A long weekend in New Orleans

I celebrated my birthday in New Orleans this year. I'd never really been there before so it was great exploring a new city. Below I've provided tips on how to spend a long weekend in NOLA. We didn't visit Bourbon Street (it's under construction and narrowed by lots of scaffolding) but we did eat some great meals, hang out at some cool places and have a really great time so enjoy!

WHAT I WORE: tip to toe!

FRIDAY: Laissez les bon temp rouler!

:: 3:00pm (The Nopsi Hotel) ::
Play hooky on Friday, because it's your birthday! Book a direct flight from National Airport in DC to Louis Armstrong Airport in New Orleans; the flight is about two hours. Choose a flight that lands around the same time as hotel check-in so you can drop your bags and hit the ground running. Or in my case, hit the hotel's rooftop pool at peak sunshine time.

Choose a hotel based on the type of weekend you're looking to have. I wanted to relax and be pampered and I'm a big fan of the Salamander Resort and Spa, which is located right outside of Washington, DC. When I heard the same owner was opening a new property in New Orleans I knew I'd it was the perfect place to celebrate my birthday in style. 

New Orleans's newest luxury hotel - The Nopsi actually opened just a few months before we arrived so everything was brand new. There are a few kinks they need to work out (the entire phone system went out while we were there), but everyone was very accommodating (security came up immediately to see if we were ok...we tried calling down for more towels, but couldn't get through and they tried calling us back and couldn't reach us either) and the place is gorgeous. Apparently the locals are really excited about this new property. Everywhere we went the waiters, Lyft drivers and bartenders all commented about the hotel's rooftop pool bar; it's a hotspot for service industry workers. We even got to meet the owner Sheila Johnson on our last day.

Once you're all checked in enjoy the amenities and explore the lay of the land in your hotel. Hit the pool (or grab a disco nap) and take advantage of your surroundings. A hotel is more than a place to lay your head, its the first part of your vacation. Is there a cool lobby bar? Order the signature drink. Are there great views from the rooftop? Snap a few "ready for the weekend" pics for the gram. I was starving and in desperate need of charbroiled oysters I'd been drooling over since researching places to eat in New Orleans so we dropped our bags and headed to a local watering hole nearby.

:: 5:00pm (Neyow's Creole Cafe) ::
I intentionally selected as many black owned businesses as I could find to patronize while in New Orleans. Several sources pointed to Neyow's Creole Cafe and its famous charbroiled oysters. THEY DID NOT DISAPOINT. Sit in their outdoor courtyard in iron rocking chairs and feast on the most decadent oily, flavorful oysters you'll ever taste. Think Oysters Rockefeller without the gooey layer or breadcrumbs, served with slices of baguette to sop up all the goodness. Order the hush puppies that are so perfect the first bite will give you goosebumps...and then order a second helping because they're that delicious. Also try the infamous "Bow Wow" punch, but fair warning you won't be able to see straight for several hours afterwards.

:: 6:00pm (St Roch Market) ::
Now that you've tried charbroiled oysters at the best spot in town you'll need to follow up with raw oysters and fancy cocktails at St Roch Market. If you know D.C., St Roch Market is like a fancy cross between Union Market and Eastern Market. You'll need to try the raw oysters at Elysian Seafood, the most amazing Tom Collins at The Mayhaw bar and a delightful after dinner espresso with a dash of milk from Coast Roast Coffee, which you should sip outside on the patio. We strolled up and down this street, which was lined with colorful dive bars.

:: 11pm (Daisy Dukes Express) ::
Eventually you'll need to flush the last of the "Bow Wow" out of your systems with greasy diner food from Daisy Dukes Express, which is walking distance from The Nopsi. The 2 eggs served your way with fried eggs, bacon, a biscuit and grits should do the trick. The biscuit and grits are the best part. 

SATURDAY: Queen of the night

:: 11am (Above the Grid) ::
If your hotel has a rooftop pool, like Above the Grid at the Nopsi, take advantage of the fact that this hotspot is closed to the public during the day. Get a few laps in, sun yourself, take in the 360 degree views of the city and of course enjoy a cocktail. The French 75 became my drink of choice while in New Orleans. 

:: 2pm (Domenica) ::
New Orleans is a great place to get married and on Saturdays you should be on the lookout for New Orleans police officers waiting outside of churches and hotels because that is the sign that a second line is happening soon. Traditional brass band parades that lead the wedding party from the ceremony to the reception, a second line is called such because anyone who sees one is welcome to join in after all of those in the wedding (or first line) have gone past. You dance, drink and wave a white cloth napkin to celebrate. 

There is a great church across from Domenica Restaurant  that churns out several weddings  a day in peak season. The food is excellent. The caesar salad, Rigatoni and a glass of red wine make a great lunch. The restaurant will happily create vegan pizzas using any of the veggies they have on hand. For dessert the melon sorbet or the the affogato are good bets. The entire front of the restaurant is glass and faces the church so in between courses you can pop outside to watch the second line then came back in just as your entrees are being served. Beautiful art decorates the walls and there is a great atmosphere. 

:: 8:30pm (The Country Club) ::
No birthday celebration is complete without a fancy birthday dinner. My goal was to find somewhere appropriate to wear this fabulous headpiece. The Country Club New Orleans was the obvious choice. You can book 3 months ahead for their notorious Drag Brunch or you can cozy up to a corner booth and enjoy a leisurely dinner of sweet corn and blue crab bisque (with slight curry flavor...divine!) and a whole crispy fish served with popcorn rice (we went to the grocery store the next day to purchase this rice, a local favorite). At some point in the evening jello shots may be distributed...don't be alarmed. You also might see people walking past the dining room in tank tops and flip flops, disappearing into the evening. We found out later there's a pool and bar out back and locals come here for a midnight swim!

:: 11:00pm (Carousel Bar, Hotel Monteleone) ::
We've all seen the movie "Girls Trip" so you'll want to do at least one thing you saw in the film. I wanted to visit the Carousel Bar. Luckily I've done it so you don't have to. DO NOT...I repeat...DO NOT...attempt to go to the Carousel Bar on a Saturday night. The place looked like a frat house. It was dark and strange and sticky. You should, however go to the bar right behind it, also inside the Hotel Monteleone, which is beautiful and wonderfully charming. The drinks are solid and there was a live jazz band rocking out hard. Feel free to take your cocktail and sit in the lobby for and hour or so and watch the parade of humanity that wonders in and out of this place. It cannot be described.

:: 1:00am (Willie's Chicken Shack and Frozen Daiquiris) ::
The name alone mean's you're going to regret this decision in the morning, but you're on vacation and in New Orleans and you must do as the New Orleanians do. A three piece chicken tender meal with fries and a honey biscuit from Willie's Chicken Shack will be exactly what the doctor ordered. And your half pina colada (rum), half green apple (vodka) daiquiri will come in a to-go cup so when you find it on your nightstand in the morning and drink it like a smoothie for breakfast you'll believe it was designed for this exact purpose. It won't be true, but it won't matter either. This is also the closest you'll need to get to Bourbon Street. You can walk to the Canal St location from the Carousel Bar.

SUNDAY: You already know...

:: 1pm (Rouses Supermarket) ::
You can pretty much bet on a late start to your Sunday so I wouldn't make too many daytime plans. It's football season and you're in New Orleans Central Business District so you're stumbling distance from the Superdome. Plan for lots of foot traffic and some popup tailgates as the city center stadium doesn't have a typical parking lot. 

Your best bet would be to pop into the grocery store for some edible souvenirs. Rouses Supermarket is a local family owned grocery store full of Louisiana classics. Pick up gumbo base, popcorn rice, anything praline flavored and half coffee half chicory grounds to bring back. They also broadcast the game on several TVs at the entrance of the store. 

:: 2pm (Seed) ::
By now you're deeply regretting your trip to Willie's Chicken Shack and in need of something restorative. Seed to the rescue; a vegan restaurant that will make you think twice about healthy food. Order the vegan beignets  to start and the nachos to finish. The creamy cashew queso will make you a believer.

:: 4pm (St Charles Streetcar) ::
Now it's time to explore the beautiful neighborhoods in New Orleans. The best way is to take a tranquil New Orleans Streetcar ride up and down St Charles and Carollton Avenues. "The oldest continuously operating streetcar in the world! The mahogany seats, brass fittings and exposed ceiling light bulbs are from a day when plastic seats and aluminum rails we not even a thought." You will pass antebellum mansions as well as historic colleges Xavier and Tulane. And if you ride to the end of the line you can hop back on the car going in the opposite direction and ride it all the way back to the Central Business District where the Nopsi Hotel is located.

:: 8pm (Domenica) ::
In preparation for another night out you're going to need some quality food. Now that you've tasted the flavorful spicy red sauce at Domenica you're going to be craving more. When you return the next day try sitting at the bar and either ordering the vegan pizza again, which will have an entirely different set of veggies on it (olives, cherry tomatoes, squash this time) or  order the Margarita pizza and take some back to your hotel for later.

:: 10:00pm (House of Blues) ::
When you're travelling somewhere new one way to experience the soul of the city is through local events. September is both Restaurant Week (called Coolinary New Orleans) and Burlesque Fest and Big Freedia was having a concert at the House of Blues New Orleans, benefiting the hurricane victims in Texas. Let me just say...if Big Freedia comes to your town, or any town you're visiting...please clear your schedule to watch her and her dancers...you will get your entire life. When you go to a concert in an artists' hometown you really get them at their best and the energy from their longtime fans is contagious. 

MONDAY: How soon is too soon to come back?

:: 9:00am (Waldorf Astoria Spa) ::
On your last day in New Orleans you're going to want to set aside some time for a little pampering and a lot of reflection. Located walking distance from the Nopsi Hotel is the Waldorf Astoria Spa at the Roosevelt Hotel New Orleans. Indulge in a hydrofacial or a 50min massage. Book the first appointment of the day to make sure you have time to chill out in their relaxation room before you head back to your hotel to check out and head to  the airport.

:: 11:00am (Public Service Restaurant) ::
If you haven't already this is a great time to explore your hotel's restaurant. Pull up a chair at the Public Service Restaurant bar and order the seafood tower, which is surprisingly affordable at only $24. 

:: 2:00pm (Stonefree) ::
If you have an evening flight you can store your bags with the hotel bellman and explore a little more of the Central Business District. Along O'Keefe Avenue are several businesses including a delightfully whimsical clothing store called Stonefree Boutique. They carry brands like For Love & Lemons and One Teaspoon.

:: 3:00pm (Willa Jean) ::
For whatever reason, and believe me I'm not complaining, 3pm is happy hour at Willa Jean...even on Monday. So you'll need to hit up this contemporary bakery for half price frose. They rotate the flavors but they always have a frozen rose and right now they have a yummy peach version and one that included Hennessy, coffee and coconut cream. Order a side of the fries that usually come with the burger...they are heaven and you need to sober up because you've got a flight to catch.

:: 4:00pm (Copelands at MSY) ::
You've made it to the airport and there are some yummy options for one last NOLA meal. Copeland of New Orleans is a homegrown restaurant chain based in New Orleans. There are only a few locations left in the country so you want to make sure you stop by the one at the airport for Shrimp Etouffee (beware they run out!) or a Po Boy sandwich. While you're munching happily on your last bite of New Orleans you'll already be planning your next visit.

Photos by: Heart Print Style


  1. Okay ma'am! I see that thigh hanging out! I'm totally putting NO on my list of places to travel in 2018.

    1. You should absolutely travel to NOLA next year; Let me know if you visit any of the places on my list. A midnight swim at The Country Club is a must!

  2. I'm here for all the high slits I see here!! I'm so glad you had a good birthday weekend!! xox

    1. Thank you! Gotta get a little spicy on your birthday right? High slits for the win!


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