This past weekend, Conrad and I took a day trip to New Orleans to take part in a few of the Christmas festivities happening in the city. Typically, when we drive an hour from Baton Rouge into New Orleans it’s to catch a flight, go to a festival or see a sporting event or concert. So it was nice to just have a free day to do nothing but roam the French Quarter as a tourist and take in all the holiday decorations! I thought it’d be fun to share with you some of the best things to do in New Orleans around this time of year in this Holiday Travel Guide to New Orleans!
When it comes to seeing lots of lights and decorations, there are two stops that are absolute musts! First, head to the Roosevelt New Orleans | A Waldorf Astoria Hotel located right off Canal Street (130 Roosevelt Way). Walking in is absolutely magical! It’s one of the most famous lobbies for a reason! You walk in one entrance and out the other with walls lined with Christmas trees and lights from floor to ceiling. Stopping for a photo can be a challenge with so many people trying to capture the same thing. If you’re patient enough you can get a shot, but you’ll most likely have strangers in your photo!
The next Christmas light spectacular on your list should be the Celebration in the Oaks in New Orleans City Park. Each year the park is transformed into a winter wonderland with hundreds of thousands lights. The mossy trees and warmer weather makes this the perfect place for a true Louisiana Christmas vibe. You’ll want to wait for the sun to go down for this, so while you wait enjoy the rest of the fun in the French Quarter.
No trip in New Orleans is complete without a stop at the St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square (615 Pere Antoine Alley). The light poles are tied up with big red bows and even the horses and carriages are decorated with garland and such. If you’re really lucky, there may be some carolers out front! Once you’ve gotten a few perfect selfies and Snapchats, take a walk around and browse the local artwork and vendors for the unique Christmas gifts!
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One of my absolute favorite things to do in New Orleans during the holidays is take a carriage ride through the French Quarter. It’s super touristy and cheesy, but for about $20, they’ll take you on a ride and you can even bring a daiquiri. It’s actually pretty informative and interesting, but if you wait until the sun goes down you can experience the French Quarter’s holiday lights! It’s is so pretty and definitely worth doing this time of year — even if you’re a local!
On your holiday trip, you can spend as much or as little time as you want walking through the French Quarter. I love walking through the French Market to find local cool gifts and just to take in some of the unique culture that New Orleans has to offer. And obviously you must stop in for a hot coffee and plate of beignets of Cafe du Monde! You can also pick up packaged beignet mix and ground coffee for gifts. Oh, and pralines! Don’t forget those. These also make cute gifts for anyone who lives out of town or has moved out of state. This will give them a little piece of home during the holidays.
There are plenty other places to shop in this area, including the Shops at Jax Brewery, The Shops at Canal Place and the Riverwalk. This is going to be where you find more of your major retailers like Anthropologie, JCrew, Banana Republic and more. While you’re in the area, you’ll also be near the aquarium and casinos. Keep walking a little further and you’ll end up at Fulton Street Square, which is always decorated SO festive — with fake snow and all! This would be a great place to watch a football game at Manning’s or go bowling at the Fulton Ally!
If you have extra time, head over to Magazine Street for more shopping or hit up an oyster bar this time of year. There’s no shortage for restaurants or bars for you to find, that’s for sure!
What are your favorite things to do in New Orleans during Christmas time? I’d love to hear your recommendations!
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Beignet Photo by Maggie Bowles | Blue Lemon Co