The Steamboat Natchez is a throwback to the days when steamboats cruised up and down the mighty Mississippi for commerce and pleasure. The Natchez floats its lunch/dinner guests down the Mississippi daily as they enjoy a menu of Creole favorites and soak in some live jazz. The climate controlled dining area ensures the boat's casually dressed guests stay dry and warm regardless of weather occurrences. Food is pretty straightforward comfort specialties, hearty and all you can eat. There's room for dancing to the spirited music of the Dukes of Dixieland and several bars that deliver one of the best bloody Mary's in town.
The largest green space in New Orleans, City Park boasts 1,300 acres featuring original artwork, excellent sports facilities and attractions like the New Orleans Botanical Garden and the New Orleans Museum of Art, all surrounded by picturesque lagoons and sprawling lawns. There's no age limit to riding the antique carousel in Carousel Gardens Amusement Park, or rent a paddleboat or kayak and tool around the lake. City Park is a great place to bike, stroll or picnic under the Spanish moss-draped oak trees. The various lagoons and greens offer romantic duos plenty of places to get lost and do some necking.
Here are a few things N7, the hidden gem of a French restaurant in the upper 9th ward doesn't have: a phone, live music, creole cuisine, New Orleans-inspired decor, a website. Now here's what you will get if you track down this unassuming bistro tucked behind a wooden fence just off of St. Claude Avenue: a gorgeous, candlelit courtyard complete with an old Citroen off to one side; cool retro meets French pop music; a menu that includes expected favorites like steak au poivre and mussels, along with the unexpected presence of mostly imported seafood in a can - think smoked sardines, spiced calamari, escabeche. There's a good rose by the glass, a nice wine list overall and a small bar at which to drink same. N7 is the roadway that goes between Paris and the Italian border, but you probably already know that.
The New Orleans Streetcar is the preeminent mode of transportation in the Crescent City. Traveling through the middle of major streets such as St. Charles, Canal and Carrollton, the streetcar is an affordable method of transportation that allows you to soak in the sights as you move closer to your end destination. $1.25 gets you aboard, and if lucky, you'll have a street car operator that will act as a pseudo tour guide, pointing out important landmarks. The streetcar itself is of historical significance to the city. It is the oldest continually operating street railway system in the entire world, moving city-goers around since the 19th century.
Drinking strong cocktails or a bottle of wine in the outdoor courtyard at Bacchanal is simply one of the best ways to spend a Sunday afternoon with your baby. But really anytime is fine to visit this off the beaten path Bywater classic on Poland Street just a stone's throw from the river. Pick up a bottle of wine at the shop out front and head outside where you can order an inspired cheese plate or just about anything from the kitchen's inventive menu (love the whole grilled fish with tomatillo salsa). If it's rainy the upstairs bar is lovely, but when the weather is fine, the open air courtyard is the perfect spot for live music and whispered sweet nothings.
On a rainy afternoon in New Orleans, there's no better place to be than the balcony of the historic Prytania Theatre, cooking up some honest to goodness Hollywood romance with your real-life love interest. Opened in 1915, this charming theater is the oldest in the city and the only single-screen left in Louisiana. Couples can share gelato or a freshly made cappuccino during daytime favorites like Citizen Kane or Some Like It Hot or cuddle up for midnight screenings of cult classics like Rocky Horror Picture Show. Besides special film series and festivals, the Prytania also screens popular hits and art and foreign films.
The velvety tones of sax, swing of trombone and soul-thumping beat of drums create a uniquely mesmerizing atmosphere at The Spotted Cat, where some of New Orleans' greatest jazz and blues musicians take the stage and own it from open to close. Everything about this laid-back lounge lends itself to a spirited, carefree experience, including the potent drinks, welcoming staff and easy-going crowd looking for nothing but fun as they swing and jitterbug the night away. Afternoon shows from 3 or 4 pm are sure to get you in the mood for cheek to cheek action now, or later on, back at the hotel.
Often called the heart of New Orleans, Jackson Square is full of energy and activity. Facing the Mississippi River and directly across from the St. Louis Cathedral, the Square stands in the shadows of the Andrew Jackson statue, erected for his heroism during the Battle of New Orleans. Here you will find street artists painting during the day and jazz musicians by night, along with fortune tellers and other kinds of street theater. The gardens are great for a leisurely stroll. This is one of the sites for the French Quarter Festival in April, where local restaurants set up stands and dish out delicious cuisine. Lining the square are mule-drawn carriages ready to pull you under the starlit sky.
Wrought iron fences, exquisite gardens and pillared mansions line the streets of the Garden District. The area, bordered by St. Charles Avenue and Magazine Street, as well as Jackson Avenue and Louisiana Avenue, is where the city's original American sector settled. Highlights include the St. Charles Streetcar line, which offers convenient transit to the French Quarter, and Lafayette Cemetery. The Garden District has its share of celebs, past and present, including Anne Rice, Trent Reznor and John Goodman. The best way to soak up the scenery is on foot, all the better if you're holding your sweetie's hand along the way.
The Fly is a secret among New Orleans locals, a strip of frontage along the Mississippi River behind Audubon Zoo. On weekends, people flock in droves for grilling, crawfish boils, sunning and sports. Set up camp steps from the Mississippi and watch the big boats maneuver through the currents. Numerous fields exist for kids and adults to enjoy their favorite ball games. If you don't come with enough to field a squad of your own, others will be glad to include you in their pickup games. Dusk is a great time to show up, as the sun sets right over the river, a truly spectacular sight.