Ask a visitor why they come to New Orleans, and food and music usually tops the list. History, architecture, culture, we have it all here. But shopping? The riches of these assets are less apparent at first blush. But for those of us in the know, our shopping opportunities are diverse and vast.
New Orleans is a place filled to the brim with culture and zest for life and art. This makes for a unique shopping scene that begs discovery.
For admitted fashionistas, shopping is retail therapy. It soothes jangled nerves, stimulates the senses and gives us a fresh take on how we look and feel in the moment. The new Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is the latest destination for the fashion forward, but there are plenty of others. Antique and vintage shops line street corners on Decatur and Royal, frequented by locals and visitors alike.
Royal Street, just a block away from Bourbon and near to most hotels, is a terrific spot for locally made art, jewelry and higher end souvenirs. Near Esplanade in the FQ, visit the French Market, a mash up of t-shirts and beads along with some local art and by the way very tasty eats. Famous Magazine Street, with its plethora of home goods, boutiques and restaurants, is a quick streetcar ride away. Whether you are shopping for gifts for your kids or for a vintage furniture piece for your home, New Orleans has you covered.
Faulkner House Books is a full service new and used book store located in the French Quarter in a property where William Faulkner himself penned his first novel. The store specializes in literature unique to the city and by authors who lived or wrote here. It's a great place for new and experienced collectors to find limited and first edition prints of books by Faulkner, Tennessee Williams and other classics. Manager Miss Joanne is supremely knowledgeable and can match make you with a satisfyingly good read. Sifting through the dusty classics and finding a signed first edition has been known to happen here.
Located on famed shopping street Royal in the French Quarter, this locally owned specialty boutique never disappoints. Peruse through more than 2500 gift items on hand ranging from Mardi Gras masks to jewelry to home decor items. Guests lose themselves among the over-the-top inventory, and often spend time chatting with the friendly staff eager to help with that perfect gift purchase. This is a great place to go to find original New Orleans art. Be sure to check out Razzle Dazzle around the holidays, when they redecorate the entire store in a glittering Christmas theme, only topped by the spectacle created for Mardi Gras.
Oak Street has many claims to fame, including great local music and amazing food, but the compact street also offers some interesting shopping opps. Taking the St. Charles Streetcar from the French Quarter makes traveling here easy. When you get here, exploring the mile long street is done by foot. There are a handful of vintage clothing shops, a few great second hand stores and an amazing antique shop (Driscoll). Blue Cypress Used Book Store is one of the top book stores in the city, and More Fun Comics always entertains. There are also a few local art galleries where you can find a great deal on authentic streetscapes. Head towards the river and have lunch at Cowbell.
The Shops at Jax Brewery, located in what once was the largest independent brewery in the South built in 1891, combine a riverfront location with a portfolio of national and local brands including Chico's and Gumbo Kids. The property has four floors of shops, cafes and boutiques, with the top floor offering some pretty spectacular views of the city. A few of the shops offer witty screen print t-shirts with local sayings and attractions that are sure to be a hit. Home Team Sportswear is a great place to pick up New Orleans Saints memorabilia. There's also an emphasis on local artisan jewelry.
The Shops at Canal Place is adored by locals for its upmarket shopping collection. Anchored by the fashion leader Saks Fifth Avenue, the tony Shops includes the swank Theater at Canal Place, Anthropologie and Tiffany & Co., home to the coveted little blue box. Situated at the foot of Canal, this climate controlled shopping experience delivers retail élan for visitors and locals alike. There is a food court and the full service movie theater serves nibbles, wine and cocktails right at your seat, which could turn "The Shops" into one of the best ways to survive a hot summer afternoon.
A year under wraps, the $70 million redo of the circa 1984 Riverwalk Mall opened in 2014, the first Outlet Collection in any downtown in America. The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk is gorgeous, airy, filled with natural light and river views, something the cavelike original center sorely lacked. Situated in the heart of downtown, The Outlet Collection is next door to the Convention Center and close to the Cruise Terminal and the French Quarter. For city dwelling New Orleanians, the siren call of discount parking and mouthwatering brands like Neiman Marcus Last Call (the first in the state), Nordstrom Rack, Kenneth Cole, Coach and Forever 21 is irresistible.
The French Market is a bustling, open air shopping center that can hold up over 220 vendors on a given day. You can shop for paintings, clothing and specialty items while enjoying the famous New Orleans street music and smells of fresh gumbo and jambalaya. The market has a ton of history, having existed on the same piece of land for more than 200 years. Some of the best items to find here are stylish hats to keep the sun out, graphic print coasters and great shawls and sarongs. While you would normally expect this to be a tourist trap, it is the farthest thing from that, with authentic goods and relatively decent prices.
While offering similar types of shops, the Royal Street experience differs significantly from Magazine Street. First, located a block away from Bourbon street, the area is more reminiscent of a European 19th century city, with horse drawn carriages and cobblestone providing the ambiance. Higher end jewelry, art and antique shops are the specialty on this strip, which also has a handful of very nice hotels. And there are constant reminders that the French Quarter is a living neighborhood, as you pass an elementary school, a vet's office and a supermarket. The heart of the street is closed to car traffic during the day, making it an easy pedestrian destination.
Magazine Street, which runs from Canal Street to Audubon Park, is a six mile long shopper's paradise. With dozens of funky boutiques, galleries, and restaurants to choose from, Magazine Street is a terrific place to connect with local owner/operators and sample some famous New Orleans hospitality. Gallery and shop owners are all super friendly, displaying the New Orleans charm that never seems aggressive or pushy. Named for a "magazin," a warehouse that Spanish Governor Esteban Rodriguez Miro y Sabater built to house products awaiting export in the late 1700s, the street is lined with Greek Revival homes and Victorian shotguns, many now turned into shops. Expect a treasure trove of housewares, country and period furniture, chandeliers, clothing, books, silly toys, china, antiques, art, food, clothing and jewelry, costume and the real thing. Lots of best little buys and excellent quality items here (at every price) to impress shoppers.
A beacon of locally made art and jewelry on Frenchmen Street since 2013, this evening market is open from Thursday through Monday from 7 pm to midnight or 1, depending on crowds. Right next door to the Spotted Cat and in the heart of the Frenchmen Street nuttiness, this brightly lit marketplace boasts a revolving roster of serious artists creating everything from sculptures made from flatware to Impressionist style streetcar scenes and inventive offbeat t-shirt designs. This is where locals in the know buy their gifts and art for wall and wearing. Even if you've been before, new artists are always in the mix.