Everyone should visit New Orleans at least once in their lifetime. My brief late December visit to this unique Southern city put it right back on my travel list for places to visit AGAIN. I left so much unexplored, undone and uneaten. The food alone is enough reason to go back to New Orleans!
We had time for one weekend in New Orleans, so I wanted to make the most of it. Before I planned our trip, I wrote out a list of 5 New Orleans activities that I wanted to be absolutely sure were included in my New Orleans vacation. My list includes iconic New Orleans experiences:
- Stay at an historic hotel. I want it to be old, full of antiques and lavish New Orleans decor.
- Eat a beignet. I refuse to leave New Orleans without eating this fried, sugar-covered breakfast specialty.
- Listen to live brass band music.
- Tour a plantation.
- Visit the French Quarter.
The great news is that it is possible to pack in a wonderful New Orleans experience within a weekend. I was able to do everything on my list, thanks in part to advance planning and the ability to make reservations and buy tickets online. Enjoy a look back at my trip, and feel free to copy my travel plans for what to do in New Orleans I would recommend every single thing we did to anyone, without hesitation. My husband and I had a wonderful time and would love to go back for more.
Stay at an historic hotel. We chose the luxurious Le Pavillon because it is conveniently located downtown in the French Quarter. This elegant hotel is within walking distance of many New Orleans tourist attractions including the French Quarter, Audobon Park, and Bourbon Street. We made sure we took the time to enjoy the rooftop pool and hot tub.
Eat a beignet. Cafe du Monde is world famous for its beignets, which is a square piece of fried dough covered with lots of powdered sugar. You’ll probably wait in a long line to get one, but it’s worth it! We ended up eating beignets more than once while we were in New Orleans. Here, our beignets are pictured along with other traditional New Orleans fare, a muffeletta sandwich (the best sandwich EVER) and jambalaya.
See a live brass band. The Howlin Wolf is one of New Orleans top locally owned and operated venues. Lucky for us, New Orleans Best Brass Band, the Rebirth Brass Band had a concert scheduled there that weekend. They put on an amazing performance.
Visit a plantation. There are many New Orleans plantations worth visiting. We only had time for one. We picked the Evergreen Plantation because it is known as the South’s Most Intact Plantation. It is easy to drive to from New Orleans. Unlike other plantations, Evergreen Plantation is still a privately owned, working sugar cane plantation.
Our tour group was small, and we had an excellent guide. My husband and I were both impressed at her ability to tell us hundreds of years of plantation history in a clear, concise and interesting way. Evergreen plantation includes dozens of buildings including “The Big House” and a double row of twenty-two slave cabins. History feels very much alive at Evergreen.
Visit The French Quarter.
The French Quarter is the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans (founded in 1718.) The entire area is a National Historic Landmark and is a must-see destination for tourists. It is home to hotels, restaurants, bars, businesses, shops and residential areas. Most everything was built in the 18th century with a distinct style architecture and buildings are painted with unique, colorful pastels.
A bit of practical advice. We rented a car, but parked it when we checked in at the hotel. It was much easier for us to get around the French Quarter on foot. At night, we took a taxi so we did not have to worry about trying to park on the crowded streets. People also advised us against walking around the French Quarter in the late hours of night/early morning hours for safety reasons. We only took our car out for longer drives out from the city.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? What places do you recommend for people to go, see and do while they are there? Let us know in the comments below.