NOLA has a grit distinct from any other U.S. city I’ve visited. Making a New Orleans weekend getaway a must do. NOLA has deep roots in music and food, a juxtaposition in aristocracy and entrenched division, and an interesting mix of conservative and progressive views. The diversity in people and architecture will give you plenty to view during your New Orleans weekend getaway wanderings. Oh, like all my favorite cities, you can walk around with a libation in your hand.
AREAS TO STAY DURING NEW ORLEANS WEEKEND GETAWAY
The French Quarter, the oldest neighborhood in NOLA, has quick access to all NOLA has to offer. I usually stay with friend or in an Airbnb and feel comfortable and safe.
WHERE TO EAT DURING NEW ORLEANS WEEKEND GETAWAY
I don’t know if I love the music or the food more in NOLA. You can’t beat the southern Cajun spice. Coop’s on Decatur is great for some real New Orleans food. The Cheezy Cajun has the most delicious poutine tots and full meal bloody-mary. Elizabeth’s is a little out of the way, but one of my favorite brunch places, everything is made from scratch. Surrey’s is another great local brunch or lunch spot, you can bring your own bottle of a little somethin’ somethin’ to pair with their delicious juices. 13 is perfect when you finally wander out of the music clubs on Frenchmen at 4am (or later).
Don’t forget some of your more traditional eats in NOLA, such as king cake at La Boulangerie, Creole food at Dooky Chase’s, fried chicken at Willie Mae’s, and beignets at Cafe du Monde. These spots may be touristy – but they are famous for a reason!
HISTORICAL THINGS TO DO DURING NEW ORLEANS WEEKEND GETAWAY
New Orleans has a multicultural complexity and the Historic New Orleans Collection does a great job of walking through that history. There are four exhibition spaces; the Williams Gallery, the Louisiana History Galleries, the Boyd Cruise Gallery, and the new Laura Simon Nelson Galleries for Louisiana Art. An interesting piece of history is the migration of Haitian. The Haitian were known as ‘free people of color’ during a time when most southern-blacks were enslaved.
When wandering around the French Quarter, be sure to pit-stop at Cabildo, where the Louisiana Purchase was finalized. They also have an entire floor dedicated to Hurricane Katrina, the devastation it caused, and the long clean-up afterwards.
Wander around the Garden District and marvel at the affluent mega-mansions. Visit a Voodoo store, such as Marie Laveau House of Voodoo on Bourbon street and see Phillip, a well known psychic. Or for a more authentic and low-key occult store, try New Orleans Healing Center. Join a Haunted Tour or create your own.
If you’re looking for some adventure, try out a swamp tour. Summer and early fall are an active time of year. There are plenty of wildlife, flora and fauna to see. If you have some extra time on your hands, drive out to Oak Alley Plantation (about an hour) to view a hauntingly beautiful antebellum mansion, previously built and maintained by slaves.
MUSICAL THINGS TO DO DURING NEW ORLEANS WEEKEND GETAWAY
If you love jazz and brass bands, visit the Old US Mint, to get your fill of jazz history. The collection contains some of the greatest jazz player’s instruments. For an off the beaten path and meaningful New Orleans experience, visit Backstreet Cultural Museum. It documents Carnival celebrations, second-line parades and jazz funerals throughout New Orleans. Visit Snug Harbor for a sit-down beautiful jazz experience, especially Fridays with Ellis Marsalis.
NIGHTLIFE DURING NEW ORLEANS WEEKEND GETAWAY
I usually stick to Frenchman Street since it hosts the best jazz, blues, and brass bands. The Spotted Cat is your quintessential jazz club with local musicians playing their hearts out. Just be sure to bring cash since it’s a cash-only bar. Maison always has great jazz bands and also a lovely Sunday brunch. Blue Nile is another great jazz bar, one of the longest standing actually, and it turns into a little DJ club later in the evening.
NOLA is known for their eclectic cocktails so try Kingfish for a Sazerac and Bar Tonique for an East India or Absinthe Drip. You haven’t experienced the South unless you’ve had a tasty whisky or scotch. Black Penny is good to satiate your whisky taste buds, but they also have a plethora of beers to choose from. If you’re hell-bent on going to Bourbon, I recommend Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar, which is located just past the main debauchery of Bourbon Street. Blacksmith Bar has a great piano bar and decent Hurricanes.