what better way to get into the spirit of things (HA) than enjoying dinner at a haunted restaurant? Muriel's is located in the heart of Jackson Square, and has a long and haunted history that dates back to the early 1700's. It has the biggest two story patio in the area, and offers a great view of the city-you can see the tarot card readers and psychics giving people their fortune down below in the street. There is a seance lounge that features antique artifacts of previous owners, and is literally the coolest/ creepiest thing I have ever experienced. Their most famous ghost is that of Mr. Pierre Antoine Lepardi Jourdan, who used to own the property back in the 1800's. While we didn't have a paranormal encounter while we were there, it is not unheard of to see a dish fly off the counter or hear spooky voices late at night.
Address: 801 Chartres Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
6) Que Rico!
I was pleasantly surprised when we stumbled upon the cutest Mom & Pop shop while walking down Magazine Street. My sister and I have been obsessed with Cubanos (Delicious cuban sandwiches with pork) since we found a great Cuban place in Dallas, so of course we had to stop at Que Rico. We grabbed a Cubano to go, and it was to die for! The menu is surprisingly expansive, and was super authentic. Great for food on the go or an inexpensive bite!
Address: 4200 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
If you are looking for the best red beans & rice in the city, look no further. It's female owned, and one of the owners was even there to give us our food and talk about how she turned her passion for creole food into a successful business. Such a cute stop with a sleek bar, I can't wait to go back next time i'm in NOLA- I'm still dreaming of the chicken gumbo !
Address: 616 Baronne Street New Orleans, LA 70113
7) Auction House Market
Soooo this gave me major Paradiso vibes- open seating, modern concept and super sleek. Auction House is a food hall that offers a wide variety of selections from local vendors- perfect for breakfast, dessert, or anything in between! I know when I travel with my family there are some nights when we can't decide on a restaurant to save our lives, so this is a great option when in a rut. However, the real reason to go is for the bathroom (hear me out, nothing weird). The bathroom is super cute and has been seen all over social media, and is how I found this spot in the first place. So if you like good food and have a friend that would be willing to have an impromptu photoshoot in a public restroom, this is the place for you.
Address: 801 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
Now that we've solved the problem of what to eat, here is my list of the best things to do in Nola!
1) Magazine Street
In general, Magazine street is just so much fun and always has an event going on- there really is something for everyone. I like that there is a new art gallery or store to check out each time we go, and it's fun to just spend an afternoon eating and shopping. You never know what you might find! Most of the things on this list can be found on Magazine street, but I wanted to include it anyways because there is so much more to do than just what I mentioned.
2) Vintage stores
There are some super funky costume & wig shops on Magazine street, and one of my favorite things to do is to try on ridiculous outfits & find cool new pieces. Two of my favorite shops are Miss Claudia's and Century Girl Vintage. Claudia's is the go-to for colorful wigs, crazy hats, and all things sparkly. (I found the grooviest pair of sunglasses there for only $10!) Century Girl offers glamorous vintage and designer items, with a more classy and upscale feel. They have the best hand-picked pieces that satisfy any style, from sleek and sexy modern to jazz-age glamor. You should definitely take an afternoon and have a fantastic 90's inspired fashion-montage, its good for the soul.
Address: 4204 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
Address: 2023 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
3) Ashley Longshore Gallery
I don't even know how to encompass Ashley Longshore's work into just one sentence, but if I had to, I would describe it as an explosion of rainbows, champagne & feminist kick-assery. (Picture if Lisa Frank grew up and started using the F-Word. A lot.) Her gallery has become an online phenomenon, with people traveling from all over to see her pieces and experience her unique aesthetic. I love her and had so much fun getting to see her gallery, I highly recommend it!
Address: 4537 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115
4) Drink Beauty
We randomly stumbled upon this cute coffee shop, and it was like my two passions in life came together before my eyes: good coffee and makeup. This female-owned shop brings beauty and wellness together perfectly, with trendy, delicious drinks and an expansive beauty bar. Where else can you get your makeup done while sipping a matcha late? Magic.
Address: 3424 Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA 70115 (Also look how cute my sister is??!!)
5) Experience a New Orleans Wedding
Nothing is quite like the street processional of a Nola funeral or wedding, and one night while walking home from dinner we were ambushed by a wedding processional that was in full-swing. It was so fun to see the bride and groom walking down the street holding their umbrellas while the wedding party followed behind, dancing and throwing beads. While this isn't necessarily something to do, there are tons of weddings happening in the spring time, and if you get the chance to see one it's always a special moment!
6) Cemetery Tour
While it might sound morbid, in order to understand New Orlean's history you absolutely have to take a tour of one of their iconic cemeteries. They are such a unique landmark and hold so much amazing architecture. Lafayette cemetery is hands-down the most famous plot in New Orleans and has been featured in countless movies and shows- it is the only cemetery in the city that is allowed to be filmed. Tours are usually $15-20, and happen most times every day.
Address: 1427 Washington Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130
7) Jackson Square
One of the most prominent landmarks in the French Quarter is Jackson Square. There is tons to check out here, and you can do everything from getting your palm read to checking out the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. There are lots of tours held daily, and amazing restaurants all around! I usually get my souvenirs here, and there are some really neat touristy shops you can visit.
Address: 701 Decatur Street, New Orleans, LA 70116
8) Walk through the French Quarter
The French Quarter is always the highlight of the trip for me, because the architecture is unlike anything I've seen outside Europe. There are lots of cool things to see and experience when walking down Bourbon street, and I always try to get some photos in front of the iconic buildings.
Address: Cross street of Royal and St. Peter Street
9) Carousel Bar
This unique bar is exactly what it sounds like- a rotating indoor carousel that offers the best cocktails and drinks the city has to offer. They advertise themselves as "the only carousel you have to be 21+ to ride" and is an iconic, renowned destination you cannot miss. It's been around for over 70 years, and is located in the historic Monteleone hotel.
Address: 214 Royal Street, New Orleans, LA 70130
There you have it, all my favorite things to do and food to eat in the magical city of New Orleans! Thank you for reading, I hope these lists serve as a guide on your next trip. Feel free to leave a comment of your favorite parts of Nola, I would love to hear from you!