It’s been more than 10 years since Hurricane Katrina, and in that time, New Orleans has done a lot of rebuilding, growing, and changing. If you haven’t been since the devastating storm, it won’t be like how you remembered it. And if you’ve never been, you’re about to discover an incredible, resilient, and creative destination unlike anywhere else on earth.
Your first stop in New Orleans should be Frenchmen Street—a four-block stretch of jazz bars, restaurants, nightclubs, and galleries. Locals and visitors alike come here for a casual night-out with live music. We recommend the Spotted Cat Music Club for free, weekly swing-dancing lessons.
It’s impossible to take a New Orleans tour without indulging in all the famous Big Easy fixins’ on offer: after all, it wears the crown as one of America’s Best Food Cities. There’s a lot of seafood (the iconic po’boy with fried oysters from Mother’s Restaurant; crawfish at Pêche) and sweet French-style beignets—Scream Queen Abigail Bresiln recommends you get them with a café au lait from Café du Monde. New Orleans’ cuisine blends the best of Lowcountry southern fare, French classics, and Creole. Wash whatever you order down with a French 75. The best part about NOLA’s bar scene? You can order drinks to-go.
Related: Things to do in New Orleans
Continue the party at Hotel Monteleone, a famous property known for its Carousel Bar: a literal merry-go-round with 25 seats and a rotating bar. Take a ride while drinking a Sazerac (the official drink of NOLA) with whiskey, simple syrup, and bitters. Fun things to do in New Orleans (and to drink) can easily be found on Bourbon Street. There’s no shortage of bars here, though Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop—the oldest structure that’s served as a bar in the nation—and the Old Absinthe House, which has been serving important patrons like Mark Twain and Franklin Roosevelt for 200-plus years, double as history lessons.
What to do in New Orleans if you’re looking for culture? Learn about New Orleans’ deep voodoo roots at Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo or Reverend Zombie’s Voodoo Shop. Here, you can take a tour and stock up on protective talismans. Local artisanal goods, including jewelry, produce, and art, can also be purchased at the French Market (America’s oldest public market).