New Orleans Activities
The Country Club
634 Louisa St., Bywater
This extravagant haven is New Orleans’s best-kept secret. It’s a mansion dating from the late 1800s, complete with a heated saltwater pool, sauna, and a restaurant serving up Creole fare that tastes just as good poolside as it does in the frescoed dining room. A mere fifteen bucks gets you access to this Bywater oasis. During the city’s muggy, humid months, escaping to the Country Club for fries and cold rosé by the water is akin to finding water in the desert. Trust us.
2941 Royal St., Bywater
Artist Brandan Odums (aka BMike) has made his 35,000-square-foot studio in the Bywater an ode to African American legends like Martin Luther King, Jr., Harriet Tubman, and Malcolm X. These spray-painted murals take up entire walls that rise as high as twelve feet, providing social commentary, inspiration, and an education to the studio’s visitors from Odums’s point of view.
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.
738 Royal St., French Quarter
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.
508 Frenchmen St., Marigny
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.
925 N. Robertson St., Treme
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.
726 St. Peters St., French Quarter
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.
626 Frenchmen St., Marigny
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.