Birthday Weekend in New Orleans
New Orleans is special. No city in the USA embodies the vibrancy of New Orleans. This is a city that feels like a year-round block party, full of jazz, colorful buildings with balconies and wonderful creole food. If you are looking for a rowdy night full of drunken people, head to Bourbon street. If you are looking for some jazz or other live music, make your way to Frenchman Street. Or if you are looking for history and culture, go to the WWII museum or just enjoy many of the great french creole restaurants.
I had never been to New Orleans and felt like it needed to happen before I turned 40. So I gathered a handful of my closest friends to spend the weekend celebrating my birthday and exploring New Orleans with me. We rented an Airbnb and spent the weekend checking out the city.
Given how my business travel schedule worked out, I decided to fly directly to New Orleans and work from there on Wednesday afternoon and Thursday. I ended up having dinner on a cast-iron balcony restaurant on Wednesday night, which was a perfect way to people watch while dining. I eventually made my way to Hotel Monteleone to check out the indoor carousel for a drink, and then listened to some jazz.
I spent the day working, but eventually, Adriana arrived. We started the weekend with cocktails at Hot Tin, a roof bar overlooking the city. Once the group made it in, we went to Conchon for dinner followed by a chill evening playing pool in the house.
We started the day with a bike tour of New Orleans. We booked with Paved Paradise Bike Tours in the Central District. Once outfitted with our bikes, we went through the Central District and Warehouse District and eventually made our way to the French Quarter, the oldest neighbourhood in the city. We learned about the history and spent some time by St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square. We visited the sacred Congo Square in Louis Armstrong Park and rode past the colorful shotgun houses. We then made our way along the Mississippi River back towards the Garden District. This had us pedalling down the charming oak-lined streets so we can admire the lavish historic homes.
Following our bike ride, we walked over to Magazine Street for lunch at Joey K’s followed by beignets at The Vintage.
After some chill time in the house, we went to Jacqu-imos for dinner. We then made our way to Frenchman street for some great live music.
After bar hopping, we went back to the house and hung out while enjoying some 2am pizza!
We had such a great Air Bnb, we decided to chill and grill Saturday afternoon. We made a breakfast and supermarket stop and then went back to the house to hang.
Just before dinner, my friends surprised me with my very own Second Line! I had no idea that you could shut down the streets of the French Quarter and have your own parade, but this is A THING!
My Own Parade
We started the evening at the Mardi Gras museum where we learned about the history of New Orleans and Mardi Gras. We also had the opportunity to try on costumes. I was pretty uninterested and confused as to why my friends thought this was a good idea. Little did I know, they were just buying time as we needed to give the band and our police force time to get to the venue to kick off the parade!
Shortly thereafter, the band starting playing, Bourbon Street was shut down and we were marching through the streets to celebrate my birthday! There were hundreds of people taking photos of us. Once I figured out what was going on, I was just enjoying the party and really got into throwing beads and engaging with the crowds.
After the parade festivities concluded, we took a streetcar up to Zasu for a lovely dinner.
We then made our way back towards to the French Quarter for some jazz at Mohogany Jazz Hall. We then ended the evening with some 3am pizza and hot tub/pool time!
We ended the celebration weekend with a jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters, which was lovely. We then wandered around the French Quarter before we started to all head home. A perfect weekend in New Orleans!