Weekend in New Orleans: Things to Do, Places to Stay
Fun in the Big Easy is certainly easy to come by. When in NOLA, do as the locals do. Many glorified hotspots have earned well deserved reputations as frequent spots for locals and tourists alike. When touring the beautiful and historic city of New Orleans, take a walk down the tourist checklist with plenty of things to do and sights to see. The morning beignet in the French Quarter is worth the wait, Mardi Gras is as lively as imagined, and the New Orleans dining serves a world class taste of the American South. For all the entertainment needs your heart desires, New Orleans will welcome you with open arms.
Sights to See
Take a deep dive into the heart of Creole culture by touring the distinctive and ornate tombs and cemeteries of New Orleans or take in the lure of the Mississippi River by signing up for an airboat ride through the bayou. Walk through the French Quarter and stop by the St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest operating cathedral in the United States while you admire the Spanish and French influence of other great New Orleans landmarks like the Cabildo, Presbytere, and Pontalba buildings. Visit the opulent New Orleans Garden District for a view of breathtaking historic homes, like the famous Women’s Opera Guild Home, and well-preserved examples of Greek Revival and Italianate architecture home to celebrities and film sites including American Horror Story and The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.
Visit the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum to explore the mystery, legends and traditions of a long-standing cultural rooting. The museum educates visitors on the influence of voodoo and its link to the historical understanding of the city. Take a trip to Mardi Gras World to view how and where the floats and costumes are made for the famed celebration and visit the Botanical Gardens and Carousel Gardens in City Park for a whirl around a vintage theme park set against the charming and enchanting backdrop of the reminiscent Old South. Immerse yourself in the beautiful architecture of the city, opt for a bed and breakfast in a historic home or book a room at the Place d’Armes Hotel or the grandeur Roosevelt Hotel.
A tried and true NOLA favorite, Cafe Du Monde never disappoints! A cup of hot coffee paired with a sugary beignet is the perfect way to start, break up, or end your day. While you stroll around the French Quarter, be sure to get in line for savory bites and treats. Order a plate of beignets for three perfectly crispy and pillowy soft powdered doughnuts for under five bucks. Inside you will find a sizeable crowd and attentive service throughout each month of the year. Cafe Du Monde is a true cultural staple and food haven in the heart of NOLA’s most popular area.
When in town, order the charbroiled oysters at Acme Oyster House but be sure to get there early! The lines can be long, the atmosphere is loud, and the inside can be a little cramped. Be prepared for a 45 minute wait, casual dining, and ridiculously good food. Dinner time usually has the largest crowd, but dining for lunch can be more accommodating for groups. Even if you find full tables when you arrive, opt for a seat at the bar while you wait. Come for the oysters, stay for the soft shell crab and absolutely place an order for gumbo.
The only place you need to visit for flavorful, tender, crispy fried chicken. Family-owned since 1957, Willie Mae’s Scotch House is famed for delicious chicken, soul food favorites, and generous portions. Located outside of the French Quarter, driving may be encouraged in the bayou heat. For larger parties, the wait may be longer as seating is limited. In 2005, Willie Mae’s Scotch House was awarded the James Beard Award for “America’s Classic Restaurant for the Southern Region,” transforming the restaurant from a neighborhood dive to a nationally acclaimed restaurant and has been further recognized as “America’s Best Fried Chicken” by Food Network and Travel Channel. Located in the historic Treme neighborhood, Ms. Willie Mae Seaton’s eatery presents ridiculously savory food inside a humble and comfortable setting.
For the Love of Jazz
In the search for authentic New Orleans jazz, look no further. Preservation Hall tops the lists of must-have experiences during your visit to the Big Easy. No bar, no bathroom, no AC all in exchange for the best traditional jazz music this soulful city has to offer. If you can take the heat, be sure to buy tickets ahead of time and be sure to bring your own booze and paper fan to keep cool. Early birds selecting VIP access will be comfortably seated for the low cost of $15 at the door. Although it is recommended to check ticket prices ahead of time. Be sure to arrive an hour ahead of time to secure your seats or be prepared to wait in line for the standing section of the hall during the 45 minutes performance. Exactly 45 minutes. Head over to Pat O’Brien’s to grab a hurricane drink before the show and settle in for world-class jazz music.
During the end of April and early May, visit the bayou state for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival, colloquially known as Jazz Fest. This 10-day event attracts thousands of musicians, chefs, and vendors for an unforgettable showcase of music, array of delicious Louisiana cuisine, and extensive selection of artisan crafts. The Louisiana Heritage Fair Grounds welcomes nearly half a million visitors each year during the span of the festival. Springtime in New Orleans bring fluctuating weather from pleasantly warm to downright steaming. Dress in cool and loose fitting clothing opting for lightweight materials and a hat or visor. The Fair Grounds provide very few shaded areas and are for the most part completely open to the sun. Tents around the grounds can offer brief relief for festival attendees, but it would be encouraged to keep your sunscreen close by.
New Orleans - Preservation Hall
New Orleans - French Quarters
New Orleans - Acme Oyster House