How to Explore New Orleans Like a Local

Whether you’re looking for the most luxurious hotel in town or hoping to dine at your new go-to restaurant, Observer is rounding up some of our favorite destinations in NOLA, from uptown to the French Quarter.

New Orleans. Four s

Now that the temperatures are cooling off, it’s the ideal time to visit New Orleans for a long weekend. While most tourists head straight to Bourbon Street and don’t venture off of it, this southern city has so much more to offer. Whether you’re looking for the most luxurious hotel in town or hoping to dine at your new go-to restaurant, Observer is rounding up some of our favorite destinations in NOLA, from uptown to the French Quarter. Read on to discover the best places to stay, dine and drink in New Orleans, from a former local. 

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Where to stay

Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans. Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans

Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans

2 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Four Seasons Hotel New Orleans opened in August 2021 after a $500 million renovation, and quickly became the city’s buzziest lodging—and for a good reason. Previously the World Trade Center New Orleans, the Four Seasons features a few historic touches that pay homage to its roots, including the original marble flooring. This property is elegant without being stuffy, with two local celebrity chef restaurants and a must-visit bar. Indeed, the hospitality team goes above and beyond when it comes to southern charm. By the end of the weekend, you’ll be plotting your next visit just to get a perfect cocktail made in the Chandelier Bar in the lobby (which features a mind boggling 15,000 hand-strung crystals, making it Instagram heaven) and to take in the views at Miss River, the only restaurant in town with Mississippi River views. 

The rooms feel brand new—expect city views, plush beds and dressing areas with more than enough room to get ready for a night out in the nearby French Quarter. The spa is also a must-visit, with products from Biologique Recherche and the non-toxic beauty line Seed to Skin, crafted in Tuscany. Plus, the location is convenient to peruse everything the city has to offer—you can easily take a quick Uber to Magazine Street, walk to the nearby aquarium or Canal Place shops, or venture into the Quarter for a cocktail. 

The Windsor Court Hotel. Courtesy Windsor Court

The Windsor Court

300 Gravier St, New Orleans, LA 70130

Windsor Court is famously one of the most classic and elegant hotels in New Orleans, and it just underwent major renovations to guarantee it’s one of the best places to stay in the city. The Windsor Court is beloved by celebrities like Oprah, Paul McCartney, Princess Anne and Justin Timberlake. The luxurious hotel in the CBD offers suites aplenty, with lots of room to spread out during your stay. Afternoon tea is a favorite with tourists and locals alike, especially during the holiday season, so make sure to embrace the 25-year tradition at Le Salon, a British tea house hidden away in the hotel. 

The Chloe. Paul Costello

The Chloe

4125 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA

For those seeking a chic, home away from home boutique hotel experience, The Chloe is your best bet. The uptown hotel on bustling St. Charles Avenue quickly became a favorite with locals when it opened in 2020, thanks to a homey bar with specialty cocktails and a funky wine list. It’s since become a must-visit for folks who want to easily traverse the uptown neighborhood (especially by streetcar). The hotel offers 14 cozy accommodations and plenty of personalized touches, like local albums you can listen to on the record player in your room. 

Where to dine

Domenica. Domenica

Domenica 

123 Baronne St, New Orleans, LA 70112

Domenica, tucked inside the Roosevelt Hotel with street views perfect for people watching, is a must-visit for classic Italian fare like truffle pasta and seasonal burrata, which is always changing and always a must-order. Another standout dish is the enormous head of oven roasted cauliflower, which is served with a delightfully light and airy whipped feta. And you can’t dine at Domenica without indulging in the gianduja budino for dessert—a hazelnut treat with a whipped cream topping that truly melts in your mouth. After dinner, embrace the festive season by heading to the hotel’s lobby, which is packed full of Christmas lights galore. 

Chemin à la Mer. Four Seasons

Chemin à la Mer

2 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

James Beard Award-winning chef Donald Link is behind the menu at this fresh Gulf seafood restaurant with Mississippi views, perfect for taking in the sunset with a cocktail in hand or enjoying breakfast while the riverboats roll by. Stop by during the happy hour from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. daily for oysters paired with vino or a spritz. 

Shaya. Shaya

Shaya 

4213 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70115

This James Beard award-winning restaurant serves up delectable Israeli small plates and fresh out of the oven pita bread. Everything on this menu is equally mouthwatering; you truly can’t go wrong. Dine outside in the garden underneath the heat lamps and order up one of the specialty hummus plates, the smoked labneh and the unforgettable baba ganoush. 

Miss River. Four Seasons

Miss River

2 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

If you’re visiting New Orleans during the holiday season, stop by this electric spot from chef Alon Shaya on Festive Fridays, where everyone dons their most holiday-centric apparel and the person with the best ensemble wins a prize. While Miss River feels like a legacy restaurant, complete with a stunning tile floor and a sommelier station so guests can try out wine while visiting friends at other tables, there’s also a DJ spinning everything from Olivia Rodrigo to Beyonce

Galatoire’s.

And a few more…

If you’re searching for that classic New Orleans experience, try Galatoire’s for lunch (just make sure to follow the dress code), Commander’s Palace for jazz brunch (indulge in their infamous martinis) or Brennan’s (end the meal with the famed bananas foster). If you love Israeli food, make sure to also stop by Saba, higher up on Magazine Street—even Taylor Swift is a fan of the small bites, as the pop superstar visited when her ex-boyfriend Joe Alwyn was filming in the city in December 2022.  

Where to imbibe: 

The Vampire Apothecary.

The Vampire Apothecary

725 St Peter, New Orleans, LA 70116

Have you watched a few too many hours of The Vampire Diaries or True Blood? Channel your inner bloodsucker at this spooky yet chic restaurant/bar that offers everything from cheese plates to sangria in blood bags. You can even get a tarot card reading while you dine surrounded by dried flowers, or have specialty fangs made by the in-house “fangsmith” to really get into the spooky spirit. It’s also the perfect place to stop for a quick bite if you’ve spent the day shopping in the French Quarter and need a quick escape. 

Hotel Saint Vincent Paradise Lounge.

Hotel Saint Vincent Paradise Lounge

1507 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130

This Lower Garden District hotel houses one of the most stylish bars in the city, The Paradise Lounge, with a Palm Beach feel from its tropical wallpaper and lush foliage. It’s hard to believe the extremely luxurious hotel was once The Saint Vincent’s Infant Asylum, but now, it houses a cocktail lounge that’s the perfect place to stop by for a dirty martini before dinner. 

The Carousel Bar in New Orleans
The Carousel Bar in New Orleans The Carousel Bar

The Carousel Bar & Lounge 

214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130

The Hotel Monteleone’s Carousel Bar is a must-visit for tourists who want to sit on the merry-go-round while they indulge in specialty cocktails like a Pimm’s Cup or a Sazerac. The hotel bar with a literal twist has been open since 1949, and is still the city’s only rotating bar. With only 25 seats, visit early to nab one and listen to live music. 

How to Explore New Orleans Like a Local