I met up with a friend in New Orleans and we stayed at the Creole Inn on Dauphine Street in the Faubourg Marigny – a quiet, yet colorful and artsy district adjacent to the French Quarter. The inn is unassuming yet comfortable, and is run by the nicest, most helpful locals you will ever meet. The next morning, we got up early and took a self-guided walking tour of New Orleans that took us past some of the major sites.
From the Creole Inn, head west on Dauphine Street – go until you hit Frenchmen Street (remember this street, as you’ll come back here later to play!), turn left, and then make a right turn on Decatur Street. Go up a couple blocks – you’re in the French Quarter. Take in all the sights of the beautiful old buildings with their wrought iron balconies. Keep heading up the road, and to your left, you will see the legendary Café du Monde. Have breakfast here – they are famous for beignets (French donuts) and café au lait (coffee with chicory and milk) – all while listening to street musicians play some tunes.
Next, take any leftover coffee and go sit by the Mississippi river, just next to the café. Watch as the barges and riverboats go by, and wait for the caffeine and sugar to kick in.
Then, head into the French Quarter for some exploring. I suggest going up to Royal Street and turning left, ducking into art galleries to admire local art, and candy shops for free samples of freshly made pralines. There are even hot sauce bars where you can sample some delicious and uniquely named sauces.
There are even hot sauce bars where you can sample some delicious and uniquely named sauces.
Keep going down Royal Street until you hit Canal Street; cross the road and go down another block. You are now on St. Charles Avenue. Wait for the streetcar [schedules here] at the yellow “Car Stop” sign, hop on, pay for a day pass which is $3, and get off at First Street. This is the Garden District.
Here, admire some beautiful historic mansions and elegantly manicured gardens. Go south on First Street to Chestnut. At 1239 First St. is bestselling author Anne Rice’s house – although she no longer resides in this house, it may be of interest to her fans, since it is the setting in many of her novels, and is a stunning example of the architecture seen here.
At 1239 First St. is bestselling author Anne Rice’s house.
Make a right turn on Chestnut, then a right on Washington. Head up a block and a half, and you will find yourself at the entrance of Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. Keep in mind it closes at 2:30 PM most days, 12:00 PM on Saturdays, and is closed all day on Sunday. Here, you can walk around the above ground tombs.
If you’ve timed things out just right, you should be pretty hungry right about now! Head south on Washington until you hit Magazine Street and turn right. Go a couple blocks, where you will find Joey K’s restaurant and bar, and check out their daily specials. Afterwards, for dessert, you may want to head down the block to Sucré, a local confectioner, for delicious French macarons and espresso.
Head north on 8th Street until you hit St. Charles again, where you can catch the streetcar back to the French Quarter.
Chances are there will be street musicians playing nearby as you enjoy your drink and relax.
By now, you’re probably really tired from a morning full of walking and need to rejuvenate. I suggest strolling down Bourbon Street to the famous Pat O’Brien’s bar. Here, sit on the outdoor patio and enjoy their signature drink, The Hurricane. Or, if the patio is too crowded for your taste, you can order a hurricane to go (welcome to New Orleans – you’re allowed to do this)! Head to nearby Jackson Square and find a park bench to sit on for a while. Adjacent to Jackson Square is St. Louis Cathedral – the oldest operational cathedral in the U.S. Chances are there will be street musicians playing nearby as you enjoy your drink and relax.
Now, you may want to meander around the French Quarter for the rest of the afternoon and take in all the quirky sights. Maybe do some souvenir shopping at the French Market. Then grab some dinner – Coop’s Place on Decatur is really good at affordable prices. Or, head back to Frenchmen Street for some amazing live music. There is no cover charge here! Instead, it is customary to buy a drink or food, or tip the band generously. Don’t park yourself in one place all night – make sure to visit many different clubs and listen to different styles of music.