Come February, thousands of party-hungry tourists make their way to New Orleans, reveling in the debauchery of the parades and parties comprising Mardi Gras. But there’s much more to the city than king cake and purple beads. And for those looking to take in the culture and history of the Big Easy, visiting after the festival is the best time to do it.
The 18-bedroom Henry Howard Hotel is within walking distance of notable landmarks, but removed from the bustle of Bourbon Street. While it has no on-property dining options, its thoughtfully designed parlor room offers a quiet place to enjoy a pre-dinner Sazerac.
Just a couple blocks from the Henry Howard, visitors find themselves at the Pontchartrain, a storied hotel perched above St. Charles Avenue, just in front of a trolley stop (It was here where Tennessee Williams holed up to write A Streetcar Named Desire). Even those not staying at The Pontchartrain will appreciate its rooftop bar and exceptional dining options. At Jack Rose, on the hotel’s first floor, traditional flavors come with a chef-driven twist— and no meal is complete without a slice of the mile-high ice cream pie, drizzled with a generous helping of chocolate sauce, table-side.
While you won’t find gumbo or jambalaya on the menu at Turkey and the Wolf, the hip sandwich shop (Bon Appétit’s selection for Best New Restaurant in America in 2017) has become a must-visit. Here, lines snake around the block for headcheese tacos and sandwiches stuffed with potato chips and house-smoked bologna, and a pretty otherworldly wedge salad.
In terms of cultural offerings, New Orleans is full of ghost and voodoo tours, but there are plenty of other, less touristy attractions. New Orleans Architecture Tours pair history with local folklore, with guides offering extensive knowledge of the Creole French and Spanish buildings of the French Quarter and the American design of the Garden District.
Those looking to get their dose of culture indoors will find it at the city’s oldest fine arts institution, the New Orleans Museum of Art. Its current exhibition, on view through April, features the work of Bror Anders Wikstrom, a Swedish designer of elaborate Mardi Gras productions in the late 1800s.