This is the true story…
of seven people…
living in a house…
You get the idea. At 30+ a group of high school friends and I decided to finally take a trip together to none other than New Orleans, Louisiana! For four days, we ate, drank, and explored, and I’m so pumped to share some insights that will take you OFF Bourbon Street (cuz let’s face it–you’ll end up there anyway) .
Where to stay
Since there were literally seven of us, we stayed in an Airbnb and it was the best decision! We stayed in Bayou St. John, just west of the French Quarter and it was a perfect neighborhood to venture out to different parts of NOLA, have a place to get away from the craziness that is Bourbon Street, and it was a helluva lot cheaper than getting multiple hotel rooms. Check out Airbnb options for New Orleans, as they are a top market.
Note: In the past, I’ve stayed in the French Quarter, which was great because it allows for easy, walkable access to the ever-popular Bourbon Street and Jackson Square. This is a great option for a weekend getaway and for a smaller group.
What to do
Experience quintessential NOLA in Jackson Square, where you will find dozens of artists, beautiful St. Louis Cathedral, and of course…Cafe du Monde. Jackson Square is the perfect place to bop around, check out amazing artwork, and eat all the beignets you can.
Want live music? Frenchman Street has you covered! Stop into ANY bar on ANY night and see amazing bands, drink an Abita beer, and dance the night away. In between bar stops, check out the Frenchman Art Market and see the beautiful paintings, jewelry, and clothing created by local artists. Bars you shouldn’t miss include Apple Barrel, The Spotted Cat, and DBA.
Pro Tip: Most Frenchman Street bars are cash only, so come prepared!
Venture down to the Garden District to check out Magazine Street, where you can find quaint shops, outdoor restaurants, and fun bars…all a bit off the beaten path of the tourist traps. The Bulldog has a wonderful beer selection and beautiful outdoor seating, and just a short walk away you can find Dat Dog (one of many in NOLA) with a brightly colored setup of picnic tables, umbrellas, an outdoor bar, and a small art market!
If you’re into crawfish, do NOT miss out the crawfish boil at Bayou Beer Garden. My friends and I spent about 4 hours on this massive patio and dined on enormous platters of crawfish for only $12! Right next to the beer garden is a wine garden, which you can go back and forth to. A lot of locals hang out here, so you KNOW it’s a good spot.
There’s nothing like walking down the street and seeing a great band along the way. On Royal Street, you’ll see a bunch! In between stops at stores, coffee shops, and bars, stop and listen to the talented musicians you’ll find on each block. Royal Street is also home to a variety of clothing, home goods, and endless jewelry stops, so it’s a perfect place to stop and pick up a souvenir.
I know, it sounds strange, but hear me out. New Orleans has a rich history of cemeteries and there are a TON of companies that offer tours. During our visit to NOLA in 2014, Missy and I checked out a walking tour through French Quarter Phantoms which offers two hours of history, sightseeing, and Q&A. We visited the historic St. Louis Cemetery and saw the tomb of the Voodoo Priestess, as well as the future tomb of none other than actor Nicholas Cage. It’s a cheap afternoon activity (bonus–they often have Groupons available too!) and you’ll learn a lot!
Where to Eat
There are a MILLION restaurants in New Orleans and each of them offer something completely unique. Here are just a few of my favorites:
People typically recommend Acme Oyster House for the city’s best oysters. They’re good, but you’ll wait in line for more than an hour for them. Go right across the street for what I think are BETTER oysters and ZERO wait. While you’re there, enjoy the seafood platter and a shrimp and oyster po’boy as well.
For a wonderful drink mixed up by some talented mixologists, do not miss Sazarac, located in the Roosevelt Hotel. The loungey atmosphere, comfy seating, and broad menu are what make Sazarac something special. Along with your cocktails, you can munch on deliciously salty snacks including popcorn, baked chips, and trail mix. Sazarac is also home to the Ramos Gin Fizz–don’t question it, just drink it.
OK, yes, it’s basically a hot dog place. However, have you ever had an alligator dog? What about a crawfish dog? Dat Dog offers a ton of options and you build your own perfect dog! With dozens of meats and toppings to choose from, the options for building the ultimate hot dog are endless. I recommend the alligator meat topped with grilled onions and creole dijon mustard–YUM! Have a side of the loaded fries (again–a bunch of options for these too!) and enjoy a unique meal that you won’t find back home.