Beyond Tourist Traps- A Perfect Weekend in New Orleans
You can’t go wrong with a weekend in New Orleans. The music, the food, the drinks, the party – they all created an electricity in this city that can’t be ignored. We fell in love with New Orleans the second we stepped out of our car. The city has a certain energy that is invigorating and makes you want to create something. Honestly, I stepped away from the blog for about a month, then went to New Orleans, and was filled with creative energy. Now here we are! So this won’t be my only post about New Orleans and obviously things will be updated as we (definitely) go back again.
Friday- The Weekend Begins
Since we are living in Panama City, FL right now, New Orleans is just under a 5 hour drive. So, we took advantage of a 3 day weekend and took off after work, getting to NOLA around 10pm. Since we went to work all day, we called it an early night (we like mornings better anyways)
We started the day at Coffee Science (science and coffee-yes please) and it was great! The barista gave us some great tips for the day and we headed out, caffeine in hand.
Since we were waiting on a friend to join us in the city, we decided to go uptown for the morning. B saw a park on the map and our AirBnB host told us it was the second largest park in the city with an amazing art installation in the middle . So, of course, we had to go. We knew it was suppose to rain so we brought our rain jackets and thank goodness we did! At first it was a slow drizzle, but by the time we got to the park, it was pouring. We took refuge under a beautiful tree and then made a mad dash to the museum for shelter. Once we got to the art museum (where I literally rang out my clothes), we felt an obligation to buy tickets. And as students, it was only $8 a pop so we made the leap. We’re not huge on art history, but it was a great museum and we even got a free piece of art!
After our crazy morning, we hopped on the train car (for $3/day) and headed downtown. Probably the best $3 I’ve ever spent and a must do! We had no troubles navigating the street car and it saved us a ton on parking in the city. Would recommend.
On the way downtown we stopped at Neyow’s Creole Cafe for some charbroiled oysters (also a tip from our host) and it was probably the best seafood I’ve ever had. I like oysters, but I don’t love them. These, I loved. I also had a Moscow Mule because, when in Rome, and B got a mojito after being warned about the rum punch (Bow Wow Punch) with 10 shots of rum in it. We were in it for the long game that day, we couldn’t do 10 shots at 11am! Well, maybe another time 😛
Obligatory Tourist Stops
On to the French Quarter. At this point we were hungry. I’ll spare you the nitty gritty of finding a place to eat and wandering up and down the French Quarter. The point is we ended up at Coop’s Place, which came highly recommended. The food was great, the price point was fine ($12-20/pp) and the drinks were flowing. If you’re a beer person, you have to try Abita, a local brewery. Coop’s Place had Abita’s Andy Gator beer (an 8% beer) for $4 on draft, so that’s hard to beat.
The night was a blur of bars, music and drinks (as it should be in New Orleans). I’ll do my best to recap the night!
We definitely stopped by these places: (in no particular order)
Cafe Beignet (twice)- we loved it here. Great music at both locations, nice prices, would recommend (highly). Skip the overcrowded Cafe Du Monde and check this out instead.
Marie Lavou’s Voodoo Shop– A must see glimpse into the idea of Voodoo.
The French Market– A cool place to check out local arts, food and trinkets
Jean LaFitte’s Absinthe House– a touristy place but we had a great Sazerac! Fun Fact: The Sazerac was first created in New Orleans and some say it was the first cocktail. That is obviously highly debated, but it is a fun story. This was also on my Atlas Obscura list, so it was a must.
Molly’s– $5 Moscow mules, you know I’m here for that – or check out their famous frozen Irish coffee!
We actually ended the night at the Cafe Beignet on Bourbon St., listening to a great band, under the heaters (it was January and COLD). I was sippin’ on a mule so it was a win all around. We took the street car home (so easy!) and called it a night.
We set out for the Bywater neighborhood in the morning on a quest for the best king cake in New Orleans. We had heard talk about the Bywater Bakery, even though they’re the new guy in town. Since we wanted to end up in that neighborhood, we gave it a shot. OH MY GOD. It was the best (sweet) thing I have ever eaten. We went back on Monday to get a slice before heading home, it was that good. We got the Chantilly cream king cake, which I know is not traditional, but oh my is it good. B and I split one, but you best believe we got our own on Monday. I also got a BLT because you know I have to have my savory in the morning.
After our morning fix, we headed to the Bacchanal Wine and Spirit shop, which doubles as a restaurant. The idea of this place is you pick your cheeses, your wine and any meats you want then the chef creates a cheese board with breads, jams, pickles and crackers that compliment your cheese selections. Then you take your bottle of wine outside and enjoy their patio with live music. For B and I, life can’t get much better than this. It’ll cost you some money for the lunch (about $45) but totally worth it for us, especially if you consider that a bottle of wine is a few drinks for each person!
Living like a Local
Since it was football Sunday, we had to catch the Saints game at a local bar, especially because it was playoff season. B spotted a brewery and we went for it. We ended up with Parileauex Beer Lab, which was a great place to hang out for the afternoon, with a great crowd for the game. We also had great Central American food from a pop up restaurant in the brewery itself, but you can also bring in your own food. In a fun turn of events, the couple next to us were from New England and got an extra pizza by mistake when they ordered delivery. We were hungry and they offered us the extra one! It’s always good to make friends on vacations 🙂
Walking home, we got caught in the vortex of Bourbon St, which deserves its own post, and we ended up at Cafe Beignet. I’ll mention here that although we love it here for the music and drinks, we didn’t necessarily plan to end up there like we planned to go back to the bakery. Just a good thing to clarify. But, when seeking sanity on Bourbon street, this was the best bet.
Packed up and out of the AirBnB by 9am, we headed to the Bywater Bakery for our slice of king cake and last view of New Orleans before heading home to Panama City, FL.
Woo- if you’ve made it this far, you deserve a medal. Here’s a breakdown of our cost and a reasonable budget for your weekend in New Orleans.
Food and Drinks- $300 (budget of $100/day)
Incidentals (we made the ultimate mistake and forgot Advil and a memory card for my camera- total fail) $100
Total for the weekend in New Orleans: $637 or $318/pp
Once again, we went overboard on food and drink, but can you blame us? In this kind of city, I feel like its worth extending your budget to fit some good eats in. Next time we go, I’m sure we’ll keep it under $600 ($300/pp) just because we now know how to avoid getting sucked into Bourbon St every night!