Galleries share the Royal and Magazine Street landscapes with the aforementioned antiques shops, while in the Warehouse District, the blocks numbered 300 to 700 on Julia Street house some 20 contemporary fine-arts galleries, anchored by the Contemporary Arts Center and Ogden Museum of Southern Art. For the more intrepid, explore the burgeoning lowbrow and outsider art movement around St. Claude Avenue (www.scadnola.com).
Many original works of visual art in New Orleans are exempt from sales tax, thanks to a statewide program promoting cultural activity in designated districts. Be sure to ask about sales tax where you buy.
Costumes & Masks
Costumery is big business in New Orleans, and not just for Mardi Gras. Playing dress-up needs no event, and nothing is too elaborate. In addition to these shops, try thrift stores where slightly used outfits can sometimes be found at a fraction of their original cost. Troll lower Decatur and Dauphine in the Bywater (especially Le Garage, 1234 Decatur St.; tel. 504/522-6639). Also check Uptown Costume & Dance Company (4326 Magazine St.; www.uptowncostume.com; tel. 504/895-7969; Mon–Tues 11am–6pm, Wed–Fri 11am–7pm, Sat 10am–6pm).
Food, Wine & Liquor
Every souvenir shop in town stocks spices, hot sauce, coffee, and beignet mix. The French Market vendors do too, along with meats and seafoods, and they’re set up to ship it home or pack it for travel. If you get a hankering from home, try www.cajungrocer.com.
Besides the shops listed here, see Voodoo temples and practitioners.
T-Shirts & More
If crass suits your style, by all means buy up the Bourbon Street goods. But for a garment with local flavor that’s also clever and maybe even has a decent design aesthetic, there are a plethora of superior options. Shirts (and hats, hoodies, and so forth) in these shops will probably run $5 to $10 more than your average show-me-your-whatever tops, but they’re softer. And smarter.