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Beyond the French Quarter: 5 Hidden Gems in New Orleans

the Singing Oak in City Park, New Orleans

There’s much more to the Big Easy than its famous French Quarter. Yes, the French Quarter is a beautiful place, with more personality than you find in most city “downtowns”. But if you never leave the French Quarter, you’ll be missing out on so many of the beautiful things the city of New Orleans has to offer: parks, neighborhoods, and music among the rest!

Ready to get off the tourist trail? Here are five great places to spend time in New Orleans that aren’t the French Quarter.

#1 - City Park

Friends, I can (and did!) write an entire post just about the beauty of City Park. New Orleans’s City Park is a truly gigantic expanse of greenery and culture northwest of downtown. It’s home to several museums and sports fields (none of which I have been to yet but several of which are on my list), and the free attractions are every bit as wonderful.

You can spend hours wandering the oak groves and Bayou Metairie on the park’s south end. See if you can find the Tree of Life and the Dueling Oak.

If you want a beignet treat but didn’t feel like waiting in line at the French Quarter’s Café du Monde, you can grab yourself an order of beignets and a chicory coffee from their location right in City Park and then eat them under a tree somewhere.

If you want to experience some art without paying for admission to the art museum, the Sculpture Garden is open to the public and absolutely free.

#2 - The truest New Orleans Hidden Gem: The Singing Oak

the Singing Oak in City Park, New Orleans

While technically part of City Park, I wanted to draw special attention to the Singing Oak. A true hidden gem of New Orleans, the Singing Oak is an ancient oak tree hung with a beautifully tuned assortment of wind chimes. You can find this tree on the southeast side of City Park’s Big Lake. It’s the perfect place in the Big Easy to sit down for a while and take it easy. Bring a blanket and a book (and maybe a mimosa) and relax in the shade while the breeze plays you a melody. It’s truly a magical experience.

#3 - Magazine Street

If you want to hang out where the locals shop and eat, hop on over to Magazine Street! This charming neighborhood is built for a relaxing NOLA stroll, and it has dozens of charming shops to tempt you out of the heat. It’s a beautiful way to spend an afternoon.

Hungry while you’re there? Here’s my favorite places to eat on Magazine Street:

French Truck Coffee: A staple New Orleans chain for coffee and treats

Another Broken Egg Café: my favorite NOLA brunch spot

Dat Dog: the hot dog of your dreams. Just trust me on this one

The Rum House: for astounding tacos and life-altering mojitos

#4 - The Garden District

The Garden District is one of the most picturesque areas of New Orleans, full of the kind of stunning mansions that you probably picture when you imagine sitting on a porch in the deep south with a fan and a glass of lemonade. This neighborhood is perfect for a relaxing stroll, and if you want a more tailored experience, you can book a historical walking tour!

When you’re done with your tour, put your feet up for a few minutes at The Rink shopping center, which is home to a lovely coffee shop called the Chicory House and the Garden District’s best independent bookstore!

If you find yourself hungry in the Garden District, I cannot recommend Gracious Bakery highly enough! They’re located on St Charles Street, and they make nearly all their items in house, right down to the bread they use to make their sandwiches.

#5 - Frenchman Street

a jazz band playing at The Spotted Cat in the Frenchman in New Orleans

I’m not sure if Frenchman Street counts as “hidden,” but I certainly went to New Orleans for the first time and had no idea it was there! It’s just steps outside the French Quarter (literally, just cross Esplanade and you’re there), and it’s where you find, among other things, the best jazz clubs in the city.

There’s plenty of things to see and do on Frenchman, but I recommend Dat Dog for a lunch or dinner (Yes, there’s a Dat Dog on Frenchman too and I will never shut up about them). Drop into The Frenchman Bookstore for a curated collection of books that are peak NOLA aesthetic (plus it’s super queer-friendly!).

But the real treat on Frenchman is the music. Walk down the street anytime from about 2pm on and the music will be just pouring out of the bars and clubs. You really can’t go wrong on Frenchman, but my two favorite music stops are Bamboulas and The Spotted Cat.

There's so much beauty in New Orleans, and some of it you have to hunt for. To make that hunt a little easier, I have a whole list of guides to New Orleans and you can check them out right here! Thanks for coming with me on this NOLA adventure!

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Love and Shenanigans,


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