Each summer, I try my hardest to squeeze in a girls getaway with my gal pals Angie and Alex, which can be challenging as we’re often spread out across the globe. Two years ago, it was Bonaire. Last summer, we convened in Boston and Martha’s Vineyard. This year, we had a brief reunion in Orlando then upped the fun factor and headed straight for four days in New Orleans thanks to a content project with the CVB.
Crazy as it may sound, it had been seven-and-a-half years since my own bachelorette when I was last in the Big Easy. So what perfect timing to recreate an adult bachelorette in New Orleans via a weekend with two of my best girls who weren’t there the first time around, right?
Where to Stay in New Orleans
First things first: You need the perfect place to stay. On my last two visits, I booked big chains; this time, we opted for a boutique hotel instead, which is always my preference if given the choice.
One of the city’s newest luxury properties, the Catahoula Hotel opened in 2016, and with its 35 rooms and suite of services, like a full bar and Peruvian restaurant, it’s the perfect base in the Central Business District (CBD) from which to explore. As its name might suggest—the Catahoula is the state dog of Louisiana—it’s pet-friendly, too, so you can bring your pup along with you (Ella would be so jealous if she knew I’d traveled here without her!).
Each of our individual rooms was dramatically different, which makes sense given that the hotel was adapted to fit an 1840s townhouse. But given the cozy nature of most city hotels, I was shocked with how open and airy my room was, thanks in part to the soaring ceilings. I know each of the Catahoula accommodations are different, but the second I stepped into my quarter for the week, I was immediately impressed with how they laid out each room to maximize space.
I also loved the common areas, particularly the courtyard—which boasts one of the most Instagrammed pieces of art, a mural of a burlesque dancer, in town—and the inside Piscobar.
What to Do in New Orleans
To be perfectly honest, New Orleans is one of those cities I like to hit the pavement and explore every inch of with my own two feet, which we did—from the CBD to Magazine Street to the French Quarter and everywhere in between.
We lucked out in that August is actually one of the best times to go to New Orleans and avoid crowds, so we were able to move freely around Bourbon Street and Jackson Square without bumping into fellow tourists.
But if you’re outdoorsy or a fan of active pursuits, you’ll want to head up to Bayou St. John and take a trip through nature and NOLA history with the fine folks behind Kayak-iti-Yat. After you’re through, stroll through City Park and visit the New Orleans Museum of Art’s sculpture garden. The free Bounce Ya Brass dance classes are also an excellent way to break a sweat.
Want to learn how to make cocktails just like they do in the Big Easy? Book a class with New Orleans Drink Lab. An experienced mixologist will give each attendee her own drink station and the tools with which to whip up a true Hurricane (and another cocktail or two, depending on the length of your class). Drinking while learning? Sounds like my kind of activity!
Where to Eat in New Orleans
Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day, and I was all kinds of jazzed about eating at Willa Jean after so many of you recommended it via Instagram. We each ordered off the menu—I was feeling gluten hungover, so I opted for the quinoa bowl with poached eggs—but man, I want to come back here on a weekend for the Nutella muffins and eat my way through the rest of the baked goods section.
Another morning, we had the iconic New Orleans experience and dined at Brennan’s, something I did my very first time in the city with my parents when I was just a teen (it’s been around since 1946!). The only thing that’s really changed is I’m of age now, so I was able to take advantage of the brunch cocktails!
Don’t go to Brennan’s without peeking upstairs in the bathroom and the various rooms. They’re each decorated differently and are quite elaborate.
As full as we’d get on breakfast, it was hard to fathom needing lunches and yet we persevered. Even though we have a Cochon Butcher in Nashville, we ate at Cochon in New Orleans anyway, and it was a far different experience with its Cajun focus and, dare I say, even better (if that’s possible) than the food I’m used to in Music City.
Also on the lunch front, there’s no way you’re coming all the way to New Orleans and not having a meal at Commander’s Palace; it’s simply a rite of passage. And you need to order a little bit of everything to get a taste of iconic NOLA (that means you have free rein to full-on indulge).
But particularly when accompanied by gal pals and on a weekday—because who can pass up 25-cent martinis? (You read that right: For a quarter, or the price of a gumball, you get an entire cocktail! Apparently, the three-martini lunch is back in NOLA.)
Pro tip: Go ahead and schedule time for a nap afterward!
St. Roch Market is perfect for finicky groups who can’t decide on where to eat—it’s got a little bit of everything all rolled into one, served in a food hall type of atmosphere. I had Creole while Angie had mango wings and Alex got her chicken bowl. We all won! This would be the place I’d eat at weekly if I were a NOLA local, and lucky for me, they’re opening a Nashville location very soon!
Of course, no bachelorette weekend is complete without a fancy dinner out; for us, that meant we hopped the St. Charles cable car and made our way out to DTB, a new restaurant on Oak Street that stands for Down the Bayou.
DTB wasn’t just perfect because of its casual-chic atmosphere, but most of the plates were sharable. As the name suggests, it’s all about Coastal cuisine, and everything we had was delicious. We tasted our way through the menu from Brussels sprouts to mushroom boudin balls, cornmeal gnocchi to short rib. DTB also doubles as an excellent place to have a drink, so arrive early for cocktails and stay for the food.
Where to Go Out in New Orleans
New Orleans is all about that cocktail culture, so obviously we had to indulge, even if some of us (ahem, me) are bigger drinkers than the rest.
Our first night started at the most convenient place we knew: Piscobar in the lobby of the Catahoula Hotel. Because you can’t stay at the Catahoula and not try a Pisco Sour; pisco is the core of the bar’s sophisticated Peruvian-inspired cocktail program.
On night one, we didn’t want to wander far so the rooftop bar of the brand new Ace Hotel, Alto, seemed a good fit. The weather was nice, the hotel is walking distance from where we were staying, and they serve drinks out of pineapples. For another type of pool bar scene over in the Bywater district, the house in which the Country Club conceals a bohemian-style pool retreat out back where you can pay an entrance fee and nab a lounge chair for the afternoon as you sip the day away; admission is $15, and there’s a full locker room, showers and changing facilities on site.
Over in the French Quarter, rum-soaked, Cuba-inspired Cane & Table is one of the new “it” spots, while the revolving Carousel Bar & Lounge at Hotel Monteleone is always a fun place to grab a cocktail.
I also really wanted to try the Confederacy of Cruisers biking bar tour, but alas, the timing didn’t work out. Next girls trip!
Late night, Frenchman Street is where the party is really at; this three-block stretch of Marigny houses some of the best live music—not to mention, rowdiest bars—in New Orleans.
I know we just scratched the surface of New Orlean’s multi-faceted offerings—there are so many things we didn’t make it to on my to-eat and to-drink lists—but it still was a most excellent week of gluttony, copious amounts of walking and togetherness.
Other New Orleans resources:
- 5 Ways to Get Out and About in NOLA
- Getting Off Bourbon Street
- Swap This for That: Where to Eat in New Orleans
What’s on your must-do list for a bachelorette party in New Orleans?