My New Orleans trip with my girls was definitely one for the books! Our trip was pretty casual and very go with the flow, which was much needed for some of the chaos that happened during our four days in New Orleans! (That misadventure is for another blog post..) This won’t be a rigid New Orleans itinerary, if that’s what you’re looking for, but it’s definitely chock full of ideas to create your own list of New Orleans attractions and tours!
First Day in New Orleans
We landed in New Orleans around 11:30 AM, which meant we had plenty of time to explore the area! We reserved this half of the day to be more casual and go with the flow since we got up fairly early to catch our flights.
Wandering the Bywater District in New Orleans
Since our beautiful airbnb was located in the Bywater District in New Orleans, we spent a portion of our New Orleans weekend trip wandering nearby to see what we could find. It’s not as “touristy” as the French Quarter or the Garden District, so this area is perfect if you’re hunting for some hidden gems in New Orleans.
While wandering through the Bywater District in New Orleans, we decided to stop into a couple of cute little cafes that were near our airbnb.
The Orange Couch
Location: 2339 Royal Street
The Orange Couch is a SUPER chic and modern cafe with….I’m sure you already know. An orange couch. (Our seat of choice, of course!) From our visit, this looked to be a local favorite; it was filled with those working on laptops or meeting up with friends.
Flora Gallery & Coffee Shop
Location: 2600 Royal Street
Flora Gallery & Coffee Shop is a cute cafe that is FULL of New Orleans quirky vibes. So different from The Orange Couch, but in an absolutely good way!
New Orleans Art Center
If you’re an art lover, the Bywater District in New Orleans is a MUST to wander through regardless of what neighborhood you’re staying in. Besides all of the beautiful street art located on every corner, they have cute little art galleries to pop into, including the New Orleans Art Center located on 3330 St Claude Ave. It’s smaller, but still packed with locals artwork from large paintings to figurines to statues. One of the artists was even from Milwaukee! (No wonder I liked his work the best!)
BRACE YOURSELF because I’m going to be 100% blunt when it comes to visiting Bourbon Street in New Orleans. All I tend to read on blogs regarding here is that it’s “so much fun. SO iconic. And you MUST visit and get A, B, C, beverage during your New Orleans trip” or the flip side “it’s super touristy and disgusting and…” I’m sure you get the rest. Is Bourbon Street touristy? Yes. The entire French Quarter in New Orleans can be deemed touristy, too. I will say that my friends and I had fun on Bourbon Street, BUT it’s checked off my list. I may or may not visit it again, depending on who I’m with. There are always pros and cons to every tourist spot in every city, therefore I’m going to break it down based on your interests
If you’re big into bar hopping and partying, you’ll love Bourbon Street AT NIGHT. Everyone is always laughing, making jokes, and pretty friendly while wandering in and out of the bars. The strip clubs will have a cover charge, but most bars don’t. They just have a bouncer checking ID’s before you enter. All of the bars are pretty busy, but well organized so you can get your drink and go! It’s legal to wander around New Orleans with a drink, even if you’re not on Bourbon Street!
Even if you are big into bars and partying, there are SO many other cool bars in New Orleans with delicious cocktails that you should try.
If you’re somewhere in between the big partier and the non-drinker mentioned above, then definitely visit at night! Enjoy yourself, let loose a little, BUT do what I did and split the iconc New Orleans drinks (Hurricane, Hand Grenade, Shark Attack) with your friends/hubby/siblings/etc. They’re mostly straight liquor and sugar, and you’ll thank me later from saving you from a nasty hangover that makes you waste part of your New Orleans vacation!
If you don’t drink, or this is a family trip( and/or just want to dodge all of the drunk 20 somethings and people throwing beads from the balcony), you won’t be surprised that I’m recommending you visit the shops and bars during the day, or just stroll on by while you’re roaming the French Quarter. Bourbon Street essentially has college frat party vibes. The party atmosphere does start shortly after/around dinner time. If you choose to eat dinner at a restaurant on Bourbon Street, plan your escape thoroughly!
Second Day in New Orleans
Legs and Eggs: Burlesque Brunch Show at Sobou
- When: Sundays from 11 AM – 2 PM
- Pricepoint: $29 – 36
- Location: 310 Rue Chartres; French Quarter
Make brunch reservations at Sobou for some Burlesque fun! I know it seems a tad pricey, but their burlesque brunch is a three course meal package. The prices are based on the entree you choose, but you get an appetizer and a dessert of your choosing. Sobou’s burlesque dancers have gorgeous outfits throughout the show. Burlesque dancing is a huge part of New Orleans history and culture, and it was a burlesque hot spot from the 1940s – 1960s! They do space out each course so you have time to relax, enjoy the show, and get ready for the next meal!
Roam Down Magazine Street
Magazine Street is literally it’s own New Orleans attraction. It’s a full SIX MILES of shopping (from antiques to to boutiques to souvenir shops), art galleries, and restaurants and bars! This long street in New Orleans will alternate from shops and restaurants/bars to the gorgeous houses that you’ll see all over the Garden District in New Orleans. The architecture is absolutely stunning, so it’s worth spending a good afternoon wandering up and down Magazine Street.
I have no particular recommendations as to what types of shops, except to be open minded and pop into what looks interesting! There are antique shops, local art galleries/jewelry makers, costume shops, and beautiful boutiques. You can take a peek at Magazine Street’s website to get a closer look at the shops along the street.
Location: 1020 Erato St
Courtyard Brewery is right off Magazine Street in the Garden District, and a perfect way (in my humble opinion) to rest your feet and rejuvenate yourself after all of the walking! They have a draft list of 29 beers from IPAs, lagers, ales, stouts, and fruit beers.
Cafe du Monde
Cafe du Monde is an iconic stop for beignets and coffee, but there are other cafes you can visit as an alternative to Cafe du Monde. OR you can try them all on your New Orleans weekend trip and decide for yourself which has the best beignets!
Cafe du Monde: 800 Decatur St; (You can find other locations here)
Cafe Beignet: 334 Royal Street; 311 Bourbon St; 600 Decatur St
New Orleans Coffee & Beignet Co.: 4141 St Charles Ave
Morning Call: 56 Dreyfous Dr
Listen to Live Jazz Music on Frenchman Street
Frenchman Street is definitely one of the main streets to hear live jazz music! We went at night and did some “mini” bar/music hopping. The bars on Frenchman street are significantly nicer than Bourbon Street. Grab a delicious cocktail and hangout and enjoy the entire vibe of each bar or restaurant you visit. I visited Three Muses and The Maison. Three Muses was more of a sit down restaurant, while The Maison was more of an upscale bar (with DELICIOUS food).
Third Day in New Orleans
The third day of our New Orleans vacation was also my 25th birthday! It was quite an interesting day to say the least.
Kayak the Bayou and Swamp
No joke, when the above picture was posted on Facebook, my mom comments, “Joycelyn in back? Smart move.” THANKS MOM.
I would highly recommend you kayak through the bayou and swamp as one of your New Orleans activities. It’s an awesome way to escape the city hustle and bustle and really get to know the beautiful nature and wildlife in the area. We used the tour group: New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours, and absolutely loved our time with them!
Thank you to New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours for hosting us!
For my birthday dinner, I made reservations for our group to eat at NOLA Restaurant, one of Emeril Lagasse’s restaurants in New Orleans. There are four in the area, and NOLA Restaurant is one of the cheaper options. They offer delicious dishes with all the different flavors of New Orleans!
Fourth Day in New Orleans
Since the last day of our New Orleans trip wasn’t a full day, we again kept relatively close to our airbnb in the Bywater District. There was still SO much to explore in this New Orleans neighborhood.
Finding Street Art in the Bywater District in New Orleans
New Orleans is FILLED with art. From the Garden District to the French Quarter, there wasn’t a moment where we didn’t wander off our path to take a picture of some art. Personally, I believe the Bywater District has some of the best and most vibrant pieces. After all, this New Orleans neighborhood is known for it’s street art!
Really, everywhere you turn while wandering through New Orlean’s Bywater District, you’ll see beautiful colorful buildings and some amazing street art. What better way to get your steps in than looking for New Orleans art? The murals really portray the culture of New Orleans extremely well. I only wish I could have captured it all!