New Orleans is agreeably one of the top tourist destinations in the country. With rich culture, world-renowned music, Creole and Cajun cuisines, and vibrant nightlife, the Big Easy is a place to celebrate any special occasion or getaway. Despite the recent pandemic and natural disasters, NOLA has returned to life with new amenities and unique attractions. If you think you have experienced all that NOLA has to offer already, there’s a brand-new city waiting for you to explore.
Cafe du Monde French Market. Photo courtesy of Chelsea Audibert/Unsplash.com
Towering above the Mississippi River and the foot of Canal Street, the once eyesore of a 34-story building is now the luxurious Four Seasons Hotel. Soak in some of the best views in town and have a cocktail under 15,000 Bohemian crystals at the hotel’s Chandelier Bar. Then head over to the two dining establishments—Miss River and Chemin àla Mer, both helmed by chefs nominated by James Beard. Coming up in 2022, is a cultural museum and a 360-degree observation deck on the hotel’s 34th floor.
The new Virgin Hotel offers funky and modern accommodations in the Warehouse District. The hotel’s guestrooms, termed as “chambers,” are decorated in Virgin’s signature funky designs and bright colors. Even if you don’t stay here, make sure to check out the Instagram-worthy spaces at the hotel’s Funny Library Coffee Shop, Commons Club restaurant, and the 13th floor rooftop pool and lounge.
If you prefer a more intimate Victorian-era vibe, book a room at The Chloe in the Uptown neighborhood. The charming mansion, converted to a fourteen-room boutique hotel, has a backyard pool, gardens, brick patio, and front porch. The restaurant, led by acclaimed Chef Todd Pulsinelli, delivers exciting takes on Creole classics (make sure to try the shrimp etouffee dumplings).
More new and renewed hotels include One11 Hotel, the first to open in the French Quarter in fifty years, and the Hotel St. Vincent, a restored, 1861-landmark building.
Bourbon and Orleans street. Photo courtesy of Gargolas/iStock.com
For an informative and interactive way to learn about NOLA’s iconic art, music, food, and theatrics, head to JAMNOLA. The first of its kind pop-up celebrates the Crescent City through 12-rooms of fun immersive exhibits created by New Orleans artists. You can easily spend an hour or more taking photos in the funky rooms and hallways with floor-to-ceiling mixed art.
The new Museum of the Southern Jewish Experience is the first of its kind to showcase the triumphs and tribulations of Jewish people across a thirteen-state southern region. The exhibits explore the many ways that Jews in the American South influenced and were influenced by the distinct cultural heritage of their new homes.
For the first time, you can drink whiskey that is legally distilled in the New Orleans Central Business District. The new Sazerac House offers cutting-edge and immersive exhibits that will transport you to the French Quarter in the 1800s. You can also chat with virtual bartenders and learn how to make signature drink recipes, including the iconic Sazerac Cocktail.
Creole Style Shrimp and Sausage Gumbo. Photo courtesy of LauriPatterson/iStock.com
DINING AND ENTERTAINMENT
New Orleans is abuzz with the reopening of new hotels, attractions, and restaurants, including Emeril’s flagship restaurant in the Warehouse District. Also new is Mister Mao, a quirky restaurant in Uptown, serving ethnically diverse and flavorful small plates, such as Kashmiri fried chicken and Thai shrimp cakes.
For live music, head to the Peacock Room at Kimpton Hotel Fontenot. Here you can enjoy exceptional spirits and crafted cocktails in an opulent atmosphere with retro-style wallpaper and mosaic-tiled floors.
Also, check out NOLAxNOLA, a branded series of live music events that were established to keep New Orleans’ music venues, musicians, and culture-bearers strong and supported after the devastating impact of the pandemic on NOLA’s cultural economy.
New Orleans travel inspiration is plentiful, whether for a weekend getaway, to celebrate the holidays, or to attend some of the best music, film, and art festivals. And getting there is just as easy. The Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport was just ranked the best airport in North America for its size, by J.D. Power.