We grew up making trips to New Orleans – we would jump on any excuse to celebrate an occasion here. Nola is one of our favorite cities in the world. We love the people, the humidity, the art, the food, the diversity, and – most of all – the culture. The city is rich in vibrant flavor and personality.
Where to Stay
We definitely recommend staying in an Airbnb while exploring Nola. During our NYE visit we stayed in a super cute house in New Marigny on Frenchman Street. It would have been about a 30 minute walk to "all the action," AKA: the French Quarter and Bourbon Street, but since it was too cold too walk we took a 10 minute Lyft.
More recently during our August visit, we stayed in Hotel Storyville on Esplanade Street (available to book on Airbnb). Our room had everything we needed, including a kitchen, king size bed, living area, an amazing backyard area to hang out, as well as private parking if you bring a car. We were about a 15-20 minute walk from all the action this time and we were able to walk almost everywhere.
Where to Eat
Cafe Du Monde
$3 for order of beignets
You can't go to New Orleans and not pay a visit to Cafe Du Monde for an order of beignets (one order comes with three beignets) and café au laits. Pro tip: avoid the take-out line, and go straight inside (bonus: air conditioning!) to grab any open table.
Lunch, Dinner $12-$25 for an Entree
Manda was dying to visit Saba, a restaurant by Israeli chef Alon Shaya who is involved with Slow Food, the nonprofit she works with. "With influences that stem from the Middle East, Europe and North Africa, Saba reflects a collection of moments where food and culture have crossed paths." They source their seafood, meats and produce from local farms around New Orleans.
Basin Seafood and Spirits
Brunch, Lunch, Dinner $18 Dozen Oysters $19-$28 Entrees
When you're in New Oreans, you have to eat some good seafood (and we know good when we taste it since we grew up on the Gulf Coast). We went to Basin Seafood and Spirits on Magazine Street for a late brunch on Saturday, and this place did not disappoint! Their menu is also seasonal, which is always a good sign. We had crab and crawfish beignets (surprisingly really good, stuffed with lots of seafood, not too bready), chargrilled oysters (covered in parmesan and pecorino butter, absolutely amazing!), and bottomless mimosas for $14 – the bartender kept our glasses full the entire time and even sent us off with a to-go cup of mimosa, a perk to being in Nola.
Lunch, Dinner $12-25 Large order of Pasta, $13-$16 Sharable Pizza
Domenica is located in Downtown New Orleans, walking distance from the French Quarter. We've dined here twice before during our visits to the city and absolutely loved it each time. Domnica elevates Italian cuisine and embraces the New Orleans flavors and ingredients. We recommend the fried tuscan kale, the Campanelle pasta is life changing, and the pizzas are to die for.
Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar
Lunch, Happy Hour, Dinner $15 Dozen Oyster, $23-$25 Seafood Entrees
Go to Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar on St. Charles Avenue for their 50 cent raw oyster special during happy hour, which is a total steal!
Breakfast, Snack $1-$3 Donuts $7-10 Burgers
District Donuts on Magazine Street is so fun! They make everything 100% from scratch and it's all fresh every day. They also partner with local farmer's markets and Louisiana based vendors to help keep business local. The donut flavors change daily, but if the cinnamon roll donut is available, it's a must – divinely sticky, soft and buttery. They also offer kombucha, coffee, burgers, and beer – what else could you ask for?
Oceana and Acme are both located in the French Quarter and have great reviews for their seafood online – we even heard a couple of locals recommend them – although we haven't been. Acme always has a wait, but Oceana is a bit easier to get into.
Where the Party at
We get "You have to get off Bourbon and see more of New Orleans" a lot from locals, but we know what we like and we love Bourbon Street. Bourbon Street is a 13 block strip of bars, clubs, restaurants, hot dog stands, and more bars.
Where we go on Bourbon Street:
The Dungeon (we call it the Vampire Bar) – just off Bourbon on Toulouse. It's a dark, gothic bar with cages for dancing. Photos aren't allowed inside, so people tend to stay off their phones and enjoy the moody vibe.
The Swamp – we started going to this bar mostly for it's name (we refer to Nola as 'the swamp'), but we always have fun here because they play fun music, people are usually dancing and the drinks aren't too expensive.
Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar – one of the oldest (and haunted) bars around. Their frozen drinks are strong, and the atmosphere has a super local vibe.
The Cat's Meow – a rowdy karaoke bar with a courtyard to get some air in between sets.
Heat Nightclub – one of our new favorites. Go upstairs for a dance party.
Tropical Isle – stop in for a traditional New Orleans hand grenade.
Here's the ultimate tip: Start at the end of Bourbon where Lafitte's Blacksmith Bar is located and work you way to the end of street – then get yourself a Krystal sandwich before calling it a night.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is full of jazz, art, and food. You can watch street performers and browse local art while sipping on a drink. This is where you can get a true feel of the New Orleans culture.
Magazine Street is a 6-mile long stretch from the Garden District to Uptown. The artsy street features tons of great restaurants, coffee shops, antique stores, boutiques, and bars.
When to Visit
We definitely recommend going in the spring, summer, or fall. DO NOT GO IN THE WINTER. When we went for New Year's Eve last year, it was so painfully cold that we weren't able to enjoy walking everywhere like we usually do and most bars and restaurants don't have very good insulation.
Remember to always check out what festivals and events may be going on during your Nola visit because there is pretty much always a festival or something to celebrate in the vibrant city!