You know the old adage, “Work hard, play harder”? You’ve got the work part covered, so get your buddies together for a guys weekend, because there’s no city more suited to playing hard than New Orleans. From celebrating a bachelor party to just unwinding and recharging with the guys, here you can revel in phenomenal food, music, nightlife, gambling, and sports, all in a long weekend. Here’s your ultimate guide to making a New Orleans guys trip your best ever.
WHEN TO GO
There’s always a reason to celebrate in New Orleans, so check the city’s event calendar before you start planning your guys trip or bachelor party. Chances are, there will be something happening, no matter which weekend you choose!
One of the best times to go is in Spring, after the Mardi Gras crowds (and high prices) are gone. The weather is warm, and the city’s roaring Festival season kicks into high gear.
The Fall is another great time for a guys weekend, after the heat and humidity of summer break. Some of the best events of the year are held in the fall, which boasts a festival season that rivals Spring.
Kick your New Orleans guys weekend up a notch by planning around one of these Spring or Fall festivities:
- St Patrick’s day festivities – St Paddy’s Day in New Orleans is a “season” all unto itself. From block parties in the French Quarter, to a Guinness challenge running event, to three Mardi Gras-esque parades throughout the city (where riders throw potatoes, carrots, and cabbages in addition to beads), you don’t have to be Irish to act like it!
- Hogs for the Cause – Three words: Pork + Beer + Music. Need I say more? Experience this holy trinity in City Park on a weekend around the beginning of April.
- French Quarter Fest – With 400 performances on 23 stages throughout the French Quarter, and incredible food from all of the best restaurants in town, this 4-day festival is one of New Orleans’ best kept secrets.
- Zurich Classic – Watch pro golfers up close in this tournament at the TPC golf course around the end of April.
- Jazz Fest – This enormous music festival draws thousands from all over the world every year. If you are not planning to attend, avoid these weekends around the first of May like the plague.
- New Orleans Burlesque Festival in mid-September. Just sayin’.
- Crescent City Blues and BBQ festival – Held in mid-October, this match made in heaven is not to be missed.
- Voodoo Music Fest – Held on a weekend around Halloween, this enormous festival draws some of the biggest names in music.
- Boudin, Bourbon, and Beer Fest – Speaking of kicking it up a notch, this festival in November, organized by chef Emeril Lagasse, is one of the best parties of the fall, combining Louisiana sausage, Kentucky bourbon, and local craft beers. Bring your loose pants and thirsty appetites to this one, because you’re going to want a little of everything.
WHERE TO STAY:
Accommodations in New Orleans can range anywhere from upscale to moderate. But in general, you can’t go wrong with most hotels in the French Quarter or on Canal Street close to the river. A good place to check for deals on hotels is Groupon.com or Livingsocial.com, and if you’d rather look for something for the whole group, check out Vrbo.com and Airbnb.com, where you can find anything from apartments to homes that accommodate larger parties.
Some unique hotel options to consider for your New Orleans guys trip:
- Hotel Monteleone – An iconic New Orleans establishment in an excellent location in the French Quarter, with the famous Carousel Bar (that actually revolves!) in the lobby.
- Royal Sonesta Hotel – Situated in a great location on Bourbon Street, with balconies that overlook the action.
- Inn on Bourbon (Ramada Plaza Hotel) – Another hotel located right in the action on Bourbon Street, with balconies. As with all hotels right on Bourbon, don’t stay here if you plan to actually, you know, sleep.
- The Omni Hotel – This hotel sits in the perfect sweet spot – close to all the action, but just far enough away to not hear it all night long.
- Harrah’s hotel and Casino – With a casino and a club downstairs, and Archie Manning’s sports bar next door, you can’t go wrong with this one.
You don’t need to rent a car to have an epic guys weekend in New Orleans. Driving here can be suicidal, especially if you are unfamiliar with the city (my brother-in-law likens it to driving in Kabul), and parking is expensive. You can walk almost everywhere, and use the city’s efficient public transportation system for longer treks during your weekend.
The streetcars are easy to navigate and relatively cheap at only $1.25 each way (bring exact change), or buy a pass for $3.00 and ride it as often as you need in a day. For a quicker ride, taxis and Uber are available night and day.
THINGS TO DO
With access to world-renowned food, music, nightlife, gambling, and sports, all within walking distance of your hotel, you could make a guys trip to New Orleans an annual event and never run out of things do. But here’s some ideas on good places to Drink, Eat, and Play, to get you started on planning your epic weekend:
Epic Places to DRINK:
You never have to go out of your way to find a drink in New Orleans, and they sport big names with a bite to match: Like Hurricane. Daiquiri. 190 Octane Antifreeze. Hand Grenade. Sound fun? It IS.
A great way to sample them all is on a Cocktail Tour, such as Drink and Learn or The Original Cocktail Walking Tour, where the guides take you to several popular establishments to try their signature New Orleans drink. Schedule for the first night of your trip to determine which hot spots you’ll want to repeat over the weekend.
A New Orleans bachelor party and Bourbon Street go hand in hand. So grab a drink (no pesky open container laws here), and let the night go where it may. You get the idea, but some classic favorites to try are Pat O’Briens (famous for the Hurricane), Jesters Daiquiris, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, or The Cat’s Meow.
Frenchman Street is Bourbon’s less-trashy cousin, where the locals come out to play. Check out authentic New Orleans music at Maison, The Spotted Cat, The Three Muses, or The Blue Nile. It is worth the short cab ride or stroll to Frenchman Street to get a taste of “real” New Orleans.
Epic Places to EAT:
New Orleans’ unique food scene sits at the crossroads of Southern, Cajun, Creole, and Spanish influences, and access to the Gulf provides some of the freshest seafood you’ll find anywhere. So let your stomach be your guide because there is an opportunity to have the meal of a lifetime everywhere you turn. For example:
For Breakfast, try:
- The Stanley Restaurant – Located in Jackson Square, breakfast at the Stanley is just what you do. And their full bar will get the day started off right.
- DejaVu Grill and Bar – Not only a great breakfast menu, but their famous Bloody Mary is just what the doctor ordered after a long night on Bourbon.
- Red Gravy – With the distinction as one of the “Top 100 Brunches in the Country”, this one is also a locals favorite, and worth the longer walk!
- Johnny’s PoBoys – Known for their PoBoys, they actually have a full breakfast menu, too, and their breakfast biscuit sandwich is huge and delicious.
For Lunch, head to:
- Cochon Butcher – Have a sandwich you will never forget with one of their house-made meats or sausages. And their bacon pralines are like a spiritual experience.
- Mothers or Johnny’s Po Boys – Each makes an excellent Po Boy, with a slightly different style. Try them both!
- Gumbo Stop – These guys not only make an epic bowl of gumbo, but excel at jambalaya and red beans and rice, too.
- Central Grocery – Grab one of the best Muffulettas in the city from the counter and eat it up on the River. These guys don’t even have a website, so you know it’s good.
- The Joint – The mouth-watering BBQ smoked right out back makes it worth the short Uber ride to the Bywater. Or, try it for dinner instead and follow it up with a night on nearby Frenchmen Street
- And last but not least, if you see a Lucky Dog hot dog stand, drop everything and get one!
Any of the above restaurants would be great for dinner, too. The options are endless, but if you are looking for the kind of meal you can sit and savor, or want to get your bachelor party together for a nice meal to cap off your weekend, here are some ideas with fabulous food and atmosphere to match.
- Redfish Grill is the place to go if you love fresh fish and seafood. Select from their long list of Gulf fish to be prepared on their wood-fired grill.
- Dickie Brennan’s is not your average surf-n-turf. Voted Maxim’s 10-Best Steakhouses in America, this restaurant takes it to a whole new level.
- Jacques Imo’s – you will need to take an Uber to this Cajun restaurant in Uptown, or, come here for dinner after an afternoon at nearby Audubon Golf Course. But it’s worth the ride. Afterward, walk next door to the famous Maple Leaf Bar, which is known for strong cocktails as much as for great live music that plays almost every night.
- Mr. B’s – Two words: BBQ Shrimp. The amazing cuisine and classy-but-not-stuffy atmosphere will make you want to linger as long as possible
And after a night out, you want food that is quick, straightforward, and even a little greasy. So for a late night snack, Try Café du Monde, (because beignets taste best late at night), a no-fuss diner like Clover Grill, or opt for a sure thing like Mothers Po Boys.
Cigar + Cocktails + Swank “Gentlemen’s Club” atmosphere = Epic Happy Hour
One could argue that every hour is happy hour in New Orleans, but there are a few places that will be sure get every night started off right.
Like Arnaud’s, where you can step back in time to this swank cigar-friendly former “gentlemen’s only club”. Or Napoleon House, whose dark, masculine interior offer the perfect setting for happy hour before hitting the action.
There’s Plenty to Do Beyond Bourbon
In New Orleans, you’re not just confined to one strip – rather, there’s a whole world beyond Bourbon Street (no, really). Such as:
- Audubon Golf Course – You can often find a deal on green fees to this 18-hole golf course towards the end of the St Charles streetcar line (Get off at the Audubon Park stop and walk to the back of the park to the course) at Groupon.com and Livingsocial.com. Call 504-212-5290 to make a tee time. See our recommendation for lunch in the 3-day itinerary.
- WWII Museum – You might be thinking, “Really? We’re going to take a guys trip to New Orleans to see a museum?” Really. Trust me. This is an unforgettable experience and a national treasure. Follow it up with a late lunch or early dinner at nearby Cochon Butcher. You can thank me later.
- Cigar Factory or Crescent City Cigar Shop – Stop here early in your weekend to stock up on cigars, and try them out at Arnaud’s for Happy Hour. If here for a bachelor party, save one for the big day.
- Harrah’s Casino – Pop in for some wagering whenever the mood strikes you.
- Old New Orleans Rum – Did you know that there’s a rum distillery right in the French Quarter? Take a tour and sample the spirits.
- Aidan Gill – Come early in your trip to this “unapologetically male”, vintage barbershop for a straight-razor shave that may last you the rest of the weekend, or get your bachelor party ready for the big day. Afterward, you will be handed a tumbler of Irish Whiskey to sip on and a stack of playboys to peruse before heading back out into the cruel, modern world. If going as a group, reserve your spot early at 504-566-4903. You can spend some time at Harrah’s next door while waiting your turn.
- If you have more time, look into taking a day trip on an Airboat Swamp tour or a Deep Sea Fishing tour in Venice.
With its year-round events, food, music, nightlife, gambling, and sports, you could plan an epic New Orleans guys’ weekend every year. But there’s so much to see and do, it can also be overwhelming. And it’s hard to keep track of plans, reservations, flights, and money when planning a group trip. There’s a lot to remember, which means there’s also a lot to forget. So where do where do you begin?
Don’t worry, I got you covered.
First, start with these 5 Essential Apps You Need to Plan an Epic Group Trip to New Orleans. Having these apps at your fingertips will help you stay organized and on top of your game throughout the whole weekend.
And to banish the overwhelm, I’ve compressed all of this information into a complete 3 or 4-day sample itinerary, so that you can spend more time having fun with the guys, and less time on logistics.
I hope you find this guide useful when planning your guys trip to New Orleans. Let me know in the comments if you have been, or are thinking of going!