A perfect day in New Orleans

Jazz musician Robin Barnes shares her ideal 24 hours in her hometown
Robin Barnes

Jazz musician Robin Barnes has trademarked her nickname, “the Songbird of New Orleans.” Her soulful sound has landed her a residency at the legendary Polo Club Lounge at the Windsor Court Hotel, and she’s also founder of Move Ya Brass, a free fitness-class series with three Big Easy locations. Here, Barnes shares her perfect day in her hometown.

Sunrise Stretch
Move Ya Brass has an early-morning yoga class at Crescent Park, an Instagrammable park on the Mississippi. I love waking up and doing beautiful yoga to soulful music. As you finish class, the sun rises on the river.”

City Park

Photo from Bigstock

Coffee and Contemplation
“My favorite spot in the whole city is City Park. It’s where I pick up a café au lait from Cafe du Monde. I love the area right by the bayou—you see these beautiful oak trees that are like 800 years old, curving their limbs into the ground. I can sit on a branch and disappear.”

Lunch Stop
“I recommend the shrimp po’ boys from Parkway Bakery in Mid-City. I actually like my po’ boys on a bun: You get the same amount of shrimp, less bread, less calories—maybe!”

A Little Shopping
“I like flashy, showy things, just being larger than life when I’m performing. There’s a company called Fringe+Co. on Magazine Street where you can find some amazing fringe jackets that make it look like you have wings.”

Afternoon Snack
“I love sno-balls, and you can’t go wrong with Pandora’s. My favorite thing to get is an ice cream–filled strawberry sno-ball with condensed milk on top. Watch out—it’s super-sugary!”

Robin Barnes at French Quarter Fest

Photo by Andrew Simoneaux

Family Time
“My daughter, ‘Baby Bird’ Riley, is crazy about Storyland in City Park, and I can understand why. Just imagine seeing all your favorite stories come to life as figurines!”

Cocktail Hour
“An amazing place for a cocktail is Compère Lapin; chef Nina Compton is the truth. I have the honor of having a mocktail named after me there: the Songbird. It’s beautiful—it looks like it has feathers. And although it’s nonalcoholic, you can add liquor to it.”

Dinner Done Right
“If you want a traditional New Orleans meal that’s not in the French Quarter, go to Brigtsen’s. Chef Frank, oh my gosh, he is one of the most amazing people in New Orleans. If I could bathe in his food, I would.”

If It’s a Thursday . . .
“On Thursdays, my husband and I perform with our band, Da Lovebirds, at the Peacock Room at Hotel Fontenot. It’s intimate, lovemaking music, but it’s still a party.”

Polo Club at Windsor Court Hotel

Photo courtesy of Windsor Court Hotel

If It’s the Weekend . . .
The Polo Club at the Windsor Court Hotel, where I have my traditional jazz residency on Friday and Saturday nights, is very much old New Orleans elegance. Sit back, enjoy a cocktail, and forget what century you’re in!”

Night Off
“The best place for live music in New Orleans is definitely Frenchmen Street. That’s where you’re going to find me when I’m not performing. The Spotted Cat is my favorite venue—it’s artists doing everything from traditional New Orleans jazz to jazz-fusion to more original music.”

This article appears in the Spring & Summer 2022 issue of Southbound.