Fun for Couples in Uptown New Orleans
New Orleans is considered one of the most romantic destinations in the country, if not the world. It’s easy to have a great time on a date in practically any part of this city, but Uptown holds its own against, say, the French Quarter, by bringing its historic past as the “American sector” and its unique charm into the equation.
There you’ll find majestic mansions under the canopies of the centuries-old live oaks, charming, dimly lit restaurants, modern cafes, shopping for blocks, photogenic streetcars, and iconic bars with the world-class live music pouring out on any given night. Impressing your loved one doesn’t need to break the bank, either. In New Orleans, even a morning stroll in the park could bring on the magic. Here are our suggestions for some fun activities for couples in Uptown New Orleans.
Whether you would prefer to linger with a cocktail or want to have a quick yet solid breakfast at a diner, Uptown has no shortage of high-to-low options. If you’re looking for an inexpensive local hangout with Southern staples and plenty of local color, the fun, upbeat Slim Goodies Diner on Magazine Street won’t steer you wrong with its inventively named slammers (different kinds of scrambles, from meaty to vegan, with hash browns). The Creole Slammer, for instance, comes with a biscuit and crawfish etouffee. Another inexpensive option is the Camellia Grill, a legendary Carrollton Avenue diner that’s been serving basic omelets and pecan pie since 1946. There will probably be a line, but it moves quickly, and you can get breakfast all day.
If you are coffee-and-a-pastry-for-breakfast people, the incomparable Gracious Bakery + Cafe has two locations Uptown, at 2854 St. Charles Avenue on the corner of 6th Street in the Garden District, and at 4930 Prytania Street. All baked goods and breakfast sandwiches are top notch, and there are house-made granola and house-cured salmon bagels. For a serious coffee selection and plenty of vegan and vegetarian options in a bright, modern setting try the Satsuma location on Maple Street. The menu is full of locally sourced dishes like bagels with lox, vegan curry scramble, and green eggs and ham breakfast sandwich (the green part is basil pesto).
St. Charles Streetcar
Not just a means of public transportation, the historic St. Charles Avenue line streetcar is on many visitors’ bucket list because it’s the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world (since 1835). It will set you back $1.25 per person, and the route is scenic as it gets, with the columned mansions surrounded by the impressive gardens and wrought-iron fences. Take it either all the way from Canal Street to the end of the line by the River, or hop on and off along St. Charles Avenue to take in the sights.
If you like the DYI approach to exploring the city, you can take in the extraordinary beauty of Uptown’s many architectural styles, in your own time, by taking a free walking tour. Whether you prefer to explore on foot, by car or bus, both self-guided and guided tours are available daily. You can just walk around the historic district spotting celebrity houses and marveling at the gardens, or hop on the streetcar to visit the historic Lafayette Cemetery No. 1.
Audubon Park and The Fly
The streetcar also brings you right to the urban oasis of the historic Audubon Park. Located near the picturesque campuses of Tulane and Loyola universities, Audubon Park is perfect for a stroll among the oaks and the lagoons, or a picnic (bring some bread to feed the ducks). The area behind the Audubon Zoo and along the Mississippi River, known as The Fly, is a lovely spot to simply sit and watch the boats go by.
Magazine and Freret streets, and St. Charles Avenue are all commercial hubs with block after block of shopping destinations. Magazine Street in particular is worth (an easy walk) for about 10 blocks, which are packed with sidewalk cafes, galleries, antique stores, vintage boutiques, and funky local costume stores.
Lunch and Dinner
Uptown has many cozy, romantic spots for either a lingering lunch or a romantic dinner date. La Crepe Nanou, located on the corner of Robert and Prytania Streets, is an intimate French bistro with a fantastic selection of sweet and savory crepes and a wine list to complement them. It’s consistently voted as the “most romantic” on various lists for its ambiance. Another small, French-Italian bistro, Lilette, boasts a heated patio, cozy booths and a sophisticated, sharable menu. Patois, helmed by Chef Aaron Burgau, puts a local spin on mussels, grilled Gulf shrimp and southern staples like sweetbreads in a lovely, softly-lit setting.
You’ll find exposed brick, chandeliers and gleaming hardwood floors at Coquette, another sophisticated Magazine Street destination with a locally sourced menu and craft cocktails. Choose from the small and big plate menus, or put yourselves into the chef’s capable hands with a five-course blind tasting.
For authentic Sicilian cuisine by the renowned Chef Nick Lama head to Avo. The seasonal menu is bursting with seafood (try the charred octopus) and homemade pasta dishes. The interior is gorgeous, but see if you can score a table in the candlelit courtyard, perfect for a special occasion.
And let’s round up this by-no-means-complete list of the most romantic Uptown restaurants with the iconic Upperline. It’s a must if you love art and want a taste of Creole New Orleans. This award-winning local favorite is located in an 1877 townhouse, with its walls and the shelves containing hundreds of paintings, pottery, sculpture, photography, and Jazzfest posters collected by the owner and hostess, JoAnn Clevenger. The menu is elevated contemporary Creole, with a three-course, prix fixe tasting option of seven Creole classics like turtle soup and fried green tomatoes ($48).
Few things are more romantic than catching a classic movie in a century-old theater, especially on a rainy day. Prytania Theatre is the oldest theater in the city and the only single-screen one left in Louisiana. Inside, you’ll find plush red seats and a tiny coffee stand with excellent gelato and espresso. Prytania screens the classics like Citizen Cane and Casablanca regularly, and cult classics at midnight.
You haven’t gotten a taste of classic romantic New Orleans if you haven’t visited Pascal’s Manale Restaurant for happy hour, with half off all of their expertly prepared cocktails and raw oysters. Watch the oysters getting shucked in front of you in this dark-paneled, elegant space with a martini in hand, and maybe stay for dinner to sample Pascal’s legendary BBQ shrimp and veal Picatta.
Pizza Domenica on Magazine Street offers excellent wine and draft beer lists as well as half off its wood-fired pizzas (some of the best in New Orleans) on weekdays, 3-5 p.m. If you’d like to share some wine, head to Bar Frances on Freret Street, 4-6 p.m. on weekdays. Wine cocktails are $4, wine by the glass is $5, and the carafes are $14.
One of the most recent additions to the romantic roster of the Uptown destinations is also one of its most beautiful. Cavan bills itself as a coastal American restaurant, but with its airy setting in a converted two-story Victorian mansion, Gulf-centric small plates, and elegant southern twists on the aperitifs and champagne cocktails it’s also unmistakably, uniquely New Orleans.
Dance the sultry night away at the iconic Tipitina’s, which has hosted everyone from world-famous acts in town for Jazz Fest to local brass bands and the Mardi Gras Indians. The Maple Leaf Bar, with its tin ceiling and a hopping dance floor, has live music every night at 10 p.m., including the long-standing Tuesday gig by the Rebirth Brass Band. Don’t miss that.