Thanksgiving in New Orleans: 7 Incredible Places to Enjoy the Holiday
If you find yourself in New Orleans for Thanksgiving one year, here’s what to look for.
1. Antoine's Restaurant
Antoine’s Restaurant is one of the most popular Creole restaurants in the entire New Orleans area, which is impressive in and of itself. New Orleans, after all, is the #1 city people go to for good Creole food, and even here, Antoine’s is famous. It can be a bit pricey, but not excessively so, and the food is delicious, which makes it more than worth it. There is some variety on the menu, but there’s really no point in going here if you’re not going to get one of the amazing Creole dishes. These are mouth-wateringly delicious, and it would be a shame to visit New Orleans and not sample them at least once. The cornbread, in particular, is to die for, but there really isn’t a bad item on the menu.
Even better, it’s open on Thanksgiving, so you can get a unique but traditional southern meal with your entire family. Like most restaurants, they would prefer that you make a reservation for Thanksgiving Day, but we can assure you that it’ll be worth the trouble. Antoine’s is one of the oldest continually operating restaurants in the US, and there’s a reason for that. That being said, those who aren’t used to Creole often give the restaurant mixed reviews, so you might want to be aware of that.
2. Andy's Bistro
If you’re looking for something more along the lines of classic American fare, you may want to try Andy’s Bistro instead. While this restaurant is very different from Antoine’s, it’s just as great a place to spend Thanksgiving. This New Orleans style bistro is known for its amazing pizza and burgers, making it the perfect place to spend a casual Thanksgiving. If you’re looking for something a bit more formal, though, the oyster and steak are also mouth-watering. The surroundings will still have a casual feel, but for some people, that’s just right for the beginning of the holiday season.
A well-rounded drinks menu makes this the perfect place to kick back and relax at any time of the year, but especially during the holidays. Just keep in mind that Andy’s is usually only open from 11am to 5pm on Thanksgiving. Thanks in part to this small window, it’s absolutely necessary to make a reservation if you plan on being there on Thanksgiving Day. Andy’s isn’t the biggest space, and this is the one day a year when it can get really crowded. You can do this by calling (504) 455-7393 or on opentable.com.
3. 5 Fifty 5 Restaurant
Another great place to get a special Thanksgiving themed meal is the 5 Fifty 5 Restaurant in the New Orleans Marriot Hotel. Hotel restaurants can get a bad rap, but this one is truly amazing, on par with some of the better independent restaurants in the city. The location is also very convenient for tourists, even those who aren’t staying at the Marriot. If you want to spend part of your Thanksgiving checking out the French Quarter, this restaurant will be the perfect place to get a meal. The restaurant is named after the hotel’s street address—555 Canal Street—and routinely receives amazing reviews.
Every year they have a special Thanksgiving Day feast that’s not to be missed, though you will be sorry if you don’t make reservations ahead of time. While you’re at it, why not see if you can book a room at the Marriot for Thanksgiving weekend? Some people aren’t fond of chain hotels, but the New Orleans Marriot is really a cut above the rest, with reasonable rates and a central location in the French Quarter. Besides that, the views from many of the rooms are amazing, and the hotel is a great choice both for families and single travelers. If you don’t already have a hotel room booked, this place is worth checking out.
4. Thanksgiving Hotel Packages
Unfortunately, the Marriot isn’t among those hotels that offer special Thanksgiving packages. Those are, however, very common, both in New Orleans and elsewhere, and they’re a great way to save money. Who wouldn’t want to get a great hotel room at a low price—and on one of the busiest travel weekends of the year, too? Packages start being advertised as early as September, so it’s easy to plan ahead and save money.
If that’s something you’re interested in, you may want to consider the Country Inn & Suites’ ‘Gobble Up the Savings’ package, which enables you to stay in a gorgeous French Quarter hotel for a fraction of the usual price. Alternatively, you may also want to check out the Royal Sonesta ‘TGIF! Thank Goodness It’s Fall’ package. Sonesta deals are famous among frequent travelers, and Thanksgiving is as good a time as any for you to get in on that action. Save money by staying at one of these hotels, and you’ll have more to spend on other activities.
5. Black Friday Shopping
What might those activities be? There are a variety of things to do both on Thanksgiving Day itself and during the rest of the weekend. Like everywhere else in America, Black Friday shopping is popular in New Orleans, especially in the French Quarter. Check out the shops there for a Black Friday shopping experience that you won’t get anywhere else. One great place for tourists to check out is French Quarter Gifts on St. Peter Street—this is the ideal location to pick up presents for all those friends and relatives who didn’t get to go on your New Orleans vacation with you. While you’re at it, why not get a head start on your Christmas shopping as well? Everyone will love the unique gifts you’ll bring back from New Orleans’ French Quarter.
6. Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots
Race fans may be interested in a time-honored New Orleans Thanksgiving tradition: spending the day at the Fair Grounds Race Course and Slots. New Orleans loves its horses, and this is one of those Thanksgiving events where you’ll see far more locals than tourists. That being said, as long as you love the racing scene, you’ll fit in just fine, and you may want to make it a tradition of your own. Traditionally, Thanksgiving Day is also opening day, but in recent years, Fairgrounds has been opening about a week earlier, so if you’re in town ahead of time, you may want to check the schedule.
Do keep in mind that if you plan on attending Thanksgiving Day, you’ll need a reservation—no exceptions. The price of the reservation will include a phenomenal Thanksgiving meal in the clubhouse; people say that it’s on par with what you’d get in a nice restaurant. If you can’t get a reservation, or if you’d simply prefer to spend less money sitting in the grandstands, a Thanksgiving buffet is traditionally offered. Besides the food, the Thanksgiving Handicap is eighty-nine years old and never disappoints, featuring top sprinters and tens of thousands of dollars in cash prizes year after year. For a slightly unusual Thanksgiving activity, this can’t be beat. Some locals go back year after year; you may be tempted to do so as well.
7. The Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade
Thanksgiving Day parades are a time-honored American tradition, but why watch one on TV when there’s one taking place right in New Orleans? It may not be the most impressive parade in the country, but it’s still fairly new, and indisputably on the rise. In a couple years, we fully expect that this parade will be one of the country’s classics, and you’ll be able to say that you were there at the beginning.
The Bayou Classic Thanksgiving Day Parade has only run since 2011, but it’s already becoming an essential part of the New Orleans Thanksgiving Day scene. Running from the Mercedes-Benz Superdome to the French Market, the parade showcases amazingly decorated floats, talented marching bands, and everything in between. It’s hands-down the most exciting free activity in New Orleans on Thanksgiving Day, and it can give many pricier events a run for their money, as well.
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