New Orleans is a crazy awesome place. If you read no further, I can tell you that New Orleans is by far one of the best food cities anywhere in the world. If you are a foodie, you definitely want to add NOLA towards the top of your must-visit cities list.
From bachelor parties to exploring with a young toddler (I've done both); there's something for everyone. This was my second trip to New Orleans, Louisiana. After my first visit, I was looking for any excuse to back with the family.
Where to Eat in New Orleans
There are literally hundreds of amazing places to indulge in diverse food and imbibe with a refreshing cocktail in New Orleans. Heck, you can even grab a "go cup" and take your favorite beverage along for the walk while you see the sights. The French Quarter, where the famous Bourbon Street runs is a great place start for New Orleans food. Venturing outside the French Quarter is where you can start to experience some of the more modern and trendy dining spots.
Southern-influenced modern Italian cuisine that is all about seasonal ingredients and homemade pasta.
Located in the Warehouse District. Reservations are almost always needed and it's best if they are made more than a day in advance.
We were hosted at Bourbon House for dinner with refreshing cocktails as part of our stay at the Astor Crown Plaza on Bourbon Street. We enjoyed delicious craft cocktails and Creole-style seafood. The broiled oysters (pictured below) are a must try.
We stumbled upon District Donuts when we were wandering the streets of the Garden District. We indulged in flat top burger and crispy fried chicken sliders with waffle cut fries and some pretty amazing donuts for dessert.
A historic must stop for beignets. I'd recommend grabbing a bag to go and walking across the street to Jackson Square for an even better view. To be honest, we had better beignets elsewhere, but it's still something you have to do.
Probably the most touristy place we visited. Great place to get some fresh oysters on the cheap and watch a game. There is usually a line, but it moves pretty fast.
Willie's Chicken Shack
We popped into this local chain for some fried chicken and shelter during a pretty severe thunderstorm. There are quite a few locations throughout the city and it's worth trying if you are in the mood for some fried chicken.
New Orleans Dishes to try
Many cities (or countries) have a few unique dishes that they can call their own. New Orleans has more of those unique dishes than anywhere else I have been, and it can be difficult to get to them all.
- Oysters (on the half shell and broiled)
- Po’ boy sandwiches
- Fried Chicken
- Bread Pudding
- Barbecue Shrimp - There's actually no BBQ involved. These are Gulf shrimp cooked on the stove in butter, garlic, white wine, and Worcestershire sauce.
This list is missing a few NOLA staples, but I just wanted to include dishes we actually tried during our visit.
Places we didn't get to visit that we wanted to
- Turkey and the Wolf - #1 on the Bon Appetit best new restaurants list for 2018.
- Willie Mae's Scotch House for fried chicken
Where to stay in New Orleans - Hotels
With all the wonderful areas in New Orleans, it can be difficult to decide on a location. We stayed at two different locations during our week visit, and both were great for different reasons.
Staying in the French Quarter
There’s something exciting about staying right where the action is. A quick elevator ride downstairs from your room and a step outside the lobby right into the action is what you get when you stay in the French Quarter.
We were graciously hosted by the Astor Crown Plaza for 3 nights during our visit. All opinions are always my own.
The Astor Crown Plaza hotel is located right on the corner of historic and lively Bourbon and Canal Streets. It was a clean and comfortable stay with a view of Bourbon street right from the pool, which Benjamin enjoyed watching.
The concierge was so friendly and helpful in making reservations and getting us set up with activities that were toddler-friendly.
Hyatt Regency New Orleans
Our first 4 nights in NOLA were in the central business district (CBD) at the Hyatt right next to the Superdome. This was the conference hotel and the location is close to other restaurants and is perfect if you will be attending a Saints football game. One of the downsides to the hotel is the long walk from the room to get outside the lobby doors, which is much longer than most hotels.
9 Things to do in New Orleans
While you really go to New Orleans to eat (and drink) your way through the city, there are tons of other activities to keep you and the family entertained throughout the day and into the early morning.
Most activities involve moving your feet, so be sure to bring comfortable shoes.
- Walk the French Quarter taking in the sights and sounds (with a drink in hand).
- Take a Swamp Tour and hold an alligator.
- Hop on Hop off bus to see the city from a higher perspective.
- Grab a beignet from Cafe du Monde then hang out in Jackson Square.
- Take a plantation tour.
- Walk the beautiful Garden District.
- Take a walking cocktail tour to get the history while you imbibe.
- Visit The National World War II Museum
- Step into a Jazz Club or just about anywhere that has live music
Kid Friendly Activities and Museums
- Louisiana Children’s Museum
- Audubon Zoo
- Audubon Aquarium
- Mardi Gras World
- Steamboat Cruise
How to get around NOLA
Your two feet are definitely the best way to get around New Orleans. I didn't get in a car or have the need to for the first 4 days of our visit. My feet were my vehicle and it really gives you a chance to see the city, plus get your steps in with all that you will be eating.
Lyft and UBER are all around if you need to go a little further.
There is a historic Trolly and bus service. We had planned on buying a trolly pass but ended up never needing it as walking didn't take much longer. The trolly could come in handy when it's super hot or raining.
The Hop on Hop off bus is a great way to get to all corners to the city while getting some knowledge at the same time.
DON'T RENT A CAR. Unless you are planning on doing a lot of day trips, renting a car in New Orleans isn't worth it. Parking at hotels is super expensive and you will probably find that you never want to drive. The tours that you take outside of the city have the option to add transportation, which will likely be less expensive than a car rental plus parking.
The best time to visit New Orleans
New Orleans can be a very hot and muggy place in the summer months. Weather is best from February Through May. You can get the best deals on flights and hotels from September through January, but you will probably see rain during your visit.