The hordes of tourists that make their way to New Orleans tend to start — and stay in — the French Quarter. But the Big Easy has a lot to offer travelers beyond Bourbon Street and Café Du Monde. The next time you’re in NOLA — like for next month’s Mardi Gras festivities — be sure to check out these areas, too.
Central Business District
Located next to the French Quarter, just up the Mississippi River, the Central Business District is an excellent option for hotels thanks to its central location. Options include the Hyatt Regency, located next door to the famous Superdome. You also have the Ace Hotel, which has a rooftop bar and Southern-inspired Italian restaurant, Josephine Estelle. For brand-name shopping, head over to Canal Place.
Farther upriver, find the Garden District. Its diverse homes range from historic mansions to small cottages. The neighborhood also offers a variety of boutique-style options for cafes and shopping; Magazine Street is a destination for antique shops such as Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St., 504- 899-5587, funkymonkeynola.com). Work up an appetite at the Southern Food & Beverage Museum (admission $10.50/adults, $5.25 students and seniors, FREE under 12; 1504 Oretha C. Haley Blvd., 504-267-7490, natfab.org), where you can learn the history of some of your favorite Southern cuisine, then sit down to lunch at Toups South inside the museum.
For a low-key party atmosphere, Faubourg Marigny (pronounced Foe-burg Mar-ah-knee), or simply Marigny, located just below the French Quarter, delivers. While revelers will always flock to Bourbon Street, locals prefer Marigny’s Frenchmen Street for jazz lounges showcasing New Orleans bands — minus the tourist prices and crowds. Top venues on the strip include the Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen St., 504-948-2583, bluenilelive.com) and The Spotted Cat (623 Frenchmen St., 504-943-3887, spottedcatmusicclub.com).
To see more of the local culture of the city, travel to older neighborhoods “downriver” from the French Quarter, like Bywater, bordering Marigny. Art lovers will appreciate the many beautiful street murals throughout the neighborhood. Notably, the warehouse-turned-art space Studio Be (open Wednesday-Saturday, 2-8 p.m.; 2941 Royal St., 504-330-6231, brandanodums.com) features art installations inspired by African-American figures and history. After, grab lunch at the Press Street Station (closed Wednesdays; 5 Press St., 504-249-5622, pressstreetstation.com), serving up fish and lamb sandwiches a block away in Marigny.
To learn more about New Orleans’ Creole and African-American history, visit Treme (pronounced trem-MAY), located near the French Quarter. One of the oldest neighborhoods in the city, it is home to landmarks such as the St. Augustine Church (1210 Governor Nicholls St., 504-525-5934, staugchurch.org), the country’s oldest African-American Catholic parish. Bone up on the origins of jazz (and even spend the night) at Treme’s Petit Jazz Museum (admission $10/ adults, $8/students and seniors, $6/high school students, FREE under high school age; 1500 Governor Nicholls St., 504-715-0332, tremespetitjazzmuseum.com) — just look for the Tiffany-blue building.