New Orleans is always an exciting place to be, but I think it's at its best in November. The weather is lovely, the crowds are moderate, and this city knows how to do Christmas decorations - Hotel Monteleone has some of the best. It's also one of my all-time favorite cities for eating, and I don't even like seafood!
If you're planning a visit, here's my packing advice: Bring shoes for walking, something fantastic to wear for a night out, and do not pack your gloriously skinny-skinny jeans. They are simply not equipped to deal with the NOLA deluge of beignets, fried-everything, and cocktails to go.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is home to many of the city's most famous attractions, and it's small enough that you can get through the major spots pretty quickly. Start at Jackson Square to take in the famous view of Saint Louis Cathedral, the milling crowds, street performers, and artists.
Walk through the neighborhood (I always seem to end up on Royal Street) to find cocktails to go, fancy antique shops, street performers, and the famous Spanish architecture - those balconies! Stop for the traditional beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, or visit Cafe Beignet for my personal favorite beignets with coffee or a split of champagne.
There are so many fantastic places to eat and drink in the French Quarter, I'd never be able to list them all. Here are some highlights:
Arnaud's French 75 Bar is a NOLA institution, and the birthplace of one of my favorite cocktails. You'll pay a bit more for your French 75, but it's delicious and the place is wonderfully vintage glam. If you're peckish, order the soufflé potatoes - they're meant to be amazing!
Sylvain is another classic New Orleans restaurant, with one of my favorite menus - and patios. You'll find Champagne & Fries in the Starters section, and you should absolutely order it. Every salad and entree at our table was delicious, but I have a soft spot for the "Chick-syl-vain" Sandwich. This is also a great place to get a classic Sazerac - or any other cocktail, really. Like so many restaurants in town, they're also known for their brunch.
Sucré is one of the few places to find macarons in town, also serving gelato and coffee. If you have the time, head upstairs to their restaurant, Salon by Sucré. I love their appetizers, desserts, and the small terrace with a view over the surrounding neighborhood.
The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone is a busy local landmark, and a perfect meeting point for an evening out in the area. Who doesn't want to see a carousel-turned-rotating-bar (and skip the long wait for a seat)?
Visit Café Amelie for a delicious brunch in the hidden-away Princess of Monaco courtyard - it's a popular spot, so make a reservation!
The Garden District
The Garden District is my favorite neighborhood in New Orleans. Its quiet streets, beautiful houses, and adorable shops make it a perfect place to spend an afternoon exploring.
Prytania Street will take you past many classic Southern mansions and small shops (The Garden District Book Shop was one of our favorite finds), over to Lafayette Cemetery No.1 and Commander's Palace. You won't be able to help but wander off into the surrounding neighborhood and look up your favorite houses on Zillow.
You can also head down to Magazine Street where you'll find fantastic vintage shops (Century Girl, The Shops at 2011) and the original location of District Donuts. They have a seemingly endless rotation of creative donut flavors, and sliders that you must try if you're there around lunch.
If you're looking for somewhere to stay, I'm completely smitten with the chic Henry Howard Hotel. It's right on Prytania Street, near the Eiffel Society (built from former pieces of the Eiffel Tower) and the New Orleans street car that can take you downtown. Also of note: there's a mimosa bar in the lobby!
The Arts District
The Arts District is home to many art galleries, museums, performance spaces, and (of course) restaurants. Julia Row is the heart of the neighborhood, dotted with gems like Degas Gallery and Arthur Roger among historic row houses. The National World War II Museum is close by, and extensive enough for at least a half-day visit.
Make your way to Willa Jean any time of day, but the new-ish bakery/bar/café is best known for their biscuits and brunch. You'll find some creative slushie cocktails on their menu (frosé is only the beginning), and sandwiches as big as your face. There will be leftovers.
If you're in the mood for something sweet, Bittersweet Confections has an impressive display of cakes, pastries, gelato, and sandwiches too. Their cupcakes are quite possibly the best in town.
Near the end of our trip, I stopped in for a much-needed pedicure at Buff Beauty Bar which is right across the street from Drip Affogato Bar - a new spot serving up a slew of pretty, creative twists on the traditional espresso-over-ice cream. Have a mimosa while your polish sets, and follow it up with a Matcha, Matcha affogato. Aren't you glad you left those skinny jeans at home?
All images are original, please use only with permission.