The plane had just landed in New Orleans and nobody was urgently telling me they had to use the bathroom or that they couldn’t find the right shade of blue in their crayons. Nope, the kids weren’t with us on this trip. Now I love traveling with my children and exposing them to new and interesting places, but sometimes we all need a little adult break. Just about every year we’ve been able to sneak away for a night. That’s 24 hours of adults-only time and for our 10 year wedding anniversary we said this trip was going to be different. We prepped the kids for an extended stay with the grandparents and hopped on a plain for five days in the Crescent City. This whole trip was about seeing and experiencing areas that we wouldn’t be able to if we had brought our two young cherubs and what better way than the fun, yet romantic allure of New Orleans!
Our stay was just a sneak-peak of all that NOLA has to offer but I’m highlighting the “best of” from our trip so enjoy!
Where to Stay – Boutique Hotel Splurge
Located just a block from the extreme of Bourbon Street, Hotel Mazarin offers couples a romantic escape from the hurriedness of the French Quarter with an elegant lobby and peaceful courtyard. The phenomenal breakfast buffet included made to order buttery pancakes and omelets too. My favorite aspect of this hotel, apart from the great location, was the black marble tile throughout the rooms and shower. It added a bit of adult elegance and slight edginess that I don’t regularly see in my family friendly hotels. We splurged on the hotel as we don’t often get to take advantage of more boutique style accommodations when traveling with kids.
Gastronomical Bliss in NOLA
This category clearly needs to be narrowed down more because New Orleans has some of the most unique cuisine in the country so plan on trying it all! Here are a few of our favorites from budget to splurge this sampling of NOLA will leave your mouth watering.
Felix’s Restaurant and Oyster Bar – Forget the lines at the more famous Acme’s Oyster and head across the street to the real deal at Felix’s. Sit at the old-school countertop and watch the oyster’s being shucked with speed and precision – over 1,200 oysters per day. Crawfish come broiled by the pound and couple them with a local Abita pint and you’re set!
Emeril’s Delmonico – I was hesitant on going to a restaurant of the big Food Network king thinking it would be a constant advertisement, but friends and reviews assured me this was decadence. Oh, and were they right. The restaurant Delmonico, conveniently located on the St. Charles Avenue streetcar line in the Garden District, was purchased by Emeril Lagasse in 1998 and completely remodeled and revamped. The service was absolutely impeccable and the Creole food was a work of art creatively paired and exquisite presentation. Emeril’s Delmonico is first class and well worth the price.
K Paul’s – Famed New Orleans chef, Paul Prudhomme’s cozy restaurant sits in the heart of the French Quarter and creates scrumptious Cajun entrees with a modern twist. Starting with a classic fried green tomato appetizer and shrimp remoulaude turned classic southern into something totally unexpected for the taste buds. The blackened meats and fish were delicious and a house specialty.
Cafe du Monde – One cannot leave New Orleans without trying the famed hot beignets covered in powered sugar and melting in your mouth. Café du Monde is the more famous destination but tends to have lines during the day. The indoor/outdoor café is open 24 hours a day and we made this our midnight stop on the walk back from Frenchmen Street to our hotel. Coffee and steaming pastries at midnight – something you definitely can’t experience with two little kids in tow.
Must See Sites and Sounds
Frenchmen Street – One of the reasons we wanted to visit New Orleans was for the incredible music scene. My kids would have loved all of the music but it was the night time scene that drew us here! Frenchmen Street is known for its stretch of clubs just outside the French Quarter but still an easy walk. From Vago, DB’s, Snug Harbor to our favorite Café Negril, the dozen or so clubs on Frenchmen Street most clubs have music all night with the evening’s band posted on the front window. From brass bands to jazz to just plain funky, you will find it here. I could serious come here every night and that’s just what we did during our visit!
Our evenings in New Orleans reminded me of when we used to spontaneously go out pre-kids. Carelessly walking from club to club was an amazing way to reconnect and one of the reasons I’d go back to New Orleans in a heartbeat!
Bike Tour I love visiting a city and getting an initial overview via some tourist mechanism. The 12 mile guided bike tour around New Orleans from Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours was exactly the kind of tour we were looking for. Again, another activity that would have been impossible with two little kids but almost kind of romantic for us, even with the dozen or so other bikers. This locally owned operation provides riders with the good, the bad and the ugly of their beloved city. We loved this tour so much here is a separate post on it!
National WWII Museum Although I believe in life long learning, a historical visit to the National WWII Museum didn’t seem to fit the vibe of our trip but my husband convinced me to go. Now, this spectacularly massive homage to the war of wars is a site I would tell all visitors (especially those traveling without young kids) to see. From the 4D movie Beyond all Boundaries to the changing exhibits, this museum will educate even the biggest WWII history buffs. Here is another post for those looking for more details.
French Quarter Like many looking for a romantic getaway, we stayed in the French Quarter which makes touring it all the easier. Each block has its own niche from the shops on Royal Street to the frat-like parties on Bourbon you’ll find where you belong. Find a cocktail at Patrick’s Bar Vin Wine Bar (nicely located adjacent to the Hotel Mazarin), take a steamboat ride along the great Mississippi River, or people watch in Jackson Square. Remember, you can take your libations with you as long as you keep it in plastic!
Lastly, if you have the time, get out of New Orleans for a day and learn about the history by visiting one of the former plantations, try a local eatery serving up crawfish by the pound, and go alligator watching on one of the swamps nearby.
One travel aspect I really miss from my pre-kids traveling day is the freedom to roam an area in the early dawn hours of the morning before a city really comes alive. I took advantage of this and took off with a coffee and my camera to see the French Quarter. It was me and the trucks unloading fresh oysters, along with cleaners wiping away the grime from the night before, and musicians heading home. Finding that freedom again, that sense of who I am as an adult and not just a parent, was one of the many reasons this brief sojourn away was so worth the splurge.
Need more convincing on why parents should take adults-only getaways? Read on:
I would like to thank the New Orleans CVB for providing some complimentary admissions during my visit but my opinions are always my own.