72 Hours: New Orleans

For those of you who live in the south, you may know it’s Mardi Gras season. And Mardi Gras makes me think of New Orleans. New Orleans is a special place that manages to combine an old world feel, culture, and sin in such a graceful way. Anyone who’s lived within a 6 hour drive from New Orleans has probably been there, been to Bourbon street and seen that carefree, fun, and yes, dirty side of New Orleans. However, did you know there’s so much more? I won’t pretend to be an expert, but we did have a pretty awesome trip there a few years ago, and can’t wait to go back for a long weekend. Here’s your 72 hours itinerary for The Big Easy.

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Day 1: Watch Out New Orleans Here We Come!

If you’re driving, you probably think it’s closer than it is. And rush hour matters. So, here are a few ways to break up your trip – all of which involve eating and drinking, of course.

  • Stop for legitimate boudin somewhere in Louisiana (The Boudin Map).
  • Eat some dinner at Parrains in Baton Rouge for true cajun seafood.
  • Arrive at your hotel in New Orleans – we stayed at the W French Quarter this time, but we have also used Priceline to get deals on rooms with much success.
  • After freshening up a bit, head to SoBou in the hotel for an amazing craft cocktail.
  • If you’re up for some bar hopping, also try the Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone.
  • If you’d rather try something else, the Haunted Tours are pretty fun – I recommend the French Quarter ghosts walking tour.
  • Head back to your hotel to pass out, because you have kids, and staying up past 1am is just not your thing anymore.
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Carousel Bar – Click for photo source

Day 2: Walk it Off

New Orleans is such a great walking city. We went in August, so definitely very hot (not that different from Houston), but we still loved to walk around and explore. There’s also pretty decent public transportation / bus service so you don’t need to take cabs everywhere if you’re willing to put in the effort to figure it out.

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  • When you stumble out of bed, head directly to Cafe du Monde at French Market for the well known beignets, coffee that looks (and tastes) like mud, and overall tourist experience. (Note: If you are willing to stand awkwardly inside, waiting on someone to get up, you’ll get a table faster.)
  • Walk around the French Quarter or head over to the Garden District for some shopping. Since New Orleans is really a nighttime place, this is also a good time to visit Harrahs (if gambling is your thing) or head just out of town to Visit a Plantation.
  • Head back to the room to take a nap / freshen up and prepare for your second night out in the Arts / Warehouse District
  • Start your evening with some wine at W.I.N.O. where they have wine on tap (yes, it’s true).
  • Walk down the street to Cochon for dinner – amazing food and fun atmosphere.

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Day 3: Music and Art

Much like Vegas, New Orleans, depending on your pace, can make you feel a bit pickled by Day 3. So start off your day with some exercise to get the blood flowing and get ready for a slower paced day of shopping the art galleries and live music.

  • Head out for a run (earlier is better if you’re there on the summer). We typically run down Canal Street to the Riverwalk and then just explore from there. Stay around the French Quarter area for some good people watching and easy navigation.
  • Now that you’re ready, go get your first meal of the day – maybe Mothers or if you want something simpler, there are tons of cafes and coffee shops in the French Quarter.
  • Plan to walk around on Royal street to check out the art galleries and fun shops. If you’re there in August, consider going on Dirty Linen Night (we did!) where everyone wears their white linens from the previous weekend and the shops stay open late. It was really nice and fun and was a different side of New Orleans than the neighboring Bourbon street.
  • Once it’s late into the evening, walk over to Frenchman Street. Frenchman Street is known for live music, so you can’t go wrong just picking a place and walking in. We chose d.b.a and stumbled upon some amazing jazz and good beer. It was fantastic.
  • Skipped dinner? Need a midnight snack? Need more soul food in your life? Try Praline Connection.
  • Hail a cab back to the hotel to get a few hours of sleep before heading home.

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Just remembering all these fun things makes me want to go back! Guess we’ll be planning a trip soon.

– Stassja

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