• Thu. Aug 11th, 2022

New Orleans French Quarter Travel Guide and Things to Do: Nine Highlights

ByKeith M. Jones

Jul 1, 2022

THE ESSENTIAL BREAKFAST

Have you really been to New Orleans – the quirky and pulsating heart of Louisiana – if you don’t have the icing sugar to show? A trip to Café du Monde is precarious, with the threat of a powdered shirt looming at any moment. But it’s a rite of passage, especially when paired with a chicory latte, a drink that pays homage to the city’s French origins. The French Market location offers a complete experience since 1862; leave with a can of coffee to continue the magic at home. See shop.cafedumonde.com

THE ONLY SEAFOOD STRIP

Louisiana has excellent access to readily available Gulf oysters. They’re flatter and sweeter than their Australian counterparts, but they’re easy to devour at the ACME Oyster Bar. Skilled scalers quickly slice meat from shells, with deft strokes and fluid motions. Served in the half shell, raw or grilled with parmesan cheese and butter, these oysters are dinner and a show. If the line is too long, try the opposite Felix’s, where the chipping is just as quick, or the upscale Bourbon Oyster Bar around the corner nearby. In the latter, look up: platters of vintage oysters line the ceiling.

THE UNIQUE MUSEUM EXPERIENCE

New Orleans history is rich with character, scandal, glamour, style and sound, and one of the best places to get a taste of it is the New Orleans Historical Collection, a group of three museums and research centers spread over three city blocks. The 520 Royal Street location is home to a collection of ripper galleries, including exhibits, a gift shop celebrating local artisans, and a cafe. See hnoc.org

THE ESSENTIAL OF THE MARKET

xxNOLA One & Only French Quarter, New Orleans USA;  text by Riley Wilson cr: Paul Broussard (image of the document provided via a journalist, no syndication)

Photo: Paul Broussard

Can we ever have enough bivalve molluscs? J’s Seafood Dock in the French Market would suggest not. While you’re in the 200-year-old historic shopping district, consider stocking up on local pralines, snacks, socks, or soaps from various food, fashion, art, and trinket vendors. But make time to eat a dozen at J’s, where oysters are poured over ice from huge bags, then shucked to order until depleted. They also have a prawn (shrimp) and jalapeno grits offering, if you’re so inclined. See facebook.com

THE ONE COURTYARD DINNER

Tucked away on Chartres Street, just off Jackson Square, Sylvain offers a break from the hustle and bustle of the French Quarter. The fine-dining restaurant and pub has a candle-lit front bar (built in a 1700s carriage house), but it’s the backyard that makes for a well-done NOLA night. Plates of charred cabbage and burrata salad pair well with effortlessly cool cocktails, best enjoyed under garlands and leafy trees. See sylvainnola.com

THE ONE MUSIC HALL

By Zack Smith Photography xxNOLA One & Only French Quarter, New Orleans USA;  text by Riley Wilson cr: New Orleans & Company (image of the document provided by a journalist, not syndicated)

Photo: Zack Smith Photography

If you listen closely enough, you can hear the beat of 61 years of music vibrating through the walls of Preservation Hall, a New Orleans musical institution. The Preservation Hall Band, made up of members of all ages, plays four times a night, and tickets – once sold at the door with cash – are now purchased online in advance. There are no real seats inside, so sit where you can sit. Come back again and again; it will never be the same experience twice. See preservationhall.com

THE SINGLE BOOKSHOP

Between shelves of old tomes and current second-hand versions, Crescent City Books is a paradise for the traveling bibliophile. Upon entering the corner storefront, customers are greeted by a stack of books on New Orleans history and food culture. From there it’s on to towering shelves of materials, chests of vintage maps and prints, and glass cases filled with 500-year-old books. Pack light, so you can go home with a few new reads. See crescentcitybooks.com

THE ONLY ESSENTIAL HISTORY LESSON

Jazz is an essential part of New Orleans history, and this is on display at the New Orleans Jazz Museum, which is housed in the Old US Mint. The museum, which is run by the state of Louisiana, features exhibits covering the city’s relationship with jazz, drum power (including equipment that once belonged to Warren “Baby” Dodds and Paul Barbarin), portraits of many music festivals held in Crescent City, as well as a recording studio. Traditional jazz (as well as its modern interpretations) is rooted in New Orleans, and regular gigs at the Jazz Museum ensure the beat lives on. See nolajazzmuseum.org

THE ONLY PLACE TO REMEMBER

If you’re in the French Quarter and looking for a souvenir, then one of Forever New Orleans’ three locations will hit the spot. Gift shops are brimming with kitsch, fashion, and trinkets, as well as art and products from local artisans. Good luck walking out with anything other than a memorial t-shirt, Bloody Mary seasoning, or Cajun cookbook. See shopforeverneworleans.com

ONE MORE THING

Turkey and the Wolf is where the hipsters and happenings in town eat lunch. This is also where you can find a creole tomato and mayonnaise sandwich, made with the fattest beef steaks you’ve ever seen, as well as bucket-sized ripper salads. Run by Mason Hereford, the establishment revels in its eccentricity, with tiny hot sauce bottles and animal figurines. The portions are huge. No complaints. See turkeyandthewolf.com

The writer traveled at his own expense.