The New Orleans Guide
No city in the states has the same fascinating sense of time and place as New Orleans—and no city can lay claim to introducing the world to Creole cooking, jazz, and of course, Mardi Gras. In the aftermath of Katrina New Orleans is once again flourishing—we went South to put down as many beignets as possible. (Want more recs? Michael Stipe did a great guide for us a few years ago.)
Snug Harbor626 Frenchmen St., Marigny | 504.949.0696
Spread out over three rooms in a refurbished 1800’s building—there’s a designated space for a restaurant, bar, and performance space—Snug Harbor is a one-stop shop for good food, good drinks, and great jazz. At about $20 a pop, concert tickets are not cheap, but the impressive roster of local talent and the fun ambiance justifies the splurge. There are shows at 8pm and 10pm every night.
World War II Museum945 Magazine St., Warehouse District | 504.528.1944
Even if you have little to no interest in military history, don’t miss this moving tribute set in a massive industrial space in uptown New Orleans. The interactive exhibits are unlike anything you’ve seen in traditional museums and the multimedia experiences are as engrossing as they are educational. The on-site restaurant—a retro-themed soda shop—is surprisingly good.
Preservation Hall726 St. Peters St., French Quarter | 504.522.2841
Preservation Hall is an institution: This art gallery-turned-concert hall has been at it for the last 50 years, nurturing local talent and forming a traveling house band to help spread jazz around the world. The space is cramped and the lines to get in are long, so don’t bank on snagging one of the few seats. And while there’s no booze served inside (hence the all-ages-welcome policy), they do allow outside drinks. There are shows at 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm every night.
Candlelight Lounge925 N. Robertson St., Treme | 504.525.4748
Candlelight is one of few operating live-music bars in Katrina-ravaged Treme. That said, it always was—and still is—one of the best. The bar itself (a freestanding yellow hut) is modest, the drinks are a fraction of what most clubs charge, and the jazz is top notch. For years Wednesday nights have been reserved for the famous Treme Brass Band, which always performs to a full house and never ever disappoints. In short: This is the place to go for that elusive “authentic” New Orleans experience.
La Maison508 Frenchmen St., Marigny | 504.371.5543
Don’t be fooled by the large dining room and army of waiters: This is predominantly a live-music venue that happens to serve food (pulled-pork sandwiches, burgers, alligator balls) and drinks. The music—mostly local bands performing on three stages, sometimes simultaneously—starts at around 7pm every night and keeps going well into the following morning.
Mask Gallery738 Royal St., French Quarter | 504.523.6664
Masks are a defining element of Mardi Gras celebrations and have become a symbol of sorts for the city as a whole, making them the souvenir of choice for tourists. The super intricate iterations sold at this Royal Street gallery are nothing short of heirloom quality—a far cry from the flimsy plastic stuff you can find in every run of the mill gift shop. In addition to the leather, feather, and bejeweled stunners handmade by resident artist Dalili, there’s also a selection of imported masks from Venice.
New Orleans cemeteries—or cities of the dead as they’re often referred to—are predominantly above ground. And architecturally speaking, they’re nothing short of breathtaking. There are dozens scattered throughout the city, with some dating back to the late 1700’s. As the oldest of the bunch, Lafayette Cemetery has found its way into numerous films (Interview with a Vampire, for one), and St. Louis Cemetery is supposedly the final resting place of Voodoo Queen Marie Laveau. For lots more info and to book a cemetery tour, go to Saveour Cemeteries.
New Orleans Museum of ArtOne Collins Diboll Circle, City Park | 504.658.4100
When it was established in 1911, there were nine works of art on display. Now, in addition to a 40,000-piece-strong permanent collection, including works by Picasso, Sargent, and Magritte, there’s a world-class sculpture garden and an impressive calendar of special exhibitions. On Fridays, visitors are invited to stick around past closing for movie screening, poetry slams, and lectures.
Longue Vue House & Gardens7 Bamboo Rd., Mid-City | 504.488.5488
Compared to most landmarks in the city, the Stein family’s Longue Vue estate is fairly new as it was built in the early 1940’s—but it's still very cool. Within the main building you’ll find a well-preserved collection of antique furniture and a slew of modern art treasures, including ones by Kandinsky and Picasso. Though the eight acres of sprawling gardens were almost entirely ruined by hurricane Katrina, they were lovingly replanted according to the original landscaper’s plans, and now play host to daily visitors, educational programs, and a summer camp for little ones.