Plan the Perfect Day in the French Quarter
Even if you have just one day, there’s much to see, do, eat, drink, and explore in the historic French Quarter. It offers action 24/7, so it’s easy to lose yourself in a round-the-clock itinerary. Here are just a few suggestions.
First, grab a quick breakfast at the Hotel St. Marie’s cafe, or savor it at our on-premises Vacherie restaurant. Vacherie’s breakfast menu is classic New Orleans and southern fare, like fried green tomatoes, boudin benedict, and andouille hash.
Any number of the French Quarter restaurants, coffeeshops and patisseries feature the must-try breakfast dishes, but we especially recommend the old-world charm of Croissant d’Or, and the all-day hearty Louisiana breakfast at Stanley (the view of Jackson Square isn’t bad either).
Are you all fueled up? Stroll to the Riverfront on the Mississippi River to watch people and the boats go by. Steamboats straight out of a Mark Twain novel idle on the water, and public art dots the promenade.
Next, we hope you’re wearing comfortable shoes and ready to do some sightseeing! You can take a culinary tour, squeeze in some exercise by doing some sightseeing on the bike, take a walking tour from Basin St. Station, or just walk around to soak up some history on your terms. Take a stroll through Jackson Square and explore the St. Louis Cathedral, or check out the wrought-iron balconies and the antique stores while walking down Royal Street.
Lunch at Galatoire’s is a time-honored tradition in the Crescent City. Many generations of New Orlenians packed its tiled dining room for some boisterous merriment, and you’re in for a treat. Or, to make it easier on your wallet, hit one of the many budget-friendly restaurants. It’s easy to eat well in the French Quarter!
Who wants to go shopping? You can hit the boutiques and local gift shops on Chartres Street, or the two-story mall at Jax Brewery. Get all your souvenirs and gifts (edible and not) to take home at the French Market or along the bustling Decatur Street. There are also two big malls nearby, the Canal Place is on the upscale side, and the Riverwalk, located further down towards the river, is a massive outlet.
Not in the mood for shopping? Harrah’s is right across Canal Street from the Quarter, or you can visit one of the many museums within walking distance from the hotel. Both the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and the Insectarium are close by too, and are a fun way to spend an afternoon.
We hope you’re now ready for happy hour and dinner. The Bombay Club has one of the best happy hours in the French Quarter, with many types of martinis and an inventive bar menu. For dinner ideas, check out these dining guides. From the hole-in-the-walls to the historic gems, the Quarter is bursting with culinary destinations that are worth exploring.
Want to cross Bourbon Street off your list? Don’t forget to grab a hurricane from Pat O’Brien’s while you do. As you make your way down Bourbon toward Esplanade Avenue, check out the historic Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. It’s the longest operating bar in America, and privateer Jean Lafitte was said to once have held court there.
How about some live music next? As you continue across Esplanade, you’re leaving the French Quarter and entering Faubourg Marigny, so keep going till you hit Frenchmen Street. Check out what’s playing at the Blue Nile or Spotted Cat or the d.b.a., but, really, even if you don’t enter any bars or clubs there, we guarantee there will be decent music even just on the street corners.
At this point, would you rather hit the dance floor than the pillow? Santos has live music and is open till 5 a.m., and Cafe du Monde is well, always open, dishing out the delicious beignets. You can sleep on the plane!