Explore New Orleans

A Perfect Day in New Orleans: Craig Tracy's Itinerary

The French Quarter artist sketches out an easygoing day in the Vieux Carré.

A full-time French Quarterite, bodypainter Craig Tracy rarely makes it past Canal Street or Esplanade Avenue, preferring to stick to the 'hood he and his eponymous gallery call home. Here he offers an insider's take on one of the nation's most popular tourist destinations.

8:30 am: The French Quarter Connection

"The French Quarter is so mellow in the morning...because half of the city is still sleeping. I love getting out early and walking along Chartres Street to Croissant D’or. It’s in a residential part of the French Quarter, so for visitors to experience that comfort and ease is really lovely."

9:30 am: Going to Market

"I like the French Market before it gets too hot and busy. I eat breakfast at a booth there called Meals From the Heart. They have vegan and gluten-free pancakes, and they’re delicious. I’m a frequent flyer there."

10:30 am: View Finder

"I enjoy a walk along the river and Woldenberg Park. And any time you can spend on a French Quarter balcony, do so; it’s just a beautiful experience."

Woldenberg Park
Woldenberg Park offers a number of public artworks and sweeping river views. (©Shawn Fink)

12:30 pm: Mural, Mural on the Wall

"I’m a huge fan of the Gumbo Shop; I’ve eaten there probably 50 times. I love the feeling of the dining room, the murals and the servers. Get the red beans and rice."

4 pm: Afternoon Delights

"I love being on the Algiers ferry during late afternoon when the sun starts to set. The view of Jackson Square from out on the river is spectacular. I also recommend the St. Charles streetcar after 4 pm—with a drink in hand, mind you."

St. Charles Avenue streetcar
The St. Charles streetcar runs the full length of the oak-canopied avenue. (©NewOrleansOnline.com)

7 pm: Essence of Emeril

"I adore NOLA, if you're looking for casual fine dining. Everything I’ve ever eaten there I’ve enjoyed. Ask for a table on the second floor, which has a really great vibe."

9 pm: Firsts and foremost

"If I’ve got first-time guests who have never been to New Orleans, I’ll take them to Pat O’Brien’s. They always get a kick out of the fountain and the open-air courtyard. Then I walk them up and down Bourbon Street."

10 pm: The Art of Frenchmen

"Then I’d suggest hitting Frenchmen Street. I try always go to The Spotted Cat, which feels like you’re stepping back into the 1930s. I also recommend the outdoor Frenchmen Art Market. It’s a really wonderful."

The Spotted Cat music club
The band plays on at the Spotted Cat, from late afternoon 'til early morning. (©Chris Granger)

1 am: Happy Endings

"For a late-night bite, 13 Monaghan has something for everybody; I get the barbecue tofu po’boy. And if you can catch live music being performed in the street that always makes everybody happy."