Karen Dalton Beninato

Correspondent

  • New Orleans, LA, USA

Karen Dalton Beninato is a correspondent who lives in New Orleans and covers the city for Forbes Travel Guide.com. A former newspaper features editor, she has written for publications including The New Republic, Times Picayune and The Lens and she blogs at The Huffington Post. She and her husband founded the New Orleans Musicians Relief Fund after Hurricane Katrina to help musicians replace their instruments and return home. Karen enjoys food, music and the arts — so she lives in the right place.

  • On June 25, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are some things to know before visiting New Orleans?

    Some things to know before visiting New Orleans are the nature of its evolving neighborhoods. Whereas 10 years ago Bourbon Street was the first place a visitor would think of for music and revelry, Frenchmen Street is the new cultural hot spot with the most popular bands in the city showing their chops in nightly concerts. The crowd ranges from world travelers to local hipsters taking in the scene.

    The Bywater is another neighborhood on the ascend if you're a lover of the arts and pop culture. Galleries abound, alongside pop-up restaurants and food trucks. New Orleans is an ever-changing city with an old soul, so do your research in advance if you want to visit a new New Orleans no matter how many pilgrimages to the Crescen City you've logged.
  • On June 14, 2013
  • On June 4, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What’s happening this weekend in New Orleans?

    The level of activity in New Orleans this weekend proves there's never an off-season for attractions drawing tourists to the Crescent City. Catch popular blues, soul, and rock guitarist Marc Stone on Thursday, June 6, at the Ogden After Hours Series hosted in one of the city's finest museums. Stone brings his acoustic and slide guitar set to the Ogden, accompanied by pianist Joshua Paxton.

    The weekend keeps hopping with the French Market Creole Tomato Festival, held simultaneously with and adjacent to the Cajun-Zydeco Festival at the Old U.S. Mint on Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9. Chefs will be creating tomato-based magic in the French Market, and offering samples while the strains of BeauSoleil avec Michael Doucet  and other popular Cajun bands provide a soundtrack to those inclined to cut a rug.
  • On June 4, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    Where can you get the best view in New Orleans?

    The highest natural spot in New Orleans is Monkey Hill in Audubon Zoo, but for for fresh air and quality views, stroll the Moon Walk, named for former mayor Moon Landrieu, to the best view of the French Quarter's Jackson Square seen from Washington Artillery Park. The area on the river side of Decatur Street is one of the most popular locations for photographs of both the Mississippi River and, at its opposite, the St. Louis Cathedral at the heart of Jackson Square.

    For alternate spectacular views, don't miss the Hilton Riverfront Hotel, Hotel Monteleone and the Forbes Four Star Hotel Windsor Court for romantic Mississippi River vistas from your own room.
  • On June 4, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What’s the weather like right now in New Orleans?

    The weather in New Orleans is on the warm side, crawling above 90 degrees as summer begins in earnest. High humidity is the New Orleans gift of a permanent facial. As good as it can be for your skin, it can be tricky to dress for and best accomodated with loose, white clothing.

    Afternoon showers are an almost daily occurrence. Pack a small umbrella for most outings so you'll be prepared, and dodge balconies in the French Quarter if you head out without one. Evenings are cooled down to around 75 degrees, and that's when you can enjoy night blooming jasmine, magnolia, sweet olive and every other intoxicating scent that summer in New Orleans brings.
  • On June 4, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best food gifts to buy in New Orleans?

    Bring a little bit of the Crescent City home to friends and family after a trip to New Orleans. Options abound, from pralines (secret ingredient: sugar) to chicory coffee from the French Market to beignet mix from Cafe DuMonde.

    King Cake around Carnival season is a favorite. It's a large round frosting and sugar-coated pastry with a tiny toy baby inside which indicates that the recipient of that slice buys the next king cake.

    Seafood is a little tricker to send as a gift, but most outlets will ship frozen seasonal Gulf of Mexico seafood to the recipient of your choice for a shrimp boil back home, or a Louisiana style crawfish boil. Spices are another popular gift, with hot sauce of every variety in most grocery stores and the French Market to bring a little New Orleans zing to your favorite armchair traveler.
  • On June 4, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    Should visitors rent a car in New Orleans?

    Visitors, especially those coming to New Orleans for the first time and staying in the French Quarter, would be well advised to skip the car rental and take advantage of the streetcar system for points of interest from cemeteries to the aquarium. Many hotels offer free shuttle service to and from the airport. If yours does not, a taxicab from Armstrong Airport will run roughly $25 one way. A new ordinance requires taxis all to be equipped to take credit card payments.

    Once you arrive at your hotel, ask the concierge for a clearly marked map of the French Quarter grid. He or she will get you started with local points of interest and neighborhood recommendations.

    New Orleans has one of the finest streetcar systems in the United States. Pedicabs, carriages, and other unique modes of travel are also excellent options. Traversing the French Quarter on foot is a great way to take in street musicians, shopping, food and culture.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is New Orleans’ restaurant scene like?

    The New Orleans restaurant scene is more cutting-edge than it has been in years. Classics high end establishments like Restaurant August, Commander's Palace, and Forbes Four Star Rated Bayona and The Grill Room anchor the local dining scene and are strong national ambassadors of the city's food chops.

    But Root, Restaurant R'evolution, Crillo, SoBou and many, many other recent high-end additions to the restaurant scene abound.

    In addition to the classic New Orleans seafood dishes in cream sauce the city is known for, you'll find gastronomic innovators developing feats of culinary daring with locally sourced ingredients, making the Crescent City more of an adventurous foodie's paradise than ever.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    Where are the best places to hear live music in New Orleans?

    Mahalia Jackson Theatre is the best place to hear concert-level live music in New Orleans. The New Orleans Arena brings stadium rock to town, but the acoustics aren't at theater level and the Superdome is also not the optimum place for concerts.

    For more intimate venues, Irvin Mayfield's Jazz Clubs in the French Quarter are well designed and feature top New Orleans  jazz and rhythm and blues talents. Snug Harbor on Frenchmen Street also books top level musicians. Look for clubs with a cover and you'll know the management is supporting the musicians they book. The House of Blues primarily sticks to national touring bands so it's worth a look to see if your favorite band is in town. Uptown, Carrolton Station is a cozy location for roots rock. 

    An online search and a few questions to your favorite locals and you'll easily find a musician worth  venturing out to hear.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is the best New Orleans nightlife?

    The best New Orleans nightlife combines its signature cocktail culture with some of the best dining and live music in the world.

    Top level mixologists are found at SoBou, named for South of Bourbon Street and run by the purveyors of legendary Commander’s Palace. Follow cocktails with dinner at the Forbes Four Star Rated Bayona restaurant, run by iconic New Orleans chef Susan Spicer. Then stroll down Royal Street where you can shop to your heart's content on the way to the live music of Frenchmen Street.

    Snug Harbor offers an evening of music from world-class New Orleans artists at the top of their game. Music flows from clubs up and down the street, so enjoy a stroll and see what tickles your ear. Celebrity-spotting is becoming more and more common on Frenchmen which is an integral part of the Hollywood of the South.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What's new in New Orleans?

    There's more New in New Orleans than at any other time in recent memory. New Orleans has received publicity from a series of high-visibility events including Super Bowl 2013 that have only added to its tourism boom. The city is host to a vibrant comedy scene, has been named an entrepreneurial hub by Forbes Magazine, and is becoming even more of a foodie paradise with cutting-edge chefs making it a destination for their culinary pet projects.

    Add to that the fact that New Orleans is now considered the Hollywood of the South thanks to tax credit incentives to filmmakers, and you have the makings of a cultural renaissance in an already culture-heavy city. Case in point, just off the French Quarter, Frenchmen Street hosts a vibrant new music and club scene, with an arts market adjacent to the clubs. If it's been a few years since you visited, old favorites abound but the new New Orleans adds event more entertainment bang for a traveler's buck.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the five best New Orleans food experiences?

    New Orleans' five best food experiences owe as much to their surroundings as the food itself.
    Gumbo Z'Herbes: Dookie Chase is the location for the culinary high holy holiday of Gumbo Z'Herbes. Chef Leah Chase presides over the event herself on Good Friday, in a unique gumbo dish made with smothered greens.

    Chef's Tables: From Restaurant R'evolution to Commander's Palace to M. Bistro in the Forbes Four Star Ritz Carlton, Chef's Tables are a chef's chance to wow you with the top selections of the day. Ask well in advance for a booking and prepare to have a life-changing evening.

    The classic crawfish boil can't be beat for its inherent sociability. Sidle up to a table covered in newspaper and begin to claim your pile of crawfish. Each chef has his or her own spice mix, some molten and some more to a standard traveler's palate. You won't know until you twist off the tail, peel of the shell and dive in. Boils abound in French Quarter restaurants.

    Po-Boy: The classic po-boy is made with french bread, dressed with mayonnaise, lettuce and tomato, and filled with everything from fried oysters to french fries covered in gravy (yes, that's a thing). Stick to neighborhood diners and ask a local and you can't go wrong. Parkway Tavern is one of the most hearty servings with outdoor seating when weather permits.

    Beignets: Cafe Du Monde is the best place to start your first day in New Orleans. It's a common tourist attraction for a reason, fluffy squares of fried dough covered in powdered sugar come with a coffee strong enough to get you through a traveler's day of pounding the pavement.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What is New Orleans’ cultural scene like?

    New Orleans' cultural scene is mercurial with as many facets as the city itself. Old-school glamour can be found in a night at the Mahalia Jackson Theater; drinks at the Sazerac Bar, and a walk down Royal Street with its antique-filled windows.

    A new twist on the classic New Orleans night out can be found sampling wildly popular new restaurants in the Bywater or Marigny neighborhoods, and then taking in live music on Frenchmen Street in clubs like the Spotted Cat or d.b.a.

    But New Orleans is all about finding your own unique experience in a city of back-to-back festivals and more costumed events than any town has a right to pull off. Come down for the Red Dress Run, the Running of the Bulls, the first game of the Saints season or any other joyful only-in-New-Orleans event and you'll be back for more of the same.
  • On June 1, 2013
    Karen Dalton Beninato answered the question: Karen Dalton Beninato

    What are the best spas in New Orleans?

    New Orleans abounds in luxury spas for travelers looking to pamper off their jet lag. Spa Aria at the Hotel Monteleone is your home away from home, offering its signature Jet Lag Package with intensive rescue ritual.

    The Forbes Travel Guide Four-Star rated Ritz-Carlton Spa hosts an apothecary bar of house-made treatments to have you glowing before a big night out. Its Voodoo Love Massage is an only-in-New Orleans treatment that includes drums, elixers and other proprietery summoning of the spirit.

    And the Four-Star Spa at Windsor Court has rung it its first year of service with a devoted following of fans of luxe treatment. Soak in your favorite spa treatments in the Duet Suite, awash in old world charm.
  • On May 25, 2013