First order of business after arriving in New Orleans — ditch the gaggle of tourists on Bourbon Street!
Tucked away on the outskirts of the French Quarter sit three former coffee and general wholesale (AKA chandlery) warehouses from the mid 1800s. Once a busy hub for the bustling Port of New Orleans, these warehouses underwent modernization in 2014 and became one of our favorite quirky hotels in NOLA — the Old 77 Hotel & Chandlery.
1. Check-in at the Old 77 & Chandlery
Stepping inside Old 77’s lobby, the historic brick walls are just aching to tell you the stories behind every crack. Even the name of the hotel tells the story of their original address of 77 Tchoupitoulas Street (now numbered 535 Tchoupitoulas).
This boutique hotel embraces their past and supports local artists, makers and innovators. Their Chandlery is carefully curated to showcase artisanal products from NOLA vendors — a nod to the original use of the warehouses. And the art work decorating the lobby tells the personal stories of students, alumni and faculty at the New Orleans Center for the Creative Arts — the city’s most acclaimed public high school dedicated to the arts.
2. Eat, drink and be merry at Bacchanal for lunch
While Bacchanal may seem like a typical hipster winery-restaurant, you’ll soon realize it’s anything but. This 2002 passion project was started by the late Chris Rudge, who enlisted Beau Ross and Chef Joaquin Rodas to help him create a community hangout.
After the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, Rudge began hosting Sunday dinners to bring people back together. Guest chefs would appear each week. Music began accompanying dinners. And since post-Katrina NOLA was a bit like the Wild West, things weren’t necessarily… legal.
By 2013, all the required permits had be doled out however and a full-service kitchen was added to the mix. Bacchanal now features a winery on the ground floor, a bar upstairs and a bevy of friends, food and live music in the back patio. Live music twice a day, every day — and three times on the weekend!
3. Ride the St. Charles streetcar to gaze at the architectural gems of NOLA
Skip the double decker buses and hop-on the historic St. Charles streetcar for a 13 mile adventure through New Orleans.
St. Charles Streetcar has been running for over 160 years and is fully equipped with the original brass fittings, mahogany seats and exposed light bulbs. We’re pretty sure this is the closest thing to time travel any of us will get.
In fact, these streetcars hold the honor as some of the only moving historic landmarks — along with San Francisco’s iconic cable cars!
If you don’t want to pay each time you board, be sure to grab a 1 day Jazzy Pass for $3.
4. Catch the live brass band at the Louis Armstrong Park during Jazz in the Park
• Like a moth to the flame • This is prolly my fave photo on my (coming soon) greeting cards! This shot was taken at the beginning of summer 2015–when the golden hour hit the arch so sweetly. 🌴#showmeyourgreetingcards #showmeyournola #summertimeblues #greetingcards #nolagreetingcards #armstrongpark #nola
No visit to New Orleans would be complete without enjoying some live jazz along the way. And there’s no better place to enjoy jazz than at the historic Louis Armstrong Park. Every Thursday evening during the spring and summer, the park hosts their Jazz in the Park series. The best part, it’s free to the public.
If Jazz in the Park isn’t happening during your trip, head over to the Jazz National Historic Park located inside of the Louis Armstrong Park — where Park Rangers play jazz 7 days a week with no admission fee!
5. Chow down on Muffulettas at Central Grocery
The Muffuletta is just as much a part of NOLA culture as a second line or brass bands. If you want the real-deal Muffuletta, you’ll need to visit birthplace of the sandwich: Central Grocery in the French Quarter.
This third generation bodega is run by the grandson of the original owner, Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant. Muffulettas are still made the same way Salvatore made them: with fresh baked homemade bread, thinly-sliced meats and the secret family Italian olive salad.
If you fall in love with these speciality sandwiches, you can always buy the ingredients to take home — the best kind of souvenir!
6. Crash a pool party at Hotel Montleone
If you’ve just got to get a taste of that French Quarter experience, head on over to Hotel Monteleone — it’s said the the French Quarter begins in their lobby. Or maybe it’s just the Carousel Bar?
The pool parties are for hotel guests only. But last we heard, nobody’s checking room keys…
7. Dare to explore Lafayette Cemetery #1 in the dark!
Legend has it, that there are so many angels in Lafayette Cemetery #1 that if you listen closely, you can hear their wings flapping.
They run guided tours during the day, but we recommend heading out in the *dead* of night!
Are you brave enough to adventure around the cemetery until you find the tomb of the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans — Marie Lavoux?
8. Imbibe on Atchafalaya’s #SundayBrunch Bloody Mary Bar
For the perfect New Orleans styled #SundayBrunch, head Uptown to Atchafalaya. You’ve reached the right spot when you see the building with a giant frying pan on the side ;)
Come for the contemporary creole cuisine — like shrimp and grits — and stay for the Bloody Mary Bar and live music.
We love that Atchafalaya used reclaimed materials from the hurricane to retain some of its pre-storm roots.
9. Fill up your Instagram while on Frenchman Street — share your photos with #ScoutNOLA
If you want to hear real, authentic New Orleans music there’s only one place to go. Compact musical district Frenchman Street, hidden away in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood.
You won’t find any cover bands playing here. And the district doesn’t appear in the guide books. That’s part of the reason the 3 blocks and 20 music venues of Frenchman Street are so beloved by Crescent City locals.
Or for the full experience, swing by after 7pm on Thursday – Monday to check out the Frenchman Street Art Market.
When exploring a city that is older than the country it resides in, you’ll ideally want to give yourself more than 24 hours. But if that’s all the time you’re working with, these nine spots should help get you started!
[Featured Image by Mandy Jansen via Flickr]