New Orleans and the French Quarter in particular are fantastic options for Mother’s Day, from the elegant perfection of jazz brunches and the relaxing stroll on the scenic Mississippi River waterfront to exploring the magnificent architecture of the centuries-old streets and shopping in the chic local boutiques. Show your appreciation for the mothers in your life with these suggestions, below. Just please remember to make your reservations in advance as Mother’s Day is a popular time for brunching and dining.
Brunch with Mom is one of New Orleans’ most popular Mother’s Day activities. Not only do the French Quarter and the adjacent Marigny and Bywater neighborhoods have some of the best restaurants in the country but several have excellent Mother’s Day special brunch offers. Broussard’s Mother’s Day jazz brunch is usually held in the courtyard and features the restaurant’s classic French Creole cuisine plus bottomless rose or mimosas.
The classic Sunday jazz brunch at either Antoine’s or Arnaud’s is elegance personified and is a perfect way to give back to the women and mothers in your life. Or treat your mom to a special brunch at The Bombay Club, featuring house favorites and yes, the bottomless mimosas.
The French Quarter has some of the best European-style patisseries in the country, so if you want a classic French croissant or quiche head to Croissant D’Or.
Outside the Quarter, if you’re up for a scenic walk or ride through the historic neighborhood of the Marigny, check out Ayu Bakehouse, a bright, quaint corner shop with a mellow vibe. There are savory pastries, crusty baguettes, sweet croissants, cookies and buns, plus breakfast and lunch items like a frittata and seasonally rotated sandwiches.
Still further down, in the Bywater, you can hit The Country Club’s brunch of shrimp and grits or boudin boulettes in the restaurant, or just head to the pool that has its own, poolside menu.
Exploring the French Quarter on foot
Few cities in the world have as much easily accessible and well-preserved architecture as New Orleans. If your mom is up for walking, explore the centuries-old streets of the French Quarter and the nearby mostly residential Marigny to take in all the magnificent architectural elements they have to offer, with all their lush tropical courtyards with gurgling fountains, French doors, stucco exteriors, lacy Victorian ironwork, and vibrant Caribbean colors.
While you’re at it, you can stroll the mile-long Riverfront with its walkway called the Moonwalk, the scenic views of the Mississippi River, and Woldenberg Park.
Don’t miss the French Market across the street, from its food stands to the daily flea market at the end of Esplanade Avenue. It’s a great stop to slurp a dozen raw oysters, or pick up pralines and a beignet mix to take home from any of the surrounding retail shops.
Just down the street is one of the most important national landmarks, the timeless Jackson Square with Andrew Jackson’s bronze statue as the focal point of the square, surrounded by lush greenery. Come inside the St. Louis Cathedral that overlooks the square, to take in its stunning interior, or shop at the block-long rows of the Pontalba Buildings that flank the square in both directions.
Jackson Square also features an open-air artist market and performance space, with local art displayed along the fence. While there, browse the art, dance to a brass band, have your fortune told, or have a sketch done on the spot.
Taking a carriage ride
If your mom is not up for walking, unveiling the city’s colorful past is as easy as taking a mule-drawn carriage ride through the streets of the French Quarter. Just grab a first-come-first-serve French Quarter Mule Tour offered by Royal Carriages on Decatur right outside the Jackson Square gate, from 8 a.m. through midnight daily. Some tour packages stick to the Quarter only; others venture out to the Marigny or St. Louis Cemetery #1.
Before you do that, and if you’re looking for locally made goods around Decatur and the French Market, try the Dutch Alley Artist’s Co-Op or Fleurty Girl. Besides what the French Market and the shops surrounding Jackson Square have to offer, you can head down to the chic boutiques lining Chartres Street, branching off the square and leading to Canal Street.
One of the most popular destinations on the Chartres Street retail row is Hemline, which carries a well-curated shoe and women’s fashion collection from local and national brands. Also on Chartres, the well-hidden United Apparel Liquidators (UAL) is unsurpassed for hunting name brands with deep discounts (and even some haute couture). And, if you head to Canal Street, there’s a slew of upscale retailers at The Shops at Canal Place mall, from Saks Fifth Avenue to Tiffany & Co.
It’s going to be easy to impress your mom with dozens of stunning options in the French Quarter and nearby. You’ll be in good hands at the enchanting Sylvain on Chartres Street, with a candlelit bar and a lovely patio. The charming Bayona also offers a patio, along with a historic setting of a two-century-old Creole cottage on a quiet block of Dauphine Street.
If you want to go with the upscale Creole cuisine in unbeatable locations, then Tujague’s, Napoleon House, or Muriel’s Jackson Square won’t steer you wrong. For something less traditional but still sophisticated head to Cane & Table for a top-notch cocktail and small plates, or hit the hole-in-the-wall Cuban gem, Manolito. Of course, the one and only Galatoire’s needs no introduction (where you’ll be lucky to get a table).
Finally, why not wrap up with a glass of bubbly and the world-famous Bananas Foster in a lush courtyard at Brennan’s, flambeed tableside? Giving back to your mom has never been easier.
If you’re planning a stay in New Orleans, be sure to check out our resource for French Quarter Hotels.