Insider’s Guide to New Orleans: Sights, Arts and Crafts Cocktails

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New Orleans is not defined by Bourbon Street, or even by the French Quarter. My favorite city in the world, which I am lucky enough to call home, is a complex mix of cultures, neighborhoods, green spaces, art, music and food scenes. Naturally, exploring the French Quarter for its architecture, lacy ironwork and hidden courtyards is a must. But wander beyond to experience the city’s famous joie de vivre like a local.

After all, it’s where, to quote the effervescent Rebirth Brass Band, you can “Do Whatcha Wanna” – advice propelled by sousaphone, trombone and trumpet in the song that became Nola’s free-spirited anthem. . Here are a few places to savor the next time you’re in the Big Easy.

(Regional travel guidelines and access to specific locations can change quickly; always check official updates before you go.)

For a wine and cheese party: Bacchic (600 Poland Ave., New Orleans)

Bacchanal is a wine shop. No, wait, it’s a Mediterranean restaurant. Scratch that, it’s a concert hall. Wait, this is an intimate place to hang out in Bywater, a neighborhood right next to the French Quarter. Bacchanal is all of these things and more. In the shop, choose a bottle and order what might just be one of the tastiest cheese platters in town. There is live music every opening day, with typical jazz, but all genres are there. You’re right next to the train tracks here, so expect some locomotion beyond what might happen on the grassy dance floor.

For an avocado toast on the river: Way to the Sea (2 Canal St., New Orleans)

Breakfast is the most affordable way to take in the million-dollar view from this new Four Seasons New Orleans restaurant: the wraparound terrace overlooks the bustling Mississippi boat traffic and Boomerang Crescent. Chemin à la Mer (“path to the sea”) is from James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link, known for restaurants Cochon, Herbsaint, Cochon Butcher and Pêche. Here, his carefully curated menu is seafood-focused, with a touch of Parisian steak house thrown in for good measure. Stay for dinner, if you have the budget.

Try the pan-fried giant shrimp from Chemin à la Mer on pistou and white beans.

For outdoor art: Besthoff Sculpture Garden (1 Collins Diboll Cir., New Orleans)

A massive aluminum cubist bear is one of more than 90 oversized sculptures located between the New Orleans Art Museum and the newly opened Louisiana Children’s Museum at City Park, where lunch overlooking the lagoon is a capital idea. Start in the section directly behind NOMA, where artwork is scattered along winding paths and groves of majestic holm oaks. Highlights include Elyn Zimmerman’s magnificent glass bridge, Jeppe Hein’s refracted mirror maze, and Katharina Fritsch’s Schädel, a giant skull grimacing from its own island.

For a boutique stay: Hotel St. Vincent (1507 Magazine St., New Orleans)

Relax by the swimming pool of the Hotel Saint Vincent, a new charming establishment.

At this new orphanage-turned-boutique hotel filled with artwork, relax by the pool, have a drink at the Paradise Lounge, dine on elegant coastal Italian cuisine at San Lorenzo, or order pastries, espresso and Vietnamese dishes at Elizabeth Street Café. Many of Hotel Saint Vincent’s original architectural elements have been preserved, including a grotto with a statue of the Virgin Mary that greets guests outside the entrance, a good sign that a religious experience awaits.

For energizing cocktails: Southern Jewel (1026 Saint Louis St., New Orleans)

Jewel of the South offers brilliant craft cocktails in a cottage-style setting with a lush courtyard.

At this hidden French Quarter gem — a restaurant in a Creole cottage with a lush courtyard — James Beard Award winner Chris Hannah runs a brilliant craft cocktail program. Try Corpse Reviver No. 2, deliciously balanced and dangerously invigorating: gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, citrus and a hint of absinthe, served very cold in an attractive coupe glass. London chef Phil Whitmarsh also prepares inspired plates, including a caviar tasting with all the trimmings.

The federal government advises Canadians to avoid non-essential travel. This article is intended to inspire plans for future trips.

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