During our cross-country roadtrip (read more about it here), one of the cities I had the most trouble deciding whether to visit was New Orleans. I had read on many blogs and city guides that the Big Easy is one of hardest US cities to explore with your pooch, because the most common tourist activities there are not quite enjoyable for a dog. For example: bar hopping along Bourbon Street surrounded by drunken loud people, enjoying live jazz at crowded music clubs along Frenchman Street, taking cooking classes in an indoor kitchen, hopping on a boat for a swamp tour, among others.
Though I can confirm that none of those popular activities are quite ideal with a dog, we were able to find equally fun alternative activities that were dog friendly, and had as much fun as we would have had without Lion. So next time you consider visiting NOLA with your furry friend, I say… Do it!
And if you do find yourself in NOLA with your pooch, below are some of the places we recommend you check out (most of the places are in French Quarter and Garden District areas).
Dog friendly things to do in New Orleans
NOLA City Bark (10 Magnolia Dr, New Orleans / website): Having lived in in NYC for all of our pawrent-ing life so far, we grew used to tiny strips of fenced concrete New Yorkers called “dog parks”. So naturally, we were absolutely shocked (and delighted!) to see this 4.6 acre space entirely dedicated to dogs within the New Orleans City Park! There was a walking path around the park, a “fire hydrant” themed water fountain activated by the (human) push of a button, and a small agility area. Lion absolutely loved it there. A huge bonus, that we haven’t seen anywhere else, is that NOLA City Bark strictly enforces vaccination of all dogs and also provides a super comprehensive guide for appropriate dog and human behavior in the park. We truly appreciated that, and were more at ease knowing that all other pups and humans there had to go through the same vetting and education process. The only downside is that a permit is required to access it, though the fees are far more than reasonable ($55/year of $10/week for temporary visitors) for such a well maintained and thoughtfully managed dog park!
Self guided walking tour of French Quarters (Tours generally start in front of Jackson Square): Depending on your pup’s size and temperament, it might be either super easy to sneak them into a group walking tour or an impossible feat. For us, it was the latter, but that is okay because there are so many self guided walking tours you can find online for free (here is one option). Most of French Quarter is dog friendly, with the exception of Jackson Square, and below we have some shopping and food suggestions in the area.
Self guided walking tour of Garden District (Tours generally start around the historic Lafayette Cemetery at 1427 Washington Ave, New Orleans): As with French Quarter, you may choose to do a guided walking tour, or just go on your own little adventure (we used this one, but there are many others).
Southern Paws (633 Toulouse St, New Orleans / Facebook page): This is a cute pet store with NOLA themed products and treats, and also some curated nationally available products. We got some NOLA themed treats for Lion and NOLA themed gifts for friends dogs, and in general just enjoyed stopping by this dog friendly store in French Quarter with Lion!
Zele (2841 Magazine St, New Orleans / website): If you’re looking for souvenirs, skip the French Quarters tourist traps, and come to Zele in Garden District instead! This indoor market boasts 100 local artists, creators and entrepreneurs that sell their products here – ranging from cajun seasoning to artwork. Bonus: Your pooch is welcome here!
Moonwalk Riverfront Park (800 Decatur St, New Orleans): While you’re in French Quarter, make sure to visit Moonwalk Riverfront Park to check out America’s largest river – Mississippi River. The concrete steps facing the river was a nice spot for us to sit down and rest, and the reasonably priced French Market parking is next to it for those that have a car!
Defend New Orleans – DNO (1101 First Street, New Orleans / website): A super hip and alternative-trendy store, that sells books, accessories, and apparel under one roof in the Garden District. This reminded me of shops along Bedford St in Williamsburg or along Smith St in Cobble/Boerum Hills in Brooklyn.
Dog friendly eats & drinks in New Orleans
Royal House Oyster Bar (441 Royal St, New Orleans / website): One thing I’ve learned is to always double check when Yelp / Foursquare claims a restaurant is dog friendly! We must have stopped by 5 “dog friendly” restaurants, before landing on an actual dog friendly (and wonderful!) restaurant – Royal House Oyster Bar in the heart of French Quarter. The restaurant not only allows dogs on both its first floor street tables and its second floor outdoor balcony tables, but it also allows dogs indoors (at least when we went!). The menu features Cajun classics at reasonable prices; the food is solid, and service is friendly.
Urban South Brewery (1645 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans / website): Unless your pup likes to be surrounded (and potentially stepped on) by loud, drunk people, on a dirty street, we highly recommend you check out Urban South Brewery for your drinking needs instead of Bourban St! We found this gem on a particularly rainy day, and hung out with a drink (or two… or three) in their warehouse-turned-taproom full of picnic tables, old-school arcade games, and a bookshelf of books. The taproom is extremely spacious, fully covered, and comes with free Wifi. We couldn’t help but think that if this taproom was in New York City, it would be overflowing with people!
Dat Dog (3336 Magazine St, New Orleans / website): If you find yourself in Garden District, definitely stop by Dat Dog for a snack, drink or meal. This restaurant specializes in – you guessed it – hot dogs! But not just any hot dogs, Dat Dog makes hot dogs with alligator and crawfish sausages (if that’s too exotic for you, they also have your regular order of beef sausages). The highlight is surprisingly not the food here, but the beautiful backyard style seating complete with string lights.
Cafe Du Monde – French Quarter (800 Decatur St, New Orleans / website): Yes, you can enjoy New Orleans’ famous beignets with your pup! Although the French Quarter location is not technically dog friendly, your pup can sit just outside the fence while you sit at a table along the fence.
Sucre (Various locations / website). Instead of just watching you eat, your pup can now eat with you! Sucre is a dessert shop that happens to make a dog friendly sugar-free peanut butter + bacon gelato flavor (is a pup friendly gelato called a… “pupelato”?) for your pup to enjoy. Lion loved it, but we tried it ourselves and found it to be particularly bland, so recommend the humans to order something else from their extensive menu for themselves. The shop itself is unfortunately not dog friendly, so your dog will have to wait outside with you while someone else walks in to order. I really hope Sucre puts in some dog friendly tables!
Trenasse (444 St Charles Ave, New Orleans / website): Perfect for a rainy day! Although many restaurants have outdoor seating, few are covered, and even fewer keep the tables out when it rains. Trenasse was one of the very few restaurants serving local cuisine that allowed us to dine outdoors on a rainy day with Lion! They serve local cuisine, which was solid while being reasonably priced, unlike some other hotel restaurants we’ve been to.
Cochon Butcher (930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans / website): You can’t say you’ve been to NOLA, if you haven’t tried a muffaletta – ideally one from Cochon Butcher! In their words, they are a “butcher shop, a sandwich counter and a wine bar” part of award winning Louisiana Chef David Link’s restaurant empire. Their sandwiches are definitely on the pricier side, but oh so worth it, especially their muffaletta. The sour and sweet olive salad paired with house meat between a warm sicilian roll, makes the long wait worthwhile. The indoor area is not dog friendly, but they have two outdoor tables up front that allows dogs.
Craft Beer Cellar (2801 Magazine St, New Orleans / website): Did you know that there are only seven states in the US that allow you to enjoy your alcoholic beverage in public, and that includes Louisiana? In NOLA specifically, you are allowed to do so as long as you drink your alcoholic beverage from a plastic cup (I imagine, for safety purposes). If you are in Garden District, absolutely stop by Craft Beer Cellar to check out their local and international beer selection with your pup (they let us bring our dog into the store!), and grab some to go. They even provide plastic cups at the cashier for free, so you can enjoy your beer legally while strolling on the streets of NOLA!
Cochon (930 Tchoupitoulas St, New Orleans / website): We tried to have lunch here one day, but even though they had outdoor seating – the staff did not let us sit there due to weather forecast predicting rain (despite us calling a few hours prior and confirming that they were – sigh, that is a separate story). Normally, the outdoor tables are dog friendly. Good thing they turned us away, because we went to Cochon Butcher next door for the best muffaletta I’ve ever had!
Dog friendly places to stay in New Orleans
New Orleans KOA (11129 Jefferson Highway, River Ridge / website): Since we were traveling in our campervan, we stayed at this KOA, which definitely felt more like a large private parking lot in a suburban neighborhood than a typical KOA campsite. Having said that, the bathrooms were clean, we felt safe in the “campsite”, and price per night was extremely affordable, so we highly recommend it to budget travelers. Also, French Quarter is only a 30 minute drive away!
French Quarter RV Resort (500 N Claiborne Ave, New Orleans / website): We didn’t stay here, but have heard great things about this RV park close to French Quarter.
Airbnb: Search for dog friendly homes using the “pet friendly” filter!
Hotels: Search for dog friendly hotels using “pet friendly” filters on your favorite hotel booking website!
Now tell us… What are your favorite dog friendly places and activities in New Orleans?