How to spend a weekend in New Orleans! Join me as I share a peak into my trip, plus my favorite vegetarian friendly New Orleans restaurants!
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities … I absolutely love it! My husband and I got married in City Park under a huge, ancient oak tree, so it holds tons of special memories for me.
One of the things I like about New Orleans is that it’s a little rough around the edges, yet still beautiful. There is so much to explore, from gorgeous architecture to amazing food to awesome music. It’s a completely unique city.
I hadn’t been in a few years, so I couldn’t resist tagging along on my husband’s business trip for a weekend in New Orleans. He was working the whole time I was there, so I hung out by myself during the day, and then we met up for dinner in the evening. It was so fun getting to do whatever I wanted (!), especially since I’ve been to NOLA a number of times before and felt like I knew the lay of the land.
Speaking of food, I’m going to be honest: if you’re vegetarian like me, New Orleans is definitely one of the trickier cities to eat in. Most traditional New Orleans dishes are made with fish, sausage, or some other meat. It’s really hard to just randomly walk around and find somewhere good to eat, especially in the French Quarter.
So along with the tour of my weekend in New Orleans, I’m sharing my favorite vegetarian friendly New Orleans restaurants, too.
Let’s get started … grab a coffee, because there are lots of photos! Want a quick snapshot of New Orleans? Just scroll to the end of the post for all of my recommendations!
DAY 1: French Quarter and Frenchmen Street
Thankfully, we took off right before we needed to return to the gate and an hour later I was in New Orleans! Ha ha …
My husband and I met at the airport and after relaxing in our hotel for a while, we headed to dinner at Backspace Bar. Joel eats there all the time, because it’s just around the corner from the hotel he stays at in New Orleans. It’s not touristy at all, which is really nice when you’re in the French Quarter!
I had the Grown Up Grilled Cheese (yum), and Joel had his usual, the Whitman Roast Beef. The grilled cheese was the only veg sandwich on the menu when I was there, but there were a couple other sandwiches which could be made vegetarian pretty easily if you asked.
A couple Dark & Stormies later, and we were ready to walk around a bit. We headed down Decatur with Frenchman Street as our destination. Even at night, the French Quarter is beautiful!
Along the way, we stopped at Molly’s at the Market, one of my husband’s fave bars, for a couple drinks to go. You can carry open containers in New Orleans, which can be a little dangerous!
Frenchmen Street is a good place to hear live music, and it was really hopping for a Thursday night. It’s definitely felt a lot busier than the last time I was in New Orleans.
We stopped into the Frenchmen Art Market to check out art and other handmade goods from local artists. There were lots of tempting items, and I wish my budget had been a little larger!
After walking around Frenchmen for a bit longer, we turned back onto Decatur and headed into Balcony Music Club. It was a really cool space, and there was no cover (#bonus). It was really quiet when we arrived, but the crowd definitely picked up as the night wore on.
After hanging at BMC for a while, we walked back through the French Quarter toward our hotel and ended up on Bourbon Street for a couple blocks.
Here are my thoughts on Bourbon Street: it’s great if you’ve just turned 21 or maybe if you’re in town for a bachelor/bachelorette party. It’s also worth seeing (briefly) if you’ve never been to New Orleans. However, unless you like hanging out around huge crowds of super drunk people, you probably want to avoid it.
There are so many better places to spend your time in the French Quarter, whether you are drinking or not.
DAY 2: French Quarter and Faubourg Marigny
The next morning we slept in, then headed to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait. It’s definitely a touristy spot, but I never miss a trip when I visit the city. How can you resist hot fried dough squares buried under a pile of sweet powder sugar? Yum!
Try to visit Cafe Du Monde during off hours or you may face a long wait.
Before heading off to the Marigny, I stopped to take a pic of the lovely St. Louis Cathedral. I have a picture like this from every trip I take to New Orleans, but I still couldn’t resist!
As you can see from the sky above the cathedral, the skies were stormy. It was super hot and humid while I was in New Orleans, and overall the weather was downright unpleasant. It also rained multiple times each day, from quick showers to crazy downpours. It was my first time visiting New Orleans during summer, and I can’t say I’ll be quick to return at this time of year. Unless you like to sweat nonstop and never cool off, I’d suggest visiting during one of the cooler months.
Anyway, enough complaining about the weather (for now!) … let’s head to the Faubourg Marigny! From the French Quarter, I walked down Decatur until I hit Esplanade Avenue.
The French Quarter is full of tourists, so it’s fun to explore the quieter streets and outer edges.
I took a quick walk around the square and hid under a tree during the rain.
And of course, I had to snap another picture of St. Louis Cathedral!At this point, I was wilting from the heat and humidity. Seriously, guys … it was so hot! I have a new appreciation for Dallas weather after returning home!
It was time for a drink and some food. I grabbed a water and headed down St. Peter Street just off Jackson Square. Then, I took a detour and a quick meander through the Central Business District in hopes of finding some cheap veggie food … no pics and no luck.
I was on my way back to the hotel to feast on a Kind bar when I stumbled across Killer Poboys back in the French Quarter. Talk about an awesome and much needed discovery … a breakfast/lunch of beignets is not as nutritious nor sustaining as it sounds!!
Killer Poboys had three awesome vegetarian/vegan options. I got the Roasted Cauliflower Sandwich which was so yummy. I definitely plan to return on my next visit.
Joel returned late to find me relaxing cool as a cucumber on our hotel bed. The rain had finally slowed, so we went out to dinner at the Copper Monkey, a dive bar in the French Quarter.
Our meal would have been totally forgettable if it weren’t for the group behind us, a table full of drunk European tourists who were upset that their chicken tenders were not served before the rest of the meal as an appetizer. Lots of yelling and craziness ensued, with opposing shouts of “I’m not paying!” and “This isn’t Galatoire’s!” Ha … not exactly a relaxing dinner!
DAY 3: Warehouse and Garden Districts
My first stop was lunch at Carmo. Everything sounded so good that I had a hard time deciding, but I finally settled on the Carmo Salad. I figured the namesake salad had to be a good bet, right?
Definitely a good call on my part … yum! I have plans to recreate this salad for the blog; it was that good!
After lunch came coffee. I spotted Pulp and Grind on my phone’s map app, and wandered over to get an iced coffee. What a cool discovery!
How cute are those floors? I may have taken one too many photos in there. They serve pastries and food, too, however I was too distracted by the awesome decor to notice much!
Fueled by iced coffee, I started walking around the Warehouse District. This area is full of cute shops, art galleries, and museum. There are lots of loft apartments, and I could totally see myself living here if I lived in New Orleans … if I didn’t move into a cute cottage first!
I was so hot and sweaty and red faced the whole time I was there. Seriously, I turn into a tomato when overheated (#PaleGirlProblems). No wonder none of them turned out!
I didn’t do a lot of shopping during my weekend in New Orleans, but I am a sucker for letterpress, so I couldn’t resist stopping into The Grove Street Press.
What an awesome little shop! It was a combination of letterpress cards and prints, plus fun pennants. You can shop their online store … I am totally lusting after a New Orleans Streetcar Map. Love!
After leaving this cute shop, I decided to walk over to the Garden District, which is kind of a hike. I was definitely veering into meltdown territory at this point, so I probably should have taken the streetcar.
Ignoring my better judgement, I walked down St. Charles. I actually made it pretty far, before I started eyeing up bars, restaurants, and pretty much any place with a cold drink. Hello, heat stroke!
I’m not really one to go into bars alone, so McDonalds it was! One giant Mr. Pibb later, and I was somewhat refreshed.
From St. Charles, I decided I head to the nearby Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. I cut down to Prytania Street (home to lots of beautiful old homes) on the way.
I love how the streets in New Orleans are marked by beautiful tiles!
After leaving the cemetery, it was time to head back to the hotel. I was all walked out and decided to take the St. Charles Streetcar.
The streetcar was a long time coming, and I got rained on again. When the streetcar finally arrived, it was so crowded. I squeezed in right behind the driver and got to enjoy a breeze from the open windows all the way back to the Quarter. Score!
Earlier in the day, I had walked by a restaurant, Rebellion, that looked promising. When Joel arrived back to the hotel, we headed back for dinner. Mmm … it was another good choice!
We started off with a Rebellion Roll, then I had the B-Bop (bibimbap), and both were amazing. I am obsessed with Korean food right now, and that dish cured my craving. Joel had the Ramen Poutine Fries and the Udon Noodle Crawfish Monica and enjoyed both. I will definitely be back the next time we return!
On our way back to the hotel, we stopped by Q & C Hotel | Bar for a drink. Joel and I have actually stayed at this hotel a number of times, but it got a makeover a couple years ago and looks totally different. My horrible iPhone photo doesn’t do the bar justice!
It’s located in the Central Business District, which is right by the French Quarter. I actually prefer staying in this area since it’s a little quieter.
There was a crazy storm while we were there, so we ended up staying a little longer than planned before meeting up with a friend over at Backspace Bar again.
If you’ve made it this far, you deserve a cookie … er, doughnut! On my last day in New Orleans, I checked out of the hotel at the last possible moment, then headed over to Magazine Street on the bus. There is something about riding buses that I always find stressful, but it was a straight shoot, super quick and easy.
My destination: District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew. … look at that doughnut! It was kind of crazy when I got there, and I almost didn’t go in (single diner jitters), but I’m so glad I did.
There were almost too many creative doughnut options to choose from (decisions, decisions). I settled on a chocolate milk doughnut … yum! District also serves food, and I got a delicious tofu slider, too. I was trying to fill my belly with something other than sugar and pastry, but between the slider and doughnut, it was a lot of food. Sadly, I couldn’t finish my doughnut, but I gave it an honest try. 😉 The cold brew hit the spot, too!
Post sugar-fueled breakfast/lunch, I spent a little time walking down Magazine Street. This is the perfect place to do a little non-touristy shopping. You’ll find everything from antiques to clothing to home decor in these fun shops.
After taking my time wandering through the Garden District, I hopped on the St. Charles Streetcar and headed to Audobon Park. The streetcar was much less crowded on Sunday afternoon than it was on Saturday, and I nabbed my own seat behind this lady with a pretty hat!
The houses along this stretch of St. Charles are beyond gorgeous and huge. I think I was too busy snapchatting to take any pic … oops!
We headed to City Park next. Joel and I were married under this very oak tree! We always make a point to visit when we’re in the city.
They added a plaque since we were there last … can you believe this tree is over 800 years old?
Check out my Vintage Number Sign post for more pics from our wedding in New Orleans!
It’s such a beautiful park … definitely worth a visit just to see the old oak trees alone, although you’ll find many other sights and activities, too. You can take a streetcar there from the French Quarter if you don’t have a car.
After leaving City Park, drove back to Magazine Street for dinner at Juan’s Flying Burrito, one of my favorite vegetarian friendly New Orleans restaurants.
Juan’s has lots of veggie options and a fun atmosphere which my crappy picture doesn’t convey. I had the Green Goat Quesadilla, a special, and it was so good … I definitely ate more than I should have!
Thanks for sticking around through this long post! Here’s a quick roundup of some of my favorite places to visit in New Orleans:
Where we stayed:
- Crowne Plaza: we stayed in the Crowne Plaza this time, which is located right on Canal Street at Bourbon. This hotel is super convenient to everything you’ll want to see in New Orleans. Given it’s location, it’s also very quiet. Pro tip: unless you want to face a long, hour+ wait, don’t try to collect your car from valet right at 11 AM checkout time on Sunday. Thankfully, Joel was long gone by then!
- Queen & Crescent (now Q & C): on previous visits to New Orleans, we’ve stayed at the Q & C. It’s gotten a hip makeover since our last trip, and I can’t wait to check out the rooms on a future trip. This hotel is located in the Central Business District which is adjacent to the French Quarter. It’s still very convenient, but less crazy than a French Quarter hotel.
Favorite places to explore:
- French Quarter (Vieux Carré): the oldest neighborhood in New Orleans is full of character and roving packs of drunks … ha ha. It’s mixture of charming architecture, history, and tourist traps. Get off the beaten path and explore the side streets and outer edges to avoid the crowds.
- Faubourg Marigny / Bywater: wander around these beautiful streets to check out the quaint architecture or grab a bite to eat in a local restaurant.
- Frenchmen Street: head to Frenchmen to catch live music, visit the art market, and get a bite to eat or a drink. Located in the Marigny.
- Warehouse District: wander through the shops and art galleries or museums. I didn’t stop there on this trip, but Mardi Gras World is well worth a visit to see the gorgeous floats and costumes up close.
- Mississippi River: walk along the riverfront near the French Quarter or take a riverboat cruise. We enjoyed a trip on the Steamboat Natchez on a previous visit. You can also take the Algiers Ferry across the river for just $2. I’ve never done it, but maybe next time!
- St. Charles Avenue: A $1.25 streetcar ride will take you out of the French Quarter and all the way up to Carollton Avenue. You’ll pass beautiful mansions, Audobon Park, Loyola and Tulane Universities, and plenty of restaurants and shops along the way.
- Cemetaries: New Orleans is full of beautiful and historic cemeteries. I visited Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 on this trips and have visited others on previous trips. Metairie Cemetery is stunning and easy to visit by car.
- Magazine Street: escape the French Quarter and spend an afternoon exploring Magazine Street. It’s the perfect place to enjoy a day of shopping and eating!
- Garden District: spend some time walking around the Garden District to check out beautiful historic homes. You’ll find everything from quaint cottages to stunning mansions.
- City Park: drive or take the Canal Streetcar up to City Park for an afternoon surrounded by ancient oak trees, wandering the botanical garden, riding the carousel, and checking out the art museum.
My favorite vegetarian friendly New Orleans restaurants:
My biggest tip for vegetarians visiting New Orleans is to plan ahead. All those iconic New Orleans dishes are meat and seafood focused, and it can be hard to find decent vegetarian options (let alone vegan) just by wandering around.
- Backspace Bar: escape the French Quarter crowds and head here for a low key bite and a delicious drink. There was one vegetarian sandwich on the menu (a yummy grilled cheese) when I was there, but a number of the others could have been made veg if you’d ask. Everything had cheese, so not very vegan friendly.
- Carmo: perfect for a light lunch or dinner, this cute cafe has lots of vegetarian and vegan options. I can’t wait to eat my way through the menu on upcoming visits.
- Central Grocery: ask for a muffaletta without the meat … yum! These sandwiches are huge so get the half size.
- Killer Poboys: I was super excited to discover this awesome sandwich shop. There were three vegetarian/vegan options on the menu. Killer Poboys has two locations, one on Dauphine (closes at 5 pm) and one in the Erin Rose Bar (open late, smaller menu).
- District: Donuts. Sliders. Brew.: come for the doughnuts or eat an actual meal. The tofu sliders are delicious, and don’t even get me started on the doughnuts!
- Rebellion: I’m so happy to have stumbled upon this restaurant! The menu is a fusion of Asian, Latin, and Southern flavors, and everything we had (down to the cocktails) was amazing.
- Juan’s Flying Burrito: head to Juan’s for yummy vegetarian friendly Mexican food and a fun atmosphere. There are three locations, but I’ve only ever been to the one on Magazine Street.
- Domenica: stop by Domenica for amazing pizza, pasta, and more from one of New Orlean’s top chefs.
- Green Goddess: you’ll find lots of vegan and vegetarian options here, and the setting on Exchange Alley is really quaint. We enjoyed a great meal here on a previous visit.
- Bayona: my husband and I ate here after our wedding and it was a highlight of our trip. The food is top notch and from one of the city’s best chefs, Susan Spicer. She also owns Mondo, which I haven’t tried (yet).
- Cafe Degas: this French bistro was another place we ate at on our wedding trip and enjoyed immensely.
I hope you enjoyed this tour of my weekend in New Orleans! Have you ever been?
I’m linking up with I Heart Naptime.