A lot of people go to New Orleans for events such as Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest. Some are focused on music at the stellar array of local clubs. Many of us head there for the amazing food, at places such as Herbsaint or Cochon (both owned by Donald Link), fine dining at Restaurant August or a simple and sublime muffuletta at Central Grocery.

But few travelers head to the Crescent City with a primary goal of "Let's go shopping!" Which is a shame because NOLA boasts one of the coolest retail byways in the land, Magazine Street. A bit west of the French Quarter, Magazine Street winds its way along a parallel course to the Mississippi River a half-mile to the south, and like much of New Orleans oozes Old World charm.



With boutiques and antiques galore, plenty of places to stop for noshing or imbibing and a hipness quotient that's almost off the charts, Magazine Street works for both casual "I'm just looking" strollers and serious shoppers.

Among my favorite stops: the Silk Road Collection (incredible Asian antiques) and Hazelnut, where owner and "Mad Men" star Bryan Batt might be regaling customers amidst the dandy home furnishings.

A bonus for folks who like to shop local: Aside from Whole Foods, virtually everything on Magazine Street is owned and operated by NOLA residents -- which also means that customers often as not receive a "What can I do for you, darlin'?" salutation.