What’s on St. Ann Street in the French Quarter?

Pontalba Apartments

If you’re staying at the Place d’Armes, which borders bustling Jackson Square, you’re in the heart of the Quarter on St. Ann Street, which boasts a wealth of restaurants, bars and boutiques. St. Ann also has its own hidden history, full of characters, places and events that make it one of New Orleans’ most storied streets. Discover the lore and legends while enjoying some of the Quarter’s best dining, drinking and shopping.

History, Legends & Lore

Birthplace of Voodoo Priestess Marie Laveau (1020 St. Ann St.)

Shaded by honeysuckle vines, pomegranate and banana trees, Marie Laveau’s first house was an old adobe cottage between Rampart and Burgundy streets at an address then known as  152 Rue St. Ann. It served as a sanctuary for children, the poor and sick, and New Orleanians seeking powerful charms from a voodoo priestess who casts as potent a spell today as she did in her own lifetime. Some say Marie’s spirit continues to inhabit the current house, which was built on top of the old foundation when the cottage was torn down in 1903.

NCIS: New Orleans Headquarters (719 St. Ann St.)

The hit CBS show situates its headquarters on St. Ann between Royal and Bourbon streets, where a gated carriageway leads inside to a squad room, kitchen and courtyard, with an interrogation room in the back. In real life, the carriageway serves as parking spaces for residences on either side. The actual set is in a Jefferson Parish soundstage, but fans of the series can visit its weathered, exterior entrance on St. Ann.

1850 House in the Pontalba Apartments (523 St. Ann)

Take a trip back to antebellum New Orleans in the 1850 House, which is furnished with the exquisite art and decor found in the finest homes of prosperous local gentry. Situated inside the Pontalba buildings bordering Jackson Square, the elegant apartments were designed and financed by Micaela Almonester Baroness de Pontalba, a remarkable woman whose initials (AP) can still be seen in the cast iron balcony railing. A shrewd businesswoman and heiress, the Baroness survived a gunshot attack by her money-hungry father-in-law.

The Presbytère (751 Chartres at St. Ann)

 Built in 1791, the Presbytère was designed to match the neighboring Cabildo alongside Jackson Cathedral, and was originally used as a residence for Capuchin monks. It later served as a courthouse and became part of the Louisiana State Museum in 1911. The Presbytère’s two permanent exhibits celebrate the joyous spirit and resilience of New Orleans. Mardi Gras: It’s Carnival Time in Louisiana invites visitors to climb aboard parade floats and view historic throws, while Living with Hurricanes: Katrina and Beyond documents the city’s remarkable recovery from one of the worst disasters in U.S. history.

Eat, Drink & Shop

Stanley (547 St. Ann St.)

Breakfast and brunch are served all day at this lively Quarter eatery, which boasts a soda fountain with house-made ice cream and features a full menu of delicious sandwiches, from classic Reuben and corned beef pastrami to ever-popular Stanley Burger.

Muriel’s Jackson Square (801 Chartres St., corner of St. Ann)

Muriel’s history stretches back to the founding of New Orleans, and was rebuilt after going up in flames during the Good Day Fire of 1788. An extensive renovation in 2001 restored Muriel’s to its mid-1800s glory, and its classic Creole food and specialty cocktails are as classy as its ambience.

Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur, corner of St. Ann)

A New Orleans tradition since 1862, Cafe du Monde serves its iconic sugar-dusted beignets and chicory-laced cafe au lait 24 hours a day, and fresh-squeezed orange juice is always on the menu. Pro tip: Skip the crowds that flock there for breakfast and stop by at night, when you rarely have to wait for a seat.

Maskarade (630 St. Ann St.)

Masks are a Mardi Gras tradition, and Maskarade is brimming with the fanciful creations of some of the world’s most gifted maskmakers. Don’t see anything that strikes your fancy? Commission your own personal made-to-order mask.

New Orleans Cajun Store (537 St. Ann St.)

Local for edible souvenirs? Choose from dozens of hot sauces and spices made by Tabasco and Andy Roo’s. You’ll also find a slew of other Louisiana momentos, from colorful aprons and apparel to playful ornaments to elegant fleur de lis serving ware.

Creole Delicacies Shop (533 St. Ann St.)

Visitors make a beeline for this shop’s creamy pralines, and other Louisiana pecan delicacies like Praline Honey Butter. It’s also stocked with regional cookbooks, Cajun spices and mixes and plenty of local souvenirs, from kitchen gadgets to seafood decor to Christmas ornaments.

Willa Mae’s Scotch House (2401 St. Ann St.)

Grab a cab and head to this fried chicken and soul food mecca in Treme. A destination for activists during the Civil Rights movement, the family-owned restaurant was honored with a James Beard award. It counts President Barack Obama among its many customers.

Tips for Planning a Romantic French Quarter Getaway

Steeped in history, the French Quarter is one of the most romantic destinations in the world, and the beautifully restored Place d’Armes Hotel is the perfect launching pad for love. Surrounded by lush tropical courtyards, it’s in the heart of the Quarter, where you can stroll hand in hand under the moonlight to a candlelit dinner. Swoon! Though it’s an ideal setting for just following your heart, you’ll get more out of your getaway with a little advance planning.

When to Go: A Season-by-Season Guide

You can find romance every day of the year in a city that keeps inventing new festivals for everything from daiquiris to fried chicken. But, depending on what you’re looking for, every season has its own attractions.

Holiday Season
Dance with the Ghost of Christmas Past in the Quarter, where you can join the throngs of carolers in Jackson Square, and eat elaborate, multicourse Reveillon Dinners based on traditional Creole meals once served after midnight mass. Make advance reservations in classic restaurants like Muriel’s Jackson Square (801 Chartres St.), right next to Place d’Armes, which dishes up specialties like fried oyster chowder and citrus-poached Gulf shrimp.

Mardi Gras Season
The biggest free party on earth is an entire season that can stretch on for weeks, depending on when Easter falls, so be sure to check the Mardi Gras Calendar before booking your rooms. Serious revelers hit town the final, parade-packed weekend leading up to Fat Tuesday, but you can also join the revelry at a less frenetic pace. Come for the lovely, romantic Joan of Arc Parade on 12th Night (January 6), which winds its way through the Quarter on horseback and foot and launches Mardi Gras season.

Spring & Summer Festival Seasons
Come spring, music lovers make a beeline for New Orleans during French Quarter Fest and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, the great-grandaddy of them all, so advance booking is essential. But things slow down in summer, when you get more romance for your buck, thanks to great deals on hotels and restaurants. Summer also brings several marquee events in and around the Quarter, including Tales of the Cocktail, Satchmo SummerFest, White Linen Night and Dirty Linen Night.

Spooky Season
Many lovers come to New Orleans to pledge their troth as the witching hour of Halloween approaches, and the Quarter becomes even more haunted. And while destination weddings require precision planning, casual visitors can just slip on their fangs, walk out the door of the Place d’Armes, and join the masked revelry throughout spooky season at several parades and happenings. Fall also brings football fans eager to catch Who Dat fever in Saints country, which spreads like wildfire in the Quarter on a Sunday afternoon.

Where to Go: Tips for Lovers in Any Season

Take a Jazz Cruise on the Creole Queen

Cruising the Mississippi at night is très romantique on the Paddlewheeler Creole Queen, which takes you back to the glamorous days of high-rolling riverboat gamblers. Cut a rug on the parquet dance floor to hot live jazz, then cool down with a stroll on the decks and enjoy the skyline view under the stars.
(Book in advance online)

Take a Carriage Ride Through the Quarter
What better place to whisper sweet nothings than in a mule-drawn carriage clip-clopping through the Quarter?  Royal Carriages offers several group tour options led by savvy guides. But if you’re looking to pop the question, or just want to cozy up with your honey alone, book a private ride with your own personal driver, who can steer you to properly romantic backdrops for snuggling.
(Book in advance online)

Have a Candlelit Dinner in a Romantic Restaurant
For old-school Creole elegance, book a table for two at Antoine’s (713 St. Louis St.) or Arnaud’s (813 Bienville) and dine on classic French cuisine like Chateaubriand. Or go new-school at Bayona (430 Dauphine St.), chef Susan Spicer’s flagship restaurant, which serves beautifully plated dishes like Fennel Pepper-Crusted Lamb Loin in a lovely atmospheric setting.

Men’s Shopping in the French Quarter

Chart a more leisurely course in and around the Quarter, where you’ll discover world-class menswear shops unique to New Orleans, along with trendy hotspots for t-shirts and sneakers. The best part? There are plenty of watering holes along the way.

Rubensteins (Canal St., corner of St. Charles)

Founded in 1924, this classic old school haberdashery was the first retail store on Canal St. to open after Katrina, less than two months later. Talk about staying power! Repeatedly cited as a gold standard store by Esquire magazine, Rubensteins is known for its outstanding made-to-measure service, which tailors suits and shirts to your exact build. It also stocks a fine selection of off-the-rack designer suits, sportcoats, shirts, sportswear, shoes and accessories. Pro tip: Keep an eye out for sales events, when they serve up cocktails on the house.

Meyer the Hatter (120 St. Charles Ave., just off Canal St.)

Nothing puts a spring in a man’s step like a snappy Panama or fedora. Just down the block from Rubensteins is the largest and most renowned hat store in the South. Family-owned since 1894, Meyer the Hatter stocks everything from bowlers, top hats and safari hats to newsboy caps, and boasts an extensive collection of fine Panama straws. A splurge here won’t break the bank, either. Frequent sales abound, and everyday prices range from $20 to $100 for most styles, while top-tier toppers like the Stetson Aficionado Panama ($125) are under $200.

George Bass (201 St. Charles Ave.)

Known for its carefully curated collection of fine menswear from Italian labels like Santoria, Ferragamo and Luciano Barbera, George Bass is a relative newcomer to the Canal St./St. Charles corridor. First opened in 1985, it caters to guys who dress with continental flair but like to relax on the weekends in rugged Raleigh Denim stitched and signed by jeansmiths in Raleigh, NC. You’ll also find a small but choice selection of personal grooming products, including Aesop hydrating skin toners and Art of Shaving straight and safety razors.

NOLA Couture (528 St. Peter St.)

Born in the wake of Katrina, NOLA Couture created a witty collection of men’s bow-ties and ties with iconic local symbols like Shrimp Cocktail, Fleur de Lis and NOLAgators. It’s since expanded to include ready-to-wear styles for women, kids and pets. But unique ties are still its primary stock and trade and make terrific souvenirs to wow ‘em back home.

Dirty Coast (713 Royal St.)

You can stock up on t-shirts with hokey slogans like “Drunk #1” in any Quarter tourist shop. But guys with a more refined sense of humor head for Dirty Coast. Launched the year before Katrina, the brand made its mark post-K with a pithy tagline: “Be a New Orleanian wherever you are.” Buttery soft cotton Dirty Coast tees are emblazoned with clever slogans like “New Orleans Is My Favorite Restaurant.” One of our faves offers a crash course in local directionals: “River. Lake. Uptown. Downtown.”

Sneaker Politics (216 Chartres St.)

The streetwise sneaks at Sneaker Politics are the coolest kicks in town. When the Lafayette, LA-based store opened its French Quarter outpost across from House of Blues, a long line of fans waited in the rain to get first dibs on the latest releases from Nike, Converse, and Vans. Their patience was rewarded when New Orleans-born rapper Curren$y showed up and started pouring free champagne. How cool is that?

Girls Weekend in the French Quarter

Photo by Kelly Sikkema

New Orleans is the belle of the South, perfumed with magnolias and veiled with mysterious secrets, and her crown jewel is the French Quarter. Small wonder it’s become the destination of choice for fun-loving ladies from near and far.

Place d’Armes makes a great base camp; it’s right by Jackson Square, where colorful fortune-tellers ply their trades. But you don’t need a soothsayer to predict what the future holds. You’re here to eat, drink, and be merry (and do a little power-shopping). This guide helps you chart your course, but it’s only a starting point. Once you get the lay of the land, make it up as you go along. Discovering hidden gems on your own is part of the fun of the French Quarter.

Rise and Shine at Cafe Du Monde (800 Decatur St.)

Since 1862, New Orleanians have been dipping sugar-dusted beignets into steaming cups of cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde, where jazz combos provide a jaunty soundtrack and silver-painted mimes across the street stand still as statues. It’s a great introduction to the charms of the Quarter, and the perfect place to caffeinate for your adventures.

Browse the French Market and Stroll the Riverwalk

Cafe Du Monde is the gateway to three centuries of history in the French Market (1100 N. Peters St.), where you’ll find a lively flea market packed with affordable New Orleans souvenirs and handmade crafts by local artisans. Grab a sweet treat from Loretta’s Pralines, then stroll along the Mississippi and watch the passing parade of tourist riverboats and working vessels.

Have a Boozy Lunch or Brunch

For old-school elegance at bargain prices, you can’t beat the $20 three-course prix fixe lunch at Antoine’s (713 St. Louis St.), where you can wash down house specialties like char-broiled oysters with 25-cent martinis. Or live large at the Sunday jazz brunch at Arnaud’s (813 Bienville), and splurge on signature dishes like Savory Crabmeat Cheesecake, topped off with boozy Café Brûlot prepared tableside with fanfare and flames.

Go on a Shopping Spree

Release your inner diva at Fifi Mahoney’s (942 Royal St.), home of the wildest wigs on the planet and scads of glam accessories. Head for Bambi Deville Vintage (632 St. Ann St.) to try on timelessly elegant styles. And don’t miss Trashy Diva (537 Royal St.), which specializes in vintage-inspired dresses that make women of all sizes and shapes look like Hollywood stars.

Sip Classic Cocktails in Elegant Bars

It may be a UK import, but the Pimm’s Cup went viral in the 1940s at the Napoleon House (500 Chartres St.), which remains the go-to spot for the summery, herbaceous, gin-based cocktail. Sip a couple cucumber-garnished Pimm’s, then keep the buzz going with the namesake drink at French 75 (813 Bienville). Named one of the Top 5 Bars in the country by Esquire, its signature cocktail blends Courvoisier VS, lemon and sugar with Moet & Chandon champagne.

Dine Out in a Swanky Restaurant

Woman cannot live by po-boys and muffalettas alone. Doris Metropolitan (620 Chartres St.) caters to adventurous carnivores with aged Japanese beef and exotic entrees like “Falls off the bone Shpondra (short ribs),” cooked 24 hours and served with root puree. And seafood lovers swoon over the menu at Tableau (616 St. St. Peter St.), which offers a truffled crab claw appetizer and redfish cooked in blue crab butter and white truffle oil.

Go Dancing on Frenchmen Street

After all that eating and drinking, it’s time to burn off some calories. There’s no shortage of places to hit the dance floor on Frenchmen Street, the city’s premier live music corridor. Though no longer a “local’s secret,” you’re guaranteed to have a blast at more than a dozen clubs in a few short blocks where the music goes well into the wee, wee hours. Top hotspots include Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen St.), The Spotted Cat Music Club (623 Frenchmen St.) and d.b.a. (618 Frenchmen St.)

French Quarter for History Buffs

If you’re staying at the Place d’Armes Hotel, in the heart of the Quarter, you’re already immersed in history. You’re just steps away from Jackson Square, the Cabildo and the iconic St. Louis Cathedral, and even strolling around informally, you’ll discover storied landmarks just about anywhere you go. But true history buffs like to dig deeper, and there are plenty of places to do that in a city as aware of its living past as New Orleans.

The Historic New Orleans Collection (533 Royal St. & 520 Royal St.)

Dedicated to preserving local history, art and culture, the Historic New Orleans Collection offers a vast trove of materials for both amateur history buffs and academic researchers. The main 533 Royal St. campus presents free rotating exhibits on subjects ranging from “Storyville: Madams and Music” to “African Heritage of New Orleans,” while a new expansion across the street houses a continuing exhibition of French Quarter history and hands-on installations that make the past come alive. Visitors can also take a guided tour of the Williams Residence, an 1889 Italianate townhouse restored by HNOC founders General L. Kemper and Leila Williams.

Jean Lafitte National Historical Park French Quarter Visitors Center (419 Decatur St.)

The notorious pirate Jean Lafitte left a big footprint in and around New Orleans, from the wetlands of Barataria Preserve to Chalmette Battlefield, where legend has it Lafitte helped General Andrew Jackson win the Battle of New Orleans in 1815. Jean Lafitte’s French Quarter Visitor Center is filled with maps, photos and interactive exhibits that tell the story of the Mississippi River delta Lafitte once called home. Want to learn more? Park rangers and volunteers offer a free history talk at 9:30 a.m. from Tuesday through Saturday.

Hermann-Grima + Gallier Historic Houses

Take a step back in time at these two 19th century architectural gems, which were restored to their original glory and are filled with period paintings, decorative fixtures, objets d’art and furniture, many of which are original to the homes. Built in 1831, the Hermann-Grima House (820 St. Louis St.) served as a boarding house for unchaperoned working women from 1925 until the mid-’60s, when restoration began. Home to renowned New Orleans architect James Gallier, Jr. and his family, Gallier House (1132 Royal St.) dates back to 1857 and was restored using Gallier Jr.’s own floor plans and original house inventory. Both homes are open daily as museums and offer guided tours on Tuesdays and Thursdays, which visitors can book online. Admission is $15 for one museum or $25 for both.

New Orleans Music & Heritage Tour

Keith Abel’s unique aural-visual walking tour taps more than three centuries of music in New Orleans and uses a Bluetooth speaker to provide a soundtrack for the city’s many musical landmarks. Tapping his vast knowledge of local lore, Abel leads you from the boyhood home of brass band pioneer Danny Barke to J&M studios, the birthplace of rock and roll, to the Royal Orlean Hotel where rock stars like Led Zeppelin and the Grateful Dead partied in the 1960s. Learn about, and listen to, Irma Thomas, Dr. John, Deacon John, and many more iconic artists. Tours run two hours, cost $25/person, and leave three times a day from the Louisiana Music Factory (421 Frenchmen St.). Call or book online to reserve your space.

Music is in the Air at New Orleans Summer Festivals

trumpet players New Orleans

Jam out to great local bands and renowned musical artists in New Orleans this summer at one of the many exciting events coming up. Both visitors to the city and the locals will come together to participate in a number of unique celebrations and summer festivals that span across the city. Here’s what’s on tap for the upcoming summer months.

Enjoy Music Like Never Before

Music has been an integral part of New Orleans history, culture and customs. It comes as no surprise that people come from near and far to experience the unique music scene in this culturally diverse city. This summer, you will have the opportunity to hear outstanding live music at a number of the local festivals.

ESSENCE Festival, taking place July 5-7 over the Independence Day weekend, will be returning this year for its 25th anniversary to the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the nightly concerts, plus there will be a packed schedule of free daytime events at the Convention Center, including motivational seminars, beauty and style presentations, celebrity interviews, cooking demos, and lots more. Michelle Obama, Brandy, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, and Pharrell Williams are all scheduled to make an appearance.

The traditional Sunday Gospel Celebration at the Convention center will feature the greatest gospel hits, and ESSENCE After Dark, a series of late-night jam sessions, comedy shows, underground performances, live podcast recordings, and more, is returning to the Superdome.

Since ESSENCE is so much more than music, a slew of exciting conferences, exhibitions, roundtables, and other experiences is also scheduled, including a series of keynotes with Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, and Pharrell Williams. The Beauty Carnival and Wellness House experiences will bring beauty influencers and wellness experts to the stage, and the celebrated ESSENCE Eats will once again have cooking demos and the food court with the vendors from all over the South.

Another music festival of note is Satchmo SummerFest (August 2-4), which started over a decade ago as a tribute to Louis Armstrong on his 100th birthday. The three-day festival is held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue., and will have music all weekend on its two outdoor, tented stages. Other events will include a Sunday morning Jazz Mass at the historic St. Augustine Church in Tremé, seminars and film screenings, kid’s activities, and a second-line parade on Sunday.

More Exciting New Orleans Summer Festivals

 Bastille Day Fête at the New Orleans Museum of Art (June 12-14) brings French flair to New Orleans with an exciting lineup of local musicians and French cuisine. Also, check out the Bastille Day block party on Saturday, July 13, in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street in the city’s historic Faubourg St. John neighborhood adjacent to Esplanade Avenue. Live music and kid-friendly events abound, while dozens of local vendors present their food and drinks, many with a French flavor.

If cocktails are your thing, be sure to check out Tales of the Cocktail (July 16-21), a six-day festival full of special events, tastings and seminars — all geared towards sharing ideas and techniques of cocktail-making. The official drink of the festival this year is the Highball, and the Spirited Dinner series will feature special cocktail and food menus at restaurants across the city. The festival’s signature annual blowout, the “best of” Spirited Awards, will be held on Saturday, July 20, followed by the always-popular after-party.

The fun doesn’t stop there, of course. The White Linen Night (Saturday, August 3), its cheeky cousin Dirty Linen Night (Saturday, August 10), the Red Dress Run (also on Saturday, August 10), Southern Decadence (August 29 – September 2), and the monthlong COOLinary will all be making their way to New Orleans this August.

Running of the Bulls brings Encierro to New Orleans on August 23-25, except the “bulls” are the Big Easy Rollergirls. San Fermin in Nueva Orleans pays annual homage to the world-famous Encierro of Pamplona, Spain, running through the CBD starting at the Sugar Mill on Saturday, July 13. Check out the schedule on the event’s website for the annual opening and closing parties happening that weekend.

Finding A New Orleans Hotel Close to It All

Planning a trip to New Orleans this summer? Book your reservation today with Place D’Armes Hotel! Just minutes from exciting summer festivals, events, restaurants, shops, bars, and more, the Place D’Armes is ideally located in the heart of the city, the historic French Quarter.

Feel the Thrill at Running of the Bulls in New Orleans

Experience the thrill of a lifetime at this year’s Running of the Bulls (San Fermin in Nueva Orleans) festival, a unique spin on the traditional event that takes place in Pamplona, Spain. We think it’s safe to say New Orleans’ version is a lot less dangerous — and maybe even more fun!

On the weekend of July 12-14, the runners and the “bulls” will come from all over to partake in this exciting festival that involves runners who wear all white with the exception of a red piece of cloth, running from the bulls, who are actually the Big Easy Rollergirls with wiffle ball bats.

Running of the Bulls takes place in the Central Business District in downtown New Orleans, and features a number of delicious local restaurants, food carts, and drinks for you to consume while you are out in the streets defending yourself from the ruthless bulls. On the day of the run, Saturday, July 13, the fun starts as early as 6:30 a.m., centering around the Sugar Mill (1021 Convention Center Blvd.). Live music, sangria and food trucks will help get the party started, and, after the Procession of San Fermin (Pamplona’s patron saint) and the Invocation, the run begins at 8 a.m. sharp.

Running of the Bulls is not just meant for the runners and the bulls to enjoy — spectators are more than welcome to this public event. And there will be plenty to see, as the bulls will be chasing after the slowest runners first, whacking them with wiffle ball bats. (This part is similar to the traditional Spanish festival, minus the actual goring from the live bulls.) While many of these feisty bulls will be sporting black and red horns and various accouterments, you will have the chance to see some wild and ornate costumes from both bulls and runners. This is New Orleans, after all.

The route begins and ends at the Sugar Mills, and the run will end around 11:30 a.m. A live music show back at the Sugar Mill will follow. After that, you can attend the traditional La Fiesta de Pantalones, held this year at the Rusty Nail (1100 Constance St.) starting at 11:30 a.m., or just stick around to join the other revelers to partake in some downtown bar-crawling.

Also, don’t miss the festivals opening and closing parties. The opening party takes place on Friday, July 12, at the Sugar Mill, from 5 to 9 p.m. Called El Txupinazo (and pronounced “el choo-pin-AHT-so”), it features a live auction, music, and food from some of the top local restaurants, including Atchafalaya, Commander’s Palace and Sobou.

The Ernest Hemingway-themed closing party, called El Pobre de Mi (“Poor Me”), will wrap things up on Sunday, July 14, at Lula Restaurant Distillery (1532 St. Charles Ave.), 10 a.m. – 2 p.m. This will be your chance to recover from the run with burlesque, cocktails, and a Papa Hemingway look-alike contest.

Don’t miss your chance to participate in a unique New Orleans experience! Grab your festival tickets today, and reserve your spot at the Place D’Armes Hotel, conveniently located in the New Orleans French Quarter.

Essence Festival Is Much More Than Music

Summer is here, and now is the perfect time to travel to new places and embark on exciting adventures with friends and family. If you are going to be in the great city of New Orleans this summer, come enjoy an epic weekend of entertainment, music, food, beauty, and more at the ESSENCE Festival.

ESSENCE traditionally takes place in New Orleans over the Independence Day weekend (July 4-7). Over the four days, the event will be held mostly at the two New Orleans venues: the Mercedes-Benz Superdome for the evening performances and the New Orleans Ernest N. Morial Convention Center for the daytime activities. Some of the daytime events like the conferences and the exhibits will also be held at the Contemporary Arts Center (CAC), and the new Wellness House experience will be held in the Arts District downtown at the Lighthouse Glass Gallery (743 Camp St.).

Photo courtesy of Essence Festival on Facebook

Soak in the Music

Essence Festival is a music lover’s dream, and this year’s lineup includes many acclaimed musical artists with chart-topping hits. You will have the chance to see live performances from renowned musical artists like Brandy, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Big Freedia, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and many more.

The traditional Sunday Gospel Celebration at the Convention center will feature the greatest gospel hits, and admission is free. ESSENCE After Dark, a series of late-night jam sessions, comedy shows, underground performances, live podcast recordings, and more, will again be held at the Superdome.

Conferences, Keynotes, and Experiences

The festival has a lot more than just music. A slew of exciting conferences, exhibitions, roundtables, and other experiences is also scheduled, including a series of keynotes with Rev. Al Sharpton, Congresswoman Ilhan Omar, New Orleans Mayor Latoya Cantrell, and Pharrell Williams. One of the highlights of this year’s keynote events is the chance to see Michelle Obama on the Superdome mainstage on Saturday, July 6, as she’ll talk about her bestselling memoir, Becoming.

The Beauty Carnival and Wellness House experiences will feature celebrity beauty influencers and wellness experts, and the always popular ESSENCE Eats will once again have cooking demos and the food court with the vendors from all over the South, including a wide range of classic New Orleans food, world cuisine, vegan and vegetarian fare, desserts, and beyond.

Get Your Tickets Today

You can get your tickets a la carte (for the evening concerts at the Superdome and for the ESSENCE After Dark) or in bundled day and VIP packages. The headliners sell out fast, so don’t wait till the last minute! All events held at the Convention Center during the day are free and open to all (registration is required for everyone age 18 or older, however).

Stay Close to the Excitement in a Historic French Quarter Hotel

 Place D’Armes Hotel is conveniently located in the heart of the New Orleans French Quarter, just minutes from a multitude of local restaurants and bars, landmarks, and various destinations, including the Superdome and the Convention Center. Place D’Armes gives you that old New Orleans charm without sacrificing any of the modern day conveniences and amenities. Book your stay with us today!

Classic Lunches that Define New Orleans Near Place d’Armes

New Orleanians love to eat, and so do the visitors who flock here. While dinner is the star of the culinary show, a host of classic New Orleans foods pop up at lunchtime. Gourmands can enjoy a long, leisurely lunch at some of the Quarter’s fanciest restaurants for a fraction of what they’d pay for dinner, or pick up a tasty lunch to go at a grocery store or po-boy shop. Try something different every day to experience the full spectrum of the city’s moveable feast.

 Muffulettas at Central Grocery (923 Decatur St.)

Sicilian immigrants have been a linchpin of New Orleans food culture since they first arrived in the city. Founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, Central Grocery gave birth to the most iconic Sicilian food of all: the muffuletta. Made with in-house sliced meats and cheeses, heaped with Central Grocery’s famous olive salad and sandwiched inside homemade sesame-seeded bread, muffulettas are guaranteed to satisfy your lunchtime cravings.

 25-Cent Martini Lunch at Antoine’s (513 Royal St.)

Founded in 1840, New Orleans’ oldest restaurant offers one of the city’s best lunch bargains in an elegant historic environment. Seasonal $20 lunch specials include a choice of famous Antoine’s appetizers like artichoke soup and equally renowned entrees like crawfish étouffée, plus strawberry angel food cake or pecan bread pudding for dessert. Keep the conversation lively with several rounds of Antoine’s 25-cent martinis, which practically demand a long, leisurely lunch.

 Charbroiled Oysters at Acme Oyster House (724 Iberville St)

Visitors love to belly up to the oyster bar at the Acme, where entertaining staff members make time fly while you feast on fresh raw oysters. But save enough room for must-have charbroiled oysters! Jazz it all up with a couple oyster shooters with vodka and hot sauce and you’re all set for the day.

Burgers at Port of Call (838 Esplanade Avenue)

There’s a reason why you always see a line of hungry people waiting outside Port of Call. Its signature burgers have been hailed as New Orleans’ best by everyone from Zagat’s to Citysearch, while its signature cocktails are infamously strong. The menu description of Neptune’s Monsoon says it all: “An old recipe used frequently as a last request by pirates condemned to walk the plank.”

Po-Boys at Johnny’s Po-boys (511 St. Louis St.)

Looking for a real deal old school New Orleans po-boy joint? Local favorite Johnny’s delivers and, like Port of Call, is worth the wait. Heaped high on Leidenheimer’s, the only true po-boy French bread, are five classic choices. Seafood lovers gravitate to fried shrimp and fried oysters, but the roast beef po-boy is also one of the city’s best, and laden with gravy debris.

Gumbo at Restaurant R’evolution (777 Bienville St.)

Gumbo is on the menu all over town, but one of the most memorable versions is found at R’evolution, an elegant nouveau cuisine restaurant that puts a unique spin on classic Cajun and Creole cooking. The seafood gumbo is a solid choice, but cognoscenti head straight for “Death by Gumbo,” which is worth every cent of its hefty $18 price. Steeped in a dark roux, its centerpiece whole semi-boneless quail is stuffed with smoked Andouille sausage, file rice and poached oysters. Overkill? Sure. But death never tasted this delicious.

French Quarter Transportation Options for Place d’Armes Hotel Guests

Photo by Cheryl Gerber

There’s plenty to see on foot in the Quarter, and clip-clopping through its streets in a mule-drawn carriage is très romantique. But there’s so much more to New Orleans than the 78 square blocks that comprise the city’s historic heart.

Make the most of your trip to New Orleans by sightseeing on City Sightseeing’s Hop-On Hop-Off buses, riding one of its legendary streetcars, or hiring a human-powered pedicab that can get you to that dinner reservation much faster than you could hoof it.

City Sightseeing’s Hop-On Hop-Off Bus Tour

With multiple 18 stops all over town, and great combo packages with walking tours and harbor cruises, Hop-on Hop-Off bus tours from City Sightseeing New Orleans give you the most bang for your buck and lets you explore New Orleans at your own pace.

City sightseeing tours start at $39 for a one-day pass, but the best deal is the three-day pass ($49), which includes two free walking tours in the Quarter and the Garden District. Sit on the upper deck for the best views, and listen to savvy guides explain exactly what you’re seeing. You can even venture beyond New Orleans’ boundaries by booking tours that visit Louisiana’s swamps and bayous, or Oak Alley Plantation.

 Royal Carriages (700 Decatur St.)

The king of mule-drawn carriage tours, Royal Carriages was named Louisiana’s #1 attraction of 2018 by the Louisiana Travel Association. Enjoy an impromptu 30-minute ride by hiring one of the carriages parked in Jackson Square, or book a one-hour tour online ($40/person).

Need a Ride New Orleans Pedicabs (1025 Bienville St., Suite 3)

Recently introduced to the bicycle-friendly streets of New Orleans, pedicabs are a clean, green way to get around town. NOLA Pedicabs’ motto is “we pedal to please,” and they can take you wherever you want to go, whether it’s the Fairgrounds during Jazz Fest or a Saints game at the Dome. Need a Ride serves the Quarter, CBD, the Arts District and Faubourg Marigny. Both companies employ savvy seasoned bicyclists who know their way around town.


 A streetcar named Desire hasn’t rattled through the streets of New Orleans since 1948, when many of the old neighborhood lines were replaced by diesel buses. But the historic St. Charles line never stopped rolling, and several new lines have been added that make streetcars the most charming, and most economical, way to explore the city.

Quarter visitors can hop the St. Charles line at the corner of Canal and Carondelet, go through the CBD and Garden District and continue uptown past the stately St. Charles mansions. The Riverfront line is a fun way to see the Mississippi, and connects to the Canal St. line, which runs all the way to City Park. The fully air-conditioned Rampart/St. Claude streetcar, the network’s newest addition, runs along the rear of the Quarter on Rampart St. to Elysian Fields and St. Claude, near several lively Marigny music spots.

Streetcars run 24/7, and cost just $1.25 per ride, plus $.25 per transfer. (Exact change only, please.) Visitors can also buy a variety of Jazzy streetcar passes good for designated periods of time. Check the RTA pass info page for details.


 Everyone knows about Uber and Lyft, which function the same way in New Orleans as they do in any city. You can also go old school and hire a taxi, still the preferred form of motorized transportation for many New Orleanians. There are a number of local cab companies, but the biggest and most reliable is United Cab.

All New Orleans cabs take credit cards, and have the same set fee schedules. Travel to and from the airport is $33, plus $14 per passenger for more than two people. Cab rides within the city cost $3.50 plus $2 per mile, or $.25 for every 40 seconds of stuck-in-traffic waiting time, with an extra $1 charge per additional passenger.