WHERE TO STAY:
We have stayed at three hotels in New Orleans. First, THE RITZ CARLTON (921 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70112). This hotel was incredible. It was a bit of a splurge for us, so we were only able to stay one night. If you can afford it – I would highly recommend staying here. It is in a great location, close enough to all of the activities, and the rooms have the largest and nicest bathrooms I have ever seen at a hotel. Tip: This hotel is dog friendly! Ritz Carlton
The second place we stayed was HOTEL MONTELEONE (214 Royal St, New Orleans, LA 70130). I have to admit, I was so excited to stay at this hotel that I named our new dog, Monte, in anticipation of staying here. The historic hotel and the carousel bar is what sold me (open 7 days a week, beginning at 11am). The carousel bar, a merry-go-round of bar stools, is New Orleans only revolving bar. I have to admit, after staying in the luxurious Ritz Carlton, this hotel was a TINY bit of a let down. Only because the rooms are so small – but we should have expected that since it is an older historic hotel. Other than the size of the rooms, this hotel was incredible. Tip: Check out the rooftop pool for gorgeous views of New Orleans. Hotel Monteleone
The third place we stayed, on a separate trip to New Orleans, was LE PAVILLON HOTEL (833 Poydras St, New Orleans, LA 70112). We chose this hotel for our second trip because we wanted to be a little further away from Bourbon Street, and closer to The Garden District (a beautiful area that we discovered on our first trip to New Orleans). It also is rumored to be haunted and who can pass up staying at a supposedly haunted hotel? Tips: Every night at 10PM the hotel serves free milk, hot chocolate, and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. Check out the Le Pavillon website for the sweet story on how this tradition got start. Make sure to check out the rooftop pool with gorgeous views of New Orleans. Le Pavillon
FAVORITE PLACES TO DRINK/EAT:
AVENUE PUB (Garden District – 1732 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70130) Pub food, $$. This bar/restaurant is located in the Garden District and was recommended to us by a local. This is somewhat of a dive bar with a huge craft beer selection. Also, the bar food is REALLY good. It is not very touristy which makes it even more fun. Tips: Open 24 hours a day and no kids allowed. Order the “Dump Truck Fries”. Try to sit on the second floor patio overlooking St. Charles street. Take the St. Charles trolley from Canal Street and get off at the Felicity stop. Avenue Pub
PORT OF CALL (French Quarter – 838 Esplanade Ave, New Orleans, LA 70116) Burgers, $$. This restaurant was another recommendation from a local. The burgers here were incredible. Be prepared for a long wait – the locals were experts and literally brought fold-out chairs to sit in while they waited. The burgers and baked potatoes were worth the wait! Tip: Be sure to order the “Monsoon”. Port of Call
SURREY’S CAFE AND JUICE BAR (Garden District – 1418 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130). Breakfast and Brunch, $$. This restaurant was recommended by a friend who travels to New Orleans frequently. I would highly recommend this place for breakfast (be sure to order the banana pancakes). Tip: Only open for breakfast and lunch. CASH ONLY. Surrey’s
THE CAMELLIA GRILL (Uptown – 626 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118). American, $. We came here for breakfast based on a recommendation from my father-in-law. Oh my gosh. Delicious. This is good-ole-down-home-southern-cooking. The restaurant is very small and you sit at a long bar where you are able to watch the chefs prepare your food while they interact with you. This is a great place to sober up when you are hungover from Bourbon Street! Tip: Ride the St. Charles streetcar to the end of the line.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Cafe Du Monde (the beignets are great but they only have beignets; line is ridiculously long but food is delicious), Johnny’s Po Boys (small, cash only po-boy shop in the French Quarter), Cochon Butcher (cute sandwich shop in the Lower Garden District)
LA FITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP (941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116). La Fitte’s is supposedly the oldest bar in America. The interior and exterior of this dive bar are very unique, a lot of well worn brick and antique wooden furnishings. There is no electricity and at night this bar is illuminated by candle light. It is usually crowded but not chaotic like most bars on Bourbon Street. Tips: Order a hurricane or voodoo daiquiri. At night there is a piano bar! La Fitte’s
THE DELACHAISE (3442 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115) – if you are looking for something more low-key and far away from Bourbon Street, check out the Delachaise wine bar in the Garden District. This wine bar is located along the St. Charles streetcar line. Tips: You must order at the bar. This might sound annoying but we found it relaxing and romantic to order a bottle of wine and then be left alone at one of the cute little tables outside. Order the french fries! The kitchen is closed from 3-5PM so there is a very limited menu served during this time (opens at 5:00PM Mondays – Thursday and at 3PM on Fridays – Sunday). The Delachaise
THINGS TO DO:
JACKSON SQUARE (700 Decatur St, New Orleans, LA 70116) – Historic park in the French Quarter. Enjoy the view of the ST. LOUIS CATHEDRAL and walk around to see the street performers, artists and local vendors selling artwork. Be sure to check out CAFE DU MONDE right across the street. Jackson Square
AUDUBON AQUARIUM OF THE AMERICAS (1 Canal St, New Orleans, LA 70130). Open 10am – 5PM. Tickets are $23.95. I have to admit – this was my husband’s idea and I went mainly to make him happy. After waiting in a ridiculously long line with no shade – we finally made it inside. It was breathtaking! I didn’t even want to go and I thought it was incredible. Aquarium
WALKING AROUND THE GARDEN DISTRICT AND FRENCH QUARTER – New Orleans is gorgeous, just walk around and explore!! We decide to hunt for an original BANKSY and were lucky enough to find two after spending a good chunk of time on Google. Girl with umbrella is located on St. Claude Avenue at Kerlerec Street in Marigny. Girl scared by a rat is located on N. Villere Street near St. Ann Street in the Treme neighborhood
Tip: The ST. CHARLES STREETCAR is a great way to explore the Garden District (and the ride itself is a fun adventure). $1.25 per ride or $3 for a day pass (must have exact change). The streetcar felt safe and it was a very easy way to get around New Orleans.
Tip: The VOODOO MUSEUM was a fun attraction for only $5/person. However, the “museum” is only two small rooms so you won’t need longer than 20 minutes to see everything here.
FRENCHMEN STREET – If you are looking for a slightly more low-key vibe than Bourbon Street, be sure to check out all of the jazz bars along Frenchmen Street. This is apparently where all the locals go to hear good music. Our favorites: D.B.A (618 Frenchmen St) DBA and THE SPOTTED CAT MUSIC CLUB (623 Frenchmen St) Spotted Cat. Tip: This area was a fairly long walk from our hotel and some of the streets that we walked along were pitch black and deserted – be careful! DBA has live music almost every night for a $5 cover. The Spotted Cat Music Club is CASH ONLY and there is a one drink minimum.
BOURBON STREET – It’s New Orleans, you gotta do it….. just be prepared for the awful stench of vomit and booze. Tip: Order a hand grenade from Tropical Isle, it will make the entire experience more pleasant.
OAK ALLEY PLANTATION (3645 LA-18, Vacherie, LA 70090) Located about an hour outside of New Orleans. This gorgeous antebellum mansion is worth the drive! Named Oak Alley due to the path of massive oak trees lining the entrance to the plantation. It is located near a lot of other plantations if you wanted to spend the entire day touring plantations. Tip: Tickets are not sold in advance, just buy one upon your arrival. $20/adult. Oak Alley
CAJUN ENCOUNTERS SWAMP TOUR (Slidell, LA) – located about 45 minutes outside of New Orleans. The tour is about 2 hours long and we were able to see a lot of alligators. Definitely a fun thing to do if you are sick of drinking in New Orleans. Ticket prices = $25/adult. Cajun Encounters