After about the 4th time this year someone or some journalist (ahem…cnn) asked me to describe my perfect New Orleans day, I realized that I should probably write this down and share with y’all.
As you can imagine, this wasn’t an easy task. I have an ongoing list of my favorite restaurants and shops, but in my head they are categorized by each neighborhood. This is the main reason I’m working on an e-book titled Nola by the Hoods.
But I managed to narrow down my top ten or so favorite places to visit. I truly did think about what my “perfect” day in New Orleans would look like.
You may be surprised to see that out of all the amazing, fine dining the city has to offer, my choices are very casual. Which makes sense I guess because the city as a whole has a very laid back vibe.
This post is a little extra spesh because I’ve created a pretty nifty PDF for you to download and put in your back pocket. Or to store in your iBooks so its handy when you need some quick ideas on what to do (or mostly what to eat) in Nola.
Without further adieu, here is my perfect New Orleans Day.
I would start my day off with brunch at Horn’s in the Marigny. It’s a casual vibe, full of locals, and
you have the option to dine al fresco on nice days.
I’d order the Oysters Benedict, Eggs Dauphine or the Chicken & Waffles…it’s always hard to decide!
Then I’d hop over to the French Quarter to shop, people watch + take beautiful balcony &
architecture pictures all throughout the Quarter, (but my favorite is Royal St.)
Here are some of my favorite FQ shops:
Off The Beaten Way
Second Line Arts & Antiques
Bambi DeVille Vintage clothing
Great Artists’ Collective
Gem de France
Forever New Orleans
Fleur de Paris
Wellington & Co.
I would make a stop at Jackson Square to shop for local art and see the buskers. Artist “Karim” is a family favorite.
Then, to energize for more shopping, I would hop over to Café du Monde for chicory coffee
& beignets. This is one of the rare spots in New Orleans that both tourists + locals will always
visit on the reg.
Pro Tip: If there is a long line, skip the line + order from the window at the entrance.
Then you can seat yourself!
After some French Quarter fun, I’d walk to Canal St. and catch a street car to go Uptown.
I would exit the street car at Felicity St. and then walk 5 blocks to the always-happening
Magazine St. in the Lower Garden District.
New Orleans has a large Vietnamese population, along with plenty of delicious Vietnamese restaurants.
I’m thankful to New Orleans for introducing me to this delicious cuisine that I’ve now become
My favorite phở in the city is at Lilly’s Cafe in the Lower Garden District. It’s casual, super friendly
(Lilly usually greets you herself!), reasonably priced, and of course really really delicious!
I always order the Crab Rangoons to start then the Rare Flank Pho (add veggies), and lastly a
Vietnamese Coffee to go for dessert. If it’s cold out, I order the hot Chrysanthemum tea, too.
After lunch, I’d go for a “digestive walk” around the Lower Garden District.
The architecture & shopping in this neighborhood is quintessential New Orleans, with
stately columns and plenty of wrought iron work.
Walking by Commander’s Palace is a must. If dining there isn’t in the budget, then at least
take an insta-worthy pic!
Pro Tip: across the street from Commander’s Palace is Lafayette Cemetery #1. For $5 you can
take a guided tour, but it’s free to just walk around without a tour.
A perfect Nola day doesn’t exist without Hansen’s Sno-Bliz, IMHO. Be warned: they close in the winter.
My very first job was at a sno-ball stand, so I like to think that I have an above-par palette for sno-balls.
For me, it’s all about the softness of the ice, and Hansen’s has the softest in all the land! You may have to wait for an hour to get one, but as their sign says, “there’s no shortcuts to quality.”
I order my favorite flavor mix, which is Cream of Ice Cream, Cream of Nectar with condensed milk or the Rainbow with condensed milk.
To burn off some energy (trust me, there’s a lot of energy to burn off), I’d shop the quaint boutiques along Magazine St.
A few of my favorites are:
The Sunday Shop
Saint Claude Social Club
Brad & Dellwen Flag Party
A.K. Stella Grey
Century Girl Vintage
Miss Claudia’s Vintage Clothing & Costumes
When it’s close enough to dinner time, I would head to Baru, a Colombian-Carribean tapas restaurant.
It’s actually my favorite restaurant in the whole city!
Fun Fact…it’s where my husband and I met.
Some must-order dishes are the Mazorca, the Ostras, the Lamb Sliders and don’t miss out on the best
margaritas in town! But honestly, everything on the menu is a hit. You can dine upstairs or downstairs
with al fresco option on each floor.
After dinner, I would head “down” to the to the Bywater to soak up dat slow local lifestyle.
Pro Tip: Don’t try to use cardinal directions with the locals. We don’t know North from South or
East from West. It’s up or down or “that way.”
One of the most beloved spots in the whole city is Bacchanal: a cozy, unpretentious wine &
cheese shop in the front with a charming courtyard, full kitchen and a live jazz stage in the back.
Find a table and park for a few hours just enjoying the perfect Nola atmosphere.
Once you’ve had enough relaxing, it’s time to liven things up.
If it happens to be a Thursday (hey, this is my perfect day, so let’s say it is indeed Thursday), then
I would absolutely hit up Vaughn’s, which is just a few blocks away in the Bywater.
It’s an old dive bar packed with that authentic New Orleans grit, great music & plenty of locals. It’s also
where Kermit Ruffins got his start!
Every Thursday, you’ll hear the funkiest live music in town. Be aware that there’s a $10 cover on
Thursdays, but bonus alert…red beans & rice is usually being served in the back!
It’s a tight squeeze on a busy night, which makes the dance floor the entire bar. Bring your dancing
shoes and be ready to make some new friends!
Now I need a nap (read: food coma) just thinking about this perfect day.
Don’t forget to download this handy PDF so you can refer to it at any time!
Did you like my choices? What would you keep the same and what would you change? I want to hear about YOUR perfect day! Tag me on Instagram when you’re having a “perfect nola day” moment to show me your faves or use the hashtag #perfectnoladay.