After spending nearly a week in Punta Cana and Munich earlier this year, we felt we should scale back and plan a shorter and more local fall vacation. We settled on a visit to New Orleans, Louisiana (aka NOLA) mostly for its nightlife scene, as an alternative to Las Vegas (trip one and trip two linked here), but NOLA's historic architecture and reputation for good food and music also made it an easy sell. It was a lucky coincidence that our trip there coincided with Halloween weekend.

Accommodation: Chateau LaMoyne

Adventures: Jackson Square, St. Louis Cathedral, Mississippi River, Bourbon Street (nightlife), Royal Street (galleries and shopping), Historic VooDoo Museum

Tours: Big Easy Swamp Adventures (airboat swamp tour), Seafood and Shrimp Boil Experience (food tour), Ghosts of the French Quarter (haunted tour)

Takeaways: 1) Alcoholic beverages are allowed on the street (note: no glass containers). 2) Chargrilled oysters are the "gateway oyster". 3) One block either direction from Bourbon Street has a completely different vibe. 4) People come to New Orleans for the food more than the music. 5) There are random parades happening all the time. 6) It can get cold here. 7) Halloween weekend is an interesting time of year to visit.

Memorable Moments: 1) Ordering a drink to go. 2) Sampling pralines. 3) Peeling and eating crawfish with a mouth on fire. 4) Enjoying a private shrimp boil. 5) Listening to street music and ghost stories. 6) Throwing beads off a Bourbon Street balcony. 7) Getting covered in powered sugar while eating a beignet.

  • Beignets (fried pastry dough covered with powered sugar)
  • Pralines (confection made with pecans, brown and white sugar, butter and cream) (pronounced: prah-lean)
  • Fried green tomatoes
  • Cheese grits
  • Turtle soup
  • Gumbo (stew of meat and/or shellfish)
  • Jambalaya (dish of rice and meat cooked with Creole spices)
  • Fried catfish
  • Louisiana oysters
  • Gulf shrimp
  • Crawfish
  • Poboys (sandwiches served on special French bread, often made with shrimp, oysters or catfish)
  • Muffulettas (sandwich made with Italian bread, provolone cheese, ham, and salami, and topped with an olive salad)
  • Remoulade (mayonnaise-based condiment with a little spice)
  • Abita beer
  • Hurricane (cocktail made with rum, fruit juice, and grenadine)
  • Sazerac, "The Official Cocktail of New Orleans"

Restaurant Picks:


Café Fleur De Lis (try: Seafood Benedict)
307 Chartres Street

Mister Gregory's of New Orleans (coffee shop with breakfast sandwiches) (also: sign up for an evening shrimp boil)
806 N Rampart Street


Golden Chips (fast food like fare) (try: Belgian style fries)
537 Toulouse Street

Mr. Ed’s Oyster Bar and Fish House (try: Fried Alligator, Southern Fried Catfish Poboy)
512 Bienville Street

Royal House (try: Chargrilled Oysters)
441 Royal Street

Saints and Sinners (note: this restaurant turns into a bar at night) (try: Homemade Crawfish Pie, Crawfish Boil)
627 Bourbon Street


Café Sbisa (French-Creole) (try: Sbisa Seafood Aperitif, bread pudding)
1011 Decatur Street

Desire Oyster Bar (go for their Happy Hour menu: $1 oysters and drink specials)
300 Bourbon Street

Galatoire’s 33 Bar and Steak (note: dress code is business casual)
215 Bourbon Street

Landry’s Seafood House (try: New Orleans Crawfish Bread, Crab + Corn Bisque)
620 Decatur Street

Meauxbar Bistro (hipster French bistro) (try: French Onion Grilled Cheese, Yak-A-Mein)
942 N Rampart Street

Sweet Stuff:

Café Beignet (other locations available)
334 Royal Street

Café Du Monde (try: their famous beignets)
800 Decatur Street

Laura's Candies (try: pralines)
331 Chartres Street

Leah's Pralines (try: Bacon Pecan Brittle)
714 St. Louis Street


801 Royal
801 Royal Street

Beerfest (dive bar with 72 beers on tap) (try: Abita Amber beer)
410 Bourbon Street

Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar (oldest structure in the USA used as a bar) (try: Voodoo Daiquiri, they also make a decent hurricane)
941 Bourbon Street

Pat O'Brien's (inventor of the hurricane cocktail) (we weren't fans of their hurricane but go for the courtyard)
718 St. Peter Street

The World Famous Cats Meow (karaoke bar but go for their Bourbon Street balcony)
701 Bourbon Street

Tropical Isle (try: Hand Grenade and/or Shark Attack)
721 Bourbon Street


Rouses Market (purchase water, beer/wine, and/or snacks for your hotel room)
701 Royal Street

1) Visit in March or October for the best weather.
2) It might be best to avoid Mardi Gras season if you want an authentic NOLA experience.
3) Peak crawfish season is March through June. Venture outside the French Quarter for better prices.
4) Don't rent a car. The French Quarter is easy to maneuver by foot and parking is difficult. Take advantage of Uber and Lyft or one of the streetcar lines if traveling a distance.
5) Avoid eating on Bourbon Street. There are a few exceptions, some noted above.
6) If interested in visiting the Saint Louis Cemetery, sign up for a tour in advance of your trip. You need a certified guide to enter. 

Next Time:
1) Eat brunch at Brennan's (inventor of bananas foster) and dinner at Antoine's Restaurant (inventor of oysters Rockefeller)
2) Check out the French Market
3) Listen to jazz on Frenchmen Street
4) Join another food tour, possibly the Magazine Street Foodie Tour
5) Sign up for the Saint Louis Cemetery Tour
6) Cruise the Mississippi River on the Natchez Steamboat
7) Check out the Garden District
8) Visit the Pharmacy Museum and The National WWII Museum
9) Kayak through the wetlands with New Orleans Kayak Swamp Tours
10) Check out Verti Marte (1201 Royal Street) for late-night food 

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