Looking for an escape from the Lonestar State? Look no further than the Big Easy. We may try to keep Austin weird, but New Orleans is the definition of weird and unusual. The jazz music, Cajun food, randomly outrageous festivals, haunted history, and cultural diversity, make the city a Big Easy “yes” to visit. I mean, do you need any more reasons to visit New Orleans?
You’ll need a place to stay in the heart of it all, and we know just the place. The AC Hotel New Orleans French Quarter is the prime location for you to explore the city’s attractions, entertainment, cultural offerings, and nightlife. And things just got even better with their summer offer! AC Hotel is now allowing guests to save 15% on bookings for three nights or more. So you can truly relax and recharge – or party and play – whichever you prefer.
The offer is available for bookings made through September 30, 2023 (based upon availability). Click here to take advantage of this special offer!
As soon as you step foot in the AC Hotel, you’re stepping into history. The hotel was once the New Orleans cotton exchange (the epicenter of the global cotton industry). They closed its doors in 1964 and it became a national historical landmark in 1977. Today, AC Hotel pays homage to its rich history. The exposed brick walls in guest rooms and large windows provide a peek into the building’s storied past.
Unwind in one of the upscale rooms featuring minimal design, complimentary Wi-Fi and plush bedding. We recommend staying in the Larger Guest room with a king-sized bed and city view. I especially loved working at the writing desk. You’ll immediately feel inspired looking out the window seeing the city full of life.
You can bring your furry friends along for the ride too – as the hotel is pet friendly. (There’s even dog treats in the lobby). In addition, the hotel boasts a 24-hour fitness center, rooftop terrace, European-inspired breakfasts at AC Kitchen, and handcrafted cocktails at AC Lounge.
Network with colleagues or meet up with friends at the AC Lounge cocktail bar and chat over handcrafted cocktails and tapas. The LED blue lights under the bar give the lounge area a whole vibe.
Head down to AC Kitchen to fuel up on breakfast before you start your NOLA adventure. From an assortment of cheeses and artisan cured meats to fresh croissants and savory breakfast tarts – this is where you’ll want to start your day. On weekends, you can indulge in the hotel’s exquisite mimosa brunch.
Things to Do
There’s so much to do in this lively city, and a lot to learn about with its deep rich history. Vue New Orleans allows you to open your eyes to a different view of the city. Not only will you enjoy breathtaking 360 views from the indoor and outdoor observation decks, there’s also an eye-popping 4-D experience with nine original films and seven interactive exhibits.
Dress your best for a photo at the city’s only rooftop 360-degree panoramic viewing platform and enjoy the entertaining elevator going up and down. One of my favorite exhibits was the Story Café. Step into a digital cafe with local food icons and take a seat to “place an order” to see your chosen meal being made on screen. You can learn how to make iconic New Orleans dishes, such as gumbo, jambalaya, po’ boys, and more.
Whether a local or visitor, this is a great way to discover historical figures, cultural customs, and other educational facts that have shaped the city through time. It’s an educational yet fun experience for all ages.
Looking for a more romantic, relaxing, jazzy vibe? Head to the French Quarter for an abundance of restaurants, bars, attractions, shopping, and historical landmarks – like St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square.
Listen to live music at the Mahogany Jazz Hall and sip slowly on absinthe while catching up with friends.
You’ll love that Bourbon Street is just a short three minute walk away from AC Hotel. So no need to worry about finding a DD. Immerse yourself in the bright neon lights, party away, and walk (or stumble) to your new home-away-from-home. When you stay around Bourbon, you tend to be on Bourbon quite often. Tip: Stop by Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar, one of the oldest bars in New Orleans.
If you want to stay away from the touristy area, Frenchman Street is a gem for live music and drinks that locals love.
It’s a must to get in the spooky spirit while visiting New Orleans. After all, this city is the epitome of all-things-spooky. Take a 2-Hour Ghosts & Vampires Walking Tour through the dark, creepy streets of the city’s most famous neighborhood. See Madame Lalaurie’s mansion to hear about her heinous, torturous ways. Discover if there really are vampires that roam the streets at night. You’ll embark on a thrilling journey that uncovers the true terrifying stories that make one’s blood run cold. Tip: Enjoy a buy-one-get-one free hurricane drink at Voodoo Lounge to calm your nerves!
Keep the spooky spirit going with a Cemetery Tour at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. It’s New Orleans’ oldest burial ground, and one of the most haunted. (Voodoo Queen and Madame Lalaurie are buried here). There’s also the Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, which has been a backdrop for many movies and TV shows, such as The Originals (my favorite), The Interview with the Vampire, and lots more. I wish I could’ve visited, but it was temporarily closed to the public for maintenance repairs. (Maybe it will be open the next time you visit). In the meantime, there are lots of other cemeteries to roam around.
There’s plenty of dining options nearby to curb your hunger and satisfy your Cajun craving.
Cochon Butcher is just a short distance away to dine for a night out – bringing house-made and handcrafted ingredients sourced directly from local farmers. From fried alligator to rabbit & dumplings to hog’s head cheese with crackers and sausages, this is meat heaven for carnivore lovers. There’s also decadent sandwiches and an array of house-made pickles, jellies, jams, mustards, and sauces.
We recommend the Smoked Beef Short Rib with grits, crushed herbs, and mushroom jus. The dish is super tender, and you can really taste the BBQ flavor. The grits have a sausage taste to them so it’s almost like you’re eating double the meat. The tenderness pairs perfectly with the creamy grits. There’s always a different vegan / vegetarian dish with whatever vegetables are in season for that day. You can taste all the love the chef puts into it (The carrots will change your perception on what a carrot should taste like). For dessert, you won’t regret trying the Pecan Turnover, which has crunchy pecans and blueberry ice cream to set off those taste buds. Wash it all down with the cocktail Strange Situation, which reminds me of a lemon drop.
Other notable mentions: Stop by in the morning or late evening for some beignets at Café Du Monde. These tasty beignets are crispy and puffed up with sugar, but aren’t overly sweet as they look. Try a Po’ Boy at Ernst Cafe, and if they ask if you want it dressed, just say yes (this means whether you want lettuce, tomato, and pickle). For the vegetarians and vegans out there, Breads on Oak is directly across the street from AC Hotel and offers all-things vegan and gluten free. Grab a bite before crossing Canal Street or before wandering through the French Quarter.
Cover photo courtesy AC Hotel New Orleans French Quarter
Leean Vargas is the Highlight Reel newsletter editor at Texas Lifestyle Magazine and an honors graduate of Texas State University with a bachelor’s degree in Public Relations. She is a concert enthusiast who loves traveling, photography, good food, and discovering new hangout spots in her beloved city, Austin, Texas.