Surely you’re coming to visit New Orleans this Winter!
We’re here with the Gumbo warm and the bread fresh. We’ve got the oil hot for frying, and we’ve turned our sunsets to a glowy, pink and purple. The champagne is cold, the Oaks are sparkling with moss, and we’ve always got a King Cake on the kitchen counter.
I make it sound dreamy, don’t I? Well, to visit this place is dreamy. There’s music in the streets and glitter in the air, this time of year especially.
I’m going into my fourth year living in this sparkle city. Yes, I’m still very new. A local would easily raise an eyebrow in suspicion. That’s fine. That’s fair. As I’ve passed a few season here, I’ve gathered my own routines that I look forward to. They mostly involve cake and parades and long river walks.
Here are some of my favorite things to do in New Orleans, Winter 2017.
Have supper and take a class! New Orleans has a beautiful community of people who love this place, make things with their hands, and share that joy with the rest of us. Here are some ways to eat very locally and create with us:
• Have a Thursday dinner out on the Bayou with Mosquito Supper Club.
• Grab a piece of handmade New Orleans art from HomeMaloneNOLA and take a New Orleans painting class!
• Take a brush lettering class with Lionheart Press or visit the shop on Oak St and stock up on cards!
• Take a bread baking class from the best in Louisiana and learn about fresh milled grains from Bellegarde Bakery
Walk the park from the Bywater to the French Quarter!
One of my favorite short jaunts is through Crescent City Park, the 1.4 mile path that runs along the edge of the Bywater neighborhood along the Mississippi River. Here’s a solid plan: grab a slice of pizza at Pizza Delicious, walk along the path taking in the river breeze, and make your way to the French Quarter where you can reward your strong efforts with a beignet at Cafe du Monde.
Please please please have the oysters!
I love the oysters from Elysian Seafood in the St. Roch Market. The raw oysters: delicious. The char-broiled oysters: YES. The marinated grab claws: get them! Plus you can take your oyster platter over to The Mayhaw Bar and have a spritzy cocktail!
Also across the way from St. Roch Market you’ll find the New Orleans Food Co-Op and Shank Charcuterie where you should order the Ropa Vieja and Meatballs, without question.
Get yourself a King Cake!
It’s carnival season here in New Orleans, which means we’re in the glory of King Cake season! Officially, King Cakes are bought on January 6th, twelve nights after the birth of Jesus to honor the gifts the Three Kings brought to the liiiiittle baby Jesus. If that’s not a reason to eat cake, well then I don’t know what is.
The above King Cake is from Chef Lisa White of Willa Jean a few years back. This year Willa Jean is rocking a Caramelized Milk Chocolate and Espresso King Cake (that makes my eyes widen just typing it).
Haydel’s has a classic King Cake and you can easily visit their pop-up on Magazine Street. O’Delice makes a bonkers King Cake. Heck, even Cochon Butcher has a King Cake for you. They’re everywhere and you best get your hands on several.
And if you really can’t get enough, there’s King Cake Festival on January 29th!
Get a cup of the best coffee in town!
My two favorite coffee spots are on either side of town.
Solo Espresso in the 9th ward makes solid pour-overs and the best espresso served in the sweetest little cups with sparkling water. Presentation counts, doesn’t it? They also carry my favorite baked goods in the city from Port City Pantry (who also does occasional Saturday morning pop-ups at the coffee shot, check Instagram and get there early!)
Cherry Street Espresso is Uptown and makes my favorite pourover coffee and really delicious breakfast sandwiches, a delicious quinoa breakfast bowl and their staff is friendly and comfortable. It just feels like where you want to be in the late morning.
You didn’t come here to get your hair done. You came to see some things and eat more things, right?
If you’re strolling down Magazine Street in the Garden District, eat the best New York bagel in New Orleans followed by the best New Orleans donut.
If you continue up on Magazine past the eats, take a stroll through the neighborhoods between Magazine and Prytania. It’s lovely.
Explore City Park!
Have afternoon beignets in City Park at Morning Call (it’s open 24 glorious hours) and walk the sculpture gardens or visit the museum!
Have a Sazerac at the Sazerac Bar.
It’s so classic that even locals look forward to the occasional treat there.
Take an adventure outside of town.
Visit some of the plantations just outside of town. With about an hours drive you can visit Oak Alley Plantation, or (and better yet) visit the Whitney Plantation Museum.
Read more about the Whitney here in the New York Times.
When I first moved to New Orleans I moved to Royal Street in the heart of the French Quarter. Woweee I didn’t know the life I had signed up for. Royal Street, because I’m sentimental, is my favorite street in the Quarter. It’s dotted with art galleries, you’ll stroll past the back of St Louis Cathedral, there’s sweet shopping at places like Goorin Bros Hat Shop. Be sure to stop into Brennan’s, the beautiful pink building across from the courthouse, see about having a class of champagne in their courtyard; feel the Spirit.
Walk Audubon Park at sunset.
Then go to Kenton’s for oysters and Manhattans. If you’re lucky the sky will grace you with pinks and purples and the Oaks will darken and the Spanish Moss will sparkle. The path around the park is 1.8 miles, a lovely stroll and worthy of Manhattan reward.
Stay for a parade!
It’s Mardi Gras and as we enter February, there will be all sorts of parades to enjoy! I like to ride my bike up to the parade routes for easier access in and out. Here’s the parade schedule, but really the best way to keep track of the parades, schedule, and weather is with the parade tracker app. Yea… we have that.
And the best way to catch beads? Keep your shirt on (seriously). Point your finger at a float rider, MAKE EYE CONTACT, smile amd wave!
Enjoy your time in this magical place! We’re glad you’re here. Laissez les bons temps rouler!
Hi Joy – I’ve book a long awaited trip to NOLA for November of 2020 – how much of this list is still applicable, and would you suggest any new finds that aren’t on this list?
Note: please be there in November, I’d love to take a course at the Bakeshop!
In fact, I visited NOLA in January, too bad I’m only seeing this post now ?
I love this list! I’m from NOLA and this makes me homesick… in a good way :-)
Oh my gosh, the Happy Hour at Luke’s at the Hilton in the CBD is fabulous! The raw oysters are lovely, the fried are amazing. The French 75 … mmm… And their Happy Hour is seven days a week!
I found your blog today and have enjoyed the visit. I am from New Orleans originally and love the flavors. Thankfully, I live on Gulf Coast and it is only a hot and skip away. I love the creative spin on your work. It shows heart and soul. If your tour leads you to Fairhope, I will be happy to make suggestions for your visit.