A Very NOLA Christmas | Mini Guide
This year for Christmas, the family and I decided to take a road trip to the Big Easy. Known for Mardi Gras, delicious food and vibrant live music scenes, New Orleans is a city full of culture and history.
Although, New Orleans is well known for Mardi Gras, we decided this would be a great city to celebrate Christmas. So we ventured out on a 9 hour drive to New Orleans. To get there, we went through Alabama and Mississippi before making it to our destination.
Our hotel was located about 7 miles outside of the French Quarter, which I regret since there is so much to do around the French Quarter. It also meant we had to drive for about 20 minutes to get to the French Quarter. If ever in New Orleans, stay in the French Quarter.
Day 1: Christmas Day
TIP: It is a known fact that most everything will be closed on Christmas Day. A few places will be open, but also very much crowded. When heading anywhere, make sure to have a list of places that will be opened during Christmas.
On our first day exploring New Orleans, we made a trip to the French Quarter. There we explored Jackson Square, where we saw the Saint Louis Cathedral. If you’re a fan of The Originals, this beautiful cathedral appears in the show. Right across Jackson Square, we saw a beautiful Christmas tree in the Washington Artillery Park.
I am a huge fan of Christmas decorations, so seeing the French Quarter decorated with lights and a Christmas tree really made it feel like Christmas.
After admiring the French Quarter, we ended up going to Belle’s Diner. We waited about 20 minutes before we got seated, which is a great wait time during such a busy holiday. There they had some delicious options such as Po’ boys, Jambalaya and different types of burgers and seafood dishes.
TIP: New Orleans is known for their food, so don’t be afraid to try the Jambalaya or Po’ boy! You won’t regret it.
The French Quarter was beautifully decorated and just when I thought it couldn’t get any better, I heard live music. I made my way towards the music to find a group of people playing on the corner of one of the many streets in the French Quarter. The sound of trumpets and saxophones filled the area and people started to gather with cameras as they watched this group play.
Although, a lot of the stores and restaurants were closed for Christmas, there was still plenty to do and see in the French Quarter.
During the night, we made our way to Lafreniere Park. Here we found thousands of different light displays all set up for Christmas. The admission is usually $5 to get in, but on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day they offer free nights to see the lights. Although the line was long to get into the park, the light displays were worth it. The park is huge offering a driving or walking tour of the lights.
We did the driving tour, which was wonderful since it was really cold out. Once we made it into the park where the light displays were, it felt like a ride filled with so many lights. It truly made Christmas day even more special. From a 60-foot Sea Serpent to Marvel Super Heroes displays, they had all sorts of light displays to see. We also had the opportunity to park the car after the driving tour and walked for a bit admiring the rest of the lights.
Day 2: The Cemetery tour
I know it sounds a bit scary for a holiday trip, but you can’t go to New Orleans without visiting Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. If you are a fan of The Originals or Double Jeopardy, then you definitely want to stroll around this cemetery. Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. is one of the most filmed cemeteries and has become a very touristic place. Inside Lafayette Cemetery is also a tomb known as “Lestat’s tomb”. This tomb was a huge inspiration to Anne Rice, who wrote Interview with the Vampire and also bears a strong resemblance to the one featured in the movie.
TIP: If interested in taking a haunted/cemetery tour, I recommend taking the tour with Haunted History Tours
After, walking around the Cemetery, we made our way to the French Quarter for some chicory coffee and beignets from Café du Monde. The line for this coffee place was really long, but after tasting the coffee I realized why it was long to begin with. Before going to New Orleans, some of my friends recommended this delightful spot to me.
Now that all the shops and restaurants were open, we explored the French Quarter, looking into stores and simply enjoying the wonderful tour of this beautiful area of New Orleans.
TIP: Take the City Sightseeing New Orleans Hop-on Hop-off bus tour to explore the French Quarter. There is so much history and this bus tour will definitely take you to see it all!
Before leaving the next day, the hubby and I did stop by a bar near our hotel – Tavern on Citrus. Although it wasn’t a bar in the French Quarter, it was a really great bar full of games, atmosphere and friendly people. The drinks were also delicious and cheap (They had some great specials!).
New Orleans has so much to offer and though I was there for two full days, it didn’t feel like enough time to explore everything. From the Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 to The Mardi Gras World, there is plenty to do and I cannot wait to go back to keep on exploring.
Christmas was a wonderful time in the Big Easy, and I am truly happy that I got to share this great adventure with the family.
I did receive a VIP Pass from New Orleans Convention & Visitors Bureau, but as always all opinions are my own.