With just a few days to go until #NAFSA2024, we’re excited about hosting NAFSAns in this year’s conference city, New Orleans, Louisiana. To get some intel on the city and the spots no NAFSAn should miss, we asked members of the 2024 Local Arrangements Team—all New Orleans residents—to share their favorite things about the city they call home.

Comments edited for length and clarity.

What’s a day or half-day trip outside of New Orleans you’d recommend?

Aaron Forbes: If you can get a car, I recommend driving over the causeway bridge to Old Mandeville where you can enjoy the old part of town and the lakefront. Fountainebleu State Park is right down the highway. There you can see wildlife on their boardwalk over the marsh, stroll under the oaks, and enjoy a small beach on the lake at sunset.

Mary Hicks: Whitney Plantation is an important addition to the plantation tourist sites that have traditionally been highlighted in the deep south. Whitney is not a place where the white owners' lives are talked about romantically while ignoring the experience of the majority of the plantation residents, the enslaved people. Instead, the Whitney has gathered important records, archives, artwork, etc., to show the lives of the enslaved instead. It is a solemn place to visit, but is so important for understanding how our country was actually built.

Elaine Kimbrell: Whitney or Laura Plantation; a Swamp Tour

Kristy Magner: Whitney Plantation and Lafayette

What’s your favorite neighborhood to explore?

Forbes: Visitors should definitely spend some time in the Marigny/Bywater for its cafés, bars, and old creole cottages and shotguns. I also recommend the City Park, Bayou St. John, and Audubon Park as green spaces.

Kimbrell: I recommend walking down Royal Street or touring the Garden District.

Magner: Midcity or the Bywater

Christie Thomas:

  • Mid-City: Bayou St. John, Parkway Bakery and Tavern (for po'boys), City Park, New Orleans Museum of Art and the Besthoff Sculpture Garden, Café du Monde
  • French Quarter: Preservation Hall, Pat O'Brien's (with dueling pianos, Hurricane drinks, and a great patio), Bayona restaurant, the original Café du Monde, New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park, New Orleans Jazz Museum, and the Cabildo and Presbetyre Museums
  • Garden District: Beautiful homes, historic street car, Audubon Park, and great restaurants and bars

Mariette Thomas: I live in the Bywater, which has a lot of great spots A few of my favorite places that come to mind: Music Box Village, the Broadside Vaughn's Lounge, AllWays Lounge & Cabaret, Meyer the Hatter, Parlour Gallery, and Camp Street Studios. And the Wangechi Mutu exhibit is up at NOMA until July and can't be missed! The sculpture garden at City Park Crescent Park, N7, Bacchanal wine & Spirits, Bar Brine, Paladar 511, Elysian Bar. I haven't tried Porgy’s Seafood Market yet, but I'm dying to. Seafood Sally's or Bearcat Café for brunch. Le Petit Grocery, Faubourg Wines (especially when they have Oyster Daddy pop-ups!), Cafe Degas, Cane & Table, Pêche, Saba, Bar Marilou, and Hansen's Sno-Bliz!

What’s one thing every visitor shouldn’t leave New Orleans without experiencing?

Kimbrell: Listen to live music, eat a beignet, and have a po’boy.

Magner: Live music on Frenchmen

Thomas: Po’boys, local hospitality, music in the streets

What are your favorite spots? Any suggestions are great, whether they’re for coffee, bites, music, drinks, etc.!

Forbes: Grab a po'boy at Parkway and take a walk along Bayou St. John. Have a cup of coffee at CC's Coffee House on Esplanade or at Café du Monde in City Park. Stroll Royal Street for antiques, people-watching, music, and architecture. Take the ferry to Old Algiers and back to New Orleans at sunset.

Kimbrell: Cochon Butcher, Sidecar Patio & Oyster Bar, the Rusty Nail, the Sazarac Bar, the Carousel Bar & Lounge, Croissant D'Or, Mr. Mao, Pêche, Palm&Pine, Compère Lapin, Killer PoBoys, Hotel Peter and Paul for drinks, music at Three Muses, brunch at Commander's Palace.


French Quarter food spots to check out:

  • Sylvain (gastropub with a nice courtyard)
  • Coop's Place on Decatur (some of the best and cheapest New Orleans style food in town…there are sometimes long lines)
  • Napoleon House (nice atmosphere with good, affordable New Orleans food - be sure to get the Pimm's cup)
  • Killer PoBoys (inside a bar called Erin Rose)
  • Palm&Pine (delicious, interesting menu)

Outside the Quarter:

  • Mopho (James Beard award-winning Vietnamese fusion…there’s a very large Vietnamese population in New Orleans)
  • Paladar 511 (yummy pizzas, pastas, veggies, meats and cocktails)
  • Cafe Degas (classic, French style New Orleans cuisine with patio dining)
  • Sneaky Pickle / Bar Brine (veggie forward, creative menu)
  • Heard Dat Kitchen (soul food at its best)


  • City Park
  • Dooky Chase restaurant for the delicious food, incredible African-American art collection, and civil rights history
  • the lakefront
  • watching the river traffic from the deck at the Riverwalk outlet mall
  • the Carnival exhibits at the Presbytere
  • the view of the Mississippi River from the highest floor of the Canal Place parking garage

Christie Thomas:

  • Try Jazz brunch Saturday or Sunday at Palace Café, but get there early!
  • Enjoy a happy hour at Bacchanal in the Bywater or the Columns hotel or the Chloe on historic St. Charles Avenue
  • Must eat: beignets, Po’boy, gumbo

Mariette Thomas:

  • Second line parades
  • Backstreet Cultural Museum (Tremé)
  • Free self-led Garden District walking tour
  • Streetcar ride up St. Charles uptown
  • Voodoo Spiritual Temple
  • City Park and New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) sculpture garden
  • Art galleries on Julia Street and St. Claude, the Contemporary Arts Center and the Ogden Museum of Southern Art
  • Shopping on Magazine St.
  • the Chauvin Sculpture Garden
  • Jean Lafitte swamp tour
  • Grand Isle, Avery Island
  • Abita (Mystery House and Abita Brewery)