09:00 – A sweet start
There’s no better way to start a day in New Orleans than with a sweet café au lait and beignets – decadent and delightful deep-fried choux pastry bites dusted with powdered sugar. Café Du Monde, with its spectacular French Quarter people-watching opportunities, is one of those experiences that, no matter how overhyped it is, you really do need to try.
10:00 – Walk this way
Head to the more bohemian, low-key Marigny neighbourhood downtown and gawp at classic architecture, then stroll east to the new Crescent Park river walk, and perhaps end up at the Piety Street Market at the Old Iron Works, where neighbourhood artisans share original creations plus extra-special flea market wares.
12:00 – Ready to refuel
Beignets for breakfast leaves lots of room for lunch at either seafood staple Jack Dempsey’s (a platter for two easily feeds six), or beloved Bywater barbecue spot, The Joint. Or just up the street in Marigny is the Lost Love Lounge, which not only serves lip-tingling Vietnamese food, but is also owned by Geoffrey Douville of beloved local brass-rock band, Egg Yolk Jubilee.
14:00 – City of the dead
This is probably a natural time to have a nap. But if you’re still feeling lively, book a New Orleans City and Cemetery Sightseeing Tour to hear tales of ghosts and voodoo, see the elaborate tombstones of the city’s former mayors and jazz musicians, and discover New Orleans’ unique burial traditions at St Louise Cemetery No 1.
17:00 – Happy hour
Some call Frenchmen Street ‘the thinking-man’s Bourbon Street’, with a music scene that still represents New Orleans’ culture, without so much pandering to tourists. Spotted Cat hosts the most authentic, old timey jazz (often with free dance lessons). Or just stand on the corner and talk with friendly Otis Fennel, owner of Faubourg Marigny Art and Books, always the hippest place on Frenchmen.
19:00 – Catch of the day
Adolfo’s offers the most romantic European-style café ambiance in the city, above the endearingly crusty Blues music club The Apple Barrel. Top any of Adolfo’s fish-of-the-day specials with the restaurant’s signature crabmeat and shrimp ‘Ocean Sauce’, and you’ll leave happy.
21:00 – To market
The Frenchmen Art Market comes alive after dark, featuring original artwork by many of the city’s best independent creators, including locals like abstract figure painter Tony Nozero, and (Time) and former (Newsweek) photographer Andy Levine. You won’t find a better place for unique, affordable souvenir shopping.
22:00 – Music, man
Frenchmen Street hosts about a dozen music clubs within three blocks. Modern jazz fans swear by Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro. Or start your after-dinner Frenchmen Street club-hopping at DBA, whose Saturday night dance-card features the best in local R’n’B, Blues and funk.
01:00 – Night owl
It may seem late, but inside Mimi’s in the Marigny, 01:00 looks like happy hour. Mimi’s kitchen, which usually makes exquisite tapas, might be closed at this hour – but then again, it might not. The jukebox here will always clue you in to some of New Orleans’ best rock ’n’ roll bands, and you will definitely meet some friendly people to dance with.