There’s really nothing better than a staycation. I mean, don’t get me wrong, I cherish those special Red Bull fueled roadtrips and long flights to places I’ve never been just as much as the next guy, but it’s a staycation that really helps to refresh, renew, and revive, without the ride back.
With that said, what better place to stay than in New Orleans. I was thrilled to have recently played tourist in my own little staycation with The Loews Hotel at the foot of Poydras St. (300 Poydras St.) in the heart of, well everything. I have to admit that the staycations I embark on are super special and rid me of the jade that comes with the daily grind. My perspective changes and I’m reminded as to why Nola is such a special place. Below you’ll find the highlights and recommendations from my staycation. Enjoy.
Located at the foot of Poydras Street (300 Poydras St., New Orleans), I can’t imagine a hotel more accessible to the joys of Nola. Elegant, warm and welcoming, and efficient, The Loews ticked all of the “top-notch stay” boxes. Let’s just put their location in perspective — steps from The French Quarter, a block away from Canal Street, blocks aways from the CBD and Art District, right down the street from The Morial Convention Center, and a hop skip and a jump from some of the storied spots in town. Amenities were great and the staff was efficient and warm even during one of the busiest times of the year. My room was comfortable and well appointed. In my short time there I was able to rest easily, work on my images from the day on the couch and sleep well. The lobby has plenty of comfortable seating which I took advantage of between drinks at the Swizzle Stick and in between Uber pickups. As stated above, it doesn’t get more central and accessible for sure.
EAT + DRINK
The Brennan family heritage runs deep through the streets of New Orleans. As one of the first families of food here in Nola, Cafe Adelaide is one of my favorite hotel bar/restaurants. Just like the hotel that embodies it, Cafe Adelaide is warm, efficient, and super welcoming. The service carries the trademark Brennan’s touch without a single tinge of pomp and circumstance. On my most recent trip, I was totally tempted by their $.25 martini lunch specials to get the ball rolling, but settled on some really great eats.
On my lunch visit, It was super hard and difficult to indulge in dishes like their signature “shrimp & tasso corndogs”, and the ridiculously good BBW Cheeseburger with parmesan fries. My arm continued to be heavily twisted when the white chocolate bread pudding hit the table.
Whether it’s drinks at The Swizzle Stick bar or grabbing a bit to eat, Cafe Adelaide kind of makes you wonder if you ever actually need to leave the Loews at all. One other thing to note, Cafe Adelaide’s Chef Meg Bickford has not only recently taken over the reigns of the kitchen, she is also the first ever female executive chef for the Commander’s Family of Restaurants.
The newly opened Belle’s Diner (1122 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA ) is located in the heart of Lower Decatur (near Esplanade Avenue) and is one the best places to soak the previous night or grab really good grub before hitting up The French Market which happens to be right outside it’s doors! I’m a huge fan of breakfast food and love their fried peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Yep, I said fried pb&j. It’s prepared very much like a Monte Cristo but lacks the swine and cheese. They also have boozy shakes if you want to pick up where you left off from the night before as well as some of the best diner food in the city. Perfect place to begin the day shopping or a precursor to a nap.
With two locations on historic Decatur, Cafe Envie is my go to coffee shop when I’m in the Quarter. The original location is located on lower Decatur (1241 Decatur St New Orleans, LA) and is the perfect place to people out of the windows that open to the French Quarter streets. Their newest location (308 Decatur) is also located on Decatur, but is located closer to Canal Street. Super strong iced coffee is what I need always, but they do such a great job with their coffee program.
SoBou (short for south of Bourbon St. – 310 Chartres St, New Orleans, LA), located in the heart of the French Quarter and on one of my favorite streets, is also one of my favorite Brennan family outposts. Billed as “Louisiana Street Food Inspired Small Plates”, SoBou’s enchanting and comfortable interior is lush and sexy. The beautiful wall of individually lit vintages bottles will startle you, but it’s their bar program that really blows my mind.
Superstar Bar Chef Laura Bellucci and the rest of the staff bring authenticity, innovation, and energy to the menu.
Two of the standouts from their food menu include the Yellowfin Tuna Cones (pineapple ceviche & basil avocado ice cream) and the decadent Sweet Potato Beignets (foie gras fondue, duck debris, & coffee ganache). SoBou is a real gem in the French Quarter.
Capdeville is one of those secret places I tend to not share with everyone. Located blocks away from the Loews (520 Capdeville St, New Orleans, LA), Capdeville is an authentic and righteous rock-n-roll pub with great whiskey and an even better jukebox. Their burgers are unique and decadent, but the real star is their take on poutine. Now, I haven’t had Canadian poutine (where the dish hails from), but the Capdeville version of fries + gravy + cheese curds is legit and the perfect start to a long night traipsing across the city.
If magazines and books were drugs, The Stacks located in the Contemporary Art Center (900 Camp St, New Orleans, LA ) would be my pusher. Needless to say, they feed my addiction to everything print, and have such a great and extensive collection of art/design books and magazines. Curator and owner Emilie does a great job with filling the shelves with some of the best in print.
As a skater kid for many years, I spent lot of my life before four wheels on a board or a bike. Humidity Skate Shop (515 Dumaine St, New Orleans, La.) is a real deal skate shop. I’m no longer skating, but I still love to visit and shop their phenomenal selection of Vans, Nike, as well as ton of skate related gear. This is the perfect place to stop and pick up some unique new kicks.
The National WWII Museum
I don’t think The National WWII Museum ever stops innovating and paying tribute to one of the most prideful moments in our history. Located in the Arts District (945 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA), The WWII Museum is the one museum you cannot leave the city without visiting. If you are alive & breathing, and within 100 miles of our great city, it’s a no brainer. With recent exhibits “Road to Tokyo” and “Road To Berlin”, The Museum gives each visitor a world’s view into the most substantial war of our time. Your journey begins with a virtual train ride which connects you to real life soldier to follow along in their own journey through your own digital dog tag. It’s innovative, interactive, and a must experience.
The Orpheum Theater + Donald Harrison
After 10 years, the legend finally returned to New Orleans rebuilt and renewed. The Orpheum Theater (129 Roosevelt Way New Orleans, LA) is one of the most storied buildings in the city. Located right off Canal Street, The re-opening of the Orpheum was one of the highlights of my post Katrina life here in New Orleans. It’s beautiful, elegant, restored, and has already hosted some of the biggest names to roll through New Orleans. New Orleans native, Big Chief and Jazz legend, Donald Harrison played there recently and as you can see from the images, it was magical and made for a great moment in time.