New Orleans’ City Square // © 2017 iStock
Feature image (above): Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone // © 2017 Hotel Monteleone
With her latest album, "Songbird Sessions," debuting at No. 5 on Billboard's Current Traditional Jazz Albums chart, Robin Barnes is excited for what's to come. She's also the founder of Move Ya Brass, a health and wellness support group in The Big Easy, where she was born and raised. Barnes — known as the "Songbird of New Orleans" — says she is inspired by great music, good food and a healthy lifestyle. She can often be found singing as the headliner at Windsor Court Hotel and Hotel Monteleone or hunting down some authentic NOLA grub.
Here, she shows us how to truly experience her city like a local.
For the perfect snapshot of the city, head to:
The steps across from Jackson Square or Crescent City Park. The city is a crescent shape, and the park is at the end of the crescent — it's got this industrial port that transitions into a beautiful butterfly oasis. You can grab some local food, then head away from the riverfront where you can see the entire city line and the water.
To escape the fanfare, visit:
Frenchmen Street to listen to some good music, and Bywater, a residential area where there are a lot of swanky New Orleans places that are on the down low.
When looking for a taste of authentic New Orleans cuisine, go to:
Pandora Snowballs, right next to City Park, or Plum Street Snoball, where snowballs (flavored shaved ice) are served in a Chinese takeout box. I recommend grabbing a snowball at Pandora, then taking a walk in City Park nearby. Mango freeze is also a New Orleans delicacy — it used to only be available during Jazz Fest, but now you can get it at Rouses in midcity.
Find your jazz fix at:
Bacchanal Wine. It's a local spot where you can enjoy wine and cheese in an open courtyard. Windsor Court Hotel also has a great lounge, and Hotel Monteleone has a carousel bar — some people stake it out at 11:30 a.m. to get a seat, and it's on my bucket list to score one and have a drink here. Also, Pat Casey and The New Sound is an amazing jazz band that plays at the Spotted Cat Music Club every Sunday.
The most inspirational thing about New Orleans is:
People here are very honest and genuine. You feel like you're home, but you may not know the person who asked, "How are you doing?" It is very much Americanized, but it has its own culture, lingo and beat. The spirit here is magical.