The Best Things to Do in New Orleans
TEXT BY TISHA LEUNG TISHA LEUNG • PHOTOGRAPHY BY SARA RUFFIN COSTELLO
The arbiter of design reveals her favorite decor shops, restaurants, and other great haunts in the city she calls home.
In the design world, Sara Ruffin Costello is known as a well-traveled editor, writer, and decorator. For many years, she and her family called New York City home, until New Orleans’s rich culture and colorful residents won them over. “We’d been visiting New Orleans for years and were certainly under its spell—a slower pace,” she says. “The creaky old houses, the heady fragrance of gardenia and magnolia blossoms, the Mardi Gras Indians, and Preservation Hall were just a few of the highlights of the deep South that lured us.” After they set their sights on an 1868 shell-pink gothic revival house for sale, the deal was sealed. From the best spot for oysters to a small Texas-based boutique, Ruffin Costello shares some of her favorite go-to places in the storied city. Read on for her insider’s look at The Big Easy.
"Look closely: The toile wallpaper at Commander’s Palace has cheeky little guys with hand-embroidered hair," says Ruffin Costello of the 1880s jazz-and-Creole restaurant. 1403 Washington Ave.; commanderpalace.com
Our neighbors John D. and Melissa Gray have a magical swimming hole in their Garden District home.
The lifestyle boutique Freda has the best quirky stuff. The store, which originated in Marfa, Texas, has a location next to the new Ace Hotel. 600 Carondelet St.; shop-freda.com
Dancers from the New Orleans Ballet Theater pose draped around my living room. We threw a late-night party for the ballet company after their summer solstice dance. 2800 Chartres St; neworleansballettheatre.com
This is the tabletop carnage after a pitcher of lychee martinis, shrimp-and-avocado salad, and fresh boudin at Dawn Dedeaux’s artists’ compound near the racetrack. dawndedeaux.com
The oyster-and-cocktail bar Seaworthy just opened and is already a favorite for oysters. It’s located inside the Ace Hotel. 630 Carondelet St.;seaworthynola.com
On a Sunday morning, listening to the St. Cecilia’s Asylum Chorus at Preservation Hall in the French Quarter is better than church. 726 St. Peter St.; preservationhall.com
I love this old girl in the Lower Garden District, found between Julia Street, the Mississippi River, Chippewa Street, and First Street.