I've been four times so far this year. New Orleans is special because it allows visitors to see and explore just about any and everything they're interested in—history, delicious food, art, architecture, dancing, music—all in a place that is less than three hours away from Jackson.
Magazine Street is famed for its shopping, so make sure you stop there. If you're looking for vintage clothes, accessories, or even costumes, stop by Funky Monkey (3127 Magazine St.), a locally owned and operated vintage shop that has been open since 1997. The famed Sucre (3025 Magazine St., 504.520.8311) also has a location on the street, among others in New Orleans. The shop is known for its macarons, among other treats. Try the New Orleans flavors such as salted caramel and chicory.
I've heard that if you want to experience New Orleans the way locals do, you go to Fauborg Marigny to see the area's jazz clubs, shopping and local restaurants. Frenchmen Street is a good spot for hearing live music, with its many jazz clubs, but if you find yourself during the day, hit up Cafe Rose Nicaud (632 Frenchmen St., 504.949.3300), which is a cafe with breakfast items, sandwiches, salads and more. One thing to try is the Rose Benedict, which is an eggs Benedict layered with a biscuit, portabella mushrooms, tomatoes, avocado, two sunny side-up eggs, asiago cheese, balsamic vinaigrette and rosemary cheese grits.
The Bywater neighborhood is home to many local artists such as folk artist Dr. Bob, who has a studio in the area (Dr. Bob Folk Art, 3027 Chartres St.). In his work, he uses thematic images such as juke joints, shotgun shacks and SnoBall stands. You might even see Jackson-native artist Josh Hailey in the area.
After that, drive to St. Augustine Catholic Church (1210 Governor Nicholls St.). Free people of color established the church in 1842, and it allowed enslaved people, free African Americans and white people to attend services. It is the oldest interracial Catholic parish in the country.
A sign on the church that was once for enslaved people reads: "The blood, sweat, tears and prayers of slaves hallowed this the aisle and its corresponding aisle on the opposite side of the church. These were reserved for and used exclusively by slaves from the date of the church's dedication, October 9, 1842, until the slaves were freed after the Emancipation Proclamation in 1863."
Once you finish visiting St. Augustine and pay your respects to the tomb of the unknown slave, stop by Backstreet Cultural Museum (1116 Henriette Delille St., 504.577.6001) and reflect on the gentrification that plagues the city.
For more information, visit neworleansonline.com.