NOLA: From two very different perspectives!

Over the past two years I’ve been lucky enough to visit the city of New Orleans on two separate, and very different, vacations.  Two years ago I was on a boys’ trip for my best friends Bachelor Party and last summer E (my wife) and I visited the city as part of a business conference.  Needless to say these vacations were polar opposites, but believe me when I say that both were fantastic!  And for me, these vacations really speak to the versatility of a city that has an incredible combination of history and indulgence unlike almost any other city in the country.  So rather than just detail our daily itinerary on each trip, which would likely take way too long, I just wanted to provide a high level overview of what New Orleans has to offer and hopefully show how versatile the city can be!  But don’t worry, whether you’re planning to be in NOLA for a party or a fun tour, I’ll be sure to provide at least a couple suggestions for both!


Naturally I’ll start with the most obvious statement.  New Orleans is one massive party.  Other than Las Vegas I can’t imagine a better city for a Bachelor Party (and come April, this is a comparison I’ll actually be able to make!).  Between the large casino downtown and the obvious debauchery that Bourbon St. has to offer, there is no better place for a party that never ends.  For the bachelor party we arrived on a Thursday and left on a Sunday, which was plenty of time for us to get in all the partying and adult beverages that we could handle, plus a little bit more.  But at the same time, we were able to take in a couple sights around the city to take in at least a little bit of culture.


As I’m sure you can imagine, we basically had a one track mind while we were down there, but after being there for three full days I am well versed in the best hot-spots on Bourbon St.  If travelling to NOLA for the party, there’s no need to ever leave Bourbon St.  Just make sure to stop at Jean Lafitte’s Bar for a beer in one of NOLA’s oldest buildings and The Cat’s Meow for some karaoke.  Also, while this establishment may seem an odd choice for a traditional bachelor party, make sure to give Napoleon’s Itch a chance and try the best mojito in the world!  You can also find a variety of specialty drinks on Bourbon St. such as the “Hand Grenade’ and frozen Vodka Red Bulls.  I’d love to tell you where you can find these drinks, but honestly I can’t remember.  So they must be good!


The best part about NOLA for a bachelor party is that it almost offers the best of both worlds compared to Las Vegas and other potential locations.  Obviously you have the party and revelry of Bourbon St., but you also have a gambling aspect.  Downtown NOLA also features a large Harrah’s casino, which is within easy walking distance of Bourbon St. and offers yet another intriguing element to NOLA as a Bachelor Party destination.  Honestly, we spent so much time there as a group you would’ve thought we actually were in Vegas!


The one event we did plan as part of the trip was a swamp tour, but even this wound up being the perfect non French Quarter related event for a bachelor party.  We were able to drink on the shuttle out to the swamp and even brought beer and champagne with us on the fan boat during the tour.  Overall it was a great experience and got our group out of the city, at least for a morning!


OK, now for the more adult vacation that my wife and I took to New Orleans last summer.  This vacation was filled with less bar-hopping and more tours and exploration.  But trust me, it was just as exciting if not more so!  New Orleans is a city that has so much to offer in terms of sights, food, and history.  Just to set the table, E and I went down to New Orleans for Beachbody Summit last year, which is a conference for Beachbody fitness coaches, basically a lot of people with a ton of energy, discipline, and self control.  Oh yeah, and they love to eat healthy, not drink alcohol in copious amounts, and workout a ton.  It doesn’t exactly seem like the NOLA crowd based on the last few stories I told but trust me; these people know how to have fun too!


Anyway, E and I had a great time exploring all of the sights (and eats!) that NOLA has to offer!  We did a fantastic Ghost Tour around the French Quarter, toured the site of the legendary Battle of New Orleans during the War of 1812 (which came with a brunch cruise down the Mississippi River), visited old bookstores, and explored the Louisiana Superdome.  Not to mention all of the sights we got to see just casually strolling down Bourbon St, or Royal.


But the best thing that E and I got to do that I didn’t really partake in during my first go around in NOLA was dive into all of the local cuisine.  During the bachelor party trip, we didn’t really deviate from our plan, which didn’t involve food.  We actually ordered Domino’s twice during our trip.  Seriously, who orders Domino’s while on vacation in New Orleans??  But the second time around, I knew E and I would get to experience all of the delicious treats NOLA has to offer.  And boy did we ever!  We of course got to try the beignets, but more than that we had multiple delicious meals that included gumbos, bread puddings, pecan pies, alligator sandwiches, and Cajun pastas.  The food choices in New Orleans are second to none, with such a wide variety of options available and each one of them more delicious than the last!


So while NOLA is known more for its party atmosphere, I hope I’ve opened your eyes to the sides of NOLA not usually depicted.  Having already been there twice, I still feel there is more to explore and would gladly go back to see even more sights and even revisit some of the old ones!  Yes, the city is possibly the best place for a party in the entire country (yes, even over NYC and Vegas) but it can also be a wonderful place to learn about our country’s history, and just to learn about the local history of a city so rich in culture.  I would highly recommend New Orleans to anyone looking for a vacation!  If you need additional travel tips for the city I’d be happy to provide those in the comments and answer any specific questions you might have!


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