For our Christmas gift this year, DG & I decided to take a quick flight down to New Orleans. This city has been on my list of places to visit since 2015, so I was so glad to finally get to there. Our flight landed around 7:45PM on Thursday and we flew out on Sunday morning at 8:00AM. DG and I thrive on traveling together, and have figured out a planning tactic that works. I generally write down all the places I want to visit, ask DG to contribute to the list if I missed anything, and then make arrangements if needed. It works like a charm for us and has made it easier to see all the things from our list. So today, I would like to share my New Orleans travel guide with you!
I posted last week about our amazing stay at Le Pavillon New Orleans. If you are looking for a historic, elegant hotel in the center of everything the city has to offer, DG and I both cannot recommend Le Pavillon enough. For our first night, we had dinner at Le Gallery in the hotel, and my fried oyster club and DG’s Cajun chicken sandwich were delicious after our flight.
We slept in a bit on Friday before having breakfast in the Crystal Room of our hotel. This buffet style breakfast plus omelette bar was just the fuel we needed to start off our day.
Le Pavillon is within walking distance of the French Quarter and also from the Green Line Street Car that took us uptown through the Garden District and dropped us off at Tulane University and Audubon Park. For our first full day, we just wanted to walk the city and check out the scenes. We walked through Audubon Park, and strolled through the Garden District before heading to down to walk through the French Quarter.
I loved that the city was still decorated for the holidays but it was also buzzing with energy for the College Playoff Game that was being held on New Year’s Day. Our original plan was to walk and pop in and out of places having small plates and drinks at each stop. However, it was pretty crowded, so we ended up at a suburban restaurant equivalent to an Applebee’s for dinner. Honestly, it was pretty funny how it worked out, but the whole time I kept telling DG that we would have structured dinner plans the next night instead of just winging it.
Despite our dinner being less glamorous than I had hoped, our food was quite yummy. After our dinner, we took a short 9 minute Lyft to the hotel to regroup. We had a cocktail at Le Gallery and then walked down to Luke for a change of scenery. Their raw oyster selection is spot on. DG and I definitely will be back here on our next visit.
On Saturday, I woke up and planned out our day with a little more structure. We decided this system works best for us traveling and we will not deviate from that again. I am a bit too Type-A to just wing it. So, we woke up early and headed to Willa Jean for breakfast. Pro-tip: get there before 9:30 to avoid a wait on the weekend. We got right in and had a delicious brunch. DG had the pimiento cheese, sausage, & egg biscuit, while I had the fried chicken biscuit with Tabasco and honey syrup. I would recommend trying their frose as well!
We headed down to the French Quarter after our breakfast and this time frame was so much more our speed. It was not too crowded and it was easier to take in the gorgeous architecture of this part of the city. We popped in to Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, the oldest bar in New Orleans. This bar dates back to the 1700s and I was in history heaven with this place.
For our next stop, we walked to the French Market and headed to Cafe du Monde. I was super optimistic we would get beignets from Cafe du Monde, but it was packed every time we attempted to go. I told DG he has to take me back just so I can have those. Cafe du Monde is open 24 hours, so if you are down in the French Quarter in the evening, maybe have dessert first like Biana did.
We took full advantage of our location to Jackson Square so we walked through the park and really enjoyed seeing the local artists on display in front of St. Louis Cathedral. We walked back up through the French Quarter and felt like we were transported to Europe.
We stopped at the Hotel Monteleone to have a drink at the Carousel Bar. The bar and lounge opens at 11:00AM, so I would recommend getting there between 11:00-12:00 to get a seat. We lucked up and got a seat at the bar relatively quickly and thought the Merry-Go-Round concept was really fun. It is definitely a must-do in the city. P.S. They serve small bites at the bar, including beignets, if you encounter a line like we did at Cafe du Monde.
We walked back to the Green Line to take the street car back to the Garden District. The street cars are great ways to get around and a day pass is $3 a person. However, they only take cash and exact change, so be sure to have that ready. The only time we used a taxi was to and from the airport and to our suburban supper.
On Saturday, we went to Lafayette Cemetery, which is a beautiful, enchanting cemetery dating back to the 1830s. This cemetery has been seen in TV shows and most famously, Double Jeopardy. We opted for the self-guided tour because of time, but I would definitely recommend a guided tour to hear more of the history of those buried in the cemetery and the Garden District itself.
We hopped back on the Green Line back down to Tulane University and Audubon Park so we could check out the Audubon Zoo. When we travel, we decided on sites we would like to see together and then individual sites we like. So, we went and checked out the cemetery for my interests and then went to the zoo for DG’s interests. If this is not a true example of give and take in a marriage, I don’t know what is.
There is a free shuttle at the entrance to Audubon Park that took us to the zoo. It is divided up in to continents, and we really enjoyed our time here. DG took approximately 100 pictures of animals and sites in the zoo,but for the sake of this post, I asked him to pick out his favorite 2-4. For the record, he sent me 7. The man really loves a zoo.
We took the shuttle back to the other side of Audubon Park and caught the Green Line back to Lee Circle. This stop was great for popping in to the Warehouse District. We had a late lunch at the highly recommended Cochon Butcher and this was hands down the best meal we had on our trip. DG ordered a BBQ sandwich, I ordered a Muffaletta, and we split their macaroni and cheese. It was divine.
We were exhausted after walking about 20 miles over the course of the two days, so we took the bus back to the stop near our hotel, which is another reason to purchase the day pass. We took a break, relaxed, and got ready for dinner at Flamingo a-Go-Go, also in the Warehouse District. We opted to walk to dinner to see a bit more of this part of the city. I ordered a shrimp po boy here and the breading on the shrimp was perhaps the best I have ever had.
After dinner, we walked back to Le Pavillon to have a night cap and to chat with some of the people we met while staying at the hotel. It was the perfect last day of our trip and we definitely enjoyed getting to know the staff at Le Pavillon over our stay.
We attempted to wing this trip a bit more than normal, and while it worked for us in terms of site seeing and taking in the city, it did not necessarily work for us in the culinary department. Despite that, we still had great meals in the city, and I am definitely itching to get back.
Have you been to New Orleans? What was your favorite restaurant? Thing to see or do? Did I miss anything out of this New Orleans travel guide? Let me know in the comments below!
Shop my packing guide for this trip here: