Four days after getting back from Hawaii, I got back on a plane and headed down to New Orleans for the weekend. I was going for work, but my childhood best friend joined me for some long-weekend festivities and overdue catching up. I’ve created this New Orleans city guide for any of you planning a trip to the Big Easy in the future. Enjoy and please share your own recommendations in the comments.

Where to eat and drink

New Orleans Shrimp and Grits

  • Cochon Butcher – Warehouse District – This is the take-out sister restaurant to the sit-down Cochon. Since we didn’t have time to sit down and enjoy a full meal, we picked up sandwiches at Butcher. Both were amazingly delicious and I wish I could get them shipped up to Boston. I had the Cajun Pork Dog and my friend had the Cochon Muffaletta.
  • Surrey’s Cafe and Juice Bar – Garden District – This was my friend’s friend’s recommendation, and I’m so glad it was made. The shrimp and grits were AMAZING. Insanely filling, but amazing nonetheless. I still think abut the dish at least once a week. Sadly, I haven’t found something similar in Boston yet.
  • Borgne – Central Business District – Don’t let the fact that Borgne is in  Hyatt Regency scare you away. This Besh restaurant is a “homage to New Orleans classics, a nod to the Isleño influence in New Orleans, and a celebration of all that the local waterways have to offer.” I’m not sure what most of that means, but I can tell you to check out the Duck Poppers, Shrimp Toast and Fried Chicken.
  • Café du Monde – French Quarter – I was very conflicted about putting this classic on the list. Let me put it this way. Beignets are delicious, but were they worth the 40-minute wait when we went? No. Since Café du Monde is open 24/7 go at a time when the line isn’t wrapped around the building. Please promise me you won’t wait in line for more than 10 minutes.
  • The Howlin’ Wolf – Warehouse District – If you’re looking for a non-ritzy place to catch local music and throw back a beer or two, The Howlin’ Wolf is your place. They feature great bands and they serve up Not Your Father’s Root Beer. What more could you ask for on a night out?
  • Pat O’Brien’s – French Quarter – I’m sure the locals would cringe at this recommendation, but sometimes you just have to be a tourist. This is allegedly the home of the hurricane, so make sure to grab one to stay or to go. Be forewarned – Hurricanes are insanely sugary and the tourists will be insanely drunk.
  • The Bulldog – Garden District – If you’re looking to get away from the tourist bars in the French Quarter, stop in The Bulldog while shopping on Magazine Street. Sure, there will be a few tourists in the mix, but you’ll meet your fair share of locals. My friend and I had a conversation with three local chaps while drinking our adult beverages. Granted, she did all the talking while I shoved quesadilla in my face, but you get the picture.

What to do and see

New Orleans Mardi Gras World

  • Lafayette Cemetery – Garden District – What’s more relaxing than a walk in a cemetery. Am I right? This isn’t like the northern cemetery’s I’m used to. Rather than burying the dead under ground, this cemetery features rows and rows of above-ground tombs. Totally creepy and totally cool.
  • Haunted History Tour – French Quarter – I always recommend taking a ghost tour of a new city. They’re just the best – a little spook mixed with a little history. It’s the true recipe for success. We toured with Haunted History Tours and I was very pleased with our experience and guide. Plus, they give you a bathroom break halfway through, which is clutch if you’ve been downing adult beverages during the first half of the tour.
  • Mardi Gras World – Garden District – Sure this may sound cheesy, but it’s so interesting. You can see all of the floats that are used in the Mardi Gras celebrations. Boy, whoever dreams up these floats must be on some serious drugs.
  • Jackson Square – French Quarter – You’ve seen it in all of the movies and your friend’s NOLA ‘grams, so make sure you check out Jackson Square for yourself. It’s much larger than I anticipated, and St. Louis Cathedral on the edge of the square is stunning.
  • French Market District – French Quarter – “3 Centuries of History. 6 Blocks of Shopping. Open Daily.” <— so says their website. The French Market is a neat place to check out if you like snacking on lots of things and shopping. My friend got a Bloody Mary from Organic Banana and said it was worth going back. So there you have it, get a Bloody Mary and sip it while you peruse all of the vendors!
  • The National WWII Museum – Warehouse District – Sure, it may be nerdy, but this is perfect if you enjoy museums or just need a break from the Louisiana heat. And according to their website, The National WWII Museum is the #3 museum in the country on TripAdvisor.
  • Magazine Street – Garden District – Looking to shop? To eat/drink? To leisurely stroll? Then Magazine Street is your jam. Have an Uber take you to the corner or Magazine Street and Napoleon Ave and then walk back towards the French Quarter. You don’t need to have a destination in mind as you’re bound to stumble on some real gems.
  • Buckner Mansion – Garden District – From what we found, you can’t explore inside, but it is a beautiful sight. This mansion rivals all mansions I’ve ever seen. Plus, the internet told me it was featured on American Horror Story: Coven. Located in the Garden District, it’s an easy destination for a leisurely architecture stroll.

Where to shop

New Oreans City Guide

  • Lucy Rose – Magazine Street – This is a cute boutique with a variety of clothing and jewelry items – some sourced locally.
  • Je T’aime Nola  – Magazine Street – This boutique is filled with locally created, vintage-inspired pieces. Free spirits are definitely welcome.
  • Magazine St. Art Market – Magazine Street – There is nothing like a local market to scope out some fun vendors. I snagged a gemstone necklace and two screen-printed patches with weasels. Just a casual Sunday purchase.
  • Zèle – Magazine Street – This store carries a variety of funky local artisans. For reference, I purchased a painting of a panda eating a slice of pizza on the roof of a red barn while in the store.

What to know

New Orleans Pat Os

  • New Orleans is much larger than you would expect, or at least larger than I would expect. I live in a city and love walking, and even I needed to call an Uber at least once a day. Make sure to budget in Uber costs if it’s not something you typically account for during your travels.
  • A lot of restaurants and stores are closed on Sunday. You’ll be able to find places to go and eat, but keep it in mind when planning your meals for the weekend.
  • Like Las Vegas, you can take drinks to go in New Orleans. I’m sure you know this – it’s one of the main tourist draws – but keep it in mind, because it’s so strange if you’re not used to it. Plus, pace yourself – you can literally be drinking all day, every day, {practically} everywhere.

Rumor has it

New Orleans Magazine Street

I was given a lot of recommendations when heading down to NOLA, but I sadly didn’t get a chance to check them all out. I can’t promise these are amazing, but I trust the recommenders, so I bet they’re worth a gamble.

Tell me: Have you been to New Orleans before?

Comments are closed.