Attractions Near the Arts District
Photo courtesy of City Sightseeing New Orleans
There’s plenty to see and do just steps from the Lafayette Hotel in the city’s bustling Arts and Warehouse Districts. It’s home to several museums, multiple galleries and some of the most fashionable restaurants in town. But New Orleans is full of other colorful neighborhoods, and to get the most out of your visit, you’ll want to explore them all.
This quick guide to don’t-miss attractions is only a starting point. Take time to smell the magnolias along the way, and let your eyes and ears lead you wherever your imagination takes you. New Orleans is full of surprises.
French Quarter Highlights
The crown jewel of New Orleans, the Quarter is a living museum of centuries-old architecture. Check the lively scene at Jackson Square, where street artists hawk their wares in front of the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral. Stroll down Royal Street to windowshop for fabulous antiques. Hit Cafe Du Monde in the early morning or late at night to avoid the crowds that line up for its famous powdered sugar-dusted beignets and cafe au lait. Looking for souvenirs? The French Market is the motherlode. The oldest public market in the U.S. is now an open-air bazaar for everything from local foods and handmade crafts to African imports.
Faubourg Marigny Highlights
New Orleans’ first subdivision has its own colorful history. But these days it’s best known for its night life. Joints start jumpin’ in the afternoon and go deep into the wee hours on Frenchmen Street, which is lined with live music clubs and also houses a vast collection of local albums and CDs at the Louisiana Music Factory. Hop the Rampart–St. Claude Streetcar to its final stop at Elysian Fields, just a stone’s throw away from a Holy Trinity of clubs for cutting edge music and performance art: Carnaval Lounge, Hi-Ho Lounge and the Allways Lounge.
If you’re traveling to Bywater by car on St. Claude, you may get stopped by trains. But you can bike or stroll your way there through Crescent Park. The 1.4-mile path starts at the Mandeville Wharf in Marigny and winds along the Mississippi river past beautiful native plantscaping with spectacular views. Cross the “rusty rainbow” bridge across the tracks to Piety Street and grab a slice at Pizza Delicious, or browse the bins of vinyl at the uber-cool Euclid Records. You’ll also find great Bywater eats at Elizabeth’s and The Joint. And don’t miss Bacchanaal, a wine emporium-cum-restaurant, where you can dine al fresco in the courtyard while listening to live music.
Just north of the Quarter, the country’s oldest African American neighborhood starred in the HBO series Treme and remains the vibrant heart of the black community. Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park, now the site of many festivals, was once a Sunday gathering place for enslaved Africans. Get an up-close look at Mardi Gras Indians at the Backstreet Cultural Museum, and pay respects to Marie Laveau at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 (Buy advance tickets at Basin St. Station). Stop by Willie Mae’s for fried chicken, hit Lil Dizzy’s Sunday brunch and try the savory gumbo z’herbes at Dooky Chase’s, where the late, great Creole chef Leah Chase worked her magic.
Just outside the Lafayette Hotel, you can hop the St. Charles Streetcar to the city’s fashionable Garden District. Get off at Washington Street to visit Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, where you’re free to wander around the above-ground graves. Right across the street is Commander’s Palace, one of the city’s finest old school Creole restaurants, known for its decadent Jazz Brunch spread and 25-cent lunch martinis. Feed your head at Garden District Book Shop, then stroll past the district’s famous mansions on your own, or book a Garden District Walking Tour.