We decided to take it easy in the big easy this year after going abroad for 2 of the last 3 years. A few factors went into this decision. The biggest one being a new 3 month old baby at home. No matter how often my parents tell me that they have the time, energy and desire to stay with two kids, I can’t get over the guilt of dropping off that much responsibility.
New Orleans was a blast. My wife and I both has been individually, prior to getting married. We both think highly of the city, so we had to go together to get the pretty gold star on our family map. We still did a ton of research prior to taking off to make sure we maximized our short Thursday to Sunday trip.
Getting There – Costs $22.40
This was our first use of the Southwest Companion Pass. We ended up redeeming a total of 16,208 Southwest points and paying $22.40 in taxes and fees. According to The Points Guy December 2019 Valuations, 16,208 is worth ~$243.12, which is right in line with where the cash rates were at the time.
We had a direct flight out of New York’s LGA, which is a quick 20-30 minute ride from my parents house. It took well under 3 hours to get there, an easy flight…without kids.
Where We Stayed – Costs $362.26
We ended up using our one free night benefit that comes with our IHG card, and paid cash for the remaining two nights at the Intercontinental Hotel in the Business District. At ~$130 per night, I wasn’t thrilled about redeeming our free night at this hotel. I think there is a lot more value to be had. However, our free night was expiring soon and this easily offsets the $89 yearly fee that comes with our IHG card.
The location couldn’t of been better for what we were looking for. We did a ton of walking, the neighborhood felt safe and it were centrally located.
The hotel amenities were lacking a little bit. For the record, Im not a hotel snob. As long as the location is great and I can recharge, I have no complaints. That said, I thought the Intercontinental brand was IHG’s luxury brand and I expected to see a little more.
Day 1 – Cooking Class and a Mandatory Stop on Bourbon Street
We arrived at MSY around 4pm and we booked a cooking class that started at 6pm. Plenty of time I thought. Google maps was telling me that the hotel was only ~15 minutes from the airport. Of course I didn’t account for the fact that we would be arriving on a weekday during rush hour. Time to the hotel – 50 minutes. In the end, it was no sweat (maybe a little). We were the last couple to arrive, even though we were there 10 minutes early.
The hands-on cooking class at the New Orleans School of Cooking was by far the highlight of our trip. Chef Ricardo gave us a good history of the city of New Orleans, we drank unlimited amounts of wine and cooked a delicious 3-course meal (gumbo, jambalaya and dessert), that we honestly couldn’t believe were made by our hands. This experience was well worth the time and money we spent.
After drinking copious amounts of wine, we stumbled over to Bourbon Street were we met with a friend of friend, who happened to be a bartender on duty that night. He tried his best to put us out of commission. We had hurricanes and shots of vodka that were infused with vegetables (to be used for bloody mary’s). But I wasn’t having it. I didn’t want to risk having to stay in the next day to recover. I got some water to go and got us out of there before it was too late!
Day 2 – Food, Mixology Class and Live Music
We got recommendations to go to Ruby Slipper for breakfast from many people. We got a late start, despite my best efforts to get out of Bourbon Street alive. In the end, it would be at least another 2 hours and (what felt like) several miles of walking before we finally sat down and had breakfast. I was pleasantly surprised by the food.
We eventually made it down to Frenchmen street. We booked a mixology class via groupon at The Maison. It was in the early evening and they had a live band playing music (and so did every other venue on the street). I think we learned how to make four drinks that evening. My favorite by far was the Pimm’s Cup. The class was more of a demonstration. We did all the stirring and shaking, but our instructor (whom was awesome), was doing all the pouring.
At the mixology class we met a nice couple that told us that they were getting tattoos at the shop across the street after the class. Apparently the shop was running a special. We went with them and ended up getting matching tatoos ourselves.
We wrapped up our night by taking a Lyft to Morrow’s for dinner. 5 out of 5 stars!
Day 3 – Food, Segways and Bourbon Street
We got an earlier start today and made our way over to the Bywater neighborhood for brunch at Elizabeth’s. I was really looking forward to this, but to be honest I was let down a bit. We obviously had to get the praline bacon, which I haven’t eaten in at least 5 years or more. My food was really salty and my wife didn’t make a big dent on her plate either.
After brunch, we ended up walking along the Mississippi River via Crescent Park, all the way back to the French Quarters. Of course there was a mandatory stop at Cafe Du Monde, which had a ridiculous waiting line. We saved time by grabbing a seat inside and were served immediately.
Shortly after, we booked a segway tour via groupon which gave us a good historic view of the city. Our guide took us along with the Mississippi River again, rolled through Bourbon Street and some local neighborhoods.
We wrapped up the day by having dinner at The Gumbo Shop (we weren’t big fans) and walked through Bourbon Street with a hand grenade. We even caught a cool light show a block away from our hotel that our segway tour guide made us aware of.
Day 4 – One last stop at Cafe Du Monde
Our ride to the airport was in fact only 15 minutes on a sleepy Sunday morning. We stopped at the Cafe Du Monde at the airport and were pleasantly surprised to see that the prices and quality were exactly the same as the flagship store.
No Po’ Boy’s In Sight
Two things stand out as misses. First, we did not get an opportunity to get a Po’ Boy. I incorrectly assumed I would see Po’ Boy shops everywhere. And we walked by Acme Oyster House which had a ridiculous waiting line.
The other thing is that we did not get a chance to get a drink at the Carousel Bar, and it wasn’t for a lack of trying. We stopped by at least 3 times at different times of the day and it was full every time. To be honest, it was enough just seeing it.
New Orleans exceeded our expectations. And to think that I was adamant about skipping our anniversary trip this year, in favor of making year five even more special. Im so happy I listened to my mom and finally just asked if they would be willing to stay with our babies. I realize how important it is for my wife and I to keep each other first and not let these kids run us around!
After the numbers finally came in, I was surprised to see that New Orleans was our second most expensive anniversary trip, behind Aruba in year two. Did we do the Big Easy justice, or do we need to schedule a round two in the future?