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9 Cool Things to Do in New Orleans Now

Have plans to visit New Orleans? Odds are you’re going for a good time. Thanks to a new wave of historic mansions turned hotels and innovative culinary outposts—we're talking sustainably-harvested oysters, tiki cocktails, and Israeli small plates—now is the perfect time to visit the Big Easy. Here, nine reasons to head south to NOLA this year.

See recent posts by Michaela Trimble

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Set within a stylish Creole cottage built in 1832, Seaworthy singularly elevates New Orleans’ bar scene. Serving wild-caught and sustainably-harvested oysters and featuring an extensive wine and cocktail list, this bar—from the Ace Hotel Group and the trio behind New York’s Grand Banks—brings you straight to the sea. Pair your ceviche and fried oyster small plates with their signature Holy Water, a spiced rum blend mixed with cognac, chartreuse, lemon, lime, and grapefruit.

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Henry Howard Hotel

In the heart of the verdant Garden District, the Henry Howard Hotel is Southern hospitality realized. This boutique property maintains the authenticity of its original double-gallery mansion while preserving its 1860s Greek revival architecture, Corinthian columns, and townhouse charm. Book a stay in one of 18 rooms so you can sample craft cocktails at the hotel’s parlor, which boasts 12-foot ceilings and original works from local artists.

RELATED: Our Favorite Hotels in NOLA Right Now

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Piscobar at Catahoula Hotel

Tucked within Catahoula Hotel in downtown New Orleans, Piscobar brings South American-inspired cocktails to the Big Easy. This lively, sophisticated joint is perfect for pre-dinner drinks and tapas (you will love the chilled causa). Toast the bar’s namesake when you order a pisco fizz yourself, a libation made with pisco, chica mordada (a sweet juice made from purple Peruvian corn), vanilla, cream, lemon, passion fruit, and topped with egg white.

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Turkey and the Wolf

Elevating the New Orleans sandwich scene beyond imagination, Turkey and the Wolf brings new life to the tired bologna sandwich of your youth. During a visit, opt for the Southern-style collard green melt, made by stacking Swiss cheese and coleslaw between two slabs of rye bread, or the crowd-favorite leighann’s bologna, a white-bread sandwich made with hot English mustard, potato chips, and American cheese. Don’t forget to try the potent cocktails, too, like the gin-based hillbilly hotbox and the honeysuckle-vodka based put your socks on and leave.

RELATED: Our Ultimate Guide to Celebrating Mardi Gras in New Orleans

Oysters at New Orleans Louisiana
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Old No. 77 Hotel & Chandlery and Compère Lapin

This Warehouse District hotel and restaurant hybrid is perfect for the traveling creative. Stay in the property’s new artist loft suites, which feature works by a trio of New Orleans artists in collaboration with local gallery Where Y’Art, before booking an evening meal at the hotel’s own Compère Lapin. Feast on decadent small plates inspired by chef Nina Compton’s Caribbean upbringing and her love of French and Italian cuisine.

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James Beard Award-winning Chef Alon Shaya merges his Israeli roots with the flavors of New Orleans at Shaya, his namesake restaurant. Due to Chef Shaya’s close relationship with regional farmers and his love of North African, Middle Eastern, and Mediterranean flavors, expect a bevy of fresh produce in veggie-forward dishes like matzo ball soup, wood roasted cabbage, and maitake hummus, a new addition to the menu made with maitake mushrooms, sunflower seeds, mustard, and spicy chilies.

RELATED: 20 Gift Ideas for Foodies

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Caribbean Room at Pontchartrain Hotel

When the Caribbean Room reimagined its mainstay mile high ice cream pie, loyalists to the multi-colored, towering dessert boycotted. Back and better than ever, the prize of any meal in Pontchartrain Hotel’s classic floral dining room is indeed dessert: you simply can’t leave without ordering the restaurant’s most famous slice of cake, drizzled in chocolate sauce tableside. Go for a champagne-fueled brunch, or opt for an elegant, candle-lit dinner.

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Located in New Orleans’ Warehouse District, Maypop delivers South Asian cuisine with a Southern twist. The industrial-style dining spot merges a bevy of cuisines for an elevated menu, including Cajun, Sicilian, Vietnamese, and Creole. Begin with foie gras or crawfish appetizers before segueing to noodle dishes like squid ink bucatini topped with charred oysters and bacon. For the finale, choose between carnivorous entrées like roasted lamb belly pastrami with poblano green curry, spiced eggplant, watermelon, and cocoa pine nut granola.

TOUR TO BOOK: Still hungry? Head to the nearby Garden District for a local-led foodie tour, where you’ll sample bites from a classic neighborhood eatery, top seafood joint, and delicious Creole dessert shop. Your guide will delve into the city’s history and traditions as you walk by gorgeous mansions, cemeteries, and oak trees along the way.

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Beachbum Berry's Latitude 29

With a menu spanning the complete 80-year history of tiki drinking, it’s no surprise Latitude 29 is considered one of the city’s best cocktail bars. Grab a seat at the wooden bar of this French Quarter outpost, dedicated to reviving forgotten exotic drinks and reinterpreting old classics. Go for inventive cocktails like the banshee, a drink served in a coconut mug and made with coconut milk, fresh banana blended with lime, Jamaican rum, and Aztec bitters.

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