Vibrant New Orleans is the perfect spot for a romantic getaway. From sightseeing in streetcars, to dining in the country’s best restaurants … there is no shortage of things to do in this big, bustling city known for it’s small town charm. The Big Easy’s art, music, awe-inspiring architecture, and signature Cajun cuisine is best shared with someone you love. So read on to find out what to see and do in NOLA with your sweetie.
1. Carriage Rides
Locals and visitors alike describe NOLA as a mix of Southern comfort and European ambiance. Explore the French Quarter’s sights and sounds in a charming carriage ride. Not only will you be transported around town, you’ll feel transported into another era. Fall in love with the city (and each other!) as you tour historic New Orleans’ quaint streets. It’s the most romantic way to scope out NOLA’s must-see spots, like Bourbon Street and Jackson Square.
2. Natural Beauty
Lovebirds can stop and smell the flowers at any of New Orleans’ popular parks, tranquil botanical gardens and picturesque plazas. Audubon Park, which is part of the Audubon Nature Institute, is perfect for picnicking and people-watching. This urban oasis is filled with ancient oak trees, jogging paths, and a lagoon. The New Orleans Botanical Garden’s collection includes over 2,000 varieties of plants from all over the world, and the nation’s largest stand of mature live oaks. And don’t miss Longue Vue, a stunning Classic Revival mansion, where visitors can tour 8 acres of breathtaking gardens that surround the estate.
3. St. Louis Cathedral
Head to Jackson Square and admire the truly majestic St. Louis Cathedral. From the spires to intricate works of art, you’ll feel like a real life Cindarella in her castle. And speaking of real life fairy tales … Gayle Horwitz and her boyfriend Matt decided to plan a holiday trip to New Orleans in December of 2009. After feasting on po’ boys at Johnny’s Po’ Boys, they set out to explore the French Quarter. After admiring St. Louis Cathedral, Matt asked Gayle to sit on a bench in front for a photo. Gayle explained, “Because the cathedral is very large, Matt had to kneel down and angle himself upwards to get the entire building in the shot. He kept going lower, saying he was trying to find just the right angle. Before I knew it, he was on one knee. Still snapping pictures with one hand, he pulled out the most amazing, beautiful ring from his pocket with the other hand. ‘Will you?’ he said.”
Now that’s an unforgettable sightseeing excursion!
From the cuisine to the culture, NOLA is bursting with beloved traditions. Dana and Josiah Haas were married in her hometown for this very reason. Following their ceremony at Temple Sinai, guests danced the night away at historic Hotel Monteleone, located in the French Quarter. The traditions Dana grew up with in The Big Easy inspired many aspects of her big day, especially the food. She explains, “The venue offered traditional New Orleans cuisine including jambalaya, gumbo, and dill shrimp on artichoke bottoms. We also incorporated some southern traditions including a Groom’s Cake and cake pulls in the wedding cake. I also liked the relaxed atmosphere of a New Orleans wedding. No matter how formal a wedding is, there are typically no assigned seats, dinner is set up as carving stations – we had fried turkey, tenderloin, and pasta stations - and there’s dancing throughout the entire evening.”
5. Tables for Two
New Orleans is well known for its top-notch restaurant scene, bursting with romantic fine-dining spots. Following their engagement, Gayle and Matt dined at Restaurant August. Award-winning chef John Besh’s contemporary French cuisine is inspired by his southern Louisiana roots, with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. Locals also recommend dinner in the courtyard at Martinique Bistro, Gautreau’s Restaurant and Oak Wine Bar.
6. Sugar & Spice
From sugar-dusted beignets and coffee at Café du Monde to spicy Cajun fare, couples can eat their hearts out as they eat their way through the city. Gumbo, crawfish etouffee, jambalaya, and muffelettas are just a few of The Big Easy’s best-known eats. “For our wedding in Cleveland, we honored New Orleans and how much we love it there by giving our guests little boxes of Aunt Sally’s Pralines, my absolute favorite and mini Tabasco sauces,” said Gayle.
7. Rest and Relaxation
Believe it or not, you can actually take it easy in The Big Easy by getting pampered at one of the city’s indulgent spas. Relax in total luxury when you get a Couples’ Massage at Guerlain Spa at The Roosevelt New Orleans. Revive your mind, body and love life with The Ritz-Carlton Spa’s Romantic Relaxation package which includes Couples’ Massage, Couples’ Bath with a bottle of champagne and Side by Side pedicures.
8. Music Mecca
Nothing makes hearts flutter like music. And in NOLA, the birthplace of Jazz, there is no shortage of clubs, concerts, festivals and fabulously talented street performers. Stroll down Frenchmen Street, a two-block-long entertainment district where club admission is free. Be sure to tip the bands by contributing to “Philip” (as in “Fill up the tip jar”) as you take in the sounds of the city with your one and only.
Although New Orleans is often known for rowdy Mardi Gras celebrations, beads and bachelor parties … the nightlife scene is perfect for pairs. Enjoy sultry jazz clubs, cozy wine bars, and upscale restaurants galore. Try The Bombay Club, touted as a local treasure. And check out these signature NOLA cocktails for some inspiration.
10. Love is in the Air … for Less
One of the best parts of a New Orleans vacation is that there are so many romantic things you can do that won’t cost a fortune. From perusing local galleries to boating adventures, and enjoying the world-renowned flea market, check out this link for 5 fun activities couples can do for under $20!
Jessica Solloway is a Washington, DC based writer and producer. From wedding planning to work, dating to dieting (and everything in between), she enjoys writing about lifestyle topics women want to know about. Jessica received her degree in Journalism from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Check out her blog, The Savvy Mrs.