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Partying is optional in the Big Easy.
The city turned 300 in 2018 but is as young at heart as ever. Here are some of our favourite spots.
The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden in City Park
The five-acre outdoor gallery (admission is free) is doubling in size this May with 25 new sculptures. Bonus: It’s located next door to the New Orleans Museum of Art, so you can spend an entire morning getting your culture fix. Or, if you want to work off all the beignets from Café Du Monde, you can kayak, play tennis or golf in the park.
The food scene in New Orleans is legit, especially in the Warehouse District, a former industrial borough that’s now a hotbed of restaurants, wine bars and, yes, a dive bar or two. Meat eaters must try the barbecue-heavy Cochon. (Note: The owners are opening a new Italian restaurant, Gianna, in spring 2019.) Nearby Bywater is the Williamsburg of NOLA. Walk off last night’s bananas foster—the rum, banana and ice cream NOLA delicacy—with a stroll along Magazine Street, where yes, there are a million more restos to choose from.
The Ritz-Carlton in the French Quarter
Close enough to the action of Bourbon Street you’ll find the Ritz-Carlton, located in a pretty beaux-art-style building that used to be a luxury department store. Like in all Ritzes, the rooms are top-notch (four-poster beds with 400-thread-count sheets, giant marble tubs and robes so soft you’ll be tempted to put one in your suitcase.) If you need a day off from partying, head to spa. Treatments are tailored to New Orleans. We tried the Voodoo Ritual Spa Experience, which incorporates a healing poultice kneaded over the body.
The ghost tours
Are they campy? Absolutely, but it’s a great way to see the city and learn about New Orleans’ rich and sometimes violent history—from beloved voodoo queen Marie Laveau to freaky serial killers. Make sure your guide takes you to St. Louis cemetery, where many famous faces are buried.
Frenchmen Street in Bywater boasts the best jazz clubs in the city. (NOLA is the birthplace of Louis Armstrong, after all.) We spent a hazy night wandering from bar to bar. (Our faves? The Spotted Cat and the Blue Nile.)