NEW ORLEANS TRAVEL GUIDE
i’ve been wanting to go to new orleans for a looooong time. it’s one of those U.S. cities on my bucket list that i just never got around to visiting. i was asked by the city of new orleans to come stay for 4 days and tell people my favorite things to do there. they are all about everyone having a different experience when they travel whether it’s families, young people, or even someone like me. they were super cool and let me plan the trip how i would like to plan it (and you guys were so helpful in that too!) so that i could genuinely tell you what i would recommend doing when you visit. so here it goes…
i brought my friend anna along (one of my long time best friends since i was 16 and my cali neighbor!) we stayed at the international house hotel. it was in a really great location, quiet but a very close walk to all the action in the french quarter. comfortable rooms and nice service. all the hotels in the area seemed to have a very traditional vibe to them. our first night we decided to just walk around the vibrant french quarter (new orleans’ oldest neighborhood) and get our bearings. i loved looking at all the historic architecture, plant filled balconies, and tiny charming alleys.
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we wanted to try classic new orleans cocktails while we were in town. we had a french 75 cocktail at arnaud’s french 75 off of bourbon street and a pimm’s cup at the napoleon house (we loved this place because it feels very authentic and like you were transported back in time!) we also stopped by the carousel bar, which actually spins around very slowly while you are seated.
our first dinner was sylvain. a few friends of mine told me about it, and they were spot on. we were tucked away on the jungle-like patio and loved everything we ordered. southern antipasti, chicken liver crostini, shredded brussels sprouts, the fish special, and moscow mules! definitely recommend this spot.
then we took an uber to the garden district (sadly the streetcar track that could take us there was under construction) it was so lovely walking through the streets and admiring all of the ginormous trees and beautiful southern homes. the humid air and green everywhere made it feel so tropical. we walked through lafayette cemetery no. 1 which was cool. and then we felt the raindrops coming…and then pouring down on us. we laughed and ran through the streets trying to find somewhere to duck into and wait out the rain. we found a local bar and talked it up with some people inside. the rain usually lasted only about 5-20 minutes each time it came down, which wasn’t so bad!
oh and we didn’t get to check out the columns hotel but heard it was awesome.
of course we had to see bourbon street while we were there! and while i did find it entertaining (street music, people partying everywhere, crazy characters) it was a little much for us. remember when i was in amsterdam and said king’s day wasn’t really my thing? same story here. i just prefer a more chill environment, and luckily there was a lot of places like that not far from bourbon street. but i saw it. checked off my list. we even got a hurricane from pat o’s (definitely a touristy spot, but it does have a nice patio)
i was really excited to explore the bywater neighborhood. we were told it was comparable to echo park in los angeles. less touristy and a more chill energy. they were right about that. one night we went to bacchanal wine, a cute backyard spot with live music, twinkling lights, delicious cheese platters and a very relaxed energy. we had a lot of fun that night just talking for hours with our rose in a bucket on our table. it’s a super casual place i’d recommend.
on our way home our uber driver was telling us all about how he and his family survived hurricane katrina. they didn’t have the means to leave town during the days before the storm, and so they were forced to hide out in the attic with others from their neighborhood as water rushed through their windows. it was so touching to hear his story and remember what people went through. him and his wife made a documentary about it called trouble the water that we watched on hulu once we got back to our hotel. it was very eye opening.
the next day we wanted to see bywater during the day and check some more places off of our list. we started with breakfast at elizabeth’s restaurant. i loved the shrimp and grits and i heard the praline bacon is out of this world!
we loved walking through the bywater neighborhood and looking at all of the brightly colored little houses. some parts of the area were run down, but still remained very charming.
we ended up at st. roch market (can you tell we were full yet?!) which was really great. they have lots of food vendors with a variety of options to choose from. i chose a red beans and rice platter with peeled gulf shrimp on the side. it was one of my favorite meals of the trip and i loved the all white interior!
our last night we had dinner at cochon (also heard that cochon butcher next door is amazing and more casual). the food was incredible, we tried fried alligator, beef cheeks (definitely the best thing we had there), lima beans, twice baked potato, and the beef entree. funny story there. i guess someone from the restaurant was a designlovefest reader and sent over the beef cheeks to be nice. the waiter i guess didn’t really understand what the blog was and just said this is for “somethin bout art?” i was confused and then realized he might mean my blog. and he just said “someone in the kitchen knows somethin bout your art?” haha. it was so funny and cute.
after dinner we checked out frenchmen street for the live music! the energy is definitely charged there (similar to bourbon street) but we did see a really talented jazz band at the club d.b.a. and enjoyed walking by the windows seeing people perform. they were are all about music in new orleans, just as you’d expect!
and then went home and went to sleeeeeeep. such a busy few days!
before we left on sunday we had a jazz brunch buffet at the court of two sisters, which had a beautiful patio and then tried the famous beignets at cafe du monde! (i also heard morning call has great beignets as well, but it’s a little further out)
i had SO much fun with anna. we were such compatible travel partners and seriously laughed the whole time. i’m so happy we could both experience this charming city together for the first time!
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photos by designlovefest, sponsored by follow your nola. all opinions are my own.