Travel Guide: New Orleans Edition
-A city so ALIVE and VIBRANT, it practically sings-
Drenched in European architecture and atmosphere, it's a little piece of France on this side of the water, and the foodie city of your dreams. Your heart will thank you for experiencing the sweet adventure of New Orleans. So sit back, soak in this guide, and let me give you all the reasons you can't say "no."
Airbnb Of course. You all know this is my favorite way to go (aka it's cheap which makes traveling actually possible for us!!). We found a place in Mid-City, one block from the streetcar and only a few minute ride into downtown. The location couldn't have been better. And since we split it 3 ways it was only about $40 bucks a night. Here's the one we stayed at: Mid City Magic!
Henry Howard Hotel This is down in the quieter historic Garden District. It's a huge old mansion turned boutique hotel, and it would be one of those fairytale experiences of charm and luxury. I fell in love scrolling through their photos, so it's on my list for C and I to stop in their Parlor Room for a drink when we're there in a few weeks.
Ace Hotel Ok so when we first arrived in the city we went straight here to have lunch at Josephine Estelle. The restaurant was closed, but the hostess brought us up to their tucked away rooftop pool and bar, and I'm not sure I'll ever get over that Rose Mojito. This would be a super fun, modern deco kind of place to stay if it was ever in our budget.
Walk the streets! Jackson Square, French Quarter, French Market, the Bywater area... the cobblestone streets mixed with the most beautiful colored homes and historic architecture just make it all a dream. Your camera will be in heaven here.
Enjoy the street music, art, & activities. There is SO much going on around every corner that you're bound to stumble upon something unique and fun.
Bike through the Garden District to Magazine St. We rented bikes for the day from Arts District (the cheapest place I found and also kind of a hidden gem, ps. they are cash only). Once again, we felt like we were in a dream riding through our own mini "Europe," plus the Springtime breeze, flowers everywhere (!!!) Lizzie McGuire Movie songs were definitely sung, because obviously.
FREE wine tasting on Saturdays between 3-5pm at a local favorite, Bacchanal Wine. This was a haven tucked on the corner of the Bywater with live music and outdoor seating under huge oak trees, not to mention the wine and cheese plates.
Beignets!! Of course. It's also tradition to have a little bit of the powdered sugar blown in your face, for good luck ; ) The most famous is Cafe Du Monde, but we also really loved Cafe Beignet too. I mean basically just eat them everyday while you're there #worthit.
New Orleans is on point when it comes to food. You really can't go wrong no matter where you end up. But, if you're like me and appreciate a good atmosphere on top of good food, then this list is going to be right up your ally. (FYI you're probably not going to make it out spending less than $15 a meal. That's just NOLA prices for you).
District Donuts - $ We actually grabbed these as a snack mid-day since we were nearby. Because what's a trip without donuts?? Sylvain - $$ This was by far our favorite brunch. You have to walk down a covered brick ally to where it opens up to outside seating and their "front door." The atmosphere made you feel like you stepped back in time, and the food was AMAZING. We each ordered different things so we could try more from the menu, and we couldn't stop raving about it the rest of the day. Willa Jean - $$ This is also a must. Such a cute, bright space with good food and lots of fun drinks. The wait was long for brunch, but the window bar stools are first come first serve. So it only took about 10 minutes to grab an open seat. Red Dog Diner - $ Down in the Garden District. This was our last stop before we headed out of town. Cute little place with sidewalk seating.
Napoleon House - $ We passed by a few times but never made it in for a meal! It's on my list for next time though. A gorgeous little place on the corner near Jackson Square. Josephine Estelle - $$ This was the restaurant from Ace Hotel that we ended up on their rooftop! 100% would go again, it's like this bit of paradise that makes you feel the way vacation is supposed to. Paladar 511 - $$$ We ended up here after wine tasting at Bacchanal. It's a gorgeous space with elegant food and teeny portions... so if I went back I'd probably just go for a drink, enjoy the atmosphere and eat somewhere else not quite so pricey. It's worth peeking your head in though for the cool environment. Willie's Chicken Shack - $ Casually obsessed with this place. It's basically the Chick-fil-A of New Orleans. You can find them everywhere as you walk around, and it's SO GOOD. Brunch was our main meal of the day, so we'd skip lunch and kind of snack here and there. So when it was late and we wanted something before heading home for the night, Willie's was our highlight. Try it. Trust me.
Cavan- $ We had been riding bikes through the Garden District and needed a drink and some AC, so we stopped in here once we made it to Magazine St. This old house is now a beautiful restuarant with pitchers of sangria perfect for you and your friends to share. It's gorgeous and the food looked amazing. I'll be back for sure. Cane & Table - $ This was probably our most fun little pit stop. We had been walking around the French Quarters and knew we wanted to find the "coconut" drinks. The outdoor area with the colors and the latin music made you feel like you had stepped into a Cabo vacation. (And if you didn't know already, you can walk through the city with a drink in hand). So we got some punch to go in our coconuts, and headed back out to the music and the fun going on. Hotel Monteleone- $ The famous Carousel Bar! It moves ever so slowly, and it's probably a feat to actually get a spot at the bar. But it's so cool to see, and when there is a live jazz band you remember why New Orleans is the funnest.
Street Cars. We used the RTA GoMobile app, and bought a 3-day pass. You can hop on and off anytime you like, and we rarely waited more than 5-10 minutes. Definitely a must. Plus the old-timey trolly's are adorable.
Walk. We walked SO much, because it's the best way to really experience the streets of NOLA. Because everything is so lively and beautiful, we rarely realized how much we'd actually walked until the end of the day when our legs began to ache ; )
Bike. One of my most favorite things to do in any city. You get to see a lot more than you would otherwise and when you get to a point where you want to hop off and meander through stores etc, just lock it up on a lamppost and grab it again when you're ready. Like I mentioned, we got ours from here: Arts District Bikes
Uber. We took an Uber maybe twice, just when we were on the Bywater and too far to really walk back to our Airbnb.
And there you have it! If you have any other questions I'd be happy to answer them in the comments. I'm headed back in a few weeks with C, so if I missed any must-see NOLA places let me know! #XOXO
P.S. since this trip was a girl's weekend, I got to go overboard; aka making itineraries and swag bags (!!!) Here's a look at our not-so-structured weekend plans to maybe give you some inspiration in your own planning. (If you want this itinerary personalized for your own trip, send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org):