I’ve been to New Orleans on three different occasions now and each trip has been quite different…well, with the exception of the constant drinking and eating. That has been consistent amongst every trip. The first trip was during spring break of senior year of college with 10-12 girls, and by far the most disorganized and chaotic (have you tried asking a dozen girls what they want to do and then try to agree on one thing?) but still such a great time. The second trip was for spring break during my grad school year with four of my guy friends and one of my girlfriends. It started out as our girls’ trip and I’m really not sure how it turned into us on the boys’ trip. My most recent trip was in June 2018 with 3 friends and that was by far the most organized and consisted of the most sightseeing and activities off Bourbon Street.
Obviously there are certain ‘must-do’ items when you go to NOLA, like drinking way too much on Bourbon Street (trust me, this is a requirement otherwise you will hate Bourbon Street – it’s loud, crowded, and filthy), walking around the French Quarter, seeing Jackson Square, admiring the Mississippi River, eating beignets at Café du Monde, gambling at Harrah’s, and listening to jazz on Frenchman Street. I have to admit I love doing every single one of these things when I take a trip down to the Big Easy, but here are some of my favorite things to do:
This was my favorite activity from my last trip to New Orleans. This is one of the last fully steam-operated boats on the Mississippi River. You can select from a number of experiences, we chose to do the mid-day sightseeing cruise but they offer jazz brunch packages and evening dinner cruise options – all with live music, of course. This was a perfect way to escape the summer heat and suffocating humidity that envelops New Orleans during the summer. We grabbed drinks and started out in the main cabin area listening to the live jazz band as we embarked down the Mississippi. We spent most of our time on the propeller deck watching the huge wooden wheel push us down the river, next we made our way up to the top level observation deck which offered awesome views but was entirely too hot to stay for any extended period of time. We finally scoped out a table under a shaded area next to a bar (naturally) and spent the rest of our cruise camped out there. The entire tour took about two hours and the sightseeing was great. An added bonus for this excursion – you can bring your own food and drinks on board. We found this out the hard way when we threw away our leftover po boys from lunch prior to boarding and the security officer told us we could have taken them with us (would’ve been nice to know before I threw my sandwich in the trash).
Brennan’s is located in the French Quarter and is a bit on the pricey side but the atmosphere and food are incredible. We went for brunch (definitely make reservations as it gets very crowded) and absolutely loved it. I got some fancy rendition of eggs benedict and I don’t regret a single bite or penny spent. I even ended up buying the Brennan’s cookbook (that I have yet to use). The restaurant is beautiful and uniquely decorated, as each room has a different theme and color scheme. This is definitely a unique-to-New Orleans restaurant worth checking out.
Acme Oyster House
There are a few Acme locations in New Orleans – we went to the French Quarter location right off Bourbon Street. We sat at the bar where we had a clear view of the oyster shucking and preparation process (it was awesome) and got lucky enough to be assigned to a Master Shucker who’s been doing it for over 30 years. I’m not the biggest seafood lover around but I ate some of the char-grilled oysters and WOW they were incredible. Everything we ordered was incredibly delicious, though the highlight of our trip to Acme was the oyster shooters. Yep, exactly what you’re thinking. A shot of vodka with lemon juice, a splash of tabasco, and a raw oyster. I know, I know it sounds completely disgusting but they were awesome! So tasty and not disgusting. This place is your go-to for New Orleans classics for a reasonable price (the shots were $2.50 – where else can you buy shots for $2.50??).
Pat O’Brien’s Patio
Ok so Pat O’Brien’s is pretty darn touristy but their patio is unmatched. If you’re not familiar with Pat O’s, it’s the home of the original Hurricane. Every time I find myself in New Orleans, going to sip a hurricane on Pat O’Brien’s patio is at the top of my priority list. The patio is filled with vibrant, lush plants and a pretty fountain. You feel like you could
maybe be sitting in the hot humidity of the tropics (or something like that)and not the hot humidity of Louisiana. This is a nice way to take a break from the endless amount of walking and relax with a GOOD drink.