Why you should go
Royal Street, with its rows of high-end antique shops, galleries and potted ferns hanging from cast-iron balconies, is the elegant yin to well known Bourbon Street's debauched yang. Stroll or bicycle past Royal's patina beauty and fading grace; chat with locals as they lounge on their porches; and get a sense of the fun – with a dash of elegance – that was once the soul of the Vieux Carré (Old Quarter).
Consider a guided walking tour to open your eyes to much of the area's hidden history.
With blocks and blocks of the strip dedicated to antique stores and art galleries, Royal Street is a sort of elegant 19th-century (and very long) outdoor shopping arcade. From 11 am to 4 pm, most of the street turns into a pedestrian-only mall. Musicians, performers and other buskers set up shop; you may see some teenagers shill for pennies, or accomplished blues musicians jam on their Fenders. Either way, the show is almost always entertaining.
Nearby hotels and restaurants
Start off your Royal Street adventure with coffee and pastries at Croissant D’Or Patisserie.
End your evening at the rotating Carousel Bar at the street's upper end. The revolving circular bar is located inside the historic Hotel Monteleone. Canopied by the top hat of the 1904 World’s Fair carousel, it's adorned with running lights, hand-painted figures and gilded mirrors. In 15 minutes, the 25-seat bar completes a full revolution.
And speaking of the Hotel Monteleone, it's perhaps the city's most venerable hotel, and also the Quarter's largest. Not long after it was built, preservationists put a stop to building on this scale below Iberville Street. Since its inception in 1866, the hotel has lodged literary luminaries including William Faulkner, Truman Capote and Rebecca Wells.
You might also consider a stay at the Hotel Royal, a boutique hotel with lace-like ironwork balconies, gas lanterns and decorative topiaries – everything an 1833 New Orleans home should be.