New Orleans continues to be a hub for artists, designers, and musicians. Perhaps best known for its annual Mardi Gras celebration, the city has plenty to offer in terms of culture and entertainment any time of year. From flavorful Creole cuisine and inventive cocktails to live jazz performances and local artisan markets, here’s a boho guide to NOLA for any savvy and stylish traveler.
Go Beyond Bourbon Street
Sure, Bourbon Street is certainly lively but don’t make sure to explore other side streets in the French Quarter. Due to how popular the area is, there’s a lot of foot traffic throughout the day and especially at night. That being said, some of the quirkiest shops, restaurants and bars aren’t actually on Bourbon Street. Channel your inner child with a carousel-themed bar that actually rotates just like the real thing. For a great view, head to Tableau for evening cocktails or dinner. The restaurant overlooks Jackson Square and is a great spot to listen to local jazz bands perform below. The Court of Two Sisters is a great spot for a boozy brunch and live jazz band.
New Orleans has a slew of great art museums like the Odgen Museum of Southern Art, The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA). There’s also some really inspirational public art projects. Head to Burgundy Street at Elysian Fields Avenue to see the “Before I die” installation. Started in 2011 Candy Chang, the wall is now completely covered with fill-in-the-blank answers from people around the world. It’s hard not to pass by the wall and not ponder for a moment about one’s own goals in life. The answers range from funny to sad and are written in different colored chalk.
Visit the Warehouse District
The Warehouse District is easily one of New Orleans’ most innovative neighborhoods. Like many revamped neighborhoods, this rags-to-riches part of the city is where many independent designers and artists have opened up shop. Julia Street is where you’ll find contemporary art galleries and specialty stores, most of which are located between South Peters Street to St. Charles Avenue. If your visit falls on the first Saturday of the month, make sure to stop by the galleries in the evening to see the latest exhibits in low-key party environment. The Louisiana Children’s Museum is a must for families and the Lafayette Square is a perfect example of a traditional plaza. For fresh fruit and veggies, the Crescent City Farmers Market is tough to top.
Shop for Local Wares
Also in the Central Business District (CBD) and Warehouse District are a number of independent designers whose wares are made from eco-friendly materials. For example, one designer makes purses and backpacks from recycled South American coffee bags. The same creativity is also present in the Garden District on the other side of St. Charles Avenue. It’s refreshing to see how designers are turning one person’s trash into another person’s treasure. Serious shoppers might want to stroll along Magazine Street where there are many vintage shops and one-of-a-kind stores. The street stretches for about six miles so unless you have several hours to spare, narrow down your list to a few blocks.
Shop for souvenirs at Frenchmen Art Market
If you ask the locals where to grab a beer and listen to a jazz set, they’ll almost certainly point you in the direction of Frenchmen Street. A less chaotic alternative to Bourbon Street, Frenchman Street is a cluster of bars, restaurants, music venues and their nightly artisan market. Most venues don’t charge a cover fee but patrons are encouraged to tip the bands generously. The art market is particularly interesting because it’s the only nighttime market of its kind. Come here to shop for original artwork, handcrafts, jewelry made from repurposed materials like guitar strings and other handmade decor items.
What is the coolest art market you’ve ever been to? Tell me in the comments below!
Megan Eileen McDonough is writer, blogger and social media specialist based in New York City. She also runs Bohemian Trails, a lifestyle blog designed for the savvy and stylish traveler. Bohemian Trails aims to feature must-see places around the world, covering everything from revamped neighborhoods and vibrant street art to innovative tech hubs and everything in between. Her cultural escapades have taken her to Latin America, Asia, Europe, and the Middle East.
Megan is also a freelance writer and social media specialist based in New York City. She contributes to various online and print publications in the travel and fashion industries and is an international correspondent for both Jetsetter and Northstar Travel Media.