Heading to New Orleans for Jazz Fest? Lucky. The music, crafts, and food showcase the best of The Big Easy. See huge stars on the main stage. Listen to brass bands at Jazz & Heritage. Zydeco at Fais Do-Do. Or hang out in the jazz, gospel, or blues tents. Stuff yourself with Cajun jambalaya, crawfish beignets, and alligator sausage po’ boys. Return for a muffelatta and a cochon de lait later. Don’t worry, you’ll dance it all off.
After the final encore, head back to the French Quarter. The music at the Fair Grounds may be over—for the day—but the party is just beginning. Jazz Fest draws one of the city’s largest crowds, second only to Mardi Gras. There are after-parties at Preservation Hall and the House of Blues. The sound of trumpets and saxophones from small clubs. Eat oysters and gumbo. Drink a hurricane or a Sazerac. Get lost in the crowd on Bourbon Street.
No matter how early or late you decide to crash, you don’t have to go far to find your bed. Hotel Le Marais combines classic NOLA style, like wrought-iron balconies, with comfortable, modern rooms. Swim in the salt-water pool. Have a Fleur de Lis massage in your room. Sip a violet pear martini in the courtyard. But eventually get some sleep, there’s so much more to see and do, plus hear and eat.
Begin the next day with a jazz brunch at The Court of Two Sisters. Or coffee and beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Shop at the French Market. Wander around Jackson Square. Watch a wedding party emerge from St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest cathedral in the country. Ride a riverboat. Or a streetcar. Visit the National WWII Museum. Make a dinner reservation at Commander’s Palace or Emeril’s or August. Stroll through the Garden District. And Lafayette Cemetery. Drink a gin fizz when it gets too humid. If you didn’t head back to Jazz Fest for day two, that is.