I love a good mini -vacay, don’t you? When you are in a lull or don’t have the time or budget to spend on a prolonged getaway, a long weekend can really serve as a source of fun and excitement. My husband and I love to steal away whenever possible to do a little exploring – be it day trips to a nearby city or hopping on a plane to explore a new area. Recently the stars aligned and we were able to steal away with a fun group of friends to visit the iconic city of New Orleans.
We rented an Airbnb with the crew near the French Quarter and proceeded to spend our next few days exploring, eating and drinking our way through the unique atmosphere that is New Orleans.
Now I have had the opportunity to visit the New Orleans a few times and while I don’t consider myself an expert, I certainly feel like I am familiar with the area and what it has to offer. But despite having visited before I still always find new and unique experiences in this great destination. One of my favorite things about NOLA is the fact that there always seems to be fascinating history or more depth associated with even the simplest experiences. I love a good discovery!
3 Spots I Fell in Love With During My Trip to New Orleans
1. The Pontchartrain Hotel
The Pontchartrain Hotel is a unique establishment that has been a fixture in New Orleans since 1927. Situated smack in the heart of the historic Garden District, the Pontchartrain is a short distance from some of NOLA’s most popular attractions, including Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, the Magazine Street shopping district and, of course, the French Quarter.
Noted guests of the Hotel Pontchartrain have included Cole Porter, Richard Burton, Henry Kissinger, Tennessee Williams, Rita Hayworth and The Doors. Tennessee Williams worked on his play A Streetcar Named Desire while actually staying at the Pontchartrain. It is prominently featured in the AMC Mayfair Witches series.
One of the things that made me fall immediately in love with the hotel is its design. The interior is a mix of classic and modern styles with luxurious rooms and suites and a rooftop bar that offers incredible views of the city. While we didn’t stay at the hotel on this particular visit, we did spent quite a bit of time in Jack Rose living room sipping sparkling rosé under the Ashley Longshore portrait of Lil Wayne. (IYKYK) So relaxing!
2. Napoleon House
Napoleon House is a historic landmark located in the heart of New Orleans. This notable restaurant has been serving up classic New Orleans food since 1914 and is a must-visit spot for travelers. (Especially if a great vibe is your love language.)
Napoleon House was built in the early 1800s by a wealthy merchant named Nicholas Girod with the intention of it serving as a residence for Napoleon Bonaparte in exile. As fate would have it, Napoleon died before making the journey to New Orleans and the building remained unfinished. It wasn’t until 1914 that it was transformed into the restaurant it is today.
Because the building’s original purpose was to serve Bonaparte, much of the decor in the restaurant reflects that history. The walls feature portraits and the bar is made from the same marble that was intended for his tomb. The building’s old-world charm is evident throughout, from the classic architecture to the antique furnishings and faded plaster walls. You’ve also gotta love the fact that patrons are able to leave messages across its walls. (Which I also did, of course.) Napoleon House has been featured prominently in movies like JFK, Runaway Jury and Now You See Me.
I highly recommend ordering what they are best known for – classic Creole and Italian-inspired dishes. We tried the red beans and rice and both the “Muffuletta” sandwich and salad which were delicious.
Their signature cocktail – a favorite of locals and visitors for over a century – is the Pimm’s Cup. (Our friend Tom tried it and reported it to be fantastic.) I was obsessed with their Bourbon Milk Punch, though. Made of Benchmark Bourbon, sugar, vanilla, half & half and sprinkle of nutmeg, it was so refreshing and dangerously good!
3. Bar Manilou
For an unforgettable cocktail experience with a unique spin, I highly recommend visiting Bar Marilou, a charming hidden gem right in the heart of the French Quarter. This speakeasy is famous for its amazing handcrafted cocktails and immaculate vibes. (We found out about it on TikTok, believe it or not!)
Bar Marilou used to be part of the historic City Hall Annex, and now it’s found a home in the former law library. With its deep red walls, fancy fabrics, cool art and dark wood, it is impossible to not be totally captivated. The main bar area is quite intimate and only fits up to 100. Guests who are staying at Maison de la Luz have an exclusive way in through the reception area and a secret spot that can hold up to 12 people hidden behind a bookcase door. (So fun!)
Bar Marilou’s menu is all about French cuisine, featuring unique cocktails, curated natural wines, craft beer and tasty small plates. We fell in love with the Pommes Marilou (crispy layered potatoes, crème fraîche, bowfin caviar, chives) and the Bar Burger (wagyu, barneveld blue, pickles, lettuce, onion). The real stars were the drinks, though. I highly recommend the La Luz Espresso and The Bungalow Mystery.
You can find Bar Marilou in the Warehouse District of New Orleans. It’s a good idea to book ahead because this cool spot fills up pretty fast.
If you are planning on taking a trip to New Orleans and want to visit this area, the easiest way to get to the Garden District from the French Quarter is the St. Charles Streetcar line. It covers a distance of 13.2 miles between the French Quarter and the Central Business District of New Orleans. We took the streetcar a few times during my last visit and it was a great experience! Fun fact: the St. Charles streetcar is the oldest continuously operating streetcar line in the world.
As you can tell, our long weekend getaway to New Orleans was nothing short of magical. From the historic charm of The Pontchartrain Hotel to the flavorful delights of Napoleon House and the hidden gem of Bar Marilou, our adventure was filled with unforgettable moments and discoveries. And let’s not forget the enchanting Garden District! Whether you’re a history buff, a foodie, or simply seeking a unique experience, New Orleans has something for everyone. So, if you’re planning your own mini-vacay or looking for a destination that promises excitement and wonder, consider the vibrant and captivating city of New Orleans. It’s a place where every visit feels like a fresh adventure waiting to be explored. Safe travels!