New Orleans, more charmingly known as NOLA or The Big Easy, is a melting pot of culture. The food, the music and the history melt together to create a city like no other.
I flew to New Orleans to help Paul with a work project of his. I was actually quite excited, as I have always wanted to visit NOLA but never had the chance. It seems as though people have very polarizing views of the city – they either love it or hate it. I ended up in the later… I LOVE New Orleans!
4-DAY ITINERARY FOR NEW ORLEANS
Feel free to mix & match activities based on your liking, but I really think our itinerary flowed quite nicely, so I hope you find this helpful. This might just be my largest, most detailed guide to date!
WHEN TO VISIT
Our trip took place the last week in April. We didn’t have a choice, as we were there for business, but I think it was the perfect time of year! The weather was warm but not too hot & humid. It wasn’t peak tourist season either, so nothing was too busy. Any of the summer months will certainly be hot & humid! Visiting in late April to early May, or later in the year, September/October would be great!
WHAT TO PACK
I brought a mix of items. Easy cotton dresses (like this one from Everlane), two pairs of jeans (white and classic denim), a pair of shorts and a pair of leggings, along with a mixture of tank tops and tee’s. I also brought this denim jacket (it’s my all-time favorite), but only ended up using it on the plane! For shoes I had a pair of white sneakers (here’s link to some of my favorites) and a pair of brown sandals.
WHERE TO STAY
I recommend staying in the French Quarter if you’re looking for a lively spot or the Garden District if you’re looking for something more laid back & relaxing. Because we were there for Paul’s work, we stayed farther away from the heart of New Orleans. As a result, we had to Uber everywhere – but that actually worked great since we were drinking a lot!
- Jackson Square
- Bourbon St
- Cafe Du Mond
We began our adventures by exploring Jackson Square and Bourbon Street. Jackson Square is a park in the French Quarter. It’s a National Historic Landmark and is the site where Louisiana became a U.S. territory as a result of the Louisiana Purchase. It’s a beautiful spot in the middle of a crazy section of town. While you don’t need much time there, it makes for a peaceful walk.
Next, we headed to the famed Bourbon Street, where the drinks flow faster than the Mississippi River. I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised by Bourbon Street. Sure, it’s loud and full of drunks, but it also is has an electric energy that’s contagious!
A couple of our favorite bars in the area are Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone. It’s a revolving bar decked out like a carousel. We also really love Lafittes Blacksmith Shop Bar. It’s considered to be the oldest bar in America, as they’ve been flinging drinks since the 1700s. Order the Voodoo Daiquiri, it kind of tastes like a grape slushy.
Soak up the alcohol at Cafe Du Mond. I have to admit, I wasn’t a huge fan of their beignets, but I think it’s a must-stop in NOLA. It’s always busy, so keep an eye open for available tables and be ready to pounce. They have great coffee, so grab a cup of Joe and refresh yourself for more drinking…. errr, or just go to bed. We opted for bed.
- WWII Museum
- Live music on Frenchman Street
- Ferry to dinner
Up and at ‘em. A massive storm hit on day two. We were caught in a serious downpour that came out of nowhere. The streets started flooding and the thunder was crackin’. For that reason, The National World War II Museum was a great spot to spend a stormy morning. I was hoping there would be more information on the European side of the war, but the museum focused mostly on the Japanese involvement.
As we were leaving, there were two WWII survivors and a Holocaust survivor meeting with the pubic. Paul and I stopped to hear their heroic stories and thank them for their service. One of the men is set to celebrate his 100th birthday later this summer!
From the museum, we headed to Frenchman Street to hear some live jazz. Everyone raves about how Frenchman is better than Bourbon. It’s definelty more chill and offers much more live music, but it was still quite crowded.
The Spotted Cat Music Club was our favorite jazz bar in all of the city. It’s a small, cash only establishment with a rotating list of talented jazz musicians. Therefore, you’ll always find live music there, no matter the time of day.
We decided to take the ferry across the Mississippi (does anyone else sing M I SS I SS I PP I when spelling Mississippi??) for views of the city skyline. As we were boarding, a local suggested a place for dinner that serves “the best pizza she’s ever had”. And who are we to pass up food?!
So, we ended up disembarking the ferry across the river for dinner at Tavolino Pizza and Lounge. The food was excellent! It was a cozy little locals-only spot with nice service and great pizza! They don’t have a website but you can find them at: 141 Delaronde St, New Orleans, LA 70114
- Brekkie at Hivolt
- Lafayette Cemetery 1
- Garden District
- Magazine Street
- Port of New Orleans
- Ghost Tour
We started the morning with a great breakfast at HiVolt in the Garden District. They have great breakfast sandwiches and coffee. From here we walked around admiring the gorgeous architecture & homes in the area. The Garden District is full of oak-lined streets, little cottages and grand historic mansions.
Lafayette Cemetery 1 sits within the Garden District and is filled with intricate 19th-century tombs. You may notice that all of the cemeteries in New Orleans have raised tombs. This is because of flooding. When the floods wash through, bodies not buried in above-ground tombs will be washed away in the rushing water.
After visiting the cemetery, we headed to Magazine Street. This stretch of street is filled with bars, cafes and boutiques. We stopped into French Truck Coffee to get a break from the heat and cool down with some iced drinks. Paul had an iced coffee and I ordered the “Blue Eyes”, a hibiscus iced tea – so good & refreshing!
Once we finished walking around Magazine Street, we headed to grab lunch at Auction House Market. This hip, bight & airy food hall is the perfect spot for a casual bite to eat. The center bar is filled with gold plaited shelves overflowing with lush plants. The stations have everything from salads to oysters to empanadas.
We finally settled on empanadas at EmpaNola. Paul ordered the muffallata and I had the spinach & artichoke ones. I also discovered a delicious light & refreshing beer here, Urban South’s Paradise Park Lager.
Our next stop might not interest most, but it holds a special spot in my heart, so I am going to briefly share! We headed to the Port of New Orleans. Yes, this is where Carnival Cruise lines departs on Caribbean cruises. But, it’s also the location where my grandmother immigrated to the United States! Of course, it looks quite different now than it did when she arrived in the 1950’s. I wanted to see the spot where her American journey began!
To end our evening, we booked a ghost tour with French Quarter Phantoms. While I don’t believe in ghosts, I do love a good murder mystery. And this tour covered actual murders that took place throughout New Orleans. We went on the Ghost and Vampire combo tour, which was a walking tour that lasted just under 2 hours. Guests are allowed to drink during the tour while hearing tales of murder & disease. It was a little cheesy but fun and I enjoyed learning more history about the city.
- Brunch at Willa Jean
- Day trip to Oak Alley and Nottoway Mansion
- Bacchanal for dinner
For our last day in New Orleans, we wanted to head out of the city and visit a plantation. While there are many group tour options, we chose to rent a car and drive ourselves. We like having the freedom to make our own schedule.
After we picked up the rental car, we headed to brunch at Willa Jean. O M G this place is DELICIOUS!! Do yourself a favor and order the griddled banana bread as a breakfast appetizer (ya, that’s a thing). I had the avocado toast, which I think is the prettiest avocado toast I’ve ever seen. Their menu changes seasonally meaning you’re sure to find something fresh each time you visit.
We started at Oak Alley Planation, which in my opinion is the prettiest plantation in Louisiana. The path leading to the mansion is canopied by 28 stunning oak trees. Oak Alley was built in 1837 in the Greek Revival style and painted in a pale pink shade. It remained a working plantation until the 1860’s when the family had to put it up for action after slavery was eradicated.
Although this property is stunning, it has a painfully dark past. Oak Alley preservation has done a wonderful job educating the public on the history and devastation of slavery in America.
After we left Oak Alley, we drove about 30 minutes further, to Nottoway Plantation. Nottoway is the largest Antebellum mansion still standing in Louisiana. It sits along the banks of the Mississippi River and is now a resort & hotel.
The drive to both Oak Alley and Nottoway was quite easy from New Orleans. It took just over an hour to get to Oak Alley and another 30 minutes to Nottoway. Driving back to NOLA from Nottoway was an easy hour and twenty minutes.
For dinner, we went to Bacchanal Wine. This hidden garden bar is the perfect spot for a lazy dinner. The back garden is home to a hodgepodge of lawn chairs & plastic tables, along with a small stage for bands.
While Bacchanal is known for their wine, they also have a great selection of beer & cocktails. Order a make-your-own cheese plate for dinner. Inside, you’ll find coolers of meats & cheese to choose from. The staff will cut everything up, add some jams, chutneys, olives and bread to complete your charcuterie plate.
Enjoy the atmosphere & live music on your last night in the Big Easy.
MORE RESTAURANTS & BARS WE LOVED
- Turkey and the Wolf
- Adolfo’s Italian (no website: 611 Frenchmen St, New Orleans, LA 70117)
- St. Roch Market
- Cafe Beignet
- Willie Mae’s Scotch House
- Hot Tin Bar
- Dat Dog
I have to say, I was really blow away by NOLA. The entire city was fun, welcoming and beautiful. We truly felt safe everywhere we went. Just remember to stay vigilant and never go off on your own. So, keep an open mind and enjoy the southern hospitably of the Big Easy.
Have you been to New Orleans? Tell me, how did you like it?!