You can’t start a morning out in New Orleans without having a coffee and beignet (French style donut covered with powdered sugar) at Cafe du Monde (800 Decatur Street). The original French Market cafe stand opened in 1862 and is across from Jackson Square. You can sit at one of their tables or head up to the Riverwalk and sit on a bench while looking at the Mississippi River. Just is case you miss breakfast Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Keep in mind lines can get very long. (tip:there is also another location in the food court of the Riverwalk Marketplace)
If you’d like to continue to walk around after a visit at Cafe du Monde you are at the beginning of the French Market which is the oldest market in the country, founded in 1791. The open air market is open 10am-6pm and has a variety of vendors where you can purchase souvenirs, artwork, jewelry, local food and more.
Just outside the market is an RTA station where you can hop on the Riverfront Streetcar. This is a great way to get around town. There are five different colored lines that each run in different parts of the city, but are easy to navigate. The drivers are very helpful and will provide you with a map. It is $1.25 a ride or $3 for unlimited use for the day (Jazzy pass). Just make sure you have the exact amount of cash. The driver can not provide change. The streetcars are a little slow moving and make a lot of stops, but it gets you where you need to go without walking everywhere. The St. Charles Streetcar (green line) 13.2 mile route can take you from Canal Street to the World War II Museum, to the Garden District (where there are beautiful historic homes, nice restaurants and the Lafayette Cemetery), Loyola and Tulane Universities and even the Audubon Park and Zoo.
For lunch you must try some of the local fare. Head over to Cafe Maspero (601 Decatur Street) to try one of their New Orleans favorite dishes: muffaletta, red beans and rice, creole jambalaya or white beans and fried fish. The food is served on cafeteria style plates, but the prices are reasonable, the food is served quickly and everything is delicious.
If this is your first trip to New Orleans you must stop at Pat O’Brien’s and enjoying a Hurricane (their specialty red rum punch drink) in their beautiful courtyard. You can relax at a wrought-iron table and order their signature cocktail or any other drink of choice from one of their servers in their sharp green coats (think Masters jackets) or head up to the bar and bring them to the table yourself. All drinks are served in a souvenir glass, unless stated. If you do not get the glass it is $3 cheaper or if you return the glass to the bar when you are done they will give you $3 back. If you want to head back at nighttime they have dueling pianos in the lounge beginning at 6pm.
You can spend all afternoon walking around the French Quarter. Stock up on souvenirs such as beads, pralines or even cigars from one of the many cigar shops where you can watch them roll the cigars at their tables. You can antique shop or browse through the higher end boutiques on Royal Street or walk down Bourbon Street and live music will be playing in many of the bars all day long. New Orleans Music Legends Park (311 Bourbon Street) is a beautiful outdoor courtyard with three life-size bronze statues of Fats Domino, Al Hirt and Pete Fountain at the entrance that welcome you to the free park to sit down and enjoy live jazz music throughout the day. If you’d like you can order a snack from Cafe Beignet or a drink from the outside bar.
A great place to have a classy pre-dinner drink is at the Carousel Piano Bar & Lounge in the lobby of Hotel Monteleone (214 Rue Royale). It is the city’s only revolving bar with a 25 seat Merry-Go-Round. This year Vogue Living named it one of the top 20 bars in the world.
For dinner in the French Quarter you can’t go wrong and there are many options ranging from average price to very high end, but all the food is good and the seafood is fresh. If you don’t want to spend too much and want a laid back atmosphere check out either Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville Street) or Deanie’s Seafood (841 Iberville Street). If you are looking for fine dining head to Brennan’s New Orleans (417 Royal Street) or Galatorie’s (209 Bourbon Street).
If you want to check out the best live music at night you must head to Frenchmen Street. It is a little off from the main area of the French Quarter, but you can easily walk or take a pedicab there. This off the beaten path area is where the locals go and you won’t find old man bands playing Fleetwood Mac here. This is where you will find the true jazz and blues music. In three blocks you will find bars, restaurants, bookstores and an evening outdoor market under a beautiful canopy of lights. Some well-known spots for music include Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen Street), The Spotted Cat Music Club (623 Frenchmen Street), Three Muses (536 Frenchmen Street) and Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen Street).
After a day of delicious food, sightseeing, drinks and music if you need one last stop to try your luck before you hit the hay stop over at Harrah’s Casino (8 Canal Street) for a few games of slots, roulette or poker. Hopefully you will get lucky and after you finish yelling out “Who dat?” you’ll be ready to make dodo (New Orleans slang for “go to sleep”).