St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square (Photo: Joshua Brasted)
There are so many ways to experience the Crescent City’s joie de vivre from music to food; another is through its vibrant visual arts. If you are looking for a unique way to feast your eyes on New Orleans, spend an afternoon exploring its artsy side from galleries to street murals. Try this itinerary and wander as you see fit.
12 p.m. Start your day off right with beignets from the famous Café Du Monde. From the café, you should stroll by the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square where you can admire the work from artists of all walks of life for free. See the work of Elaine Cummings, a local artist, whose parents were also Jackson Square painters.
12:30 p.m. Since you’re already in the French Quarter you may as well swing by Royal Street. Not only are there art galleries galore, but there are also antique shops like Keils Antiques with items that date back to the 1800s. Be sure to stop by Rodrigue Studio, where you’ll see the infamous Blue Dog paintings and all of his adventures.
1:30 p.m. Hop the streetcar and ride down to the Garden District where you’ll take a tour of the artistically-styled homes of Uptown New Orleans. From shotgun homes to Queen Annes and Victorians, you’ve seen them all.
2 p.m. is prime time to experience the art and shopping on Magazine Street. Enjoy lunch at one of its popular restaurants like Joey K’s, known for its red beans and rice, or Salú, for its outdoor patio. Take a lazy stroll to observe the outsider art of self-taught artists at the Anton Haardt Gallery or wander in and out of the specialty boutiques and antique shops.
3 p.m. Make your way downtown to visit Julia Street in the Arts District, where a collection of 15 galleries showcase sculpture, ceramics, glass, photography and every medium in between. While you’re in the area, check out the Contemporary Art Center, where performance art meets visual art.
4 p.m. Certainly by now you are thirsty. It’s time to hit one of the city’s many jazz happy hours. The highly-praised SoBou has a “Happier Hour” featuring classic sips like Sazeracs and high balls. It’s New Orleans, and libations are always encouraged.
5:30 p.m. By now, you have second-lined your way through just about every happy hour you could find and it’s still early. Grab a taxi to the Bywater and Faubourg Marigny areas to find some of the city’s best street art. While you are there, amble through the magnificent Crescent Park located along the Mississippi River.
7 p.m. What a day! You’re probably exhausted and maybe just a little bit tipsy. But, you can relish in the fact that you’ve killed an entire afternoon the artsy way.
Now rest up. New Orleans nightlife is calling, and you have some partying to do.