New Orleans has been on my bucket list for the longest time, so when I had a few days off I jumped on the opportunity to go! From the architecture, to the food, to the people, everything was beautiful. I can honestly say I have never had better (or more fried!) food in my life in the United States.
Some basics: like I always say, you really only need 3 days to see a city. We chose an early 6 AM flight out of NYC and returned on a 7 PM flight out of NOLA. This was enough time to cover a lot of ground, try a little bit of everything, but still leave things for our next trip. Also note, that the months of March and April is a festival season, so I really would love to head back for their French Quarter Festival in mid-April.
If you follow me, you know that I love to travel. But that always comes with price tag. I always always always do my research to make sure I am keeping it under a certain budget – this is where Airbnb and certain budget airlines come in play. After doing research, I found a perfect Airbnb which is actually a hotel/residential complex – central location, great amenities (touchscreen keypad to enter, pool, kitchen, couch areas, doorman/security to name a few). Direct Message me on Instagram or email me firstname.lastname@example.org so I can share the information!
Before heading to NOLA, I knew I did not want to go during Mardi Gras, because I wanted to explore the city as it was. I expected to eat good food, listen to great jazz, and see interesting architecture, but I was surprised how quickly I fell in love with the city. It has certain vibes of the old world, with a hint of Southern charm, with food that is unbeatable.
Our first stop was Elizabeth’s, known for their Southern style brunch menu, their Bloody Mary’s, and of course – their praline bacon. Elizabeth’s is located in a new, up and coming neighborhood, where you can tell houses more locals. Their praline bacon is bacon covered in peakon and sugar – so good!
We then walked through the town along Royal Street, hoping to stop by Studio Bee. Unfortunately, the art gallery opens at 2 PM, but placed it on my to-do list for when I go back! We then went to the French Quarter, using the Old Ursuline Convent as the starting point.
The architecture in the French Quarter was beautiful! Many houses had intrinsic cast iron work, vibrant colors, and various designs. We strolled up and down the streets, popping in and out of boutiques.
After exploring Jackson Square, we returned back to the Airbnb to check in. That night, we went to the Central Business District for dinner, and ate at Balise Tavern. I chose the fried chicken sandwich, and it was amazing. I liked the hip, trendy, vibe of the CBD district – there was an Ace hotel, and a Stumptown Coffee shop!
We ended the night at the famous Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone, the city’s only revolving bar. There, there is a 25-seat, bright, Merry-Go-Round carousel! One thing to note is NOLA’s open container friendly policy. What I thought was interesting was even in the most fanciest hotels/bars, there was plastic to-go cups for your drinks!
We started our second day by heading to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, followed by lunch at the famous Commander’s Palace.
Lafayette Cemetery is known for its rich history, and has multiple well-known people buried including the Mayfair Witches, Lafayette, and Jefferson firemen. Wanting to know more history, I found this informative site which gave us a step by step tour of the cemetery.
Located right next door, we went to Commander’s Palace for our lunch reservations. Known for their award-winning food and the atmosphere, it mixes Haute Creole cuisine with Louisiana charm. We got really lucky that their garden was open, and had the option to sit outside! Note: you need a reservation and there is a dress code of business casual (but dressing up is encouraged). We went with Chef Tory’s Classic Creole Luncheon which included Commander’s Turtle Soup, Molasses Glazed Texas Quail, and Creole Bread Pudding Soufflé. Everything was amazing, and if you choose to go I hope you choose to be adventurous with your food choices.
With our stomachs full, we walked to St. Charles Avenue and took the street car through the Garden District. Make sure that you have quarters, since one ride is $1.25! We took the street car a bit further than expected, and got off by Loyola. Driving down St. Charles, we were amazed by the beautiful homes lining the streets. We walked along Magazine Street, passing by cute cafes, boutiques, and fitness studios. Remember, ClassPass can be used everywhere! After seeing a few PJ’s Coffee around the city, we decided to recharge at the PJ’s on Magazine Street. Still full from lunch, we stumbled upon Raw Republic, an organic which also hosted a clean beauty store PopUp. Then, we took a street car to the American Horror Story home!
That night, we went to the Gumbo Shop. Half a block from Jackson Square, and around the corner from St. Louis Cathedral and the Cabildo, the Gumbo Shop is located within a carriageway. Decorated with murals of Mardi Gras and the French Market, it’s hard not to be amazed at the space. It reminded me of Pirates of the Caribbean in Disney! I chose the Chicken gumbo, which was selected by locals as the best Gumbo in the city! Unfortunately since it was so late and we went right before close, it was hard taking nice pictures, but take my word for it.
After, we walked to find some jazz! We walked through the French Quarter and went to the well-known Spotted cat jazz bar. Since there was some time to kill before the next set, we went to the outdoor market next door, where there were various local vendors selling jewelry, voodoo stuff, and paintings.
On our last day, we woke up super early to make the most of it! We headed straight to the famous Café du Monde, known for the beignets. Although there is always almost always a line (even though they’re open 24/7), I recommend sitting down and having your beignets, but if you are in a rush they have a to go line as well.
After having our beignets, we began to re-explore an almost empty French Quarter.
After exploring the French Quarter, we visited a few museums around Jackson Square. We first visited the Presbytère, which had exhibits on Hurricane Katrina and Mardi Gras. We then chose to go to the 1850 House, which depicts middle class family life during the most prosperous period in New Orleans’ history.
We could not go home without having a famous Po’Boy sandwich. Although a bit out of the way, we Uber’d to Parkway Bakery and Tavern, which is over 100 years old. Parkway Bakery invented the “Poor Boy” sandwich, which was created to feed the workers at the American Can Company. Be aware that there will be line, but it is so worth it! We waited almost an hour and a half, but met some of the nicest locals on line while waiting, who taught us how to properly order a Po’Boy – it is all about the bread they said, recommending the shrimp over other meat options, “dressed” and a bottle of root beer on the side!
Overall, we packed as much as we can in 3 days, but I can not wait to return to revisit, and visit new places in NOLA! Make sure to follow along on Instagram, and check out my Instagram story highlight where you can get a more behind the scenes look.