The Big Easy! – a name amply coined in 1718 when the French, under the direction of Jean Baptiste Le Moyne, founded the city. No two words more perfectly capture the essence of the New Orleans spirit and define how folks like things to be done; from lounging in sunshine to indulging one’s culinary curiosity, crowned with a splash of cultural cocktails found uniquely in this big neighborhood.
Today’s version of “The Big Easy” is exactly what I found on my recent getaway girls’ trip to an often-overlooked geographic phenomenon set neatly at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico…Delta country.
There is little question that New Orleans is the most eclectic city in the United States. From the earliest explorers to present day, the city and environs have evolved into our greatest melting pot. Here lives every extant culture and dialect that’s graced the American landscape from the beginning. The French came shortly before the Spaniards. The Creole culture was born, and the Crescent city was on its way. Soon came the slave trade followed by eastern frontiersmen, the Cajuns from Acadia New Brunswick and, before all of them, the Native American.
When the late Anthony Bourdain observed, “There is no place on earth even remotely like New Orleans. Don’t even try to compare it to anywhere else”. This epicurean was not indulging in hyperbole. A quiet walk through the cobblestone backstreets gives the visitor a strong feeling for the city’s past with an attractive patina enveloping the antique brass and bronze gates and fences. Here at your leisure, you can delve into the history of the buildings, enjoy libations often tailored to regional tastes and, importantly, take part in meals with a strictly southern accent.
In some neighborhoods it is not hard to forget what century you are experiencing. The air seems alive with whispers coming from all directions…iconic graveyards, historic antebellum mansions, jazz wafting out from distant boites, the evanescent ring of the trolley bell. Our 36 hours in New Orleans was a reverie to be enjoyed for a lifetime.
If you are looking for a Big Easy itinerary—lounging, relaxation, slow pace, strolls to view opulent architecture, exceptional food we’ve got it covered.
Best time to go: March to May, right after the crowds from Mardi Gras and before the high humidity of summer. Skip the weekend and go during midweek to enjoy an even more slow pace.
WHERE TO STAY:
The Chloe Hotel in the Uptown neighborhood is magical. This is the type of bohemian and beautiful boutique location you will never want to leave. Native New Orleans Interior designer Sara Ruffin Costello nailed it when she transformed the 1891 family mansion originally designed by architect Thomas Sully. Every detail of the 19th century renovation is impeccably thought out and executed with exquisite mix of antique and modern. With the endless cool vibes, it’s no wonder everyone in the neighborhood wants to be there. The pool offers an oasis for relaxation with a poolside bar service. There is a restaurant on the premise that offers free breakfast for those staying as guests and a full classy menu for lunch and dinner. The beds and linens are divine. Around the hotel there are nooks and crannies to cozy into either to get some work done, share a drink, read a book, or take photos and oogle at the artwork. This incredibly comfortable, enchanting, and unique location nestled in between towering live oaks trees alone will want to return again and again to New Orleans. To learn more about this jewel of a spot, we recommend going here.
WHERE TO GO:
For a stroll and to do some sight-seeing, head out of the Chloe Hotel and enjoy the idyllic streets of the Uptown and Garden District areas. Magazine Street, located down the street from the Chloe Hotel, has the best six mile stretch of shopping, cafes and browsing. Some of our favorites included: The Vibrant Market, Hemline, and CR Coffee Shop.
Lunch at Lilette Café – plan and make reservations ahead of time at this adorable French and Italian inspired bistro located at 3637 Magazine Street.
After lunch, hop in an uber for a short ride over to the Garden District. We started our walking tour at the Musson Bell House, home to French Creole, cotton merchant, and the uncle of impressionist painter Degas. There are several stretches of street blocks with 100-year-old houses with plaques displaying the history. Around the corner you can head on over to Lafayette Cemetery at 2100 Washington Street near the famous Commander’s Palace Restaurant. Hours for the cemetery are Monday – Friday are 7am – 2:30pm and on Saturdays 7am – 12noon. The Garden District is a must see for those who love history, art, and architecture.
Mosquito Supper Club – if you love special culinary experiences and can only do one thing in New Orleans, we recommend booking a reservation at this exceptional restaurant dedicated to the bounty of shrimpers, oyster fishermen, crabbers, and farmers that define the menu. Everything about this place is lovely. Be sure you read up on their philosophy and policies as the restaurant is a communal family style multi-course tasting menu. You will be given background story as each portion of the evenings tasting menu is delivered to your table. A truly delightful experience.
The Chloe– after an amazing meal at Mosquito Supper Club, skip the party scene of the French Quarter and enjoy a nightcap back at the Chloe Hotel under the live oaks and sparkling lights.
Have some extra time in the area? If you plan to stay a little longer in New Orleans and want to adventure a bit out of the city life for some nature and wildlife, we recommend the Airboat Swamp Tour with Gators and Ghosts – a small locally owned and family operated tour agency. The Airboats tour will take you to places in the swamp that other boats can’t get to, giving you the best chance to see alligators and other south Louisiana wildlife.