St. Louis Cathedral (photo via New Orleans & Company)
When it comes to planning a guys weekend, New Orleans may not get the love some other major metro cities command.
At first glance, the Big Easy doesn’t seem to carry the hype of say Miami’s South Beach, or the Big Apple, Sin City, Hollywood or a number of other storied favorites of years past.
Those cities all have their obvious charm and appeal when you want to get the boys together for that much-needed getaway from the rigors of life’s routines.
View from 33rd Floor of Vue Orleans Observation Deck (Photo via Sanjay Kirpalani)
However, a peek behind the curtain reveals that what New Orleans may lack in flash, it makes up for with plenty of substance.
Regardless of your crew’s weekend extravaganza agenda, it’s the perfect new spot for adventure, exhilaration, indulgence and relaxation.
It’s a city filled with culture, pride, resilience, art and joy.
There are plenty of cool exhibits and museums to see that can give you insight into the history of the city, its people and its enduring spirit that’s felt as you roam its streets.
With that said, let’s get the obvious parts out of the way first.
A guys’ trip does not have to begin and end with after-hours ragers spent on Bourbon Street and other parts of the famed French Quarter area.
Of course, that can be a part of your overall agenda and spending some time there is definitely something you want to experience if you or any of your group has never visited New Orleans before. And sights such as Café du Monde and Pat O’Brien’s Bar are tourist-y spots, but they also feel very much a part of what makes New Orleans such a festive destination—and in turn, why you should make time for them if you’ve never seen them before.
Street musicians in New Orleans. (photo via Zach Smith)
There’s a certain vibe of walking the streets, hearing the sound of piano bars and jazz music while having an adult beverage in hand that you simply just don’t get anywhere else. You never know what or who you might see, but whatever it is, the mood is certain to be joyous and exuberant.
For example, during my last experience there, at midnight, we randomly sauntered onto a television shoot for the Showtime drama series Your Honor starring Bryan Cranston.
Still, the city has much more to offer depending on how you want your weekend to play out.
Oysters from Dickie Brennan’s Bourbon House in New Orleans. (photo via Paul Broussard)
What’s a great guys’ weekend without amazing food?
And man does New Orleans ever deliver in this department.
There’s so much variety to choose from, and admittedly, you may kick yourself if you get near the end of your trip only to realize there’s something on your list you’ve yet to treat your group to.
The list of choices, in terms of food types and quality restaurants, appears to be endless.
You want sandwiches? Po boys and muffuletta are your go-to’s.
How about fresh seafood? The aroma of a crawfish boil is enticing.
Need a good stew? From gumbo to jambalaya, finding a good bowl to hit the spot is almost effortless.
Maybe you want to skip straight to dessert.
Beignets are simply a must.
Want a couple of spots that seemingly nail the New Orleans experience? The gumbo and boudin at Cochon is top-notch. Seemingly every course at Tableau is sure to leave you wanting more—but make sure you save room for dessert. You can’t go wrong with any of the choices, but the Chocolate Entremet and Tarte A Lo Bouille were my personal favorites.
From fine dining to hole-in-the-wall spots, New Orleans is bursting at the seams with options for quality culinary experiences.
If you manage to not eat yourselves into needing a nap and need things to do around the city, there are plenty of activities to explore depending on your preference and the season you visit.
For instance, in the early part of the year, Mardi Gras is an obvious choice to have a festive weekend—but it’s far from the only attraction.
The spring and summertime are filled with various music festivals and events geared towards welcoming large crowds of visitors.
Examples of this include annual events such as the French Quarter Festival [typically held in springtime around mid-April, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival [typically held in late April to early May] and the Essence Festival of Culture [typically held in late June through early July].
The fall brings football and basketball season to the forefront and New Orleans boasts the NFL’s Saints, the NBA’s Pelicans as well as college football powerhouse LSU in nearby Baton Rouge. Additionally, the Bayou Classic featuring HBCU titans Grambling and Southern, typically held on Thanksgiving weekend, is another popular attraction for the city.
TPC Louisiana golf course (Photo via Sanjay Kirpalani)
Another big draw to the area is the city’s local golf scene.
New Orleans is home to a few world-class courses, including the TPC Louisiana in nearby Avondale—which hosts an annual PGA event in the Zurich Classic of New Orleans in the spring.
Another popular park in the area is Bayou Oaks City Park, located about 15 minutes away from downtown New Orleans—which stands alone as the city’s only public 36-hole course.
New Orleans is also bustling with plenty of space to host visitors from an accommodations standpoint. The Crescent City boasts close to 300 different hotels and nearly 40,000 rooms between its metro and surrounding towns, per Beau Evans of NOLA.com.
Whether luxury, culture or adventure is the main priority for your trip, it’s fairly certain you can find the optimal home base for you and your crew.
Regardless of the time and the specifics of your agenda, New Orleans has everything needed to provide the perfect backdrop for an epic gentlemen’s weekend.
You can sync your trip with a planned itinerary from start to finish, or simply arrive and go with the flow.
Just make sure that you’re prepared to do it big, take it easy, do a little of both or something in between.