NEW ORLEANS TRAVEL GUIDE
The Best Food and Sights in the Bayou
New Orleans is an easy weekend getaway from almost anywhere in the United States. From the debauchery on Bourbon Street to the shade found underneath ancient Spanish oaks, I was excited to experience all that the Bayou had to offer. My favorite part of the trip ended up being the food! New Orleans has fluffy beignets, decadent oysters rockefeller and exotic seafood galore. Set to the backdrop of jazz and French creole sophistication, you can’t help by enjoy the art of slow Mississippi living. Read on for the best restaurants and sights to experience in a quick 4 day jaunt to New Orleans.
Top Experiences in New Orleans
Soak up the scenery of the historic French Quarter, tour the elegant Garden District and experience the supernatural through the city’s cemeteries. Laissez les bon temps roulez!
Stroll along the grand mansions of the Garden District, home to some of New Orleans’ wealthiest. See if you can spot Sandra Bullock’s and Archie Manning’s houses.
The oldest, most visited section of the city is here along with bars, restaurants and antique shopping galore.
Hop aboard the world’s oldest continually operated streetcar! The three main routes, St Charles, Canal and the Riverfront, will take you all across the city.
Plantations were once the mainstay of the state’s agrarian economy. Visit the genteel mansions at Oak Alley and be transported back in time.
The city is a swamp so the dead are housed in elaborate above ground mausoleums. Visit St. Louis #1, the burial place of Voodoo queen Marie Laveau, for a haunting experience.
Where to Eat
Come for lunch, grab a 25 cent martini and try their 2 or 3 course menu option. I recommend the turtle soup, creole cuban sandwich and bread pudding souffle. Commander’s Palace is a fancier option in the Garden District – reasonable prices but make sure to look a bit more polished. From the French Quarter, take the no. 12 St Charles train. Afterwards, wander around the beautiful homes in the Garden District and maybe check out the famous cemetery!
Cafe du Monde
The undisputed cafe to get your beignet fix while in New Orleans is Cafe du Monde. The beignets come out piping hot with a doughy texture and lots of powdered sugar. Wash it all down with a cup of cafe au lait, but don’t expect to leisurely linger. It’s not so much a “cafe” as a stand with a roof awning and some lawn chairs.
Sobou has really innovative creole cuisine, with things like yellowfin cones with avocado ice cream and sweet potato and chicory beignets. The spot is a bit trendy so there was a bit of a wait during prime dinner time and a couple things I wanted to try on the dessert menu had sold out. That being said, the owners of Sobou are also the owner’s of Commander’s Palace, so you’re definitely in good hands if you come here! For more photos and a complete review, you can check out my previous post here.
Green Goddess is a highly recommended eclectic restaurant with many vegetarian and gluten free options. I stopped by for a light lunch and enjoyed the food – pictured is the pork belly and red eye gravy. It’s a tiny spot that you’ll walk right by if you’re not looking for it off a side alley in the French Quarter. There’s some outdoor seating spots as well. The menu had a wide variety, including some Indian influence and we also tried the rolled uttapam which was pretty flavorful.
At Felix’s you can try oysters three ways: oysters au naturel, rockefeller or chargrilled. We had a sampling of each along with some po’boy sandwiches. If you’re looking to try something exotic, Felix’s also serves alligator. It comes in a garlicky sauce so you don’t necessarily taste anything different than normal, but the texture is overwhelmingly chewy.
Where to Stay
Hyatt Regency New Orleans
The Hyatt Regency is located in the Central Business District, one neighborhood away from the French Quarter. Rooms have a view of the Superdome and the area has excellent restaurants, many museums (National D-Day Museum, the Louisiana Children’s Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art) as well as the Art District. Rooms are more modern than the neighboring Hyatt French Quarter and a great deal less expensive.
Hyatt French Quarter
Excellently located in the center of the French Quarter with quaint rooms and a gorgeous interior courtyard. The Hyatt French Quarter has free wifi and is minutes from Bourbon Street and the Historic New Orleans Collection by foot.
A luxury old world hotel, Le Pavillon has elegant, classic rooms and is centrally located in the French Quarter. The hotel primarily caters to business travelers but anyone will enjoy the city views from the rooftop Jacuzzi and outdoor pool. Tired after a long day of sightseeing and shopping? Dine in at the hotel restaurant, The Crystal Room – it serves excellent French food.
$$ | Check here for the latest prices.
Crowne Plaza New Orleans
Luxurious and modern, this 4 star hotel in the French Quarter has it all. All guests have access to free wireless internet, a rooftop pool and express check-in and check-out. The Crowne Plaza New Orleans hotel is conveniently within walking distance to all the main attractions and has ample parking spaces.
$$ | Check here for the latest prices.
Royal Sonesta Hotel New Orleans
The Royal Sonesta is a luxurious option within the French Quarter and features a stunning pool, gorgeous on site restaurants and a beautiful pool. The hotel is within close proximity to all the restaurants and shopping on Jackson Square and Bourbon Street as well!
$$$ | Check here for the latest prices.
The Bourbon Orleans Hotel
Check into this modern 4 star hotel in the French Quarter and be greeted with a welcome drink. The Bourbon Orleans is just a short stroll from Jackson Square and the main sites and rooms are comfortable, clean and well equipped with free wifi, coffee makers and iPod docking stations. In the warmer months, make sure to use their stunning saltwater swimming pool!
$$ | Check the latest prices here.
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Have you been to NOLA? Let me know your recommendations in the comments below!