I’m not from New Orleans. I’m actually from a city two hours west, Lafayette. But anytime I say I grew up in Louisiana, people always have the same response: “Aw, I’ve been dying to go to New Orleans Mardi Gras.”
And I want them to go, too! But the wild and crazy party that they’re likely envisioning isn’t what New Orleans is to me. While Mardi Gras is admittedly fantastic (I've gone every year since I was 18), I think there are better ways to really experience the Crescent City.
I like visiting in April or October, when it isn’t so unbearably hot and music and food festivals fill every weekend. When I'm there, I plan for leisurely picnics in City Park with piles of Morning Call’s pillowy beignets, or strolling down St. Charles to marvel at the live oaks. And my favorite drinks are cold pints at the Bulldog in Mid-City, not Hurricanes or Hand Grenades.
And rather than hit up Bourbon street, I always head to Magazine Street instead. The 6-mile stretch follows the curve of the Mississippi River and runs through a variety of neighborhoods. There are countless shops that sell local art and wares, and some really amazing restaurants that show how diverse the city is. So, the next time you're in New Orleans, or if you're planning a trip there soon, head over to one (or more!) of my favorite spots along Magazine Street.
Located in the Uptown neighborhood, Audubon Park is home to majestic, centuries-old live oaks, the city zoo, and miles and miles of walking paths. It’s the perfect place for a midday picnic, and in the fall, the park hosts concerts under the oaks.
A neighborhood bakery and café from James Beard Award Winning Chef Donald Link’s empire. They’re known for handcrafted pastries and breads, as well as delicious sandwiches.
Many have sung the praises of this modern Israeli restaurant. And they’re not wrong. Go for lunch and order small plates to share.
Get a snoball from the makers of the machine every other stand in the city uses. And don’t sleep on the Orchid Cream Vanilla flavor.
From paintings to ceramics, this bright gallery showcases the work of a variety of Southern artists.
If you’re looking for a killer brunch option, this is it. Their frozen Irish Coffee is delicious and very potent.
A dreamy dessert shop that sells sparkly king cakes, glossy truffles, and decadent gelato.
Founded in 2003, this shop prints t-shirts in celebration of New Orleans’ independent spirit. Dedicated to supporting and preserving New Orleans' culture, a portion of all DNO proceeds go to local nonprofits.
In a city that’s 300 years old, you’re bound to find a vintage treasure at the Magazine Antique Mall.
The burgers here are very good, but their doughnuts are legendary. They even make their sprinkles from scratch.
New Orleans is home to more than 14,000 Vietnamese Americans. And for some of the city’s best Vietnamese dishes, head to this casual cafe. The pho is out of this world.
What started as a youth-based DJ and music production program, Now NOLA Mix sells a vast collection of new and used records, as well as other production equipment.
Have you been to New Orleans? Where would you recommend checking out?