CANVASES, CARATS AND CURIOSITIES

USA Today

2 minute read

Holiday Shopping Is More Fun in New Orleans

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USA TODAY, November 10, 2014 -- Everything is more fun in New Orleans. And that goes for holiday shopping, too. While some consumers head to the malls to patronize their favorite chain stores, others opt to take a keep-it-local approach to filling their gift list.

Shopping in and around town might mean perusing through old vinyl, browsing handmade Mardi Gras masks or eyeballing vintage fashions and hand-crafted home accessories. Here are a few places to start:

Beguiling Avenues

While you can find treasures just about everywhere, there are a few streets that deliver plenty of local style.

Royal Street is the beating heart of shopping in the French Quarter. One block and a world away from the craziness of Bourbon Street, Royal mixes classy antique shops and boutiques, estate jewelry stores, local and international art galleries with street artists and plenty of bars and restaurants.

For antiques, M.S. Rau is not to be missed, a repository of everything from vintage watches to silver desk accessories and fine antiques

For more bling, head to Razzle Dazzle, where everything that's not nailed down is festooned with sequins and fleur-de-lys. Very fun.

Madama Bazarre in the 900 block is an especially great spot for local art and oddities.

For carnival masks that aren't from China, discerning tourists like Beyoncé head to Massoud Dalili's studio and gallery for handmade themed masks crafted by the artist himself. You'll pay a bit more, but not much for the quality of the work.

Then there's Magazine Street, a six-mile-long stretch that runs between the Garden District and Uptown. Magazine is dotted with vintage shops, galleries, home stores and art-to-wear boutiques.

With plenty of options for noshing and cocktailing along the way, dining or just a casual stroll, Magazine delivers the goods.

Art Markets

Thanks to its thriving arts culture, buying locally made art in New Orleans is an affordable pleasure. Visit the Arts Market of New Orleans in Palmer Park uptown on the last Saturday of every month for handmade, affordable art from local and regional artists. Wares range from ceramics to printmaking to homemade soaps.

In the French Market, founded in 1791, no doubt you can find plenty of imported ticky-tacky souvenirs. But there's good stuff, too "” work by local artists and a good array of foodie gifts reflecting New Orleans cuisine.

And sometimes, it's okay to want to buy just a t-shirt.

You'll always find artists set up around Jackson Square, the spot for plein air creations.

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