My Not-to-be-Missed New Orleans List

New Orleans is crawfish claws down, one of my FAVORITE cities! It’s one of those places I classify as a World City. Meaning if an alien mothership landed and asked (in a robotic voice, of course) “Where should we go to experience humankind?” I would plug The Big Easy into their sophisticated alien GPS and say, “Go there.”


It is a cultural melting pot. A mecca of gobsmacking food, people, history, music, traditions, and…well the list is quite endless. So on the heels of my *pauses to tabulate* 4th visit, I decided it was high time to compile a small sampling of my favs. So the aliens or, you know, YOU have some idea of what may tickle your New Orleans fancy should you decide to go. And you should. (Sidebar: dead giveaway you’re a tourist if you pronounce it “New Or-leeeens” it is “New Or-lins” proper or nothing at all.)

Without further ado and in no particular order:

IMG_0407Cafe Du Monde: The ORIGINAL French coffee stand of New Orleans. Yes, it will be crowded. Yes, there will be a nearby street performer playing the sax or some other instrument. And yes, everything will stick to the table from the ridiculous amounts of powdered sugar. But who freaking cares! The beignets and cafe au laits are totally worth it. AND you will be able to cross one more thing off your bucket list 🙂 Just don’t ask me how many I had. I’m pretty sure my arteries are still giving me the finger.

Maison Bourbon: In this humble girl’s opinion, this authentic jazz club is the saving grace of one of the most infamous rues in the French Quarter. It’s unequivocally the pearl among the gelatinous, grey, spring breaky oyster that is Bourbon Street. We were fortunate to catch Philthy Phil & the Philistines during our visit. They were AMAZING! So amazing I kept flailing $5 bills in the air until my husband was like, “Uh, are you going to give away our 401K?” Probably. Because I have a soft spot for talented, under appreciated, starving artists.


Philthy Phil & the Philistines

Support this fabulous local business dedicated to the “preservation of jazz.”



Jackson Square: A veritable feast for the eyes. Take a stroll around the park and see locals vending their wares and services. Anything goes–from past life readings and water glass musicians, to dogs playing dead…in a mini casket…in a mini tuxedo. There is something for everyone! And while you’re at it, snag a Muffuletta (regional sandwich delight) from Central Grocery-The Home of the Muffuletta. Then find a patch of grass in the square or by the Old Mississippi and dig in!

Here lies Fido... Total faker.

Here lies Fido… Total faker.

Garden District: If architecture’s your bag, then you’ll definitely want to book a walking tour of this gorgeous section of the city! Or you can do as I do–hop a streetcar to Charles Street and lose yourself amidst these beautiful historic homes and landscapes. BTW, losing myself is something I do on purpose and accidentally in almost every city I visit. This should explain a lot.


IMG_0371Mardi Gras World:  If the weather’s uncooperative this is a really fun detour! Learn more about the fascinating tradition of the Mardi Gras parades and check out the HUGE warehouse where all the floats are made (and see artists in the process of creating!).You’ll have a whole new appreciation for the craftsmanship that goes into these roving works of art.


Just beware of cannibalistic props.

Mardi Gras Parade: In surrounding cities (such as here in Slidell) the parades kick off a couple weeks before the New Orleans parades. So for those wanting a “taste” of Mardi Gras without the astronomical crowds & sky-high prices, this is a great alternative. And looky! You can still get lots of beads!!! Ahem, without resorting to the…flashier currency synonymous with Bourbon. IMG_0429




Nola Restaurant: Okaaay. There are roughly eleventy billion places to have a died-and-gone-to-caloric-heaven dinner in the French Quarter alone. But Emeril’s Nola is consistently one of my top picks for mouthwatering food and impeccable service. Absolute splurge and worth every damn penny. I recently had the GARLIC CRUSTED DRUM fish with wood burning oven roasted ∙ brabant potatoes ∙ crimini mushrooms ∙ bacon ∙ sauce beurre rouge. *passes hanky* Sorry, you were drooling. And for dessert I had to go for the the CRÈME BRÛLÉE TRIO Vanilla Bean with Fresh Berries, Coconut with a Coconut Truffle, Mocha with Chocolate-Almond Biscotti. Mmmmmmmmm. Just…mmmmmmm. Don’t forget to pack the Tums and something with a forgiving waistline. Spanx is not your friend here.

Pat O’brien’s: A visit to NOLA is never complete without a world famous Hurricane. Do not let its benign Kool-Aid appearance fool you. This rum-based drink packs a wallop and has been responsible for certain people making friends with a table of strangers from Baton Rouge. Only to later find herself performing karaoke at the CATS Meow. Or so I hear.

Not Kool-Aid

Not Kool-Aid

This list is but a tiny sliver of all the city has to offer. There are tons of museums (even voodoo ones!) tours, cemetery walks, and much more!

New Orleans is a place that, above all, celebrates the joy of living. And how can you NOT fall in love with that?

So, anything on your Not-to-be-Missed New Orleans List?

 (and beignets) Darcy

Travels, Writer's Life

18 Responses to My Not-to-be-Missed New Orleans List

  1. Sandra Owens says:

    I love New Orleans, but it’s been a few years since I’ve been. Thanks for sharing.

    • Darcy says:

      Darling Sandra, maybe this is the universe’s way of telling you you should return 🙂 And you are most welcome…though, I wish I could share some of these extra post-vacation pounds. No takers on that one!


      • Sandra Owens says:

        Darcy, I do remember standing on a street corner in the early morning hours with friends while we sang YMCA. Also, I arrived home with my share (maybe more than my share???) of Pat O’Brien souvenir hurricane glasses. 🙂

        • Darcy says:

          Reason #137 of why we are friends 🙂 But please tell me you did not have a Lucky Dog after those hurricanes. They are so much better in theory than practice.

  2. Suzanne says:

    You know, I’ve never been to New Orleans. I’ve talked about it for so long, but for some reason we just haven’t gone there. You’ve just inspired me to finally plan that trip! Thanks for that!

    • Darcy says:

      Hi Suzanne! Oh, this makes me joyously happy! Too often NOLA gets defined by Bourbon Street, when in actuality, it has SO much more to offer. That’s like saying New York is Time Square. Which it isn’t.
      Thanks for dropping by and can’t wait to hear of your adventures!


  3. Darcy,
    I loved your post and information! So fun and…well…INFORMATIVE. 🙂
    I also have a soft spot for starving artists, and I tend to drop dollars all willy-nilly into open instrument cases. But once when we were at Venice Beach–which is completely jam-packed with starving artists–I couldn’t give money away. BUT…I saw these two young guys with an open bucket that said: “Who are we kidding? We just want money for beer.” I gave them money for their refreshing honesty. Lol.
    I am sorely in need of one of those Hurricane drinks. With kids being out of school more than in it, I’m slowwwwwwly losing my mind. Oh, Cabana Boys? Where are you with my Hurricane?
    Thanks for providing such a fun look into New Or-lins. 🙂 I hope to finally make it there one day.

    • Darcy says:

      LOL. Yes to all this! On this trip I had a guy come up to me holding a sign that claimed he needed money for alcohol because he was allergic to water. Another guy needed money for weed. There’s just never a dull moment. Kind of like your household 😉
      Thanks for popping in!


      • At Venice Beach, it was loaded with medical marijuana shops. Young people (and older as well) were standing in line a-waitin’ to get diagnosed with a problem only solvable by some miracle green plant with five leaves. Lol.

        (now off to get rid of my ombre hair….lol)

  4. Melissa Keir says:

    I want to visit so bad but I’ve not had the pleasure!

  5. I’ve been to N’awlins twice–one trip was for an RWA Conference. I’m with you when it comes to Cafe du Monde. I stuffed myself full of beignets and cafe au lait during both visits. My other foodie must have is Bananas Foster for dessert at any of the Brennan family restaurants. Yum! I enjoyed the jazz and the art in Jackson Square. On my first trip, I returned home with an oil painting I bought in the Square. It’s a fabulous city–so alive. I’d love to go there again.

    • Darcy says:

      OMG, Lana, YES! Bananas Foster is absolutely another must have from this fair city! And sounds like you’ve made the most of your visits: food-art-food-music-food-more art. It’s important to sustain ourselves.

      Appreciate you swinging by and sharing YOUR N’awlins experiences 🙂


  6. Amy DeLuca says:

    It’s been a long time for me, and you’ve made me miss New Orleans so much (and also made me terribly hungry)! Fun post- sounds like a thoroughly-enjoyed and much-deserved vaca!

  7. What a fun post, Darcy! I’ve been to NOLA numerous times (helps to have relatives there). Spent our honeymoon there. Love the city and all its flavors. Relatives now are near Baton Rouge. I love all of Louisiana for many reasons – food, art, music, history, folk lore. . .it’s got it all. Oh, and did I mention music?? Everyone should visit NOLA at least once in their life.

    • Darcy says:

      Thanks, Loralee! I couldn’t agree more about the cultural flavor of this unique region. AND being a destination that should be on EVERYONE’S bucket list!

      Appreciate your comments and spreading your New Orleans love 😉


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