New Orleans Travel Guide
I’m long overdue in posting my NOLA travel guide. One of my goals in the new year is to stay more up to date with the blog and active on Instagram, so here goes. Hope you enjoy!
Back in December, I booked a long weekend in New Orleans with some old coworkers. The last minute trip was definitely something I was looking forward to, especially in the middle of January when my mood starts being effected by the winter weather. I’d been to New Orleans with my best friend for a quick trip in 2004 and loved it, though we didn’t get to explore the area outside of the French Quarter. This time around, we were looking for a mix of relaxation, history and of course…a little fun! No trip to “The Big Easy” is complete without a little indulgence.
We had an amazing 4 days exploring, eating, drinking and catching up on much needed sleep! Here is my guide for things to do, places to eat, cocktails to drink and where to stay. Full disclosure: there is so much we didn’t get to do, so let me know what else you recommend!
WHERE TO STAY:
Hotels were quite pricey, so we opted for an AirBnB. We booked a 3 bedroom house that slept 10 people, which still worked well despite only four of us making the trip. We each had a nice bed and plenty of space to spread out. If we had wanted to grill or cook, this would’ve been an amazing home base since it had a beautiful kitchen and a fenced in patio. Unfortunately the weather was pretty cold, so we didn’t get to take advantage.
The neighborhood was definitely “up and coming,” but that’s fairly typical of NOLA. We were able to walk to the French Quarter during the day, but opted for Ubers at night just to be safe. You can check it out and book the house we stayed in here.
WHERE TO EAT & DRINK:
I’d visited Broussard’s on my first trip to NOLA. My best friend was hosting an event for work there, and I fell in love with its charm and the beautiful courtyard. This trip, we went straight here from the airport to partake in their jazz brunch. After too many mimosas (man, they are generous), we were serenaded with a jazz version of “Careless Whisper,” complete with sax solo. I ate the chicken and waffles since I was starving and had been up since 4am! Highly recommend.
We knew we wanted to do a nice dinner one night, and K-Paul showed up on many lists and was recommended by a few local friends. It’s definitely a bit pricey if you get cocktails, but so so worth it. I got a Creole-inspired Chicken Parmiagana dish and BOY was it huge! We were so full it was hard to finish our drinks after dinner.
Right next door to Broussard’s is a tiny bar that has the most amazing frozen Irish Coffees. And if you go before 2pm, they are only $3.50! They taste like a coffee milkshake and I could drink them all day long. Quick tip: they have a Killer Po Boys in the back of the bar, which are known to be some of the best in New Orleans.
We ended up here by accident, because we’d planned to eat outside and it was freezing. In the end, we ended up feeling like we found the perfect hidden gem and left stuffed to the brim with BBQ. I felt a bit like I was in Austin or Nashville, honestly, but it’s worth a stop if you’re in the Bywater neighborhood.
There are so many things I can say about Bacchanal. It was recommended by every person we asked where we should go during our trip. It’s part wine store, part outdoor wine bar, part music venue, and part restaurant. We went one night for a night cap and then again during the day when it was warmer for a cheese plate and a few bottles of wine. All I will tell you is GO. It was probably my favorite part of this visit. So much so, that we spent about 3 hours going down a wine-fueled rabbit hole of discussing how we could open it’s cousin in Brooklyn. DON’T MISS IT.
Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
The Carousel Bar is another place that is on every single list and for good reason. Their bartenders make a killer Ramos Gin Fizz, but really any drink on their cocktail menu is top notch. We tried a Hemingway Daquiri, Shaken Pina Colada, and Sazerac, too. I’m partial to hotel bars, but this has got to be one of my favorites. Try it on a week night, because it’s always packed on the weekends.
If you still have room in your belly, go to Acme for oyster or some fried food goodness. We went their before the airport for Po Boys (since Killer Po Boys was closed on Tuesdays). Honestly, we were too stuffed to enjoy it but it was really, really good. I’d previously waited 2+ hours to get in, so if you see it without a line, hop in for a quick bite and a beer.
Café du Monde
Again, no trip to NOLA is complete without beignets. I grew up in New England eating “dough boys” at carnivals, so it feels a little bizarre to eat this for breakfast, but it’s delicious so I really can’t complain. They also have an amazing cup of coffee.
Cane & Table
We went to Sunday brunch here. It’s right on the border of the French Quarter, and was an easy 20 minute walk from our AirBnB. It’s Latin fusion, and the menu is a bit limited but we loved the environment. Had it been warmer, we would’ve loved sitting on their patio. It was an Instagram dream! They also offer unlimited cocktails with brunch. Surprisingly, we didn’t opt for that, since we were being responsible ahead of a long day of bar hopping.
Cats Meow (Super fun karaoke and 3-for-1 drinks. Go at your own risk.)
Oz (If you’re looking for a gay bar or some dancing, this is a lot of fun!)
Old Absinthe House
Big Easy Daiquiris (It’s a chain and super cheesy, but I always make the trip)
Pat O’Briens (I think it’s a bit overrated, but the dueling pianos are worth the line at night)
THINGS TO DO:
If I’m being honest, the ghost tour we went on during this trip wasn’t the best. It was a pub crawl through “Haunted History,” and we felt like it was pretty long for only hearing 4 stories. Last trip, my tour was booked through a concierge and we had so much fun (even going into an old brothel). In fairness, it was so cold, so our guide might’ve kept us inside longer because of this. With all that said, you should do this at some point when you’re in New Orleans, just read reviews before you book!
We had a blast listening to live music and dancing on Frenchmen Street! We went to both the Spotted Cat and Maison. The band at Masion was amazing, and the female singer really knew how to start up a crowd. People were going NUTS! I also bought some really beautiful prints at the market on the street, which conveniently stays open until midnight.
There is so, so much great shopping here! The French Quarter has a lot of funky art galleries and antique shops that you could spend hours wandering. The French Market is also the perfect spot to get some treasures from local vendors (and has so many cute places nearby). A lot of people talk about the shopping on Magazine Street, though we didn’t get to head there ourselves.
This was the one thing we were dead set on doing. We happen to go here after spending a few hours at the Cat’s Meow (with a few 3-for-1 vodka sodas and the final Saints game). We waited in line for about 40 minutes and then enjoyed the show for about 40 minutes. It’s $20 cash to get in, and the bands vary by night. We really had a great time, though admittedly spent the whole time strategizing how I could escape to the bathroom. Blame the vodka sodas.
While we didn’t get to do it, we really would’ve loved to have time to go on a swamp tour! I’ll add this to my next trip when the weather is warmer for sure. I also would’ve loved to done some of the classes or tours offered through AirBnB, but alas, we only had about 4 days.
If you have extra time, take a walk around the Garden District. You can see Lafeyette Cemetary and even the AHS: Coven House. At the end of your trip, stop at Commander’s Palace (arguably one of the most famous restaurants in New Orleans). They do 25 cent martinis over lunch!
We had the best time! It was the perfect mix of fun and sleep and laughter. Staying connected with friends is so important and as I get older, I realize travel is, too. Suggestions welcome for my next adventure!