My college boyfriend is now my forty-year-old husband and I surprised him with a getaway to celebrate. The sunny and walkable city of New Orleans was the perfect place to do it.
The weather is relatively warm, the flights (from Chicago) were less than $200, music is everywhere and the southern food is tasty.
I'm sharing my hours of research and planning with you, so you don't have to.
We didn't eat one bad meal while in NOLA. There are many upscale and special dining options to choose from including Couchon, La Petit Grocery, August, any of Emeril's restaurants and obviously many more.
Classic eateries that have been around forever and are worth the hype and long line include Cafe DuMonde for powdered sugar beignets and coffee, and historic Mother's for a hearty meal (not really my favorite, but my husband raved about his meaty Po-Boy)
If you are there on a Sunday you don't want to miss a jazz brunch. We couldn't get in to the award-winning Commander's Palace and instead walked to Muriel's. Be sure to check out dress codes, my tired husband was not thrilled about taking off his baseball cap.
The super sweet pralenes seemed to be in sweet shops on each street. Ambitious Aunt Sally's has been making these for 80 years.
The colorful Frenchmen Street is dubbed as the live music capitol of New Orleans and packed with good sounds nightly. My parents recommended the hidden-gem on Bourbon Street, Fritzels, and another friend suggested Tipitinas. The intimate Jazz Playhouse at the Royal Sonesta has comfortable seats and talented musicians.
What to see
Everything from the 9-piece band in the middle of the street, the friendly trumpet player by the Mississippi river, the gold painted magicians and skilled breakdancers makes the city a little brighter.
The Hotel Montelone in the French Quarter has a well-known revolving Carousel Bar. Go early to get a seat.
There are a nice selection of museums in New Orleans if the weather isn't in your favor. We walked past the National World War II Museum, Louisiana Children's Museum and heard a bird chirping outside the Audubon Nature Institute. There are many options for free tours (walking, biking, Segway and boat) that focus on the history, gardens, cemeteries, music and even voodoo.
Have you been to New Orleans? Any recommendations to add?