I like to go big or go home when it comes to birthdays: I believe that they deserve to be celebrated, and I go out of my way to celebrate them with the people I love. So, when Ian and I got back from our trip to San Francisco, Carmel-by-the-Sea, Sonoma County, and Calistoga this past April, I immediately started to plan Ian’s surprise birthday trip to New Orleans!
I visited New Orleans two years ago on a bachelorette trip and I was so excited to get to go back again and actually do the things that I was interested in, like listening to Jazz, visiting Frenchmen Street, eating great food, and of course, staying at a romantic hotel. Let me tell you all about it:
Ian’s Surprise Birthday Trip To New Orleans
We flew out of Atlanta bright and early and landed in New Orleans right around 9:30 am. We hit the ground running by immediately checking into our hotel, The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans and we visited the club lounge. After we got settled in, we grabbed an Uber and checked out the new (ish??) food hall, Pythian Market. There, we tried Meribo Pizza which was amazing (get the mushroom pizza!), Frencheeze, and Fete au Fete. We also grabbed drinks at 19|08.
The rest of the day was spent exploring Bourbon Street — we had two hand grenades (bad idea!), rode a bull (thanks, hand grenades), visited Jackson Square, went to a few more bars, and ended the night with dinner at Restaurant August.
The next day was painful. Those hand grenades did not sit well in my stomach and we had bruises all over our legs from the bull riding, but we were both determined to make the most of the day. We were up pretty early, so we got to see the city of New Orleans practically empty before we made our way to Willa Jean for breakfast. We walked around Bourbon Street, over to Jackson Square, we had peppermint tea at Sucre, and walked all along Royal Street, visiting art galleries and other cute shops along the way. It was extremely hot this day and my stomach was still hurting, so we made our way back to The Ritz-Carlton and explored the hotel + enjoyed the club lounge while soaking in their amazing AC.
That night, we had reservations at GW Fins and it was one of the best meals that we had in New Orleans — I am actually going to write a full post on it because we loved it so much. After dinner, we explored The Ritz-Carlton for a while before meeting up with a few new friends that we made on our first day in town. We met them at Blue Nile on Frenchmen Street and stayed a while, listening to the music. After, we made our way back down to Bourbon Street and stopped at the infamous bar ‘without electricity,’ called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. I visited this bar two years ago and thought it was so cool, but I wasn’t about it this time at all; The bar most definitely has electricity! The thumping music inside Razzoo Bar & Patio called our names, so we hung out there for about 30 minutes before realizing that it was so late. We ended the night with beignets – at Cafe du Monde.
I was finally feeling totally better the next day, so we woke up early again, took pictures of our amazing hotel, and hit the streets of New Orleans. We grabbed coffee at Spitfire Coffee and walked all over this day – down Royal Street, down Bourbon Street, to Jackson Square, past Cafe Du Monde (the line was packed!), to the river, etc. We went in a few more stores down Royal Street and stopped at Hotel Monteleone for the carousel bar – they had the best bloody mary’s! After our bloody mary’s, we went over to Brennan’s for brunch. I was so up in the air about Brennan’s because I’ve heard mixed reviews, but I am thrilled that we tried it out. It was amazing!
The rest of the afternoon was spent enjoying our time together, in New Orleans. We spent some time at the hotel, visited a few other bars, walked around and enjoyed all of the sights, and just had a really good time together. We had dinner at K-Pauls, which in my opinion was just so-so before heading out to Bourbon Street to drink, watch some football, and visit Cat’s Meow (so much fun!). We called it a (somewhat) early night because we had an early flight, but it was a blast.
That pretty much wraps everything up! Overall, we had a really good time on Ian’s surprise birthday trip to New Orleans! I’ve never written a travel post like this and I know it’s all packed in there, so I will list everything out below. One day I will write a full New Orleans Travel Guide, but for now, here are the places we went on this trip:
Where we stayed:
- The Ritz-Carlton, New Orleans: I highly recommend! We stayed in club level and I thought it was worth it. You get breakfast, lunch, dinner, and snacks all throughout the day. Plus, wine, beer, mixed drinks, etc. included, as well. We did not eat in the club lounge much, but we did get quite a few drinks to go. We definitely could have used it more than we did, but I really enjoyed it when we did use it. The entire hotel was just gorgeous and you can tell that they really pay attention to the small details. It’s in a very convenient location too, so it is perfect for anyone visiting New Orleans, in my opinion.
Where we ate:
- Pythian Market: Fun food hall, but definitely not as big as the ones in Atlanta (Ponce City Market and Krog Street Market). We really enjoyed the pizza shop, Meribo Pizza, Frencheeze, and Fete au Fete.
- Restaurant August: We had great food at Restaurant August, but for the price, I’m not really sure if I would recommend it. I will say that their seafood is very fresh. Ian ate shrimp and did not have an allergic reaction, which means they don’t freeze their shellfish!!
- Willa Jean: If you are visiting New Orleans, you HAVE to visit Willa Jean. It was amazing! Ian and I split the hangover bowl and the avocado toast. Their lattes are fantastic, too!
- Brennan’s: Once again, you have to go here when visiting New Orleans. We had the best experience.
- GW Fins: GW Fins was so insanely good and I love all of their sustainability practices. Like I mentioned, I am going to write a full post on them.
- Sucre: I reaaallly wanted to try and eclair because they are known for them, but I wasn’t feeling great, so I just sipped on peppermint tea instead (which was so good!).
- K-Pauls: This restaurant was recommended to us, so I was a bit disappointed with it, but it wasn’t bad, just wasn’t amazing either, especially for the price.
- Spitfire Coffee: Great coffee!
- Cafe Du Monde: You have to do it.
Where we drank:
- Tropical Isle: Hand grenades + shark attacks = fun but dangerous.
- The Swamp: It’s always pretty dead inside, but they have strong drinks and an automatic bull if you are into that.
- Razzoo: They have fun music and dancing, which was fun. We loved watching the really drunk people dance on stage haha.
- Cat’s Meow: The best karaoke and dance bar ever. It is hilarious!
- Pat O’Briens: You must get a hurricane here. I don’t like them, but Pat O’Briens has a cool story behind them, so you have to try it at least once. They also make pretty good Pina Coladas!
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar: This is the infamous bar without electricity…except it has electricity.
- Blue Nile: Awesome music and a fun crowd! Cheap beers, too.
- Bourbon Cowboy: Bourbon Cowboy is a lot of fun when you’ve had a lot to drink. This is where I made the mistake of bull riding after drinking two hand grenades. Never again, ha!
- Big Easy Daiquiris: These are really nice on a hot day. They aren’t too strong, which I loved, too.
- Hotel Monteleone: Good drinks and fun atmosphere.
Where would I go next time?
- More places on Frenchmen Street
- Shaya (we had reservations and had to cancel them)
- Compère Lapin
- Bacchanal Wine
- St. Roch Market
- Red Fish Grill
- Mr. B’s
- …and more!