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How to Celebrate a Birthday in New Orleans

Photo: Rebecca Todd

Another orbit around the sun is just cause for a birthday celebration, and New Orleans is one of the prime locations in our solar system for such a celebration. Whether you take vacation time from work or save the party for the weekend or an extra day off, we’ve got just the right plans for you.

New Orleans Birthday Itinerary

To be frank, it is far from difficult to find ways to celebrate a birthday in New Orleans. In a city known for its delectable food and high-quality music, both are just facts of life here found at every turn. And, at last count, New Orleans boasts 130 different festivals throughout the year. If your birthday celebration happens to fall on, say, French Quarter Festival or during Carnival season, by all means ditch this itinerary, at least in part, and take to the streets for some revelry. Otherwise…

district donuts
District Donuts.Sliders.Brew (Photo: Paul Broussard)


First things first: coat your stomach with a hearty breakfast or brunch. Start off your birthday party at District: Donuts.Sliders.Brew with donuts (or better yet a donut sandwich), the hot chicken and honey butter French toast biscuit, or a boudin and cream cheese kolache. If you are more interested in a traditional brunch, head to Katie’s for lemon ricotta pancakes or a cochon de lait (suckling pig) beignet and bottomless mimosas. For a dramatic start to the day’s celebrations, make reservations for a drag brunch.

Drag Diva Brunch at the Fillmore. (Photo: Jennifer Devereaux)


Spend the day exploring local breweries and taste-testing new beers at on-site taprooms. To check out multiple breweries, plan a crawl starting at NOLA Brewing, then heading to Urban South, and ending at Port Orleans. Not much of a beer drinker? Order some cocktails and relax amidst the ambiance at the Elysian Bar, or enjoy the view from the roof of the Ace Hotel’s Alto, either from the bar or poolside if it is warm out.

Alto at the Ace Hotel (Photo: Paul Broussard)

If you prefer something more low-key, be sure to check the festival calendar. Local markets are also held throughout the year and often feature live music. Check out the Freret Market (first Saturday of the month) and Palmer Park Arts Market (typically the last Saturday of the month). You can celebrate with an afternoon outside browsing local crafts and listening to live music.


Dinner is a culminating event for any birthday celebration, whether that means a fancy restaurant or something more low-key. Meril, an Emeril LaGasse restaurant, is popular with locals. Try the lobster cannelloni or the char-grilled Korean short ribs before moving onto dessert where you can celebrate with cotton candy and a sparkler. Toups Meatery offers Louisiana fare from a chef whose family has lived in the state for 300 years. Get started with the meatery board, a selection of house-made fresh and cured meats and condiments, and be sure to order a side of boudin balls. For the main course, order the braised oxtail with sweetbreads, fingerling potatoes, and red pepper or the venison with caramelized onion barley, horseradish creme fraiche, fruit mostardo.

Chef Emeril opened his newest restaurant, Meril, around the corner on Girod and Magazine Streets from his flagship restaurant Emeril in late 2016. Meril’s menu focuses on casual, share-able plates of small format dishes meant to be shared.

After dinner, treat yourself to birthday cake at Bakery Bar or ice cream at Creole Creamery.

After dessert, venture out to a play, comedy show, live music, or other performance. Check the calendars for the Saenger Theatre, the AllWays Lounge, the Joy Theater, the Civic Theatre, the Marigny Opera House, and the Music Box Village.

Late Night

Nighttime is best for catching live music. Tipitina’s is an old favorite. Alternatively, pop into almost any music club on Frenchman Street (check out Buffa’s) or St. Claude Avenue (try Kajun’s Pub).

stoop kids tipitina's
The Stoop Kids at Tipitina’s. (Photo: Jeffrey Dupuis)


This itinerary is clearly geared towards adults. To celebrate a child’s birthday in New Orleans, you can take said child the fabulous, new Louisiana Children’s Museum. If they are thirsty for more, treat them to dinner at Deanie’s Seafood and then gelato at Angelo Brocato’s. For the night owls, catch a movie at the Prytania Theatre.

Emily Ramírez Hernández is the child of New Orleans natives whose families have been in the city for generations. Emily's earliest memories of New Orleans include joyful car rides over bumpy streets, eating dripping roast beef po-boys at Domilise's, and catching bouncy balls during Mardi Gras parades with cousins. An urban planner by day and freelance writer by night, when she is off the clock she enjoys biking around town, belly dancing, and catching nerdlesque shows.

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