NOLA was on my travel list for a while and I finally get to cross it off! Well, finally, as in months ago… I am so, so late with this post. why do i find myself saying “better late then never” on every blog post recently?
One of my favorite travel partners-in-crime, Jess, and I went to NOLA last October and had the best time! While I think I kind of missed the boat on the perfect time to go to Bourbon Street (ahem, senior year of college when partying was top priority), we still had a great time visiting the city and exploring all that the French Quarter (and beyond) had to offer.
Our stay at the adorable Olivier House Hotel, which is a block from Bourbon Street and the
perfect walking distance to everything in the French Quarter, but on a street quiet enough for us to actually get some sleep!
Finding the NOLA Jazz Legends Park on Bourbon Street (aka our Bourbon Street “safe zone” where the drinks were strong and the atmosphere was chill).
Learning all about NOLA history on the Friends of the Cabildo walking tour. Sounds dorky (and maybe it is?) but it was kind of fun to hear about how New Orleans came to be.
Not one, but 2 ghost tours! We did the French Quarter Phantoms Ghost and Vampire Tour and the Haunted History Voodoo Tour.
Going to a Saints game! Football = Love
Touring Lafayette Cemetery.
Finding Zele NOLA, a Garden District shop full of local artisan work (all at very affordable prices).
Live music everywhere.
The most humane petting zoo I’ve ever been to (the animals even looked happy, which made me SO happy!).
Searching high and low for a monkey’s paw for Tall Guy. It was the only thing he requested I bring back, but little did we all know that they’re super rare and not at all cheap $$$… We did finally find one at Requiem Oddities, which Jess and I thought was a huge success, but all Tall Guy got was a picture of it (broke girls on a budget, and all that).
Food and Drink
Our very first meal- super late night dinner at Le Bayou on Bourbon Street.
What would a trip to NOLA be without a stop at Cafe Du Monde for beignets and chicory coffee?
Post-walking tour happy hour at Bourbon House (which was a recommendation from our tour guide).
Quick brunch at Petite Amelie (an extension of Cafe Amelie), which is very similar to your standard fancy coffee and pastry shop. My only wish of the trip is that this place was closer to our hotel, so every day could start with a delicious cappuccino and quick breakfast.
A fancy girls night meal at Bayona, our so, so worth it “splurge” meal of the trip.
And of course we had to try the frozen daiquiris… Our walking tour tour guide suggested Fat Tuesday, right on Bourbon Street, and it did not disappoint. Is this totally a tourist thing? Hell yes, but who’s complaining? Since NOLA’s loose open container laws allow for drinking in public, we made Fat Tuesday a regular stop so we could grab drinks and go about our adventures. #wheninrome
Brunch at Surrey’s Juice Bar in the Lower Garden District.
We made sure not to leave without trying some traditional NOLA flavors (with a twist- think char grilled oysters, shrimp & grits and jambalaya pasta) at Desire Oyster Bar. It’s right on Bourbon Street in the Royal Sonesta hotel, but don’t let that fool you- our food was out of this world delicious.
We stopped by the Salon by Sucre for some late night snacks and absinthe cocktails (where we both decided we don’t care for absinthe), and then had the best (and prettiest) dessert downstairs at Sucre.
I feel like we ate SO MUCH, but barely made a dent in the NOLA food scene. Everywhere looked good, and as we found out, you can’t judge a restaurant by its storefront, especially in New Orleans.
Skip the shuttle to/from the airport. We found out (after the fact, of course) that cabs are cheaper.
When in doubt, take Uber. It’s easy to walk around the French Quarter and even around the close outskirts (like Frenchmen Street, where the music scene really gets going), but if you want to travel beyond that, call a cab or get an Uber. We tried to take a trolley to the garden district, but ended up waiting at the wrong stop for a trolley that never came and finally gave up and got an Uber.
Definitely venture out of the French Quarter. We spent 3/4 of a day walking around the Garden District and also spent a night away from the Bourbon Street craziness in favor of live music craziness on Frenchmen Street.
Leave room in your suitcase for souvenirs- artwork abounds pretty much everywhere, so you’ll want to make sure you don’t leave something just because you don’t have a way to get it back home.
The moment Jess and I realized we were not in the same timezone as Philly (which may or may not have been on the airplane about 20 minutes before touching down in NOLA).
Booze-fueled snacking on beignets at Cafe Du Monde at 2 am. #doingNOLAright
The overnight front desk man at our hotel who was DEFINITELY a vampire.
The voodoo doll that was supposed to be mine, but was purchased by someone else instead. (hangs head in shame- still not over it!)
Jess and I learning the WHO DAT chant at the Saints game… We’re still not sure how to respond to it, though. #whodat #wedat?
I’d like to go back to New Orleans with Tall Guy, who would love the atmosphere, foodie culture and creepy voodoo history. I also think it would be the PERFECT place for a bachelorette party. Don’t be put off by the party persona the city has, though. There’s a lot of history to learn, music to hear, architecture to see and art to explore, so even if you’re not into partying that much (or at all), there’s still plenty to do!
Have you been to New Orleans or are you planning a trip there? Let me know in the comments!