I just returned from 5 incredible days in the Big Easy. New Orleans is unlike any city I have ever visited, and it has totally stolen my heart. First, the city has no open container laws, which means I can buy a Bloody Mary from Erin Rose and walk around Bourbon Street, sipping and enjoying the live jazz music on every corner. Second, you won’t hear Justin Bieber, T-Swift, or other Top 40 artists at bars and clubs in New Orleans. Instead, you will experience live jazz music everywhere you go; once you’re out of earshot of one band, you will start hearing the humming trumpet of another.
There is so much to experience in New Orleans, so to make things easier, I have decided to break it down into 3 main categories: food, drinks, and main attractions. Read on to learn more about one of the most exciting and interesting cities I have ever explored!
Ye Olde College Inn
After a long day of traveling, my friends and I were hungry for a great meal. Our dining experience at Ye Olde College Inn was the perfect start to our trip. Our server, Jimmy, welcomed us to New Orleans with all of the southern charm and hospitality we could ever dream of. I ordered the Fresh Catch, which I highly recommend. Ye Olde College Inn is a bit out of the way of the French Quarter, but it is worth the journey.
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar
Felix’s is the perfect dining location in the French Quarter. With affordable prices and amazing food, this restaurant is worth the wait in line for a table (pro tip: grab a drink and sip while you wait 😉 ).
Café Beignet vs. Café Du Monde
If you tell someone you’re going to the New Orleans, chances are they will reply, “You must go to Café Du Monde!” Café Du Monde is famous for their beignets, a French doughnut drenched in powdered sugar. My friends and I were also told Café Beignet was worth a try, so we decided to try both because you can never have too many beignets, right? After indulging in the fried, powdery goodness, the consensus of the group was a win for Café Beignet. The atmosphere is more enjoyable: quaint and enjoyable, compared to the more overwhelming Café Du Monde. The beignets at Café Beignet were also much fluffier and fresher. My advice would be to try both, because more beignets equals more fun.
Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar
Superior Seafood is A.MAZ.ING. $3 frozen mimosas and a menu full of New Orleans style breakfast and lunch options including Oysters Benedict (my choice), Crab Cake Benedict, Fried Alligator, and Shrimp and Grits. The prices are reasonable, especially for the high quality of the food. My group gives it 5 stars all around!
The Warehouse Grill
This is a great option for before or after a trip to the World War II Museum (which I recommend and will discuss later!). Just a short walk away from the museum, The Warehouse Grill is a relaxed restaurant serving New Orleans classics like the Shrimp Creole Po’Boy (my choice), the Morning After Burger (served on jalapeño bread), and an Alligator Sausage Combo. The fantastic, filling food and large variety of beers on tap was just what we needed after touring the WWII Museum.
You might question a local chain with a menu full of hot dogs and fries, but Dat Dog was a huge highlight of our trip. Dat Dog serves Kielbasa, Crawfish Etouffee dogs, and even has vegan dogs! Toppings are unlimited and the dogs are served on a mouth-watering toasted bun (which is also vegan!). I highly recommend splitting a serving of the seasoned fries with a friend and enjoying a cold beer along with your dog. Dat Dog has several locations throughout New Orleans, so you really have no excuse to pass up on this incredible experience.
Antoine’s is the oldest restaurant in New Orleans and arguably, in the entire country. Historical and classy, with huge dining rooms, a bar, and private rooms, Antoine’s is a fantastic dining experience. Pro-tip: book a private room for lunch! The restaurant offers several themed private rooms available for reservation to anyone at no extra cost. The restaurant also offers an amazing lunch special of a three-course meal for only $20.16 (for the year!) and 25 cent drinks. When you take advantage of this amazing deal, go for the Oysters and Shrimp and Grits!
Jacque-Imo’s is a New Orleans must! Separated from the central part of the city in Uptown, this restaurant is totally worth a visit. You’ll start off with a heavenly combo of cornbread and garlic bread, which will get you ready for the amazing food that is to come. Each entree comes with a side salad and two sides of your choice, so make sure you arrive hungry! The Stuffed Catfish I had one of the best things I have ever eaten (the photo above does it no justice!). Jacque-Imo’s is located right next to the popular jazz club, the Maple Leaf (discussed below), which makes it the perfect dinner choice before a jazz show. And don’t wait until the last minute to make reservations; Jacque-Imo’s fills up fast!
The Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s
One of the most famous bars in New Orleans, Pat O’Brien’s offers both a laid-back indoor bar setting and a lively outdoor bar and patio. Pat O’s is the birthplace of the Hurricane, a cocktail with rum and grenadine, so definitely be sure to give it a try. The atmosphere at Pat O’s is so fun, one visit wasn’t enough for our crew. This is definitely a must on your New Orleans check list.
Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary at Erin Rose
Erin Rose is famous for the Irish Coffee and Bloody Mary. It’s a small Irish pub, so if it’s too packed or the weather is especially gorgeous, order a drink to go (remember, no open container laws!) and take a stroll around Bourbon Street.
The Hand Grenade at The Tropical Isle
These drinks are as monstrous as they look. Served in a tall green container, you will find these drinks in the hands of Bourbon Street visitors at all hours of the day. If the full size is too intimidating, go for a small. Regardless, these drinks are a Big Easy classic, so you have to give them a try!
Other famous New Orleans drinks that are definitely worth a try are the French 75 (my favorite!!), Pimm’s Cup, and the Sazerac.
The French Quarter
Bourbon Street is a one-of-a-kind place. I have never experienced a strip more lively and full of excitement at any time of day or night. This is the most “touristy” area in New Orleans, so you will be sure to find colorful beads, large drinks, and tons of jazz music. Another exciting and lively spot in the city is Frenchmen Street, which is a bit less touristy than Bourbon. Go to Frenchmen to hear some of the best and most entertaining jazz music and hop from bar to club to experience the entire street.
The Garden District
New Orleans has some of the most gorgeous houses I have ever seen. If you asked me to choose my favorite, I wouldn’t even know where to begin. Grab you camera and take a stroll around the Garden District or ride the Street Car up St. Charles Avenue for a scenic view.
World War II Museum
The WWII Museum is an important and informative stop for any New Orleans tourist. The museum offers an interactive, personal experience where you can follow the story of a real person throughout the museum.
Audubon Park/”The Fly”
Audubon Park, located across from Tulane University and behind the Audubon Zoo is a gorgeous place to walk and relax. My friends and I spent hours walking through the park toward “The Fly,” a stretch right along the Mississippi River. After spending time in exciting (and somewhat overwhelming) Bourbon Street, Audubon Park is the perfect place to relax and enjoy nature.
Haunted History Tour
New Orleans’ history is full of voodoo, ghosts, and vampires, and there’s no better place to hear about the haunted tales than right where they are said to have happened. My group decided to take the 5 in 1 tour, to learn about all of the city’s hauntings. The walking tour is 2 hours long and our tour guide, Matt, was entertaining, informative, and when appropriate, definitely a little spooky 😉 ! This was definitely worth the $18 student discount ticket price!
Classic New Orleans Drinks Tour
This was one of the highlights of my trip. The $60 price tag was 100% worth it! The Classic New Orleans Drinks Tour was small, made up of only my friend, Nick, and I and a couple, which made for an intimate, personal experience. Our tour guide, Sandy (who was AMAZING!) led us through the French Quarter, taking us inside some of New Orleans most historical bars and restaurants, serving us New Orleans’ most famous drinks, and sharing the history of the sites and drinks while we sipped and explored. I love learning and asking questions just as much as I love enjoying a nice drink, so this tour was my dream. I definitely recommend it for anyone wanting to experience and learn about the city in a fun way!
Maple Leaf Bar
Located Uptown, the Maple Leaf Bar is one of the most famous music venues in New Orleans. Go on a Tuesday night to hear the Rebirth Brass Band, the Grammy-award winning pride of New Orleans. The place fills up fast, so get there early to enjoy the best jazz music you will ever hear.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
Located in the French Quarter, the Blacksmith Bar is one of the oldest bars in the entire country. Go at night to enjoy the candlelight atmosphere and a piano player who sings any song you request!
New Orleans combines so many of my favorite things: good music, food, drinks, history, and beauty. This city that has not seen the last of me 🙂