Mardi Gras, Bourbon Street, and second line parades may be top of mind when conjuring up an image of New Orleans, but in fact, The Big Easy is a multifaceted city brimming with sweet locations to steal a kiss, reignite a flame or celebrate new connections. And if letting the good times roll is your idea of romance, of course, there’s plenty of that for you and your other half, too.
Whether you’re looking for a romantic itinerary for two or a downright good time, Lauren Cason of New Orleans & Company gave us the inside scoop on all the fun activities for couples in NOLA.
Meet the Expert
Lauren Cason, director of New Orleans & Company—the tourism board for the city of New Orleans—has nearly 20 years of experience in the tourism industry, half of which have been spent curating the best of The Big Easy to share with visitors.
New Orleans is a great choice any time of the year, but Cason shares that spring and fall are prime times for the most pleasant weather— it also happens to be when their biggest festivals occur (Mardi Gras in March and the Jazz & Heritage Festival in October). If you opt for luxury accommodations and meals or choose to visit during the busy festival seasons in the spring or fall the costs go up incrementally.
Being in the South, the summers can get sticky, but Cason says if you’re looking for value, it’s a great time to find deals on hotels and take advantage of their COOLinary month in August. With these great values, a couple could do a long weekend starting from around $1,000. Winters are so mild many travelers coming from colder winter climates find this the perfect time to visit to avoid the Southern summer heat.
"The great thing about New Orleans is that you can go to Commander’s Palace and have a luxurious meal or you can grab a po' boy and have a picnic sitting by the river," Cason says. "And either is a great time!" Cason also shares that New Orleans is very walkable especially if you’re staying downtown or in the French Quarter. From uptown, she recommends taking the streetcar. And there’s also Uber, of course.
Below, discover the sweet charm and cozy comforts of Crescent City with 15 fun things to do in New Orleans for couples.
Hop on a Streetcar
Snuggle up on the mahogany and brass seats for a scenic tour of the Garden District on these quaint streetcars. For just $1.25 per person, you can hop on at St. Charles Ave. and take in views of stately mansions and perfectly manicured lawns through one of the city’s many historic neighborhoods.
Sail Lake Pontchartrain at Sunset
Just 15 minutes from the French Quarter, you’ll find yourself in the West End area on the South shore of Lake Pontchartrain. Here, you can charter a boat, spend a day on the water and quite literally sail off into the sunset.
Lounge at a Jazz Club
Did you even visit New Orleans if you didn’t spend an evening intoxicated by the sounds of a live jazz band? Not only is this a quintessential experience when visiting the city, but it’s also the perfect chance to dance the night away together or get cozy in a corner booth in one of the many lounges.
Spend a Day Strolling Through City Park
Peppered with lakes, centuries-old oak trees, and sprawling green spaces, City Park is an outdoor oasis as enchanting as the city itself. Couples can rent paddle boats in Big Lake, stroll through the Botanical Gardens, relax on a gondola ride or channel their inner children on the wooden carousel.
Make Things Steamy on the Natchez
Board the Steamboat Natchez for a romantic dinner cruise while the steam-powered paddle-wheel churns through the Mississippi River. After dinner, climb to the upper deck to catch the sparkling lights of the skyline or have a dance under the stars as you enjoy the onboard band.
Get Sauced With Sazeracs
For the couple who loves to tipple, New Orleans’ new Sazerac House is a must-see. On the corner of Canal and Magazine streets, the museum has introduced an interactive experience that pays homage to the city’s history and tradition tied to the Sazerac—a cocktail born in the city in the 1850s. The museum is free to walk through and you’ll enjoy complimentary samples, but you can upgrade to a variety of exclusive tasting experiences hosted by spirited experts.
Holiday at The Roosevelt Hotel
With Sazerac still top of mind, head over to the legendary Sazerac Bar at The Roosevelt Hotel where the iconic cocktail was invented. For a real treat, visit during the holidays where the hotel’s lobby is decorated to the nines for Christmas. Stay for dinner at Domenica, a rustic-yet-ritzy Italian restaurant, and enjoy an upscale dinner that combines local ingredients with Mediterranean flavors.
Have a Dinner Date in the Courtyards
Tuck into one of the city’s hidden courtyard patios for a romantic meal at one of the many delectable dining options throughout the French Quarter. These secret jewels are one of the city’s beloved architectural charms and provide a welcome retreat from the heat of a summer day or the buzz of the busy streets. Commander’s Palace is a culinary landmark with a menu and courtyard not to be missed (additional top date-night choices include Cane & Table, Cafe Amelie, or Sylvain).
Picnic on the Bayou
Bayou St. John is a popular recreational area designated as a "Historic and Scenic River" where you can stroll the bayou and scout the perfect place along its grassy banks for a picturesque picnic (don’t forget to pack or pick up a few po' boys!). For a more active afternoon, hop on a kayak from one of the nearby rentals and paddle through the bayou anytime from March through December.
Have a Louisiana Swamp Adventure
Adventuresome pairs should turn to ToursbyLocals, where real residents offer a personalized excursion on the Louisiana swamp. You’ll be picked up from your hotel for a quick road trip to Honey Island where you’ll embark on a two-hour private boat tour to explore the ecology and history of the marsh. Wildlife enthusiasts will want to keep an eye out for alligators, wild boars, bald eagles, and more; while nature buffs will appreciate the flora of one of the country’s most pristine swamplands.
Enjoy Some R&R at The Ritz
Pamper yourselves with three hours of rest and relaxation in the brand new couple's suite at The Ritz-Carlton Spa, New Orleans. Complete with a bathtub, massage tables, couch, TV, and daybed, this indulgence experience includes an 80-minute couple's massage, a couple's bath, and relaxation time in the suite. Liven things up after with a couple of cocktails and listen to award-winning musician Jeremy Davenport in the hotel’s aptly named Davenport Lounge.
Go Bohemian in the Marigny Neighborhood
Take a walk outside of the French Quarter and head to the Marigny neighborhood for a fresh take on the Crescent City. The area is home to a host of artists, philosophers, musicians, and all who embrace the bohemian lifestyle. Make your way to Frenchmen Street, and you’ll find yourself on one of the most musical stretches in town where the jazz clubs are some of the best and most authentic of the city.
Bike Through The Big Easy
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely ride to take in views of the historic homes or prefer a livelier route to tackle the city’s nightlife on two wheels, New Orleans is a great place to cruise by bicycle. Local tour operator Flambeaux Tours offers all the above, plus private tours where you can soak up city sites with the founder, a NOLA local who is a descendent of French pirates.
Discover a Little Magic
Although there are few very active patrons of the voodoo religion practicing these days, those who are interested in the lore of this secretive practice can immerse themselves at the New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum. The museum chronicles voodoo history, folklore, and its role in present-day culture. Alongside locally handmade voodoo dolls, gris-gris bags, and candles, you may even find yourself a love potion.
Throw Yourselves a Parade
It’s a relatively little-known fact, but it’s pretty simple to host your own parade in New Orleans with a little planning and a decent budget. If you’re celebrating a big anniversary or just want to go all out for your love, all you have to do is get a permit with at least two hours' notice and hire a band and the streets are yours to pass a good time.