The last time I was in New Orleans, more than two decades ago, I was 16 years old.
When I returned for a week during Mardi Gras, I remembered how amazed I was as a teenager. Obviously, much has changed over the years. On my recent visit, though, I discovered that the excitement I felt back then still remains and may be even stronger.
Drinks and Dishes
Even at the ripe old age of 16, I can recall hearing tales of the famous New Orleans signature drink, the Hurricane. This time around, though, I was introduced to more sophisticated drinks served by mixologists at places such as SoBou. Here, they serve drinks like the Sazarac (rye, brandy, bitters, cane syrup, absinthe/herbsaint rinse, lemon twist), the Michael Collins (Powers Irish whiskey, lavender syrup, fizzy lemonade) and the Cannonball (jasmine tea-infused rum, coconut, lime, Fernet). Boy are they good!
It’s hard to find a bad place to eat in New Orleans because all of the restaurants are incredible, but one particular area that comes to mind from this trip is Royal Street, where you can find authentic Creole and Cajun dishes that are a treat for the taste buds.
There also are many lunch options at the French Market, where you’ll find a European flair and more great Creole cuisine. I ate at Continental Provisions, and the brie-and-ham sandwich was unbelievably good.
After lunch, I wandered through the French Market in search of desert, and I stopped in the famous Café du Monde, where I had beignets – sort of like a hot doughnut with powdered sugar on it, but so much better. Sitting there with my beignet and a coffee watching street performers and taking in the sights was a delightful way to spend the afternoon.
Who Wants to Shop?
I headed back to Royal Street for some more entertainment from street musicians and artists as well as antique shopping. There are some wonderful, handcrafted goods and gorgeous art galleries that depict New Orleans in a beautiful and unique way, but if you are seeking more-upscale shopping, the likes of Michael Kors, Tiffany & Co. and Giorgio Armani, there is one must-visit option, The Shops at Canal Place. I couldn’t believe the amount of world-class designers that were all available at this one location. To top off that sheer delight, I found out that as an international visitor, I could get a refund on sales tax paid. I hurried to buy another suitcase to hold a few new items.
A Night on the Town
After relaxing back at The Whitney Hotel – a National Historic Landmark Building that I strongly suggest you stay at – I had a bite to eat and then met some friends on Frenchmen Street to check out the various jazz bars. It was a gorgeous night, so we grabbed a beer and wandered along the street listening to the great sounds coming from each bar. If we liked the music, we stopped in for a bit and then moved on to the next one. It was a super fun night, just like every night in New Orleans.
This day was all about indulging in the shopping, food and drinks of this amazing city, and what a fabulous time I had investigating the culture and sights of New Orleans.
More experiences nearby
New Orleans' Historic Voodoo Museum
Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House
History of Mardi Gras in the USA
See New Orleans through a Local’s Eyes
Houma: True Cajun Hospitality
New Orleans: City with Heart and Soul