Updated: Feb 8
New Orleans, or NOLA, is a beautiful city rooted in historical culture, great music, and mouth-watering food that you really can’t find anywhere else. You might have heard New Orleans also being referred to as "the Big Easy" which originates"in the 1960s when New Orleans gossip columnist Betty Guillaud allegedly coined the moniker while comparing 'the Big Easy' to 'the Big Apple,'" Reader's Digest writer Juliana Labianca writes. While New Yorkers were perpetually running around, laid-back life in New Orleans reigned, hence, the Big Easy" - Southern Living
This trip was sponsored by New Orleans & Company, but all opinions are our own. Start planning your trip at neworleans.com! Here is our curated list of things we recommend you add to your New Orleans bucket list:
Where to Stay
High Budget: Four Seasons New Orleans - located on the riverfront, this new 5 -star property will have you feeling on top of the world! Don't miss out on a dining experience Miss River as it was one of the best meals we had in New Orleans!
Mid-High Budget: Royal Sonesta in French Quarter - you cannot ask for a better location than in the center of French Quarter! They also have jazz performances at The Jazz Playhouse which we definitely recommend you check out! The performance we saw had me tearing up it was so good!
Low Budget: Marriott Warehouse Arts District and Old No. 77 & Chandlery are great options!
NOLA is very well-known for their food and culinary history with good reason. All over the city are hidden gems from white tablecloth dining to fast joints that have the tastiest foods. There is so much history embedded in their food as well. Both Creole and Cajun foods can be found all over restaurants in the Big Easy. Creole refers to “city food” and generally means people of mixed colonial French, African American and Native American descent. Cajun, otherwise known as “country food”, has history from Acadian descendants. You haven’t been to NOLA if you haven’t tried some of their local cuisines.
Mardi Gras School of Cooking - By far our favorite tour in New Orleans! We took a class with Chef Chris Jeffries who taught us the secrets and historical relevance of Creole and Cajun cooking. Our food was incredible and it was a fun recreational and learning hands-on experience.
Destination Kitchen Food Tour in French Quarter - this culinary, historical experience takes you down the corridors of French Quarter to some of the oldest restaurants to sample the best Cajun and Creole foods!
Miss River - even if you are not staying at Four Seasons, this restaurant is a must try! It was the best dining experience we had throughout our whole trip!
Chemin à la Mer - amazing oyster bar and steakhouse!
Jack Rose - a touch of hipster fused with speakeasy vibes, this restaurant was amazing! Don't forget to grab a selfie with Lil Wayne!
Galatoire's Restaurant - legendary must-have, french cuisine!
Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch- good boozy brunch with buffet style NOLA food and live jazz
Cafe Beignet - Favorite beignets and breakfast spot!
Killer Po’boys - favorite take on the traditional po’boy
Dong Phuong Bakery & Restaurant - best king cake
Cafe du Monde - rich with history, this beignet cafe rarely doesn't have a line wrapped around the front!
Cochon - such amazing food here!
Foods to Try:
Red beans & rice
Desserts to Try:
Beignets and Cafe au Lait Bread pudding King Cake Pralines Bananas Foster
Things to Do
When you are strolling down the streets of the French Quarter, you will hear the beautiful sounds of jazz on every corner. The city is vibrant and full of musical talent and live venues to grab a drink and listen in.
The Jazz Playhouse - talented musicians will rotate performances in a very intimate setting and not to mention the best espresso martinis
Frenchmen Street - We loved spending our nights on Frenchman! There are bars next to each other each having their local jazz bands play
Grab a Drink on Bourbon
Did you even go to New Orleans if you didn't have a hand grenade on Bourbon Street?Bourbon Street is 13 blocks long and world-known for its neon nightlife with local hangouts, jazz bars and clubs, and cocktail lounges. The party never stops on Bourbon, but make sure you get plenty of rest for your other tours!
While you take a break from your cocktail, the city has many tours where you can learn about the history of the city and its origin. History is told in the food, the music, the culture and architecture that makes this city so unique. Whether you are looking for a traditional guided history tour through the neighborhood or even a ghost tour, you will be able to find it all here!
LGBTQ+Tour - We learned about LGBTQ+ influence throughout the history and development of New Orleans.
5 in 1 Ghost Tour - We learned so much through our culinary activities but wanted to know more about voodoo, vampires, witchcraft, unsolved mysteries and more. This is a great way to hear the thrills of NOLA!
If you are coming during the spring/summer, you must take a Swamp Tour. Here you will take an airboat down the Bayou River and get up and close with NoLa’s famous reptile, the gators! We booked our trip very easily with Gray Line tours which even provided bus transportation to/from the airboats!
Travel Tip: *If you take the swamp tour, make sure it is the right season because the alligators hibernate during the winter and colder days!
Ride Bikes in French Quarter
The French Quarter is only 13 blocks wide by 6 blocks long so you can get around fairly easily! We wanted to see as much as we could, so we decided to rent some bikes from Flambeaux Tours and ride around town! French Quarter is bike friendly and you will find bike parking spots all over - just keep an eye out for the pot holes!
LGBTQ+ Tourism in NOLA
One of the many things that @visitneworleans knows how to do is celebrate you! There is a huge LGBTQ+ culture and community in this magical city that are accepting, celebratory and here for you year round. On the festival side of it you’ll find celebrations during Mardi Gras, Carnival season and Southern Decadence. There are also a ton of LGBTQ-owned businesses, bars, and drag brunches spotted all around New Orleans. We were truly charmed listening to the history of this city and how involved the LGBTQ+ community has played a pivotal role here for hundreds of years.
Don't forget to check out a drag performance at Mag's 940 bar! We had so much fun watching the queens perform some of our favorite songs!
New Orleans Scrapbook