I’ve mostly been sharing some of the amazing restaurants we ate at on our American holiday, but today’s post is a little different. We spent four days in New Orleans and managed to do quite a diverse range of activities, so I thought I would share some of the absolute highlights, to help you plan a long weekend in New Orleans too!
The first thing I would say if you’ve been considering it then you absolutely should plan a visit to New Orleans! We had such an amazing time, and got to see and do so many things. Of course, New Orleans is known for Mardi Gras and parties galore, but it has so much more to do than that as well.
Our visit to the Whitney Plantation was not only one of the highlights of our long weekend in New Orleans, but one of the best things I did on the entire trip. Calling it a highlight does feel a little strange though, as it’s a very sombre place to visit, but incredibly important. The Whitney Plantation is the only plantation that tells the story of the slaves that lived and worked there, and it was incredibly well done. It’s a self-guided tour via audio guide, and almost entirely outdoors, with really well told stories and history along the way. It’s safe to say I learned a lot, and whilst it wasn’t the most uplifting experience it sure was one of the most important.
In order to visit the Whitney Plantation we hired a car for the day (it’s about an hour out of the city) so looked for activities we could do while we were out and about. A swamp tour seemed like an excellent option! We headed out on a boat where we saw plenty of alligators, some raccoons, birdlife and interesting plants too. There was also lots of evidence of the damage from Hurricane Ida last year, with trees down and jetties destroyed. The tour guide was pretty quirky (not really my folks style!) but it was good to get to get out of the city and spend some time out on the bayou.
In planning our long weekend in New Orleans we had read a lot about how Frenchman Street was the spot to go see live music. This was reinforced after we were told by multiple people on arrival (at the hotel, leaving the airport, you name it!) that we absolutely had to go to Frenchman Street. So on night one we headed to Frenchman Street! We hadn’t thought to book ahead, but thankfully got ourselves a great table at Maison and settled in for an evening of incredible music, traditional food and local beers. Whilst Louisiana cuisine might not be super vegetarian friendly, we still found plenty of delicious options, and left our folks to try things like Jambalaya!
We went back again on the Saturday both in the afternoon and again after a dinner booking and got to visit a couple of other venues. Each time the music was brilliant, the vibes were excellent and the staff were always super helpful as well. Frenchman Street absolutely lived up to expectations!
Garden District Walking Tour
I love doing a walking tour when in a new city and this was no exception. While I’m sure we could have enjoyed the incredible architecture of the Garden District on our own, our tour guide gave us so much really interesting history and details that we never would have picked up. It was a great way to spend a couple of hours, and given the location we had breakfast and lunch along Magazine Street on either side of the tour which worked perfectly!
French Quarter and Bourbon Street
Bourbon Street and the French Quarter are obvious locations to visit when spending a long weekend in New Orleans, that’s for sure! We didn’t get right into the party spirit, but did enjoy wandering through the streets taking in the vibe, the gorgeous buildings, and even a huge Easter Sunday parade! We found a couple of more relaxed spots for a drink and a break from the heat too which was very welcome!
On our first afternoon in New Orleans we stumbled across the Historic New Orleans Collection museum. It was a great way to get a sense of the history of the city and its culture, with really informative displays and artefacts. There was also a Mardi Gras section which I found particularly excellent – I knew so little about the history of it and loved seeing the costumes of course!
Another museum we visited and really enjoyed was the New Orleans Jazz Museum. As a former saxophone player I have long been a fan of jazz, so this was always going to be right up my alley. It was a really well done museum, with not only really interesting history of jazz itself, but some great stories about individual musicians too. There were plenty of spots to put on headphones and listen to some music too which I particularly enjoyed. Well worth a visit!
Best Places We Ate and Drank
We knew we had to start with Po Boys, but given two of the four of us are vegetarian we wanted to find somewhere that did both vego and meat options. Killer Po Boys was the answer and boy was it delicious. My folks had more traditional seafood and meat versions while my sister and I shared sweet potato and tofu options. We were all very happy with our choices!
I love visiting breweries and we managed to pop into two excellent ones over our long weekend in New Orleans. We did tasting paddles at both Miel Brewery and New Orleans Lager & Ale and both were excellent. A great range of interesting beers, nice spots to sit and helpful staff as well.
Other than our excellent dinner at Coquette, the next best meal we had was at Sneaky Pickle. It was a bit of a walk from our hotel, but well worth the visit! The food was excellent, as were the cocktails, and the staff were really friendly too. We shared a bunch of dishes, with the buffalo tofu lettuce wraps my personal favourite.
We of course made sure we got some beignets as well – we couldn’t spend a long weekend in New Orleans without doing that!