Rathbone Mansions
Historic New Orleans Hotel, Steps From the French Quarter

Insiders Guide of things to do, eats and drinks in New Orleans

Rathbone Mansions Insiders Guide

With its unique, vibrant history, award winning chefs, craft cocktail bars, and party atmosphere, there's no wonder NOLA is consistently ranked one of the best cities to visit. We've got you covered with insiders' tips on the best places to visit, eat and drink during your stay. Click through our blog for suggestions, current events and truly experience New Orleans like a local.

New Orleans has a unique, vibrant history, award winning chefs, craft cocktails galore, and a low-key, Southern fun atmosphere. There's no wonder NOLA is consistently ranked one of the best US cities to visit.  We've got you covered with tips on locals' favorite spots to check out during your stay. Scroll through our blog for suggestions, current events and truly experience New Orleans like a local.



New Orleans Versus Key West

We love comparing favorite spots and hope you do too. For starters, let’s take New Orleans versus Key West: different, but definitely the same where it counts.

The French Quarter in New Orleans

The French Quarter in New Orleans

TRAVELING TO NEW ORLEANS: When we went to the Big Easy it was by plane from the Big Apple. How about taking a train? Going from New York to New Orleans takes 30 hours. An Amtrak train leaves every day. It’s a leisurely way to travel. One can even reserve a spacious Viewliner bedroom for the trip.

TRAVELING TO KEY WEST: If one goes by car from New Orleans to Key West it’s 1,021 miles following the 1-10 route. This takes 16 hours if one drives nonstop. When we drove to Key West my husband, Peter, was the only one driving as we tackled the 113-mile, two-lane Overseas Highway through the Florida Keys. One can go nonstop if there is more than one driver. I got rid of that idea at once.

The two-lane Overseas Highway heading to Key West

The two-lane Overseas Highway heading to Key West

FIRST IMPRESSION OF NEW ORLEANS: The first thing you’ll see when strolling along is the remarkable architecture of the Creole faubourgs (fo-burgs) or neighborhoods. There’s everything from the balconies of the French Quarter to the grand mansions of Esplanade Avenue.  Ornamental ironwork, hanging baskets with cascading plants, window shutters – all a stunning visual treat. I had never heard the term “shotgun house” before we visited New Orleans. This is a narrow house (12’ ft. wide) with rooms arranged one behind the other. When one shoots through the front door, the bullet goes right out the back without hitting a wall. Don’t try it.   

FIRST IMPRESSION OF KEY WEST: Everything here seems to be over-the-top, especially the Victorian gingerbread (fine wood carving) architecture. The Captain’s Walk in Key West is a feature that I’d never seen before visiting this tropical city. It’s purpose? Captains stood on the very top of a structure looking for shipwrecks on the coral reef, five miles offshore. (The Curry Mansion in Key West has a Widow’s Walk, a small rooftop platform with a rail where wives went up to look for their sea-faring husbands).  And yes, there’s a historic shotgun house on Truman Avenue in Key West and also a bright pink one.



Scott Gold has popped up on the web again. He’s opinionated and brash but he does have pretty good ideas for those coming to visit New Orleans.


1.     Never say “N’awlins” – no one says that. People will look at you

2.     Nothing is pronounced as it’s spelled: pralines (PRAW-leens) or pecans (puh-KAHNS) or Terpsichore (TERP-suh-core)

3.     Watch the parades, floats and definitely go for the bead throws

4.     Our musical talent is fantastic – both on the street and in the bars


Having visited both places, here is my list. We stayed at beachfront Pier House and loved hearing the sound of wind and waves during the night.

1.     It’s known everywhere for its sunset watching on Mallory Square

2.     The Hemingway Home and Museum has over 40 six-toed cats

3.     Excellent water sports and parades – great floats and spectators 

4.     Duval Street makes for leisurely strolling, and yes, even shopping

So what do these two have in common? For both it’s LET THE GOOD TIMES ROLL. I think we’ll leave it at that!

Shaun Nelson-Henrick