New Orleans, Louisiana is known for its music, Creole cuisine, and blend of cultures. Perhaps you’ve heard of New Orleans, sometimes referred to as Nola, because of its celebrations and festivals. The most notable of these is Mardi Gras, which takes place for about two weeks before Fat Tuesday (the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday). In addition, New Orleans is known for its nightlife and is home to the famous Bourbon Street.
Although New Orleans is known for its nightlife and party scene, we have put together the perfect relaxed and refreshing weekend in the city. This itinerary offers the best of both worlds — time spent seeing the city and getting a glimpse of the nightlife. This itinerary is easily adaptable based on your preferences. Enjoy!
Morning: Get to know your neighborhood
We spent the morning wandering around our neighborhood and getting acquainted with our area. We stayed with friends on Annunciation Street, just a short ride from the French Quarter. It was so nice to relax and walk around before the city got hot and crowded. Be sure to check out Jackson Square and Saint Louis Cathedral. There you’ll find street performers, jazz music and other tourists. Nearby you’ll find Decatur Street and the French Market. Although it’s somewhat of a tourist trap, it’s neat to see and you’ll be sure to find souvenirs for all of your friends and family. The last can’t miss area is the French Quarter. You could spend all day there popping into shops and book stores.
Afternoon: Make your own brewery tour
We began our afternoon by walking to a restaurant called Cochon, which is a popular restaurant in the New Orleans Warehouse District known for its cajun southern dishes. It’s funny because Cochon also has a butchery next door that we intended to go to, but accidentally ended up at the nicer sit-down place. It turned out to be a great mistake and we had delicious meals! I’d recommend either location, but if you find yourself at the sit-down restaurant, definitely grab the oyster BLT!
We looked into doing the Nola Brew Bus but found it to be too expensive at $75 a person. Since we had a group of 6, we decided to travel by Uber and split the costs in order to spend less than $75 per person. Our first stop on our brewery tour was Urban South Brewery. I really enjoyed my flight and the staff was extremely nice. The brewery was decorated for Oktober fest, and we found the arcade area to be a neat touch! After that, we went to Nola Brewing Company. There, I had another delicious flight of beer. The cool part of Nola Brewing was the barbecue restaurant located within the brewery, McClure’s Barbecue. I didn’t get a bite of the barbecue, but I heard from the locals that it’s to die for. Next, we went to Port Orleans Brewing Co. There, we met up with other Georgia Tech alumni and fans to watch the football game that evening. We ordered fried pickles, nachos, and pretzels and they were all to die for. It was a fun location with a great patio for when the weather’s nice.
Night: Attend a local concert and then venture out to Bourbon Street or Frenchmen Street
Since we all ate a lot at Port Orleans, we decided to forgo a traditional dinner and decided to go back to the apartment and get ready for the night. Back at Nola Brewing we found 6 free tickets to an Anderson East concert at Joy Theater. Being the perfect number of tickets, we knew it was a sign that we had to go! We enjoyed the music, and the bar prices were surprisingly extremely reasonable. After the concert, we made our way to Bourbon Street and hopped in and out of the bars. Grab yourself a hurricane at Pat O’s, and sit back and relax people watching. Another nightlife option is Frenchmen Street. Known for its live jazz music, you can’t go wrong with spending time in this area. We all grabbed a slice of pizza before grabbing a cab home for the night.
Morning: Find a local festival
We lucked out and there was a beignet festival going on the Saturday we were in town at New Orleans City Park! It was the perfect way to spend our morning — eating savory and sweet beignets. Although this festival only happens one time a year, we rounded up a list of the most delicious beignets we ate and where to find them:
- Cafe du Monde – Perhaps the most notable beignet shop with delicious cafe au lait to go along. Go prepared to wait in line and be sure to have cash!
- Girls Gone Vegan – They have the best tomato basil garlic beignets, and they’re vegan and gluten-free.
- Howlin’ Wolf Den– This place had the most delicious bacon and cheddar beignets with chipotle crema.
- Jambalaya Guy – Not quite beignets, but this was our favorite eat of the day. He had delicious chicken and sausage jambalaya.
- Off da Hook Creole Catering – The strawberry caramel white chocolate beignets and the peach cobbler beignets were to die for! You also can’t go wrong with the lobster tail beignets.
- Old School Eats – Although I didn’t think I’d like a savory and sweet combo, their maple bacon beignets were heavenly.
- The Vintage – They had yummy cinnamon and sugar beignets.
Afternoon/evening: Relax and have some iconic eats
Since we were all stuffed and extremely overheated from the festival, we decided to sit down and relax at a brewery. We found one nearby called Second Line Brewery. New Orleans is known for its snowballs, and there was the cutest snowball stand nearby called Ike’s. There, they have shaved ice, ice cream, and snacks. They even have snowballs for pups! Right nearby is Bud’s Broiler, a hamburger joint that’s been around since 1952. Definitely check it out for a quick bite after your adventurous afternoon!
After, we headed to Finn McCool’s to watch some Saturday football. It was the perfect level of crowded, and the house chef even had free hotdogs for everyone there! We loved the Irish nachos (made with potato chips, and so delicious) and alligator bites. As far as drinks go, the Nola Cola was a yummy Cola drink made with bourbon. The Frozen Irish coffee was also super good. And remember, you can take drinks to go in New Orleans.
Night: Enjoy wine and jazz in a beautiful courtyard
Bacchanal is the cutest wine shop with super helpful staff. Once you pick out your wine (and cheese/meats if you wish!), you head out to the beautiful courtyard. We settled into the cute iron patio furniture and a few minutes later, the staff brought out our selected meat and cheese on a decadent charcuterie board with bread, nuts, and jellies as accents. We also ordered some tapas from their patio restaurant that were delicious! We’d recommend the patatas bravas and hummus. Bacchanal was by far our favorite part of the trip, but there was a bit of a wait for us to get in and it’s first come first serve seating once you make it to the patio. It only took us a few minutes of looking to find a spot, even with a party of 6. Also note that it is a 21+ venue and no pets are allowed!
Morning: Eat a delicious southern breakfast
We wrapped up our trip by walking to a nearby breakfast spot, Bakery Bar. We had delicious southern breakfasts and definitely recommend the “Breakfast for Lunch.” Some other tasty restaurants can be found on Market Street, so be sure to check it out as well.
Afternoon: Pack up & head out
With a 6+ hour drive home and a 1 hour time change, we decided to head out in the early afternoon. Our trip was the perfect amount of exploration, fun, and relaxation. Let us know if you use our suggestions, and we can’t wait to hear about your time in New Orleans!