Let’s visualize your next lively ladies trip for a New Orleans weekend, where the music seems to be coming from every corner, the cuisine is as abundant as the city’s history, and the vibe of adventure is as strong as the city’s classic cocktails. This isn’t just any vacation—this is a ladies-only trip to the heart of New Orleans for adults, filled with good-hearted fun, amazing culture, and unforgettable experiences.
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If you’ve never had a New Orleans weekend getaway, you might have a lot of questions about the best places to eat or shop, the must-see attractions, and how to navigate the vibrant streets of the French Quarter. Let’s dive into these wonders and unravel the tapestry of this enchanting city before we get to the perfect itinerary.
Must-See Attractions in the French Quarter:
- Bourbon Street’s lively spirit is a given, but don’t miss the serene beauty of Jackson Square and the historic allure of St. Louis Cathedral. Jazz enthusiasts will want to visit Preservation Hall.
Safety in the French Quarter:
- Like any busy city, it’s wise to stay aware of your surroundings. The French Quarter is generally safe during the day, but exercise caution at night, especially on less crowded streets. Sticking to well-lit and populated areas is key.
Best Time to Visit:
- While Mardi Gras brings a festive frenzy, consider visiting during the spring for the Jazz Fest or the fall for the French Quarter Fest. These seasons offer pleasant weather and a showcase of the city’s vibrant culture without the peak crowds.
Live Music Venues:
- From the smooth tunes at The Spotted Cat Music Club to the historic vibes at Preservation Hall, live music is the soul of the French Quarter. Roam the streets, and let the jazz rhythms guide you – there’s melody around every corner!
- There’s every kind of tour you could wish for, from haunting ghost tours to delightful culinary walks and enlightening historical strolls, each offers a unique perspective of the Quarter. Local guides bring stories to life, transforming a simple walk into a journey through time and taste.
Parking and Transportation:
- Parking can be a challenge, so consider alternatives like the streetcar, which is an adventure in itself! If driving, opt for paid parking lots for convenience. Walking is the best way to soak in the area’s charm, so wear comfortable shoes!
- Royal Street is your go-to for antiques and art, with plenty of unique finds. The French Market is perfect for souvenirs and local crafts. Don’t miss the quirky shops on Magazine Street, a short ride away, for one-of-a-kind boutiques.
Day 1: New Orleans Weekend Immersion in Culture and History
Morning: Settling In with a Touch of Convenience at Sonder
Begin your New Orleans adventure by checking into Sonder. These three-bedroom apartments combine comfort and a great location close to the French Quarter to provide a condo-style living experience. Sonder is a great option for people who appreciate both design and convenience because it is expertly crafted with a keen eye for detail and has simple automation. However, keep in mind that early arrivals might need to store their bags temporarily. Services like Stasher or Bounce are handy for this, costing around $7 per bag. It’s a small price for the freedom to start exploring without delay.
Late Morning: First Taste of the French Quarter at Napoleon House
Once you’ve managed your luggage logistics, set your sights on Napoleon House. Entering this legendary eatery is like stepping into a piece of New Orleans history rather than just a restaurant. The walls, thick with folklore, along with the quiet hum of the French Quarter coming to life, create an amazing atmosphere for your first lunch in this infamous city.
At Napoleon House, prepare to indulge in a po’boy that transcends mere sandwich status. Opt for the catfish or shrimp po’boy, and ready yourself for a culinary revelation. The catfish is a masterpiece, each piece fried to golden perfection. Imagine a crust that crackles with every bite, a harmonious blend of seasonings that dance on your palate, complemented by the tender, flaky fish within. The crunch is not just a texture; it’s a symphony, each note seasoned with the heritage of Southern cooking.
On the other hand, the shrimp po’boy honors the Gulf’s bounty. Every shrimp has a luscious, succulent texture and is coated in a crispy, light batter. This po’boy is an exploration of New Orleans’ soulful culinary landscape, served on a soft, fresh bread with a mélange of crisp lettuce, luscious tomatoes, and a smear of creamy, tangy sauce. It’s satisfyingly more than just a meal.
As you relish these delectable dishes, allow the atmosphere of Napoleon House to embrace you. It’s a distinctly New Orleans experience, with historic charm, a gorgeous garden courtyard in your view, and the faint tones of jazz in the background. It’s an exploration of the city’s vibrant gastronomic and cultural landscape.
If you’re considering other lodging options, notable mentions include the Hyatt Centric, Bourbon Orleans, and Hotel Monteleone. Each of these hotels offers a unique blend of luxury, location, and local charm, catering to both individual and shared room preferences.
Afternoon: City Tour – Beyond the Historic Core
Post-lunch, hop on on a mid-day city tour. This is an excellent option if you plan to stay primarily in the historic areas but still wish to witness the broader tapestry of New Orleans’ history. Highlights include the steps that civil rights icon Ruby Bridges walked on and the transformed neighborhoods of the 9th Ward post-Hurricane Katrina. This tour not only offers insight into the city’s rich history but also its resilience and vibrant spirit.
Early Evening: Bourbon Street Beginnings
First Stop – Tropical Isle for Signature Drinks
As the afternoon mellows into early evening, it’s time to dive into the lively atmosphere of Bourbon Street. Your first destination is Tropical Isle, renowned for its signature drink, the Hand Grenade. Grab one of these iconic concoctions and head to the second-floor balcony. This vantage point offers unparalleled people-watching opportunities – a quintessential New Orleans experience.
- Meet Trudy – The Heart of New Orleans Hospitality
If fortune favors you, you’ll meet Trudy, acclaimed by me as the best bartender in the French Quarter, perhaps even in all of New Orleans. Trudy is more than a bartender; she’s a local legend, embodying the warm, spirited hospitality the city is famous for. Engage with her for hearty welcomes and insider tips – the right questions might just unlock hidden gems of the city!
- Stroll Down Bourbon Street
From Tropical Isle, meander down Bourbon Street. This stretch is a kaleidoscope of New Orleans life. Watch street musicians strum soulful tunes, street performers capturing the essence of the city’s vibrant culture, and fellow wanderers soaking in the eclectic atmosphere.
- A Sweet Pause at Music Legends Park
Conclude your Bourbon Street exploration with a visit to Music Legends Park. Here, nestled among statues commemorating New Orleans’ music legends, you’ll find some of the city’s best beignets. It’s not just about the food; it’s about experiencing the soul of New Orleans in every bite.
Late Evening: Parade Excitement or Spine-Tingling Adventure
Option 1: Mardi Gras Parade on Tchoupitoulas Street
Should you time your visit with a parade, seize the opportunity to immerse yourself in this quintessential New Orleans celebration. A highly recommended spot for parade-watching is Tchoupitoulas Street, known for offering a great view and a vibrant atmosphere. After soaking in the parade’s lively energy, head to Mother’s for some authentic New Orleans cuisine. This local favorite serves up dishes steeped in flavor and tradition, a fitting end to a festive evening.
Option 2: Nighttime Ghost, Voodoo, and Vampire Tour
An exciting alternative for those looking for a walk on the wild side is a ghost, voodoo, and vampire tour during the night. The trip delves into the shadowy past of the city, told by a guide who skillfully blends historical realism with a dramatic flair.
Be prepared for unexpected thrills, like navigating through parade crowds in real-time, using tools like the parade tracker. However, be aware that the tour can sometimes encounter real-life revelers, leading to tense moments. Our experience was a blend of excitement and unpredictability, with our guide demonstrating both a deep knowledge of New Orleans’ lore and the readiness to handle any situation.
Post-Tour: Unwind at the Vampire Apothecary
Regardless of the intensity of the tour, stopping by the Vampire Apothecary is the ideal way to unwind. This unusual restaurant serves a variety of interesting drinks, such as theatrical blood bags, absinthe cocktails, and vampire tea and coffee. It’s the perfect spot to enjoy conversation with friends and think back on the adventures of the evening.
Late Night: Bourbon Street Alive
For those who wish to experience New Orleans by night, Bourbon Street beckons with its endless energy. Alive with music, laughter, and the city’s unique spirit, it’s the perfect place for late-night adventures. From lively bars to street performers, the experiences here are as diverse as they are unforgettable.
Day 2: From Bourbon Street to Historical Insights
The Next Morning: Jazz Brunch at Arnaud’s
Begin your next day at Arnaud’s with their acclaimed Sunday jazz brunch. The gumbo here is not just good; it’s “I need a refill” good. Coupled with the soothing jazz melodies, this brunch experience encapsulates the culinary and cultural essence of New Orleans.
Mid-Morning: Happy Hour at Erin Rose
After indulging in brunch, head to Erin Rose for their happy hour from 10 AM to 2 PM. This spot is known for its attentive service and delightful drinks like the #4 mimosa or frozen Irish coffee. The bartenders here have a knack for making everyone feel seen and attended to, a small but significant detail that enhances the experience.
Afternoon: Cemetery Tour at St. Louis Cemetery #1
At 2 PM, embark on a tour of the St. Louis Cemetery #1. While there is a $25 entrance fee with a tour guide, the visit is worth it for those intrigued by New Orleans’ history. The cemetery is home to some of the city’s oldest and most famous residents, and the tomb architecture is fascinating. However, a note to tour guides everywhere: consider using audio systems for clearer communication. This would ensure that every fascinating story and historical detail is heard and appreciated by all participants.
Afternoon Delight: Discovering Treasures on Royal Street
Post-cemetery tour, lighten the mood with an afternoon of shopping along the charming Royal Street. This area is a treasure trove for art lovers, with galleries showcasing everything from contemporary pieces to classic New Orleans-inspired artwork.
- Bring Home a Taste of New Orleans
No trip to New Orleans is complete without taking home some local flavors. Pick up some sweet pralines, a vibrant king cake (especially during Mardi Gras season), or a fleur-de-lis shaped spoon rest for a dash of French elegance in your kitchen. These items are not just souvenirs; they’re tangible memories of your New Orleans experience.
- Jewelry and Mystical Finds
For those who love adding unique pieces to their jewelry collection, explore the numerous shops offering everything from affordable trinkets to exquisite pieces. Don’t miss the magick and crystal shops for special finds like a hematite hamsa necklace, known for its protective qualities, or an eye-catching evil eye bracelet.
- Smart Shipping Tips
Should you stumble upon a must-have item that’s impractical to carry back, consider shipping it home. The USPS offers flat-rate boxes as a convenient and often more economical option than airline baggage fees. This way, you can enjoy your finds without the hassle of extra luggage, and it’s typically more affordable, ranging from $10 to $30.
Evening to Late Night: Savoring Every Last Moment
Early Evening: A Spin at the Carousel Bar
Ease into the evening with a visit to the iconic Carousel Bar. Try your luck at snagging a seat on the carousel itself for a whimsical experience, and if not, the French 007 cocktail is just as enjoyable from a stationary spot. It’s a must-visit for its unique ambiance and delightful drink selection.
A Quick Pit Stop at Your Lodging
After your Carousel Bar adventure, take a moment to drop off your shopping treasures at your accommodations. It’s a brief respite to freshen up and prepare for the night ahead.
Pre-Party Dining at the Bombay Club
Before you dive back into the Bourbon Street festivities, fuel up at the Bombay Club. Their happy hour offerings, like naan tacos and a dirty martini Caesar salad, are both innovative and satisfying. Don’t forget to try a French 76 or any of its delightful variations – a nod to the classic French 75.
Bourbon Street: A Milder Sunday Night Affair
As the night deepens, head back to Bourbon Street. Sundays tend to be a bit more relaxed, making it ideal for some laid-back bonding time. The vibrant atmosphere, combined with one last round of drinks, provides the perfect setting to reflect on your incredible weekend.
Late-Night Bites: From Voodoo Chicken to Vegetarian Delights
For your final late-night meal, New Orleans offers a plethora of options. Whether it’s Voodoo Chicken and Daiquiris for a local twist, the comfort of Popeyes, or a steak at Turtle Bay (with delicious mushrooms for the vegetarians), there’s something for every palate. And, if you’re up for it, why not one more stop at Cafe Beignet? Their red beans and rice are the perfect endnote to your culinary journey in the Big Easy.
Concluding Words of Wisdom: Savor and Stay Safe
Drink Responsibly: A Must for Group Safety
As you immerse yourself in the spirited atmosphere of New Orleans, a gentle yet vital reminder: moderation is key. It’s important for at least one person in the group to remain clear-headed and responsible, especially when enjoying the city’s vibrant nightlife. But why not take it a step further? Savor your drinks slowly, appreciate each flavor, and truly absorb your surroundings. New Orleans is a city of stories, and you won’t want to miss a single one.
Embrace Spirit-Free Options
In a delightful turn of inclusivity, almost every restaurant in New Orleans now offers spirit-free cocktails. This is a win for everyone, providing a chance to indulge in the art of mixology without the alcohol. These creative concoctions are not just alternatives; they’re experiences in their own right.
Navigating with Uber and Cash Essentials
While Uber is a convenient way to navigate the city, remember that during peak times and in high-crowd areas like Bourbon Street, it may not be feasible. Plan accordingly and be prepared for a bit of walking – it’s another way to soak in the city’s charm. Also, carry enough cash for tips. Whether it’s for tour guides, servers, or the immensely talented street performers, showing your appreciation with a tip is more than a gesture; it’s an acknowledgment of their hard work and contribution to the city’s culture.
New Orleans: A Stage for the Stars
As you wander through New Orleans, you’ll find yourself amidst a sea of talent. From musicians playing soulful tunes on street corners to artists showcasing their crafts, the city feels like a cradle of future stars. Even if they’re not on the brink of fame, their talents are worthy of recognition and applause.
Safety and Joy in Wandering
Above all, prioritize your safety. New Orleans is a city best experienced with an open heart and a cautious mind. Stay aware of your surroundings, look out for each other, and embrace every moment with joy and wonder.
- Sonder (3-bedroom apartment): Prices can vary, but let’s assume an average of $200 per night. For two nights, that would be around $135 per person (assuming shared cost among a group).
- Meals and Drinks:
- Jazz Brunch at Andre’s: Approximately $50 (Prix fixe menu at $35 – 48 plus one cocktail around $15)
- Erin Rose (drinks and snacks): Around $10 -20
- Napoleon House (meal and drink): About $30
- Bombay Club (happy hour bites and drinks): Around $10 – 20
- Café Beignet (snacks): Approximately $15
- Other meals and drinks: Assuming an additional $100 for various meals and drinks throughout the trip
- Ghosts and Vampire Tour: Around $29
- Cemetery Tour: $25
- Optional tours/activities: An additional $50 for any extra tours or activities
- Local transportation (Uber, trolley, etc.): Approximately $70 for the entire trip including to/from the airport.
- Souvenirs, artwork, jewelry, etc.: This can vary widely, but let’s budget $100 for miscellaneous purchases.
- Miscellaneous Expenses:
- Tips, emergency funds, etc.: Around $50
Based on these estimates, the total cost per person for this itinerary could be around:
- +$135 (Accommodations)
- +$255 (Meals and Drinks)
- +$100 (Tours)
- +$70 (Transportation)
- +$100 (Shopping)
- +$50 (Miscellaneous)
Yes, you can do it for less or more. That all depends on you and any circumstances that you run into during your travels.
How to save:
- Choose off-peak times to visit.
- Take advantage of Happy Hour deals.
- If your group is large enough, get a group discount on your tickets.
- Share ride costs.
- Set a budget for souvenirs and stick to it or skip them altogether.
- Track your spending.
- Always have enough set aside for an emergency.
- Stick to free activities, like visiting The Historic New Orleans Collection (THNOC); New Orleans Jazz National Historical Park; New Orleans Artworks at the New Orleans Glassworks & Printmaking Studio; Sculpture Garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA):
Wander Happily in New Orleans
As this itinerary comes to a close, remember that New Orleans is more than a destination; it’s a journey through culture, history, and soulful experiences. Stay safe, drink responsibly, and let the city’s rhythm guide your adventure.