After sheltering-in-place for what feels like an eternity, New Orleanians are eager for a change of scenery – especially since summer is in full swing.

Ace Hotel New Orleans – lobby

How to “vacation” in New Orleans

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After sheltering-in-place for what feels like an eternity, New Orleanians are eager for a change of scenery – especially since summer is in full swing.

This is a time of year when folks are typically enjoying the major getaway they’ve been planning for months. But since we haven’t quite moved beyond the novel coronavirus pandemic, boarding airplanes and exploring locales around the world – or even the region – carry consequences and come with restrictions.

Fortunately, we live in a city with seemingly countless restaurants to try (many of which have reopened), museums, art galleries and gorgeous outdoor spaces. And because New Orleans boasts a diverse collection of hotels, famous for their southern hospitality and service, it’s an ideal place for a full-fledged staycation.

Peruse our suggestions on where to go and what to eat, but be sure to check the websites for current reservation requirements and safety guidelines. Then gather your closest friends, family, or perhaps your significant other, and start planning. Explore the Big Easy while supporting local businesses in the process. Even if you’ve spent your whole life in this city, you will likely discover something new.


CBD/Warehouse District

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Situated in the Central Business District, The Troubadour (1111 Gravier St.) places you within walking distance of the French Quarter, the art galleries on Julia Street, and restaurants galore. The boutique hotel is furnished with the clean lines of contemporary décor and a funky 1970s flair, bathing in natural light. Hungry for jalapeño poppers? Or perhaps a decadent grilled cheese sandwich? Head to the hotel’s newly renovated rooftop lounge for a bite to eat; sample cocktails while savoring panoramic views of the city. Troubadour originals include the Duncan Park Swizzle with pineapple infused rum; and the Temptation with tequila, citrus and soda. Hotel rates begin at $119 per night.

The Eliza Jane (315 Magazine St.) is characterized by its modern aesthetic, but the elegant hotel is steeped in history. The Eliza Jane was once the home of Antoine Peychaud, the legendary apothecary owner and mixologist who created Peychaud’s Bitters; and it was part of the Daily Picayune newspaper, which was run by Eliza Jane Nicholson – the country’s first female publisher. Hints of the hotel’s past are apparent in its exposed brick walls, high ceilings, and rustic courtyard. Rates begin at $119 per night.

Hosting a collection of eateries, a rooftop pool, and a music club, it’s easy to see why the Ace Hotel (600 Carondelet St.) is such a happening place. The spacious rooms are furnished in a contemporary style, brimming with vintage vibes and eclectic accents. For dinner or brunch, eat Italian fare with American south influences, inside the hotel’s main restaurant – Josephine Estelle. The menu, which is crafted by award-winning chefs, includes an assortment of hearty pastas, along with gourmet toast plates, creative takes on meatballs, and kid-approved dishes. When you are ready to cool off, swing by Alto – the Ace Hotel’s rooftop garden. Relish unobstructed views of the city while splashing in the pool and sipping frozen drinks. Rates average at $169 per night.

For a staycation in a posh, but family-friendly setting, consider the NOPSI Hotel (317 Baronne St.). The 1920s-era building is furnished with commodious guest rooms ranging from 350 to 800 square feet. They are lined with local art and feature carpeted floors, comfy bed linens, and spa-like washing areas, equipped with thick terry-cloth robes. When you are ready to step outside of your tranquil retreat, take a dip in the rooftop pool or dine at Public Service – the hotel’s swanky restaurant, which comprises an open-display kitchen and a raw bar. Can’t bear to be a few miles away from your pup? No problem. The NOPSI is a dog-friendly hotel, so you can bring your four-legged friend along for the adventure. Rates begin at $109 per night.

After months of homeschooling children and possibly cutting your own hair, you deserve some pampering. So treat yourself to stay at the Windsor Court Hotel (300 Gravier St.), which is now offering an “Escape to Luxury” package that includes a spacious suite and a nightly $50 hotel credit. Deluxe suites are decorated with an Italian marble bath, French doors separating the living area from the bedroom, a wet bar, and possibly a private balcony. The hotel is also selling a “Park & Stay” package, which includes complimentary overnight parking during the duration of your stay. Hotel rates begin at $250 per night.

French Quarter

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Since opening its doors in 1886, the Hotel Monteleone (214 Royal St.) has been a favored destination for locals and visitors alike. The French Quarter locale is famous for its revolving Carousel Bar and overall opulence. Rates begin at $119 per night.

If you’ve been yearning to romp through the French Quarter without the crowds, now is the time. Royal Sonesta New Orleans (300 Bourbon St.) is currently offering a French Quarter Fling: $149 per night on weekdays and $199 per night on weekends. The hotel features a landscaped courtyard that feels more like an oasis; wrought iron balconies lending a glimpse of the Vieux Carré; and two excellent dining options: Restaurant R’evolution and Desire Oyster Bar. Care for a café au lait? Royal Sonesta has you covered with an onsite PJ’s Coffee shop. Guest rooms include a refrigerator, plush bedding, and complimentary wireless internet, among other amenities.


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Wake up the sound of the streetcar rumbling down St. Charles Avenue, with a stay at The Columns (3811 St. Charles Ave.). Built in 1883, the hotel – originally a home – boasts stunning architectural details of the Italianate style. Guest rooms are furnished with four-poster beds, claw foot tubs, and antique accents, but modern amenities are not overlooked. Feast on Creole fare inside the majestic abode, in the courtyard, or on the vast front gallery that overlooks the Avenue. Rates begin at $350 per night.


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Slightly closer to a vacation, the Southern Hotel (428 E. Boston St., Covington) requires a short trip across the Causeway – one that’s truly worth it. The serene retreat comprises nearly 50 lavish rooms, a spa with a pool, and an upscale bistro, Oxlot 9, serving up regional fare. King and double guest rooms are available for $169 per night, from Sunday through Thursday, and for $229 on Friday and Saturday in July.


For the art admirer …

After exploring the New Orleans Museum of Art (1 Collins Diboll Cir.), wander through The Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, adjacent to the museum. The garden showcases more than 90 sculptures, along with native plants and peaceful lagoons, spread across nearly 11 acres of land.

Check out the Ogden Museum of Southern Art (925 Camp St.) and the nearby Arts District galleries – most of which are now open.

For the history buff …

Covering two floors and a courtyard, The New Orleans Pharmacy Museum (514 Chartres St.) unveils the history of medicine and healthcare. Built in 1823 as a home for the country’s first licensed pharmacist, Louis Dufilho Jr., the Creole townhouse has since served as an apothecary, a medical office and a pharmacy. Exhibits highlight voodoo potions, patent medicines, surgical instruments and procedures of the past that may surprise you.

You can likely spend all day exploring The National WWII Museum (945 Magazine St.). Spread across a sprawling campus in downtown New Orleans, museum exhibits question why the war was fought and how it was won, while honoring the Americans who served on both the battlefield and the home front. When you are ready for a lunch break, stop by the onsite restaurant, American Sector, for a bowl of chicken and sausage gumbo, a deli sandwich or smothered pork chops.

With three floors devoted to the state’s history, the Cabildo (701 Chartres St.) in Jackson Square is where the Louisiana Purchase proceedings took place. It’s also the site of landmark court cases, and a destination of international ambassadors. The museum’s current exhibit, Beading with the Big Chief, showcases the work of students in the Cabildo’s adult beading course, which was taught by Big Chief Darryl Montana of the Yellow Pocahontas Hunters. Their creations are displayed alongside pieces from Chief Montana’s past suits.

The New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint (400 Esplanade Ave.) explores jazz in all its forms. You can listen to music in a state-of-the-art performance venue, or learn about the role of New Orleans jazz on the global stage. The museum’s current exhibit, New Orleans Music Observed: The Art of Noel Rockmore and Emilie Rhys, showcases portraits of musicians, created by a father-daughter duo. The exhibit, which pairs Rockmore and Rhys together for the first time, is joined by a collection of early jazz artifacts.

For the gardener …

Spanning 10 acres of greenery, blooms and art, the Botanical Garden (5 Victory Ave.) provides a peaceful escape. The premises are home to more than 2,000 plants, including gingers, palms, and purple coneflowers, along with sculptures by the late Enrique Alférez, a Mexican-American New Orleans artist. The Botanical Garden hosts plant sales throughout the year, and a new cooking and dining series based around its outdoor kitchen. On Sundays and Wednesdays, you can order meals that are prepared by a chef right before your eyes, and then picnic amongst nature’s beauty. If you bring your children, be sure to check out the train display.

For family fun …

When you visit City Park, your family can frolic in Storyland, play miniature golf in City Putt, or rent a boat or a bike near Big Lake and explore the surrounding lagoons, shaded by mossy live oaks. The tennis courts are now open, along with rentable sports fields. Grab beignets from Café Du Monde or lunch from Acorn (15 Henry Thomas Dr.). The Dickie Brennan & Co. café offers ample outdoor picnic-style seating – the entire park – and delicious fare that you and your little ones will love, including pizza, macaroni and cheese, smoked catfish dip, and hamburgers.

Much to the delight of probably every parent in the region, the New Orleans Audubon Zoo (6500 Magazine St.) is now open. Families can now wander the shaded lanes of this sprawling institute and check out its animal exhibits: the Jaguar Jungle, the African Savanna and the Louisiana Swamp, among many others. Also, Audubon’s lion pride is stronger than ever. Earlier this year, they welcomed two lion cubs into the world – and they are ready to be oooh’d and aaah’d over. As for the other animals … they all asked for you, too. The Audubon Zoo hosts a few dining options, so feel free to while away the hours with your kids.


Begin your day with breakfast at La Boulangerie (4600 Magazine St.) Glass-encased countertops are crammed with croissants, muffins, fruit turnovers and cheese biscuits. The kitchen whips up sandwiches and salads, made with local ingredients, throughout the morning and into the afternoon. For dessert or a refreshing sweet treat, try the café’s seasonal ice cream, served in a waffle cone.

At Claret Wine & Cocktail Bar (1320 Magazine St.), situated between the Warehouse and Garden Districts, relish – you guessed it – wine and cocktails, among other libations. Snack on charcuterie and cheese plates, shareable Mediterranean-inspired platters, such as beet hummus, marinated olives, and grilled avocado with baguette croutons.

A trip to Justine (225 Chartres St.) renders a treat for your eyes and your appetite. A pink, neon “Justine” sign welcomes guests upon arrival. Inside, the Parisian-inspired brasserie is lined with verdant greens, whimsical wall art, and antique mirrors. Wide menu offerings range from ham and brie baguette sandwiches to decadent duck confit covered with soy caramel. Regardless of what you choose, you won’t be disappointed.

For a quintessential New Orleans fine dining experience, go to Galatoire’s Restaurant (209 Bourbon St.) – a local treasure since 1905; or Antoine’s Restaurant, which has welcomed patrons for 180 years (713 St. Louis St.).

Briquette (701 South Peters St.) in the Warehouse District features an open kitchen and an 18-foot seafood display filled with fresh halibut, salmon, and Louisiana redfish, among other varieties of whole fish, which are prepared over piping hot briquettes. Start with caramelized sea scallops and fried goat cheese grits before diving into the Branzino with fennel slaw and lemon garlic aioli, or the hollandaise-laden Snapper Pontchartrain.

You may find yourself in a wine country state of mind with a visit to Copper Vine (1001 Poydras St.) The wine pub offers a vast collection of tapped wines and tasty snacks: crawfish beignets, fig and goat cheese flatbreads, duck fat fries and jumbo lump crab deviled eggs. For something more substantial, go with a smoked chicken salad club or the seared Gulf fish.

Toups’ Meatery (845 N. Carrolton Ave.) offers elevated iterations of classic Cajun dishes prepared by chef Isaac Toups, whose family has been in Louisiana for over 300 years. From cracklins’ and boudin balls, to hot fried quail with maque choux and spiced honey, the menu offerings will take you on a tasty excursion through the Pelican State.

Situated near breezy Lake Pontchartrain, Sala (124 Lake Marina Ave.) is the place to go for drinks and shareable plates in a sophisticated setting. But you will surely want to stay for the entrees: pasta fra diavolo, with seafood swimming in a spicy tomato sauce; fried fish almondine with lemon butter sauce; and panné veal topped with crawfish sauté and served with angel hair pasta. Sala is part of the Riccobono family of restaurants, which also includes Peppermill, Riccobono’s Panola St. Café, and Café Navarre.

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