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9 Cool Things to Do in New Orleans Now

If you have plans to visit New Orleans, odds are you’re going for a good time. With a new crop of historic-mansions-turned-hotels and myriad innovative culinary and cocktail concepts—expect sustainably-harvested oysters, tiki cocktails, and Israeli small plates—now is the perfect time to visit the Big Easy. Here, 9 reasons to head south to NOLA now.

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Seaworthy

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 (the bar director coined “session” cocktails), this bar—from the Ace Hotel Group and the trio behind New York’s Grand Banks—will bring you straight to the sea. Pair ceviche and fried oyster small plates with cocktails like the holywater, a spiced rum drink mixed with green chartreuse, house made orgeat, grapefruit, lemon and lime, and Angostura bitters.

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Henry Howard Hotel

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

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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.

RELATED: The 10 Best Hotels in New Orleans

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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.

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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.

RELATED: Next Stop, NOLA

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Shaya

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.

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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.

RELATED: The Best Hotel Restaurants (IOHO)

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Maypop

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 entrees like roasted lamb belly pastrami with poblano green curry, spiced eggplant, watermelon, and cocoa pine nut granola.

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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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