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.


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.

we then walked along magazine street and went to try the donuts at district donuts. YUM! and the people were so sweet there.

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!

then we tried booty’s street food just around the corner and just checked out the country club pool/bar. it’s so hot there, no wonder they have that!

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!


1. drinks at the napoleon house
2. dinner at sylvain
3. wine & music at bacchanal
4. st. roch market & wandering the bywater
5. strolling through the garden district

photos by designlovefest, sponsored by follow your nola. all opinions are my own.


Add your own

    Allison says:

    LOVE this post, as someone who lives in NOLA but is super new to the area it is so fun to see an outsiders perspective on things to do!
    Allison from Mercuteify

    Danielle says:

    Oh my gosh, I have to go to NOLA now. It looks amazing! So much color and culture! Looks like my city spirit animal.

    Danielle | D is for Dreamer

    Iquo says:

    I love these pictures! They are gorgeous! You make me wanna get on a plane right now!!!!!!! Thanks for sharing this!

    Ooooh there’s lots I never saw that you did! Great suggestions for next time.

    I’d also pop in the suggestion for drinks at Bar Tonique which is off the Bourbon Street craziness but not TOO far off. It’s not super fancy but cool and dark in there and the drinks are sooo crafty.

    that carousel bar is incredible! i’d love to travel to nola some day.

    Helen says:

    New Orleans is on my travel list and I hope to be able to make the trip sometime in the near future! I loved looking through all your pictures and reading through your recommendations. The carousel bar looks so cool! I also thought the story about your uber driver was very touching and I’ll definitely be watching it on Hulu.


    Kara says:

    I love this post and love NOLA! I am obsessed with all the colorful buildings and doors 🙂

    I wrote a similar city guide blog post on my exploration of NOLA last year: http://suitcase-heart.com/home/2014/1/11/new-orleans


    Mima Isono says:

    I love those pictures, nice composition. That green colour window stands out. I’m so obsess with colourful windows and doors.

    Mima |Tokyo Blogger |http://tiptoeingworld.com

    Annica says:

    My boyfriend and I are taking a trip there next week. Definitely going to add your suggestions to our list!


    Dawn says:

    Thank you for loving our city.

    Lori Hil says:

    Such fun pictures. I adore that carousel ba!

    Susan says:

    I’ve visited NOLA many times and always look for new places to try! Thanks for your recommendations!
    And I love the music on Frenchman also!

    Beth says:

    OMG that bar with the carousel #dying


    joani d says:

    The guy from Trouble The Water is an Uber driver now? Wow! And how random you’d end up in his car — what a random, perfectly NOLA moment.

    Casey says:

    Aw, I went to New Orleans maybe two months ago with 3 of my closest college gals and had SUCH a good time and this post is making me so nostalgic already, haha! We had so much fun at all those places you went to– how good was the fried alligator at Cochon, right?! And now I’ve got a few more spots on my list for next time thanks to you. If/when you go back I think you’d adore Cane & Table. Amaaaazing decor, amaaaaazing drinks, and a really love staff. Thanks for always doing such a great travel posts! They must be time consuming but from a reader’s perspective, they’re SO worth it.

    The last time I visited New Orleans was with my family and I was but a tiny little kid, so I don’t remember much. What a pity! I’ll have to make another trip. Really loving all the colorful buildings 🙂 And it looks like you got some really delicious food! No better way to experience a place than through the stomach 🙂 -Audrey | Brunch at Audrey’s

    TAMAR says:





    Cristina says:

    I’m going next month! I’m going to do ALL OF THESE THINGS!

    Mia says:

    Great post and awesome photos … everything is so colorful and incredibly fun. Thank you for sharing this experience with us. 🙂

    nenad says:

    What a great photos, what a great city!

    Obiraf says:

    Thanks! And again … thank you for loving our city…

    Sasa says:

    Beautiful pictures with beautiful colors.

    Valerie says:

    Where did you say?

    Peter Quigley says:

    You look great. Thanks for nice pictures. I will be in New Orleans next summer and i will try to copy your route, it looks interesting. I want to add all this places on travel map on http://well-way.com and optimize this route for me.

    Ashten says:

    My aunt have visited New Orleans for the past year now for a girls trip. We are heading back in March for my 30th pre birthday celebration and will be checking out a few of the places you went. We loved napoleon house and conveniently found a vrbo right down the way from there. Great blog, look forward to more pictures and stories.

    george meese says:

    Interesting analysis . Incidentally , if your company wants a DA 2446 , my business partner came across a sample document here https://goo.gl/ijpUEw.

    All great spot to visit… but you forgot to join us in the swamps!

    Really nice place. Very interesting. Great text!

    Kim G says:

    your pics are lovely

    Dreamface says:

    I want to visit all of them!!

    With Love

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