In survey after survey; reader poll after reader poll, New Orleans has consistently rated high among travel writers and travel magazine readers in the general category of “Best City for Shopping.” This is not surprising, considering the many unique and varied items for sale in New Orleans’ wide-ranging inventory of places to shop. Plus the fact that there are several shopping districts that are, themselves, colorful tourist attractions. All of which makes New Orleans the ideal place to do your holiday shopping.
There is, of course, the French Quarter, with shops where you can find and purchase nearly anything imaginable – from a stylish hat straight from the fashion capital of Paris to a lucky charm, handcrafted and blessed by a local voodoo priestess. Or maybe you’re in the market for a George Rodrigue “Blue Dog” painting, a century-old crystal chandelier, a hand-carved African drum, or just a simple Bourbon Street souvenir T-shirt with a clever slogan on it. It’s all there and more.
Walk around and look around you as you walk the scenic, historic streets of the Vieux Carre. You will be amazed at the wide selection of art galleries, antique shops, clothing boutiques, gift and handicraft shops and other unique French Quarter mercantile establishments and the equally unique gift items they carry in their inventories. Christmas gifts you’re unlikely to find anywhere else.
For a list of suggested shopping destinations in the French Quarter click here.
Also, on the fringes of the French Quarter, are two other inviting holiday shopping destinations with a little bit of history behind them: the French Market and the Jax Brewery.
Founded in 1791, the French Market is the oldest public market in the country, and it has played a key role in the development of the city’s economy from that time to the present. Within its five blocks of specialty retail shops there is also a community flea market with locally-made jewelry, clothing and art. Merchants at small booths, kiosks and tables offer everything under the sun, especially local music CDs and DVDs for those who want to give their loved ones back home a taste of the old (and new) New Orleans sound.
To learn more about the French Market go to www.frenchmarket.org. For specific questions call (504) 522-2621.
Jax Brewery, another iconic New Orleans landmark at 600 Decatur Street, was once the brewing and bottling house of Jax Beer. It is exactly 100 years younger than the French Market, dating from 1891 and operating until the mid 1970s.
Today the converted brewery holds exclusive and distinctive New Orleans shops, as well as nationally known stores. Holiday shoppers will find a wealth of choices at Jax Brewery. Located on several floors of the beautifully renovated old facility are dozens of shops including ladies ready-to-wear New Orleans art and apparel (look for the crawfish shirts!), Louisiana food products, team sportswear, handcrafted jewelry stores and other unique specialties.
To find out more about the Jax Brewery visit www.jacksonbrewery.com or call (504) 566-7245.
Adjacent to the French Quarter but not technically in it are The Shops at Canal Place, 333 Canal Street, in the heart of downtown New Orleans. Here you will experience a world of wonderful holiday shopping opportunities in a fully enclosed, festive atmosphere, surrounded by Christmas trees and colorful decorations and entertained by your favorite holiday songs on the PA system.
Here in The Shops at Canal Place, home of the prestigious anchor store, Saks Fifth Avenue, you can choose from a wide variety of exclusive stores, featuring upscale clothing, jewelry and useful items for household use. If purchases are holiday gifts, many of these shops will even wrap them for you, garnishing them with colorful ribbons.
But there is more to New Orleans’ than just the French Quarter and Canal Street. Shopping opportunities abound further uptown along world-renowned Magazine Street. For holiday shopping, no place in New Orleans outside the French Quarter beats Magazine Street. A six-mile-long stretch of this Garden District and Uptown thoroughfare features some of the best antique stores, art galleries, craft shops and classy boutiques to be found anywhere in the city.
And, it is the antiques and artwork that draw holiday shoppers with unusual gift-giving ideas to Magazine Street. Whatever it is you’re looking for to add to the home décor of that special person(s) in your life – fine China, exquisite handcrafted items, used and new books, imported rugs, jewelry, ornate furniture, silver utensils and other tableware, crystal chandeliers and other 19th and early 20th century home furnishings – there’s an excellent chance you will find it on Magazine Street.
Looking for fine art to light up the life of your gift recipient? Why not give him or her a piece of beautiful artwork? A wide selection of galleries are open for business along Magazine Street, offering paintings, sculptures and other artistic media that rank on a par with galleries found in other American cities.
Regardless of where in New Orleans you choose to do your holiday gift shopping, you can’t help but find something special for the special people in your life in this top-ranked city for the shopping experience.