Explore New Orleans

A Perfect Day in New Orleans: Wayne Phillips’ Itinerary

Carnival historian Wayne Phillips' full-day guide to the Crescent City

In another wheretraveler.com story, Wayne Phillips, the Lousiana State Museum's curator of Carnival collections, shared with us his Mardi Gras must-dos. Here, he shares how to enjoy New Orleans during a full-day itinerary.

9 am: Counter Culture

"There are only a few places in the French Quarter that serve a true breakfast. The Grill (540 Chartres St.) is a good quick breakfast spot, where you can get a New Orleans experience just sitting at the counter. You can get your bacon, eggs and pancakes, but with a bit of a New Orleans spin on them, then move on with your day." 

10 am: Exhibit A+

"The state museums in Jackson Square open at 10 in the morning. Our current exhibit celebrates the 75th of the krewe of Hermes. There are only a handful of krewes that have made 75 years. Hermes has a really unique place in Mardi Gras as the first new nighttime parade founded in the 20th century, and they also opened themselves up to visitors. They were one of the first krewes to allow visitors to come to the balls, and as a result their balls were very well attended. We have the very first Hermes queen’s dress in our collection, which will be on display in the exhibit." 

Krewe of Hermes sketch circa-1950
Krewe of Hermes 1950 Queen crown and scepter sketch (©LSM)

11 am: Down by the Riverside

"When you’re in the French Quarter, distracted by all of the shops and bars and music, it’s very easy to forget that you are right on the Mississippi River. Whenever I have visitors I tell them to go to the Moonwalk and take in the Mississippi from its banks. You can actually touch the water, which you don’t get to do at very many other locations along the river."

New Orleans' Moonwalk on the Mississippi River
The Moonwalk along the Mississippi (©NewOrleansOnline.com)

Noon: Square Meal

"One of my favorite lunch spots is Muriel’s. They have an unbeatable location right on Jackson Square and a wonderful affordable lunch. It’s a very elegant restaurant, but comfortable and casual, in a historic building right on the corner of Chartres and St. Ann streets. In good weather the doors are open, and you can get a great view of everything going on in Jackson Square. It’s a joy to live in a city that has good weather at unusual times of the year!" 

2 pm: Garden Party

"For an outdoor activity, go walk around the Garden District. I used to lead walking tours of the Garden District, so I always tell visitors to try and get out of the French Quarter. It’s very tempting to just stay in the Quarter, but make an effort to explore Garden District. It’s a beautiful historic neighborhood, but with a very different history from the French Quarter. Even if you don’t go on a walking tour, there’s great shopping and restaurants in the Garden District, too, along with one of the city’s most historic cemeteries, Lafayette No. 1."

Garden District mansion
A typical Garden District home (©Jean-Paul Gisclair)

6 pm: Round and Round

"For cocktails, you can’t beat the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone Hotel, especially if you’re lucky enough to get one of those precious window seats that overlook Royal Street. Aside from the spirit of the place, the live music and the allure of the rotating bar, it’s just fun to be in the Monteleone, which, as one of the most historic hotels in the city and in America, is itself a destination."

7 pm: A Taste of History

"One of my new discoveries is Sylvain. I had a dinner there recently, and it was just delicious. It’s a charming, intimate restaurant, and the menu is diverse and delicious. The name Sylvain comes from the first opera ever performed in the United States, which took place in New Orleans during the 1790s, so it also has that historic quality that I respond to. I also love Louisiana Pizza Kitchen and the Italian Barrel, which are on the other side of the French Quarter."

Sylvain's pappardelle bolognese
Sylvain's pappardelle bolognese (©Sylvain)

9 pm: Frenchmen Street

"For folks looking to get off the Bourbon Street path, I send them down Frenchmen Street, which is sort of an annex of the French Quarter. It has a variety of bars and other great late-night places, like Three Muses or d.b.a., and just enough of a local crowd that makes it a really fun place to end up after the French Quarter."