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Things to do in New Orleans

Evening Standard logo Evening Standard 15/07/2018 Amira Hashish

a person sitting at a table with a plate of food © Provided by Evening Standard Limited With music on every corner, hearty food in abundance and colourful architecture, New Orleans is one of the most vibrant cities in the world. Here are our tips for making the most of the Big Easy’s restaurants, attractions and tours... 

Go to a gig at Preservation Hall

If you pick one experience to enjoy, this is it. Every night, this small but perfectly formed music hall, where the likes of Louis Armstrong honed their craft, presents intimate, acoustic concerts featuring bands made up from a current collective of 100+ local Jazz musicians. The hour long performances are truly wonderful, preservationhall.com. 

Feast on beignets at Café du Monde

You cannot visit New Orleans without trying one of the city’s signature beignets and there are queues around the block for Café du Monde. The square French -style doughnuts, lavishly covered with powdered sugar, are very indulgent. Order a cafe au lait on the side. This place is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, so if the early morning crowds put you off, swing by later on, cafedumonde.com.

a city street © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Try a Two Chicks Walking Tour

The Stroll with a Local walk lasts for about two hours and gives you a good sense of NOLA’s history and character. It is designed to be an informal introduction to this colourful city, taking in Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Cabildo, Presbytere, French Market, Ursulines Convent, Roya and Street, the William Faulkner House and the Tennessee Williams House, twochickswalkingtours.com.

Prepare to be wowed at Windsor Court Hotel

Steps from the French Quarter, Windsor Court Hotel is a chic option. It lives up to its four diamonds reputation with luxury embodied in the service and the surroundings. Romantic and opulent, nothing is too much trouble for the welcoming team here. The hotel lobby is a popular meeting place and grand French-inspired décor adorns the space. There is a rooftop pool and an impressive art collection to boot.

a living room filled with furniture and a large window © Provided by Evening Standard Limited The four top floors house the Club Level rooms and it is certainly worth splashing out on one. The lounge has panoramic views of New Orleans and the Mississippi River as well as an alfresco area. Good quality complimentary food and drink is served throughout the day so you can watch the sunset as you sip on a cocktail. Excellent in every sense of the word, windsorcourthotel.com.

a sandwich is sitting on the side of fries and a beer © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Sample the street food

Johnny’s Po-Boys is a no frills establishment that serves some of the best po-boys in town, johnnyspoboy.com. St. Roch Market is another great lunch spot. The southern food hall has a diverse line-up of food and drink options. It is the place to check out the rising stars of New Orleans’ cuisine scene too, neworleans.strochmarket.com. 

Cruise the Mississippi

A trip on the Harbor Jazz Cruise aboard the Steamboat Natchez is a wonderful way to while away a couple of hours. Take in the skyline, stroll the decks and soak up the jazz vibes. It is worth popping downstairs to the museum quality Engine Room too, steamboatnatchez.com.

Order a Cocktail at the Carousel Bar

Immortalized in the writings of Ernest Hemingway, the revolving Carousel Bar & Lounge is a bit of a stalwart. Visitors can take a spin on the 25-seat Merry-Go-Round in the Hotel Monteleone, hotelmonteleone.com.

Meet the Commander’s family

Created by the much praised Commander’s Family of Restaurants, SoBou offers a modern spin on local food. The atmosphere is buzzy and the dishes offer plenty of flavour whilst cocktails are also taken seriously, sobounola.com.

a train is parked on the side of a building © Provided by Evening Standard Limited For the more traditional option, book into a brunch at Commander’s Palace (pictured above). Nestled in the middle of the tree-lined Garden District, it has been a landmark since 1893. With balloons on the tables and jazz musicians playing requests, the atmosphere is rather special. Most importantly, the Haute Creole cuisine is divine. Little wonder that it has scooped six James Beard Foundation Awards and had its own Netflix documentary, commanderspalace.com.

Dine at Upperline with the legendary JoAnn Clevenger

The original meaning of restaurant was ‘restore’ and this is a message the utterly charming hostess with the mostess JoAnn Clevenger takes to heart. Mingling with her guests every evening, she makes diners feel at home from the moment they step through the door of her lovely, yellow building. With great Louisiana food and wine on the menu, a visit makes for the perfect evening, upperline.com.

Soak up the culture

There are plenty of great museums to check out including the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, ogdenmuseum.org, or the Contemporary Arts Center, cacno.org. Art is an important part of NOLA life and Royal Street is home to some of the best galleries in the city. Stop by the famous Rodrigue Studio to see some of his “Blue Dog” paintings. Also visit St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest church in continual use in the United States. Take a look inside to for a glimpse of the Spanish colonial architecture. 

a group of people standing on a sidewalk © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Spot a star at Pêche

Chefs Donald Link, Stephen Stryjewski and Ryan Prewitt are inspired by the cooking of South America, Spain, and the Gulf Coast at Pêche Seafood Grill. Focused on working with local fishermen and farmers who harvest sustainably, dishes are rustic and utterly moreish. In 2014, Pêche won a James Beard award for Best New Restaurant in America and their standards haven’t slipped. This place has celebrity draw too with the likes of Jennifer Lawrence booking tables, pecherestaurant.com. 

a bowl of food on a table © Provided by Evening Standard Limited Ride the St. Charles Avenue Streetcar

There is something very charming about the oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world. Taking in St. Charles Avenue and Carrollton Avenue for more than 150 years, it is a great way to get around. Passing dozens of antebellum mansions along the way, it is as fabulous as it is functional, norta.com.

Take in the tavern vibes at Balise

In the Central Business District, Balise is a beautifully presented restaurant with a bar at the heart of things. Run by husband and wife team Justin and Mia Devillier, it is set in a 19th century Creole townhouse. This is where old school vibes meet modern demands and a fun ambience. Helmed by Chef Justin Devillier (the 2016 James Beard Award winner for Best Chef: South), the menu is delectable, balisenola.com. 

For more information visit neworleans.com and visittheusa.co.uk. A four night package to New Orleans costs from £1,389 per person with Bon Voyage (bon-voyage.co.uk) including flights with BA from LHR, MAN and GLA, staying at the 5 star Windsor Court Hotel (room only).

Related: Toy Story Land Is Opening This Weekend — Here's Everything You Need to Know (Provided by Travel+Leisure)

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