American Nomad Blog
About this blog
American Nomad covers the best of U.S. travel—from vacation deals to festivals, weekend getaways, travel tips, and more. A seasoned traveler and Moon author, Laura is the perfect guide to help discover new gems when traveling domestically.
- A Southern Girl's Wintertime Adventure in Yellowstone
- One Novelist's Odyssey Across America
- Gearing up for a Family Camping Trip
- Mint Juleps and More at Oak Alley Plantation
- Avoiding Identity Theft While on Vacation
- Money-Saving Travel Tips from Nomadic Matt
- Fashion, Fun, and Convenience for the Modern Traveler
- In Search of Irish Museums Across America
- The Inspiring Journey of a Solo Kayaker
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 2
- Getting Fit for Treks in Yosemite and Elsewhere, Part 1
- Experiencing Yosemite with YExplore
- Two Travel Contests Worth Mentioning
- A Word About the TSA's No-No List
- A Reader's Advice About Airport Security
A Weeklong Encounter with the Big Easy, Part 2
To celebrate this week's release of my latest guide, Moon New Orleans, I'm offering a seven-day itinerary of the city's top cultural and recreational attractions – essentially, an expansion of the three-day tour of the Big Easy that appears in the “Discover New Orleans” chapter of the book. As I've indicated in the first part of this three-part blog series (which covers the first two days of the itinerary), you should allow yourself at least a week to experience the best that this legendary town has to offer.
So, here, without further ado, are the next three days of this fairly comprehensive tour:
Following breakfast at Brennan's, the first restaurant opened by the famous Brennan clan and the originator of bananas Foster, walk seven blocks down gallery-lined Royal Street to the Gallier House, an impeccably restored, 19th-century home just steps from the allegedly haunted LaLaurie Mansion. After the guided tour of architect James Gallier, Jr.'s former home, head to St. Louis Street, where you can experience a two-hour hearth demonstration lunch at the Hermann-Grima House. As an alternative, take a similar working lunch at The New Orleans School of Cooking.
If you'd rather skip the cooking lesson altogether, head to Yo Mama's Bar and Grill on St. Peter Street, one of the best burger joints in the city. After lunch, stroll past Jackson Square and the quaint boutiques and verdant balconies of Chartres Street. Stop by the Beauregard-Keyes House, once the residence of Confederate General P. G. T. Beauregard, for an informative tour of the historic home and its adjacent garden, then cross the street for a self-guided tour of the Old Ursuline Convent, one of the oldest structures in the Quarter.
In the evening, head to Arnaud's Restaurant at Bourbon and Bienville Streets to peruse the impressive costumes and memorabilia at the on-site Germaine Cazenave Wells Mardi Gras Museum, then stay for a delicious Creole meal and live Dixieland jazz. Following an after-dinner drink at the in-house French 75 Bar, stroll toward the river and listen to more live music at either The Kerry Irish Pub or the enormous House of Blues, which sit about a block apart on Decatur Street.
Enjoy a three-egg omelet, a scrumptious waffle, or gravy-smothered biscuits at the cozy 24-hour Clover Grill on Bourbon Street, then scoot around the corner to peruse the enlightening exhibits at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. From here, you can take an engrossing tour of voodoo-related sites in the French Quarter and the Faubourg Tremé, including Marie Laveau's tomb at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 and the elaborate altar room inside the Voodoo Spiritual Temple on Rampart Street.
Meander back into the Quarter and sample some raw, baked, or chargrilled oysters at the Oceana Grill or Felix's Restaurant & Oyster Bar, both of which lie just off Bourbon Street. If you're still curious about New Orleans' unique African American culture, visit the Tremé's Backstreet Cultural Museum, which boasts an impressive collection of costumes, artifacts, memorabilia, photographs, and films related to social aid and pleasure clubs, jazz funerals, second-line parades, and the Mardi Gras Indians.
Check the evening schedule for the Mahalia Jackson Theater for the Performing Arts, a remarkable performance venue in Louis Armstrong Park about a block away. Otherwise, take a guided ghost tour through the French Quarter via Haunted History Tours, then stroll to St. Louis Street, where you can enjoy either a traditional French-Creole meal at Antoine's Restaurant, a fine dining establishment opened in 1840, or creative fusion dishes at Emeril Lagasse's modern NOLA. Afterward, have a drink in the courtyard of Pat O'Brien's, known for its flaming fountain and strong hurricane concoction. Listen to live music or watch a burlesque show at One Eyed Jacks, and if you're still wide-awake, head to Bourbon Pub & Parade, a 24-hour gay nightclub that features variety shows, drag queen competitions, comedy showcases, and late-night dancing.
Start your day with some warm café au lait and sugar-covered beignets at the world-famous Café Du Monde, part of the historic French Market on Decatur. Afterward, take a long walk or a short streetcar ride to downtown's Arts District, where you can peruse regional artwork at The Ogden Museum of Southern Art near Lee Circle, view changing art exhibits and performances at the Contemporary Arts Center (pictured above), and browse an assortment of paintings, pottery, glasswork, and jewelry at the district's numerous art galleries, including the New Orleans School of Glassworks & Printmaking Studio.
Stroll to The National WWII Museum, where you can watch an immersive documentary, experience a variety of exhibits pertaining to the Allied victory in the Second World War, and dine at The American Sector, the John Besh-helmed, American-style eatery inside the museum. From here, walk about a mile to reach Blaine Kern's Mardi Gras World, which offers a behind-the-scenes look at the vibrant art of float-building.
For dinner, take a 1.3-mile walk to Besh's August, a contemporary French restaurant not far from Harrah's New Orleans. After dinner, stroll to this 24-hour casino for live entertainment and all-night gaming. As an alternative, you can sip cocktails at the elegant Polo Club Lounge inside the Windsor Court Hotel, take a wine-tasting class at W.I.N.O. on Tchoupitoulas, or venture to Mulate's for some heart-stopping Cajun dancing.
If you're still curious about what makes New Orleans so unique, stay tuned for the last part of my suggested itinerary. In the meantime, be sure to enter my latest giveaway for a chance to win a signed copy of Moon New Orleans. To do so, simply answer the following question: “Upon arriving in New Orleans, what would you like to see, do, or eat first?” You can do this in one of three ways: leave a comment below this post, send an email to laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or post a comment on the Moon New Orleans Facebook page. The contest will end at 11:59 p.m. PST on Tuesday, September 25th.
Good luck – and don't forget to stay tuned for the continuation of my seven-day tour of the Big Easy.
As always, I’m open to ideas for future posts. If you have any suggestions, burning questions, or destinations that you’d like me to explore in greater detail, please comment below, contact me via laura [at] wanderingsoles [dot] com, or connect with me on Facebook and Twitter.
Disclosure: While I occasionally accept free or discounted travel assistance when it coincides with my editorial goals, my opinion is never for sale, which means that everything written in my American Nomad blog and Moon travel guides is my unbiased reflection of the things that I see, do, and experience while traveling across the United States.
Photo of the Contemporary Arts Center / Text © 2012 Laura Martone