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If you’re into Jazz music, Exquisite Creole food, and Historical Culture, then NOLA is a great choice. I always say I left a piece on my heart in New Orleans; it’s one of my favorite places to visit. However, we decided to plan our last minute trip in September on Labor Day weekend. It’s a hot time of the year, but it didn’t stop our fun!!! So, you have three days to paint the town red. Let’s get to it!
When you first arrive at Louis Armstrong New Orleans Airport, I would suggest getting an Uber/Lyft. The Uber ride is about $50 bucks to get to the French Quarter. While you’re in the Uber, try to have small talk with the drivers. They will always have some fantastic recommendations on the events going on in town.
Where to Stay
There are so many beautiful boutique hotels in the city. I would suggest staying near Canal Street in the French Quarter, which is walking distance from everything. These are the top 3 hotels I would recommend. The Eliza Jane is a beautiful boutique hotel with great architecture and style. Le Pavillon Hotel, this hotel is a classic luxury hotel with a lot of history which you can feel from the walls. If you want some glam photo opts, I would recommend this hotel. Last but not least, Omni Royal Orleans, a beautiful modern hotel located in the heart of New Orleans.
Also, I’m a big fan of Airbnb’s. New Orleans has some spectacular homes and lofts to rent out for the weekend. Please make sure you do your research on the location before you book. Make sure you are in a safe neighborhood close to the French Quarter. Don’t get me wrong Nola is beautiful, but it does have it’s rough areas as in any other city.
Day 1 in Nola
We started our official day in Nola with breakfast at The Ruby Slipper (Side note — there are a few Ruby Slipper locations, we went to the location on Magazine St. off of Canal St.). OMG! This place has fantastic food and so many options to choose from. All of my friends tried out different selections on the menu, and everything was superb.
After our amazing breakfast, we went to the iconic Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral. I recommend this location for beautiful photo opts. It’s lined with entertainment and psychic palm readers. Jackson Square is full of beautiful architecture and history. I would suggest taking one of the cities ghost tours, but since we only had three days, we wanted to see as much as we can. We saw a few tours taking place, but I will save it for my next trip if I stay a bit longer.
Where to eat…
We had such a blast a Jackson Square that we worked up an appetite. So we had to try a NOLA delicacy, which is GUMBO! We found a spot right around the corner from Jackson Square, and it’s called The Gumbo Shop. I recommend you try this place when you aren’t starving because you will have to wait in a line for about 45 minutes. They have the most delicious gumbo. I would definitely go back again.
After our amazing lunch, we headed over to Mardi Gras World. If you want to get the back history of NOLA Mardi Gras, this is the place for you. When you arrive, it will be HOT AF! Granted, the museum is in a vast warehouse. But at least they have AC when you check-in and watch the history video before the tour.
We had a fun tour guide who knew his stuff! We also tried King Cake, another NOLA Delicacy, which is a colorful cake with a plastic baby inside. I heard if you find the baby, it gives you good luck! The tour was about 30-45 minutes. We got to see the designs in action for the following year. I was speechless when I saw how much work go into these floats. The fact that they have to start an entire year before the next parade should tell you something. It was such a sight to see despite the heat I recommend you to take the tour.
To end our day, we headed over to Bourbon Street to enjoy the crazy nightlife. I’m WARNING you now; after 10 pm, it gets pretty crazy down there. Don’t bring out your heels and freak’em dress; it’s not necessary. Bourbon Street is full of bars, restaurants, and locals, so dress as if you were going out to a local bar. (tennis shoes or booties are a must).
Things can get wild on this Famous street filled with beads and large crowds. If you want some beads, you might have to show your tatas (even though this is frowned upon by the FEDS). Whatever you do, please DO NOT pick up the beads from the ground, they have laws, and it’s incredibly unsanitary. Also, make sure you try the delicious daiquiris from Tropical Isle’s Bayou. BUT be careful not to drink too many, you will regret it in the morning. Also, if you like Friend Chicken, try Willie’s Chicken Shack — BOMB.com.
Day 2 in Nola
We had a jam-packed day on Day 1, so we decided to sleep in and then headed over to Commanders Palace for lunch. Try their Wild White Shrimp & Grits, its to die for. The restaurant is located in the Garden District, which has little cute Mom and Pop shops with beautiful cased iron homes. These homes are urban versions of French-colonial plantations, beyond Stunning.
We took an Uber from our hotel to get there as it’s about 20 minutes away from the French Quarter. Our driver was so cool; she took us on a little detour to see Beyonce & Jay-Z’s New Orleans Mansion. Also, if you want to cram in another quick excursion, they had the Lafayette Cemetery No.1 right across the street. It’s breathtaking (pun intended) to see the structure of the wall vaults as they are above ground. This cemetery is one of the oldest cemeteries in New Orleans and is still in use until the day.
After our lunch and quick detour, we headed back to the French Quarter to go to our Swamp Tour. We got this tour comped. (side note — people are walking around the French Quarter with Club Wyndham shirts). Yes, they are trying to sell you a timeshare, but we only had to attend the 1-hour meeting. We received four comped tickets to the Swamp Tour, which saved us all $100 each. The meeting wasn’t that bad, say you’re not interested and take the tickets.
The tour we went on was called the Gray Line Swamp and Bayou Tour. The trip was about an hour and some change. They have two types of tours; we decided to go on the boat tour, which is beautiful and calm. They also have an airboat tour, which is more high speed. I didn’t want swamp water flying all in my face. We had so much fun and saw some big gators right before our eyes. I would definitely do this tour again. I can’t believe over a million gators live in the bayou. Plus, I had the opportunity to hold this little guy.
We had such a good day at the swamps; it wore us out! We decided to head back to the room to take a quick nap. The sun and humidity will kick your butt, so be ready for it. Once we were feeling rejuvenated and refreshed, we woke up and headed over the legendary The Pontchartrain Hotel. It’s a classic hotel with the famous Jack Rose Restaurant located in the Garden District. The vibe is eclectic with fantastic decor. They also have the legendary Lil Wayne portrait that everyone wants to take a picture in front of. We enjoyed our dinner and wine. You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. To end our night, we went to The Hot-Tin Roof Top Bar. It’s in the same hotel, amazing views of the Mississippi River and Downtown New Orleans.
Day 3 in Nola
On our final day, we had to stop by the famous Cafe Beignet. If you never had a beignet, it’s a doughy deep-fried pastry with powdered sugar on top. It’s delicious, and you can get some amazing photos in front of the location.
To end our trip, we decided to go out one more night. We headed over to Frenchman Street, which is more of the upscale and classy crowd. Yes, you can bring out the freak’em dress and heels. There are several bars and night clubs with live Jazz bands with no cover fees. One of the clubs we enjoyed was called the Blue Nile. It’s a two-story venue with a live jazz band on the first floor and bar/DJ on the second. I loved the vibes of this place, and the drinks were cheap, AF. The street is only about two blocks, but we enjoyed our last night in Nola.
I had such a great time, can’t wait to go back!!! I hope this helps you plan your next trip to The Big Easy!