Several months ago, Colton and I planned a weekend getaway for Labor Day with another couple. As much as we love traveling together, it’s fun to go out of town with other people too. Last year, we visited Chicago with some friends, so maybe we can make visiting fun US cities on Labor Day a new tradition. We chose New Orleans this year because it’s close to Dallas, full of great food, and a place neither one of us have ever been.
About New Orleans
New Orleans is a city in southeast Louisiana along the Mississippi River. It’s known as the birthplace of jazz, and music can be heard on many of the street corners. New Orleans hosts many parades throughout the year, the most famous is Mardi Gras. We happened to unintentionally visit during Southern Decadence, so we got a small taste of the parade life. If you consider yourself a foodie, love French and Spanish creole architecture, and jazz music, New Orleans is the place for you.
Where to stay
We fell in love with the ACE hotel brand in Portland, so we were thrilled to find an Ace in New Orleans. Ace is located in the central business district. It was far enough away from the French Quarter that it was quiet, but close enough to walk. There are plenty of cute shops and restaurants in the area too. Our room came complete with a Smeg, record player, and killer minibar setup.
One of the best things about the ACE hotel New Orleans is the gorgeous rooftop pool. Colton and I spent some time up there to cool off a bit in the humidity.
What to do
New Orleans is a city you can walk around and find things to do. Here are a few of the things I recommend.
Listen to live music
Every where you walk, you can find live music. A few of the hot spots include many of the bars, street corners, and public.
Visit a cemetery
It may sound morbid, but New Orleans has some of the most beautiful cemeteries in the United States. Take a tour, or just walk through by yourself. We checked out the St. Louis Cemetery No. 3.
Hit up magazine street, downtown, or Bywater for some great art galleries, resale shops, boutiques and more. If you like to shop, you will have no shortage of cute places to get your fix.
Walk the neighborhoods
My favorite thing to do in a city is visit all of the unique neighborhoods. New Orleans is full of colorful buildings, homes, and shops. Each neighborhood has a unique feel and style.
Check out the French Market and pick up some fresh fruits, handmade goodies, and more. Try some of the strawberry lemonade, you won’t regret it.
Ride the street cars
If you have never ridden one before and know where you want to get to, the street cars are a fun way to see the city.
Visit a park
Jackson Square and City Park are two of the many squares and parks you can visit in New Orleans.
When in doubt, eat. New Orleans has everything, and the food is incredible. Thank you for my newest addiction to gumbo.
Where to eat
We ate and drank at a ton of places, and there were still hundreds of more places I wanted to check out. With the recommendations of a couple of foodie friends (shout out to Jason, chef at Sundown at Granada and Delia), Yelp, and our group, we found some great spots.
Cafe Du Monde is one of the most popular stops in New Orleans, and for good reason. They serve warm, powdery beignets and coffee. Grab a plate of these donuts for breakfast or a midday snack at least once during your visit.
Enjoy a live jazz brunch buffet at Court of Two Sisters. For $32, you get a buffet of hot and cold items as well as a variety of desserts. I recommend waiting until around 12:00 when the carving station opens to get your full money’s worth. We missed out on that because we were a little early. However, enjoy the beautiful patio and music while you eat cajun favorites.
We waited an hour and a half for brunch at Ruby Slipper Cafe. Their bloody Mary’s are perfection, and the food was wonderful. I am not sure I would wait the full wait again, but we made the best of it and loved our picks.
Just down the street from The Ace Hotel is a cute little breakfast place called Willa Jean. Their biscuits are mouth-watering. You will not regret adding one to your meal, or choosing a biscuit based meal to begin with. Don’t forget about the frosé, y’all.
Josephine Estelle, the restaurant at The Ace hotel is the perfect stop for a great Italian meal. We had a variety of the handmade pastas and finished off several of the desserts.
We stumbled in to The Maison on Frenchman Street our first night because we heard live music. I am glad we did. Their dinner menu is full of New Orleans staples.
Our last night in New Orleans, we stopped for drinks and oysters at Seaworthy, an oyster bar just down from our hotel. Not only is the space gorgeous, but the food and drinks were incredible. They made oyster fans out of our friends that visited, and I craved oysters for days afterwards.
We spent a lot of time at the Ace Hotel, so of course I recommend their lobby bar. They have a good happy hour menu and a cool lobby to hang out in.
Our favorite find throughout the trip was Bacchanal Wine. When you walk in, it looks like a little wine shop, but there is so much more behind the door. Not only do they have a killer patio with live music, they have a cool treehouse with a full bar and air conditioning. Summers are humid, so it is a great hideaway. We spent a ton of time at this Bywater bar.
The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone is another unique spot to grab a drink. Although we didn’t get to sit at the rotating carousel, we enjoyed ourselves on the comfy couches. The cheese plate and crawfish beignets were crowd pleasers for our group.
Catahoula Hotel is a boutique hotel located between the business district and French Quarter. They have a great indoor and outdoor bar, so stop in for a drink before dinner or a nightcap afterwards.
Have you been to New Orleans? What are some of your favorite things? Leave me a comment below.