Where to Take a Break from Mardi Gras in NOLA

by  Christine Wei | Feb 28, 2014

Mardi Gras ends in a few days, which means that revelers will be celebrating well through the weekend. While we're typically fans of the "go big or go home" party mentality, especially when we travel, sometimes you need a little break. Whether you're hankering after something refined, something casual, or something that's just plain New Orleans, here's where you can get some peace and quiet in NOLA...

Southern charm goes upscale at the Windsor Court Hotel, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year. Just far enough from Bourbon or Canal Streets - but still within walking distance - this elegant property is a prime spot for afternoon respite. More specifically, step into a welcoming world of pastel tones, plush chairs, and fine china at Le Salon for a traditional (but not stuffy) English tea service. For $35 per person, start off with a glass of wine, sherry, or a cocktail, followed by an assortment of fine teas, sandwiches, scones, and sweets.

Tired of tubas? Snag a chair at Napoleon House for the classical music and settle in for the 200-year-old history. It's a very New Orleans time at this former mayor’s residence, which was once offered to Napoleon as a refuge. Patrons love sipping on Pimm’s here, but you can’t go wrong with the muffuletta and jambalaya either. Decked out in exposed brick and wood, the pub area is full of character, while an umbrella-shaded patio offers a breath of fresh air.

Just east of the French Quarter, a new waterfront park opened up just this week. Crescent Park runs 1.4 miles along the Mississippi River, comprising 20 acres ripe for strolling, biking, or picnicking. Choose between skyline views on Piety Wharf, or treat yourself to views of puppies frolicking  at the dog run in the Downriver section.

Satisfy the call for fluffy beignets with a creamy cafe au lait at Morning Call in the south end of City Park. This outpost of a 144-year-old stand is the neighborhood favorite over the ever-touristy Cafe du Monde. There can still be a crowd, thanks to the stand's convenient location by park bathrooms, so come early for more elbow room, and remember to bring cash. (Not ready to leave the park yet? Cross the river to the free Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art.)

Drawing inspiration from the rejuvenating powers of smelling salt, we suggest Avery Fine Perfumery in the Arts District next. Whether or not you want to shell out $70 (or $500) for a new fragrance, taking a journey through various categories of perfumes makes for a memorable experience. Plus, the sunlit space is stunning in itself, filled with large windows and gleaming mirrors.

If you’re feeling thirsty, make your way over to Freret Street for more peaceful drinks than you’ll find within the French Quarter. Locals love Mojo Coffee, a spacious and cheery cafe. To quench the other kind of thirst, snuggle up to the illuminated bar at Cure, which pays homage to cultural and sophisticated delights with potions featuring top-notch liquor and house-made tonics and syrups.

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