One Great Weekend: What to do in New Orleans

New Orleans, there is no other city in the world quite like it. A mix of French, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences; some of the world’s best food, and a lively music scene have helped create one of the most distinct cities in the US. While one can never fully know New Orleans, you can certainly get a taste of this vibrant city over the course of a weekend. New Orleans is the kind of place that stays with you, once you’ve experienced her joie de vive you’ll be longing to return again. Now as they say “laissez les bon temps rouler!”, or let the good times roll!

New Orleans, there is no other city in the world quite like it. A mix of French, Spanish and Afro-Caribbean influences; some of the world’s best food, and a lively music scene have helped create one of the most distinct cities in the US. While one can never fully know New Orleans, you can certainly get a taste of this vibrant city over the course of a weekend. New Orleans is the kind of place that stays with you, once you’ve experienced her joie de vive you’ll be longing to return again. Now as they say “laissez les bon temps rouler!”, or let the good times roll!

Stay

Maison du Puy

Set back within the residential Vieux Carre section of the French Quarter, the Maison DuPuy is an independent historic hotel with a casually gracious sense of hospitality. The Maison DuPuy is located just 2 blocks from Bourbon Street, making it close enough to party while being just enough out of the way to be quiet and relaxed.

Hotel Maison du Puy- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Hotel Monteleone

The belle of the French Quarter, the Hotel Monteleone has welcomed guests with its warm elegance since 1880. The Hotel Monteleone also pays homage to New Orleans’s literary traditions with 5 themed literary suites. The Montelone’s renowned Carousel Bar (complete with a carousel-turned-bar that actually rotates) is popular with both locals and visitors alike.

Hotel Monteleone- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

 

Do

French Quarter

The unique architectural style of the French Quarter is reflective of its history and heritage. The Creole style that dominates the French Quarter is a result of Spanish and French architectural styles blended with Caribbean influences;  narrow streets flanked by colorful townhomes  with lush greenery languidly draped over cast-iron balconies. While Bourbon Street may best be known for drunken revelry; I recommend  bypassing that and exploring the boutiques and art galleries of Chartres Street and the quiet elegance of Royal Street. Artists, musicians, tourists and locals all can be found enjoying Jackson Square and the Spanish colonial beauty of St. Louis Cathedral.

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.comThe French Quarter- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Garden District

Uptown the grand mansions of the Garden District comprise the country’s largest collection of antebellum architecture. Lavish gardens, grand mansions and effuive Southern charm are the hallmarks of this uptown neighborhood. Stroll past the sumptuous and often whimsical antebellum mansions and be sure to explore Lafayette Cemetery for a look into how New Orleans honors its past.

The Garden District- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.comLafayette Cemetery Jackson- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Music

More than any other city music is woven into the very soul of New Orleans. Best known as the birthplace of jazz and Louis Armstrong, New Orleans more recently has inspired decades of soul, funk, rock and hip hop artists. Street musicians of all genres can be found on nearly every corner while brass bands(along with second line revelers) accompany traditional funerals and weddings. There may be no better place to experience live music; get your music fix at Preservation Hall, a New Orleans institution that has been central to the promotion of traditional jazz since 1961. The Faubourg Marigny neighborhood is home to a number of popular venues along Frenchmen Street including The Spotted Cat Music ClubSnug Harbor Jazz Bistro, and Blue Nile.

Street music- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.comPreservation Hall- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Swamp Tour

Just beyond New Orleans’ city limits lies a completely different but equally fascinating world, where gnarled cypress laced with Spanish moss frame the silent waters, the gator is king and where time changes little. The swamps near New Orleans are home to a plethora of wildlife including alligators,turtles, black bear, snakes, nutria, and a variety of birds. There’s even been rumor of a Bigfoot-like beast roaming these Southern marshes. The folks at Cajun Encounters lead New Orleans’ top rated swamp tour and they will even pick you right up at your hotel.

Swamp Tour- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Mardi Gras

New Orleans will celebrate just about anything. Decorations and costumes are out for the traditional American holidays- Christmas, New Year’s and Holloween; but every February New Orleans throws one of the world’s best parties-Mardi Gras. Mardi Gras is the culmination of New Orleans Carnival season which starts on January 6; I recommend you get your party on during one of the many smaller local parades throughout January and February. Miss Mardi Gras season completely? Stop by one of New Orleans’ several Mardi Gras museums including Mardi Gras World, The Backstreet Cultural Museum and The Presbytère .

Mardi Gras- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Eat

Cafe du Monde

A stop at Cafe du Monde is a must for any visit to New Orleans. The original cafe, located near the French Market, has been operating since 1862. Known for two things – beignets, square doughnuts covered in powdered sugar, and coffee laced with chicory served black or au lait. Lines can be long to get your beignet fix but move quickly. Take your beignets to go or grab a table and enjoy your bites of fried, airy deliciousness with a view of Jackson Square.

Beignets at Cafe du Monde- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Stanley

Stanley, located near Jackson Square, serves up elevated American and Creole comfort food. Since the good times in New Orleans roll long into the night Stanley offers its signature breakfast menu all day. My favorite? The Beaux Bridge Benedict, French bread topped with housemade boudin, gooey American cheese and two perfectly poached eggs.

Beaux Bridge Benidict at Stanley- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Square Root/Root Squared

New Orleans is justly known for its traditional cuisine but the past few years have seen a new wave of chefs unafraid to test New Orleans’ culinary limits. Chef Philip Lopez who pioneers with a modernist take on local flavors at his Magazine Street restaurants Square Root and Root Squared. At Square Root serious foodies clamor for one twice nightly seatings for a 9-15 course tasting menu with full view of the chef and his team. The food here is refined and technical but also has a bit of whimsy. The same passion can also be found in a more casual setting upstairs at Root Squared where locals and in the know visitors relax with artful cocktails and housemade charcuterie.

Square Root- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Johnny’s Po’Boys

There is no better place to get your fix for New Orleans’ classic po’boy sandwich than Johnny’s. Serving their signature sandwiches since 1950 you can choose from a wide variety of fillings; go traditional with chicken or roast beef, or be adventurous and try the softshell crab or alligator sausage. Johnny’s is a no frills kind of place where you’ll find both celebrities and regular Joe’s waiting their turn for these iconic sandwiches.

Johnny's Po'Boys- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Commander’s Palace

Perhaps New Orleans’ most well known restaurant, Commander’s Palace has stood watch on the corner of Washington Avenue and Coliseum Street since 1880. Recognized as the grande dame of “haute Creole” cuisine by both locals and international press, Commander’s Palace does not rest on its laurels with offerings like chicory coffee laquered quail and bread pudding souffle finished table side. The 3 course prix fixe lunch and  Commander’s 25-cent martinis continue to be one of the best dining values in town.

Commander's Palace- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

Drink

While the cocktail  wasn’t invented in New Orleans as widely believed,the Crescent City is lays claim to creating several classic cocktails, most notably the Sazerac.The combination of rye whiskey (or bourbon), absinthe, Peychaud’s bitters and sugar was named New Orleans’ official cocktail in 2008. New Orleans has no shortage of places to enjoy an expertly crafted drink, I personally recommend the Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone , the Sazerac Bar, Cure and Bar Tonique.

Cocktails at the Carousel Bar- One Great Weekend:What to do in New Orleans www.casualtravelist.com

 

Do you have any other suggestions for what to do in New Orleans? Please share in the comments!

31 Comments on “One Great Weekend: What to do in New Orleans

  1. The hubby and I visited once, but it was July and so humid for us, we really want to go back during cooler weather! The best thing to do is EAT! It’s funny being such huge francophiles, we didn’t get into the French Quarter, so that is high on our list when we go back.
    Andi recently posted…Discovering Art and Culture in GainesvilleMy Profile

    • I went in February, and while a little cool it was great for walking around.

    • New Orleans is such an amazing city and the food is just spectacular. Definitely wear your stretchy pants!

  2. Other than the Garden District, another great spot to ogle at houses and mansions is along Esplanade Avenue that leads to the New Orleans Museum of Art. It truly is a millionaire’s row!

  3. Nawlins suggestions? Heck yeah.

    A walking architecture and cemetery tour is magnificent. Good fortune rained on me as I was the only tour member one trip. Private tour!

    Ride the streetcar around town.

    Visit a locals only bar. I am partial to Finn McCool’s, which has an awesome St. Patrick’s Day parade route painted on the steps outside the front door. Check it out.

    The Voodoo Museum is AH-MAZE-ING. It is a block from the St. Louis Cathedral and I enjoyed visiting the two places back to back.

    OK, I have almost written an entire article. I am out.
    Charles McCool recently posted…LivItaly Sensational Small Group Tours in RomeMy Profile

  4. I’ve never had a chance to delve into New Orleans. My only experiences are driving through. It’s a city with such rich history so I have to make some time to explore.

  5. One can ever get enough of New Orleans, it seems. As many times as I have been, Brianna, I always love learning about new and different locations. The last time we went to NOLA we thought we were going to Commander’s Palace, but when we got inside we realized we were way underdressed for their clientele, so we went around the block and found Parasol’s, which was an excellent low-class alternative. Haha! Stanley’s poached eggs look heavenly, by the way.

  6. I’ve been seeing and doing New Orleans for 24 years now and still my favorite city in the whole US, plus the best eating city. I love Commander’s Palace and Johnny’s is my favorite for Po’ Boys, too. Good suggestions in your post but I have not yet been on a swamp tour. They look so fun. Your food looked so delicious. NOM!
    Melody Pittman recently posted…My 50 Before 50 Bucket List: Happy Half Century!My Profile

  7. Full confession: I’ve never been. It sounds terrific, l’d love to see Maison DuPuy. My husband would love to go for the music. Thanks for the post.

  8. I’ve been wanting to visit New Orleans for so long! My husband has been twice, but it never works out for me to go with–hopefully I can get there sometime soon! I would love to head to Preservation Hall for some music, and the food looks fantastic throughout the entire city. It would also be fun to check out the swamp and the Mardi Gras stuff, too. Thanks for sharing some great spots!
    Jenna recently posted…Snowshoeing at the Minnesota Landscape ArboretumMy Profile

    • Hmm, I definitely need to do some more food research in NOLA. A return trip is definitely in order.

  9. I’ve been trying to get to New Orleans for years, but something always ends up happening that doesn’t allow me to go. I’d love to go and eat and check out the architecture. Not sure about checking out the cemeteries though.

  10. My boyfriend really wants to go to new Orléans. Might be all of the films we watched. We are currently considering it as our main trip this year. Thank you for sharing!

  11. We are in complete agreement about the Monteleone and the Carousel Bar, as well as Commander’s. One of my favorite cities in the US, and you captured it perfectly.

  12. I am so excited to be going to New Orleans for the first time in September. Everything I see and read makes me more keen. Great photos as well Brianna.
    Dean recently posted…Panoramic EuropeMy Profile

    • New Orleans is one of my favorite cities on the planet, I’m sure you’ll love it!

  13. New Orleans is auch a crazy fun spot to visit. We get a chance to get over there pretty often because of my husband’s business trips to the city. Now we travel with the kids and they love it, too. It is especially fun at Christmas time because lots of the hotels have the most wonderful GRAND gingerbread house creations in the lobby.

    We have not taken a swamp tour and now that you mention it – we need to! I’m completely terrified of alligators, but I bet the kids would be fascinated!
    Natalie recently posted…Visit Meteora with KIDS – Getting There From AthensMy Profile

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