New Orleans is a great spot to celebrate Mardi Gras, listen to authentic jazz, and indulge in some of the best cuisine in the world. While it may be known for it’s party scene, NOLA is much more than just booze and boobs. In fact, the Big Easy is one of the best places to have a girl’s weekend. Here are some things I learned on a recent visit with my girlfriends.
Getting a taste of New Orleans
My girlfriends and I like to eat, and our visit pretty much constantly revolved around food. To get a taste of the Creole and Cajun flavors that are ubiquitous around the city, there are a few dishes that every visitor to New Orleans has to try. We recommend trying the deep fried alligator (it really does taste like chicken), jambalaya, and gumbo.
Also, make sure there’s room for at least one po’ boy. Louisiana’s take on the sub sandwich is usually composed of a soft baguette stuffed with meat or fried seafood and an assortment of toppings. Po’ boys are a delicious and cheap way to fill your belly. They’re also good to eat on the move. While everyone has their favorite po’ boy restaurant, I’d have to recommend Johnny’s, The Gumbo Shop, and Killer Po’ Boys.
To satisfy the sweet tooth in the group, head to Cafe du Monde for the famous beignets. These light and fluffy French doughnuts are served piping hot and coated in sugar. Grab a table and indulge in some of the best people watching while you enjoy your sugary treat. You can even buy a box of their famous beignet mix to take home with you, (although ours never look nearly as good as theirs do).
Warm and fluffy beignets from Cafe de Monde.
To get a true taste of New Orleans it’s essential to try a few local spirits. On my girls’ trip, we indulged in a number of traditional sazeracs (rye, Peychaud’s bitters, herbsaint or absinthe, and a pinch of sugar) at the aptly named The Sazerac Bar located in the Roosevelt Hotel. I also recommend trying French 75’s signature cocktail (champagne, gin, and lemon). Both the posh bar and the drink are named after the French 75mm guns that were used in World War I. The cocktail packs a punch as big as the artillery it was named after.
Where to stay (and get spooked) in New Orleans
Speaking of spirits, for the ghost hunter in your crew, NOLA boasts some of the best haunted hotels the country. What better way to get close to your friends than by spending the night huddling together, seeking the supernatural? Some of the most haunted hotels in New Orleans are said to be the Omni Royal, Le Pavillon, and the Dauphine Orleans Hotel. Don’t forget to pack those night vision goggles.
Viewfinder Tip: A number of popular TV shows currently are filming in New Orleans; ask your concierge how to maximize celebrity sightings.
Activities with the Girls
If sleeping in a haunted hotel isn’t enough, there are ghost tours that will satisfy all your spooky needs. Your guide, a supernatural aficionado, will escort your through the streets of the most haunted city in the U.S. Stroll through the French Quarter and learn about the ghouls and their activities that are so notorious that they’ve been featured on the History Channel and Discovery Channel. Ghost sitings may not be guaranteed, but I can ensure that you’ll experience a few tingles down your spine.
For a fun day trip with the girls, we would have to recommend a swamp and bayou tour. Cruise the waters looking for alligators and local wildlife. Learn about true bayou culture and the origins of the tasty gumbo on which you likely have overdosed since your arrival. If you’re lucky you might even be able to pick up the fine art of washboard music.
In keeping with the nautical theme, you and the girls can enjoy dinner, live music, and a scenic ride on the muddy Mississippi river with a steamboat jazz cruise. Most of these cruises afford you the chance to get dressed up and have a traditional buffet meal on the water. This 2-hour cruise will take you back in time as you sip Southern cocktails and rock to the music of the Dukes of Dixieland jazz band. It’s a great way to bring your girl’s New Orleans trip to an end – or to kick off additional nights of fun.
How do you plan itineraries different when you’re traveling with only girl/guy friends?