How to make the most of a weekend in New Orleans

Exploring the Big Easy just got a little easier with these tips for navigating the history and magic of NOLA.

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While America boasts big, attractive metropolises like New York City, Los Angeles, and Miami, when looking to get away, the United States certainly does not lack alternative travel options. With Black History Month now upon us, it is a perfect time to visit locales rich in melanin and culturally relevant yore that are not afraid to dig deep into the truth about our nation and uncover lost narratives about our people. 

Studio BE; Photo: Noel Cymone Walker

Our pick for this week is none other than New Orleans, Louisiana. New Orleans—also known as “NOLA,” “The Big Easy,” “The Crescent City,” and “Nawlins’”—is one of the world’s most decadent cities. The most populous city in Louisiana, NOLA serves as a major port on the Mississippi River in the Gulf Coast region. Historically a melting pot of French, Haitian, Creole, and African American cultures, the city produces the most colorful cuisine, festivals, nightlife, music, and atmosphere around. If you are looking to hit up The Crescent City soon, we have tips on where to stay, eat, and what to do around town that will make for an exceptional visit. Check out our selections below.

Newer Stays

The streets of Nawlins are abundant in residences to rent or recess in, especially in neighborhoods like the French Quarter. If you are looking for a party vibe while in town, check out the new Virgin Hotels in the CBD area. A pet-friendly stay, this chain is known for its colorful rooms featuring ample seating for your guests—because they expect you to have company and a good time! Be sure to party on the hot indoor/outdoor rooftop that brings a wide array of partygoers from in and out of town several nights a week; the DJ spins way into the wee hours and the drinks do not stop flowing. In the day or evening, catch a bite and lounge in the notorious Commons Club on the first floor, which has more rooms and themes than one can count. Whether there for the coffee, champagne, or the grilled Berkshire pork chop, you’re sure to enjoy it and want to return the next day.

If you desire less of a party atmosphere but a more modern stay, look into the Kimpton Hotel Fontenot in the French Quarter. The contemporary hotel in the heart of the city offers extra-spacious baths, spa suites, and large walk-in closets—and also a state-of-the-art gym and eucalyptus-infused towels on deck. View its 3D Hotel-Rendering here. From 7 to 9 pm, Hotel Fontenot plays live music in its Peacock Room, where you can also enjoy the finest duck and oyster gumbo or salt-and-pepper shrimp.

Photo: Noel Cymone Walker


While Bourbon Street is an excursion of its own, New Orleans does offer days’ worth of fun excursions to partake. Opt to go on a swamp tour in a large airboat, where you can witness crocodiles at a safe distance via Bayou Swamp Tours. If you want to get festive while staying active, look into the  Nola Pedal Barge, a booze cruise with actual pedal stations for cruising down the Mississippi River BYOB-style. 

One of the best ways to view all the city offers is to do a bike tour with Flambeaux Bicycle Tours. Its owner, Eric, will guide you on an impressive 3-hour cycling route, bikes and helmets included, that not only shows you all the districts of New Orleans but comprehensive history of the new and old New Orleans with each stop. This tour covers everything from the French takeover to colonization, to how the Haitian Revolution affected the city. You’ll also learn about the unique architecture of the city’s homes, the language, the accent, voodoo, religion, cemetery structure, and even the cuisine of the city. 

Art & History 

Nola has over 40 art exhibits and museums to indulge in around a city like no other. As we approach Mardi Gras season, which will officially take place in March this year, it would be wise to stop by Mardi Gras World to learn the history of masquerade and costumes in the culture. Also check out the New Orleans African American Museum and the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum to learn more about African American roots and African spirituality, the basis of voodoo. 

For a more modern-day take on art, stop by Studio BE, home to local artist Brandan ‘Bmike’ Odums’ first solo project. The exhibit is filled with art depictions of civil rights leaders, revolutionaries, and heroes of Black history.

Jackson Square
Photo: Noel Cymone Walker


Talk about food galore! If you want to eat real good, New Orleans is the one-stop-shop for the tastiest of Southern cookery. For seafood, hit up restaurants like Landry’s Seafood House and Cajun Seafood restaurant. For crawfish, in particular, check out Deanie’s Seafood Restaurant. For beignets, it is obvious to stop by Cafe Du Monde, but also check out Cafe Beignet. If you can score homemade gumbo, the locals say that is the best—because there is just something about a Nawlins’ home-cooked meal! If not, check out Morrow’s, and Neyow’s for the gumbo and redfish, too. 


The party never stops on Bourbon Street, so go out and have fun. Besides Bourbon, however, venture to Frenchmen Street for the most consistent live music scene and safe partying in the city. 

Noel Cymone Walker is an NYC-based writer specializing in beauty, fashion, music, travel, and cultural anthropology. She has written and produced visuals for several notable publications such as The Fader, Billboard, OkayPlayer, Marie Claire, Glamour, Allure, Essence, Ebony, and more.

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