The Big Easy has lots of claims to fame. Amazing creole and Cajun food, toe-tapping jazz music, history and assorted folklore…and that’s not even scratching the surface. One of my top destinations I wanted to visit in 2018 was New Orleans and this adventure was extra special because it was my first ever trip with just me and my dad. Read on to hear about how we spent a long weekend in New Orleans.
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A Long Weekend in New Orleans
9:00 AM: Flight departs – CLE to MSY
- Don’t forget to pack good walking shoes and an umbrella! We visited during hurricane season and knew showers were in the forecast.
- My dad spoiled me and flew us first class…and it was AWESOME! This was my first (and maybe only) time getting such treatment and it was a stark contrast to my most recent budget airline flight. Thanks, pops!
1:00 PM: Arrive in New Orleans
- After a 15-minute cab ride, we arrived in the French Quarter and dropped off our luggage at Hotel Monteleone. This historic hotel is located in the heart of downtown on Royal Street, has been owned by the same family for five generations, and is one city block away from Bourbon Street.
- Hotel Monteleone has a very famous bar on the first floor that rotates around in a circle. Aptly named the Carousel Bar, this watering hole was ALWAYS packed. I’m pretty sure it’s one of the hotel’s biggest revenue generators. I would advise you to try to get a drink here, but after multiple attempts, we gave up and settled for the side bar. NOLA is known for their drinks (hello open container laws) and here are a few I would recommend trying while you’re in town: Vieux Carre, Pimm’s Cup, French 75 & Ramos Gin Fizz.
3:00 PM Explore downtown NOLA!
- One of the first things I like to do when I get to a new city is walk around. It not only gives you a feel for the city’s vibe, it also helps you get your bearings. Since we had such conveniently located lodging, we were easily able to walk down Royal Street (known for its antique shops), explore the French Quarter (main downtown area where a majority of the tourist attractions are located), briefly see Bourbon Street (not the best street for Dad/daughter sight-seeing tours), and peruse Jackson Square (known for the beautiful St. Louis Cathedral… plus Cafe Du Monde is close).
- Speaking of, did you really visit New Orleans if you didn’t get beignets and cafe au laits? I think not. Seriously, they are good. I had read in other blogs that the lines were long, but me and my dad literally walked up and got seated on the spot. Our sweet treats came incredibly quick and spiked my blood pressure! Cafe Du Monde is open 24/7.
6:00 PM: Freshen up for dinner & drinks
- It’s humid here, y’all! Since it’s located below sea level (whatttt?!) and tends to be known for partying, NOLA is a bit stinky. I would definitely recommend an evening shower after walking around all day.
- While there are a plethora of restaurants to choose from in the French Quarter, I recommend trying to stay away from the main streets as they up-charge you due to the tourist location. Consider happy hour at Evangeline (thanks for the recommendation, the Mexitalian) and dinner at Deanie’s Seafood.
9:30 PM: Grab a hurricane on Bourbon Street and see the craziness…
8:00 AM: Rooftop yoga
- Hotel Monteleone offers complimentary yoga a few days a week and I was all set to practice poolside. Not a proud moment: Turning around when I saw a married couple as the only other yogis awake. Confidence fail.
10:00 AM: Walk to Erin Rose Bar for a morning drink specials!
- Drinking is acceptable at all times in the Big Easy, so a Frozen Irish Coffee (which is more like a mocha milkshake) was an easy decision.
11:00 AM: Take the St. Charles Street car to the Garden District
- Riding these electric powered street cars was a highlight of this trip for both me and my dad. For $3, you can hop on and off these trolleys all day. It’s a steal!
- The Garden District is home to gorgeous old homes and the popular Lafayette cemetery #1. I immediately thought of the movie “Double Jeopardy” and was a bit spooked. Being a scaredy-cat, we didn’t stay long here and opted for trying to walk in the shade to gawk at the pretty mansions.
1:30 PM: Lunch at Shaya
- I first heard about this restaurant via the show “Somebody Feed Phil” on Netflix (I love it!) and knew I had to eat here if I ever visited New Orleans. We ordered lutenitsa, baba ganoush, hummus, and the veggie platter. Their bread service is homemade pita and my oh my is it delicious. If you like Mediterranean food, go here! Everything (minus a caviar spread my dad ordered) was healthy, fresh and a perfect contrast to all the other rich, fried southern cooking we had been eating.
3:00 PM: Head back to the hotel to relax a bit -or- go to World War II Museum
- We opted for the former and enjoyed drinks on our rooftop pool. Sometimes I forget to add in downtime while exploring a new city, but it’s very necessary for an overall pleasant experience.
7:00 PM: Dinner at Brennan’s + save room for dessert…bananas foster!
- Word to the wise: If you want to go here, you do need a reservation and a thick wad of cash. Since we didn’t plan this out carefully enough, we ended up going to the Royal House Oyster Bar instead and marveled at the amount of oysters the bartenders could crack in a few minutes. Those suckers are difficult to pry open!
9:00 PM: Listen to jazz at Preservation Hall
- Something I’m not super good at is being flexible when my plans don’t go as I envisioned. After a long day walking around in the heat, we decided to skip Preservation Hall which I was a bit bummed about. We did get to see a lot of street musicians including impromptu jazz music, a talented violinist, a young drummer duo and more.
9:00 AM: Walk to the French market for breakfast/brunch
11:30 AM: Go on a Steamboat Cruise down the Mississippi or tour a plantation
- While both of these sounded like interesting options, we opted to go to the World War II Museum instead. It’s a bit pricey but worth every single penny. You could spend your whole day here and not get bored. My dad said it best when he explained he was moved by this experience. You definitely don’t walk away feeling happy go lucky, but instead appreciate the sacrifice so many people before us made, as well as mourn the fact that these horrendous events actually happened.
- Goodness me. NOLA will break whatever sort of diet you are on. If you don’t mind a greasy spoon restaurant, be sure to stop at Johnny’s Po Boys for some yummy food at a reasonable price.
9:30 AM: Say goodbye to NOLA
- My dad and I had a great time together. If you choose to go here, I hope the above recommendations and ideas will assist you in your trip planning. I was a bit taken back by the amount of homeless, alcohol consumption and number of tourists. If you are looking for a peaceful, stress free getaway, this isn’t it. I WOULD recommend this city to you if you’re a foodie, like to party/drink alcohol, and enjoy history.
- Here’s a few more things I would’ve liked to do with more time (& a bigger stomach):
Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your best experience here? Tell me in the comments below.