Start your morning off right with a delicious brunch at Café Amelie. The restaurant itself is enchanting; it's nestled in a beautiful courtyard along a quieter stretch of Royal Street. Their notoriously tasty brunch is a favorite among locals and tourists alike, so you'll want to call ahead and reserve a table.
After brunch, it will be time to hit the streets for a leisurely stroll around the French Quarter. Wander in and out of the galleries that line Royal Street, stopping to steal a quick kiss or two along the way. And be sure to look up to check out the lush "hanging gardens" that fill the wrought iron balconies of the homes as you explore side streets along the way.
Slowly make your way up to Johnny's Po-Boys, where you'll grab a couple of sandwiches to go for a picnic in City Park. Don't think you'll be hungry enough for a full lunch? You can also swing by Rouse's Market on the corner of Royal and St. Peter streets and grab some cheese and crackers (and maybe a bottle of wine…) to bring with you on your way.
Head up to catch the Canal Street Streetcar (City Park/Museum line), which will bring you right up to the front of the City Park. Take a short walk along the City Park Avenue side, and settle down under a canopy of oak trees to enjoy your picnic. Prefer waterfront dining? Check out the beautifully ornate Peristyle that overlooks Bayou Metairie. Once you've finished your meal, wander over to the dock at Big Lake, where you can rent yourselves a pedal boat from City Park Boat & Bike Rentals. Feel like having someone else do the rowing? City Park also offers gondola rides, which take off from the same dock. Pedal boats are first come, first serve, but gondola rides require a reservation – so be sure to call ahead.
As the sun starts to set, and you're ready for a change of scene, head down Esplanade Avenue, crossing over Bayou St. John. This particular neighborhood, known as Esplanade Ridge, has a decidedly funky romantic vibe. If you're not quite ready for dinner, swing by Swirl Wine Bar & Market to have a glass of wine. If you like what you try, go ahead and grab a bottle – most of the restaurants in the neighborhood will allow you to bring your own wine for a slight corkage fee.
If you're in the mood for French, head right across the street to Café Degas, a quaint little bistro tucked away on Esplanade Avenue. This charming café provides the perfect intimate setting that makes you feel like you are in a world of your own away from the city scene.
Or if you're craving Spanish food, walk across Esplanade to Lola's. What Lola's lacks in square footage, it more than makes up for in charm. Locals flock to the cherished neighborhood eatery for what many swear is the best paella in the city. With only a few tables, and a strict no-reservations policy, Lola's tends to fill up quickly, so be sure to factor a potential wait into your evening plans.
After dinner, call a cab and have them drop you off down in the Marigny on Frenchman Street. This part of town is unlike any other in New Orleans, hosting artists, philosophers, musicians and anyone looking to live the chill, bohemian lifestyle. The jazz clubs along this strip are some of the best in the city. Snug Harbor, d.b.a., and The Three Muses are just some of the popular venues to catch live, local New Orleans musicians.
Looking to head back to the Quarter? Close the night out with a trip to the Palm Court Jazz Café or Pat O's Patio Bar and listen to jazz while sipping on classic New Orleans cocktails. The laid back atmospheres make these great places to unwind and take in all the beauty of a traditional French Quarter courtyard while listening to the wonderful sounds of jazz.
Or if you're in the mood for something unique and unforgettable, then check out the revolving Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone. Hop aboard and sample one of the many delicious signature cocktails served up in the famously lux setting of this legendary New Orleans hotel.
|La Crepe Nanou|
You can't come to New Orleans without experiencing a Jazz Brunch! Arnaud's in the French Quarter serves up fantastically delectable New Orleans brunch fare in a historic setting to the tune of live Dixieland Jazz.
Or if you're ready to jumpstart your Uptown adventure, go ahead and hop on the St. Charles Streetcar, ride it up to Washington Avenue, then walk down Washington to Commander's Palace. This iconic Garden District restaurant serves up a three-course Jazz Brunch that's absolutely to die for. Make sure you try out one of their delicious daytime libations (they're famous for their Creole Bloody Mary) – they're too good to miss!
Take some time to explore the Garden District after your meal, then hop back on the Uptown-bound streetcar, and take in the scenery as you glide down St. Charles Avenue to Audubon Park. When you get to the park, step off the Streetcar, and take a stroll under the canopies of oak trees, heading around the park through along the track until you hit Magazine St.
The Audubon Zoo is a world of its own - see exotic animals, reptiles, elephants and more. Walk through The Louisiana Swamp exhibit, which is a re-creation of a 1930s swamp settlement equipped with a trapper's cottage, Spanish moss, white alligators and cypress knees. Sometimes one of the best ways to rekindle a flame is to act like kids again, and nothing is quite as care-free as a trip to the zoo. Pose for pictures by the elephant fountain, or check out a show at the sea lion pavilion. You may even learn a thing or two at this state-of-the-art nature facility.
After you've seen your fill of wildlife, head back through Audubon Park until you hit St. Charles Ave. and hop on the streetcar back towards downtown. If you're ready for a bite to eat, get off at Robert Street (about five blocks past Jefferson Avenue), and head towards Prytania Street to a little restaurant called La Crepe Nanou. This charming neighborhood bistro feels straight out of Paris with its dim, rich lighting, and cozy red banquettes. Share an order of fondue for two, or try out one of their deliciously savory crepes. The restaurant does fill up quickly, and doesn't take reservations, so there may be a wait.
Also nearby? Upperline Restaurant. The menu is decadent and delicious – Creole contemporary at it's best. The walls are dripping with artwork from local artists, and the hominess of the building itself creates a comfortably upscale ambience. Try the restaurant's signature fried green tomatoes topped with shrimp remoulade, or opt for the opulently delectable roast duck.
Or if you'd prefer to stop for a pre-dinner cocktail before settling into a meal, forgo the Robert Street stop, and continue riding down St. Charles until you reach the Columns Hotel. This iconic New Orleans hotel, and the bar that spills from its lobby onto its expansive front porch, is a must-see for anyone visiting the city. The dark, Victorian lounge-y atmosphere of its interior lends itself to an almost scandalous sense of romance (after all, it was used as the bordello in the 1987 Brooke Shield's flick "Pretty Baby"). Feel like getting some fresh air? Take a seat outside – where you can sip your cocktail while overlooking the beauty of St. Charles.
Another great pick for romantic pre- (or post-) dinner cocktails is The Delachaise, located just two blocks down from The Columns. Sit under the light-strung patio out front, or grab a table inside and enjoy their delightfully extensive list of wines, beers and fine liquor.
When it comes time for dinner, call a cab and head over to either Atchafalaya or Lilette. Atchafalaya serves up contemporary Creole cuisine in a quaint Uptown cottage located enough off the beaten path that you'll feel like you're an in the know local.
Lilette, on the other hand, is an upscale bistro that specializes in Italian-French fare. The space itself is sophisticated and sultry, with deep red walls, and creamy white banquettes. The restaurant can tend to get a little loud as the night goes on, but that's all the more reason to lean in closer.
As your weekend winds down, you may want to return to the Quarter for one last late-night stroll, or grab a nightcap at one of our picks for the city's most romantic bars. No matter how you choose to wrap up your romantic tryst in the Big Easy, one thing is certain; the memories you made in a weekend will last a lifetime. Now that's amore.
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