It’s become my tradition to take a New Year’s Trip with friends, preferably something relaxed so we have time to bond and reconnect. I’ve been to New Orleans before and done plenty of tourist things, so it seemed like a great option for a mix of fun and relaxation. This time around, I also did very little planning and let my friend Alex call the shots.
In my previous visit, I’d spent nearly my entire trip in the French Quarter. I knew I wanted to explore more of the city and stay a good distance from that scene. We chose to rent an adorable house in the Lower Garden District. This area is a short distance to plenty of attractions but quiet enough for relaxing at home. While it was pretty chilly during our visit, we did brave the cold a few times to walk to the French Quarter.
I’m gonna be honest, this trip was mostly planned around eating. We booked reservations at several places and arrived armed with lists of New Orleans’ best.
My first New Orleans meal was lunch at Shaya. Order some champagne and share plates of tahini, hummus, and of course brussels.
For New Year’s Eve, we wanted to celebrate in a big way by getting dinner at the type of restaurant we wouldn’t normally go to. We chose Emeril’s Delmonico, which has a much older sensibility of class and elegance. We also got some of the best service I’ve ever had at a restaurant. It was fancy, y’all.
Domilise’s Po-Boy & Bar is a must for indulgent Cajun sandwiches. You should know they’re enormous. The diner also gets pretty crowded, so you’ll have to take a number and wait a while. Luckily, their bar is stocked with awesome craft beers.
Butcher served up some meaty bbq sandwiches, which hit the spot on a cold day. Plus, I needed something to soak up the booze. Done and done.
My favorite meal of the trip was actually our last dinner at Coquette. You can expect some amazing modern Southern food and I highly recommend getting a bottle of Southern Belle Syrah for your meal.
One thing about New Orleans that blows my mind is the number of gay bars in a city this size. And of course I wanted to go to all of them and experience every scene in our community. We spent the better part of our NYE at Oz, which is the obvious and more traditional gay club. 700 Club is a more relaxed but still lively bar and was one of my favorite spots. Corner Pocket is an amusing cross between a divey pub and a strip club. Mag’s 940 hosts music and variety shows but was pretty slow the night we stopped in. The bartender was super friendly and gave us some popcorn. I’m not sure if that’s a regular thing but I like to think it was special to us. We also checked out one of New Orleans’ more debaucherous venues, Phoenix Bar. I like to say nothing shocks me, but the dark room upstairs literally kept me wide eyed all night. It’s a part of gay culture I’m glad to see still exists and stays away from the mainstream.
Aside from stuffing my face, I spent quite a bit of money at various shops around town.
Defend New Orleans has plenty of edgy NOLA inspired wares and provisions. Grab one of their graphic tees for a subtle souvenir of your visit. The Join DNO tee was my favorite. Get yourself one and let’s be twins.
While wandering around Frenchmen Street, stumble into Frenchmen Art Market for an interesting mix of arts and crafts.
There are plenty of museums and tourist sights to see, but this trip I decided to focus less on those.
No matter where I go, I definitely want to see good art. New Orleans Museum of Art made for an inspiring afternoon. Their floor featuring Mesoamerican and other native art was especially intriguing.
I have a soft spot for goth, but New Orleans cemeteries are really beautiful and definitely a must if you’re visiting town.
I had so much fun in New Orleans and I’ll hopefully be taking some more weekend trips there in the future.