The Ultimate New Orleans Guide


If you’re planning a trip to New Orleans, you probably see a few recurring must-sees pop up on online searches. Unfortunately, not all of these tips are as great as they may seem. I’ve been a travel writer for a few different outlets and companies for years, so when I travel I aim at getting a holistic perspective on my destination. If you want more from New Orleans than tourist-jammed streets and overpriced restaurants, this is the guide for you.

Just like any other city, you’ll see the same restaurants appear on top 10 lists. It helps to have a little insider perspective. Check out these places to see, and skip, to make your trip everything you desire.

Good Eatin’

Fine dining comes with a hefty price tag, and you won’t always be impressed with any of the “best” restaurants. Table-side bananas foster at Brennan’s is nice, the home-cooked style of shrimp creole at Olivier’s isn’t bad, and the bread pudding soufflé at Commander’s Palace is a nice touch to an otherwise mediocre meal. Mother’s is known for po-boys, but when it comes down to it, it’s just a sandwich with meat and cabbage.

The best food in New Orleans is often at relatively unknown, low-key places. Desire, although on Bourbon Street, has great yeasty bread and jambalaya. The one exception is the famous Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee. It’s open late, extremely affordable and more authentic than the stuffy restaurants gracing critic’s best lists.

Beyond the Bars

When it comes to recommending bars, you can’t go a block without finding live music (and some of it is truly great). However, if you’re up for seeing more than empty plates and glasses, head out of the city. Consider a swamp and bayou tour on an airboat. Albino alligators, cypress trees and riverbank cemeteries provide a different glimpse into the city.

Another must-see is Mardi Gras World, where the floats are made. You’ll be able to peruse the warehouse at your leisure, watch the workers mold the world-famous parade and sample king cake (which is tough to find when it’s not Mardi Gras season). Yes, it’s a tourist activity, but it also provides a rare glimpse into the iconic event.