After-hours boozing through Bourbon. Late-night party bus in the French Quarter. Placing bets at the casino. Jazz clubs and second lines and Hurricanes and strippers. New Orleans offers plenty of bachelor party fun at night. But to get to that point, you’ll have to make it through the day.
Luckily, there’s loads to do before sunset. In fact, there are so many options one weekend may not be enough time to do them all. To maximize time for a full, well rounded Nola adventure, hit up these must-see places that truly define New Orleans day culture.
French QuarterFrench Quarter, New Orleans, LA, United States
There’s no denying you’ll spend time in the French Quarter (a.k.a Vieux Carre). The oldest neighborhood in the city is Nola’s most famous attraction, with well preserved buildings and structures dating back to the 18th century. The entire district, about 78 square blocks, is a National Historic Landmark, a cool time warp with incredible architecture, old-school businesses, galleries, street art, performance art and everything else that makes it pretty magical.
Obviously you’ll check it out at night, but carve out time to explore it by day as well. The best way is to take a stroll and wander around, but history, architecture and culture buffs can book a private or organized group tour to get the full picture. Free Tours By Foot is one of the most reliable walking tours. Tours last about 2 hours (you tip the guide what you feel they deserve at the end of the tour). Or you can hop on a mule-drawn carriage, which starts at Jackson Square. Most tours will hit all the notable highlights, like Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Lalaurie Mansion (made famous by American Horror Story) and Pirates Alley.
The National WWII MuseumThe National WWII Museum, Magazine Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
We guarantee this museum won’t put you to sleep. In the Central Business District, the National WWII Museum has everything imaginable on the “Big One.” It spans three buildings, with interactive features, oral history, engaging displays and hundreds of artifacts: uniforms, weapons and even fighter jets. A visit here will definitely take at least two hours, and you can’t really visit without watching Beyond All Boundaries, a moving, 4-D film narrated by Tom Hanks.
Magazine StreetMagazine Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
New Orleans is known for many streets steeped in history, like Bourbon, St. Charles, Frenchmen, Canal and Royal. But the modern man looking for modern things makes a beeline to Magazine Street. This six-mile road is where all the cool cats hang. Magazine is chockablock with designer shops, contemporary restaurants, cool bars, galleries and outdoor cafes. Think: Warby Parker, West Elm, Jamba Juice and American Apparel, as well as Shaya (voted best new restaurant in America by many critics when it opened last year). The best way to explore is by renting a bike at A Musing bikes, and just cruise the street at your own pace.
Explore the BywaterBywater, New Orleans, LA, United States
A sleepy, urban neighborhood nearly a mile from the French Quarter, The Bywater District is gritty with little infrastructure and no public transportation, which makes it virtually untouched and incredibly authentic. Old Greek Revival homes and Creole cottages share the same streets as industrial warehouse spaces, and it’s become a haven for hipsters, artists and bona fide New Orleans characters. Bywater is just now experiencing a full awakening: young chefs are opening notable restaurants, new contemporary galleries are bringing in modern art and a string of rediscovered, cool bars (with cool patrons to match) are shaping the hood’s identity. Get there now before it fully gentrifies (and we’re talking soon, considering the old naval base is being transformed into a major cruise port).
Ride a streetcar on St. CharlesSt Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA, United States
The historic, oak-tree lined St. Charles Avenue is best explored on one of the old-school streetcars, which are amazing to ride when the windows are down. Realistically, this activity might be more appropriate for your parents, but it’s perfect if you’re nursing a hangover. All you really do is sit in the streetcar and gaze out into the street. The bonus here is the scenery: one-of-a-kind, landmark buildings and centuries-old, antebellum mansions. The streetcar goes pretty slow, all the way uptown, so it can take a good chunk of time to see some of the more striking parts of the city. (You’d probably never make an effort to see this if you didn’t have one too many cocktails the night before, so you can thank us later).
Chill at the Country ClubThe Country Club, Louisa Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
The Country Club has had several incarnations since it opened in 1884, but it’s always been a country club without a golf course. Now, in a well-preserved Italianate Raised Center Hall Cottage, The Country Club is one of the hottest spots for brunch, where celebrities from Beyoncé and Jay Z to Jessica Lange have been spotted. To really live it up, plan a whole afternoon here. The country club’s big draw is its outdoor saltwater pool in a very private oasis, where the day drinking is as good as the chill vibes. You can book a cabana, soak in the hot tub, watch a game on the 25-foot screen, or make friends in the pool. While it’s a members-only facility, guests can get a day pass here for only $10.
Live vicariously through your favorite authorsHotel Monteleone, Royal Street, New Orleans, LA, United States
Several legendary novelists have made New Orleans home, writing classics you’ve most likely read at some point in your lifetime. Crowds gather at the former home of Anne Rice (Interview with the Vampire) on 1239 First Street, and Mark Twain used to prowl Canal Street for inspiration. Outside the Hyatt French Quarter Hotel, there’s also a bronze statue of Ignatius Reilly, the protagonist of John Kennedy Toole’s Pulitzer-Prize winning A Confederacy of Dunces. You’ll want to stop at Hotel Monteleone, a mothlight to famous authors (the list includes Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner and John Grisham). If you pass by 632 St Peter Street, this is where Tennessee Williams completed his play A Streetcar Named Desire (he also wrote most of it in the lobby of Pontchartrain Hotel). To really tap into your Tennessee Williams’ obsession, head to I.J. Reilly’s Knick Knacks and Curiosities, which is the former apartment of Stanley and Stella (main characters of A Streetcar Named Desire). Faulkner fans will appreciate Faulkner House Books where William Faulkner once lived and wrote.