So You Want To Visit…New Orleans

New Orleans is one of my favorite places. I’m so grateful for the year and a half we lived in Louisiana, and the dozens of times we got to visit the Big Easy. Even after we moved away from Louisiana, New Orleans remained one of our favorite places to visit.

Best Times to Visit:

  1. Christmas is hands down the best time to visit. The city pretty much empties out, folks put on their best religious hats, and it becomes a pretty wholesome and magical place to visit. The Reveillon dinners are all delicious, and the carolers and lights make it into a complete wonderland.
  2. On a completely different spin, going to New Orleans over Mardi Gras is also a ton of fun. It wasn’t nearly as raunchy as I had expected — we tend to go to bed pretty early, so we were safely tucked into our room before the real insanity began. And that also meant we were awake while most people were still sleeping off their hangovers, so each morning we had the run of the city. But we still got to experience the cool parades and entertainment during the afternoons. 

Best Hotels:

  1. Omni Royal Orleans. To date, this has been our favorite hotel to stay at. The location is prime — super close to Bourbon Street, but just far enough away that you don’t have to deal with any late night noise or shenanigans. Our favorite restaurant it just across the street, and most nights an incredibly talented violinist plays just outside the hotel. I loved opening the windows in our room and hearing her melodies float in.
  2. Bourbon Orleans. We stayed at Bourbon Orleans during Mardi Gras, and it was awesome being right in the midst of the activities and having a Bourbon Street balcony whenever we wanted. The hotel is beautiful, and they do a great job with security so it’s not sketchy at all. Plus, our favorite bar is right on the first floor which makes it very convenient.
  3. The Ritz Carlton. The Ritz is the furthest I’d stay off of Bourbon Street — it’s on Canal, which separates the Business District from the French Quarter. It’s not a bad walk from Bourbon Street, but it still gives that French Quarter vibe that you lose heading further into the Business District. If we are in New Orleans for more than five days, we will typically stay at the Ritz.

Best Restaurants:

  1. The Royal House. After trying out almost all of the chargrilled oysters New Orleans has to offer, I can safely say that Royal House has the best of them all. The last time we visited the French Quarter, we were there pretty much every day to order a couple dozen. If you’re not an oyster person, their crab claw appetizer is also the bomb, and all of their seafood entrees are delicious as well. Plus they have balcony dining. No trip to New Orleans is complete without visiting this restaurant!
  2. The Bombay Club. The theming here is so spot on for the British speakeasy vibe they are going for. A few years ago the Bombay Club shifted from a full blown restaurant to more of a bar focus with just a small bite menu, but the food quality has remained the same despite the menu changes. I wish they would have kept their full menu, and I definitely wish they’d included their Brussels sprouts and boudin scotch eggs on the new menu, but everything on it is still phenomenal so it remains a must visit for us.
  3. Cochon and Cochon Butcher. If you like meat, this is the place for you. The butcher side is a deli style option where you can go in and order delicious sandwiches, or there is a more upscale sit-down side with some more options to choose from. You can’t go wrong with either. On the butcher side, you can get the best muffuletta in the state, plus the mac and cheese is delicious. On the sit-down side, I recommend trying a bunch of different appetizers and small plates. Everything is bomb.

Best Activities:

  1. High Tea at the Ritz. Yes, this is a very frou-frou thing to do, but it’s a lot of fun! Even Dave enjoys high tea. It’s just nice to have a chance to dress up a bit and melt into a really classy environment. Everything we do in Nola is so upbeat and lively, high tea makes for a nice change of place. I’d just recommend eating something light ahead of time — the small plate of tea sandwiches are not meant to make a full meal.
  2. Live music at the Bourbon O and at the Famous Door. I’m a sucker for live music, and these bars on Bourbon Street have the best. The Bourbon O usually offers great jazz and Deep South style brass bands, and Famous Door has some great classic rock cover bands. That’s usually my preferred way to wrap up the evening.
  3. Christmas lights at the Roosevelt. If you’re there over Christmas, the Roosevelt goes all out with Christmas lights in their lobby. It’s so fun and beautiful to walk through, it really makes the holiday feel complete. And then of course stopping in the bar for a Ramos gin fizz to cap it off really brings things full circle.

Anything Overrated:

  1. Cafe Du Monde. If you go to New Orleans, you have to try Beignets. And if you look up where to go, Cafe Du Monde is likely going to be at the number one spot in your search results. But honestly, they are really hit or miss. They are a tourist attraction just because they have been around forever, but the quality just isn’t consistent. And even on a good day, it’s still not the best around. Cafe Beignet is a much better option for authentic beignets, and if you’re looking for the famous Deep South coffee, Cafe Beignet does a much better job. The stuff at Cafe Du Monde is rough, even if you are the hardiest of black coffee drinkers.
  2. Staying at The Roosevelt. It’s so pretty to walk through over Christmas, but staying there is always a letdown. The rooms are small and cramped, and not especially well insulated so it’s difficult to regulate the temperature, and its hard to keep city (and neighborly) noise out. We have given it a couple chances and tried different tier rooms, but the situation is pretty consistent. You spend a lot to get very little. The one perk is that if you stay there over Christmas, you can check out the lights late at night without hordes of tourists.
  3. Ghost tours. The ghost tours in New Orleans are so cheesy and inconsistent. Most of the tour guides are making up the stories as they go along, so you can get the same tour guide on back to back nights and get completely different tall tales each time. I really felt like it was a waste of time when we could have been exploring on our own.

One thought on “So You Want To Visit…New Orleans

  1. Pingback: So You Want To Visit…New Orleans — Keep Moving Forward – DomainWorldTower

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