This travel journal post is long due, but New Orleans, Louisiana was one of my top favorite trips this year. Walking through this city felt like I was at Disneyland, I definitely want to go back! I’ve always wanted to cross this place off of my bucket list for one yummy reason; the food! However, there are a lot of other things to experience in this bright and colorful city.
Where to Stay: Crowne Plaza , New Orleans – Take advantage of IHG Points, we got a free upgrade to a suite! This hotel is located right on the most exciting streets in downtown. Set on the corner of Bourbon and Canal street, you’re very close to many great restaurants, bars, and of course the famous Bourbon Street. During our visit to New Orleans, we didn’t have to rent a car, call a taxi, or bike anywhere, everything was within walking distance from our hotel. Spoiled with upscale accommodations and access to a top floor balcony during the Mardi Gras parades made this hotel the right choice!
Places to Go
Jackson Square – Surrounding the square are a ton of local artists and musicians displaying their work, it was such a cool atmosphere to hear jazz playing while walking the streets. Here you can see President Jackson’s statue right in the middle of the square. You can purchase beignets from Café du monde right across the street, and then hang out in the grassy areas near the statue.
Mardi Gras – We were lucky to catch the last few days of the Mardi Gras season. There were non-stop parades going on and a lot of people were dressed up in creative costumes! My favorite memory was coming out of our hotel and there was a parade passing right through! During Mardi Gras, people on the parade floats toss so many things and beads at the audience! Be prepared to collect a ton of goodies, bring a large tote bag or a backpack to carry everything back to your hotel after the parade. There is a parade schedule online when the season comes, make sure to plan your day accordingly.
Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo – If you watched American Horror Story Season Three, you’ll be fan girling when you step through this shop. If you don’t plan on purchasing anything, it’s still a cool shop to browse through. You can’t leave New Orleans without visiting a voodoo shop. This tiny store is filled with random things from books, dolls, incense, rabbit feet, dream catchers and stones.
Where to Eat
If you plan to make this an epicurean trip, I highly suggest booking a food tour for New Orleans. Having sample tasting of food while learning about culture and history by foot is the best way to eat your way through the city. We booked a 3-hour tour with Destination Kitchen and were able to sample about 8 items, and to our surprise the portions were pretty large. We were stuffed by the end of the tour, by food and knowledge haha.
French Market – One stop on the tour was the French Market, but we decided to come back and visit to try other options. The French Market is composed of little cafes with countertop seating. One of the things we had to taste was Alligator jerky, a very unique meat. Near the Market was also a sweets shop with the best Pralines! The yummy, buttery melt in your mouth candy was something to die for!
Sucre – This was another stop on our food tour, this cute little dessert shop with a modern interior creates delicious French macarons, gelato, and decadent sweets.
Acme Oyster House – this was the last restaurant we visited before heading to the airport. We definitely saved the best for last. There was a line forming on the outside, so I suggest going during a non-busy time like 11am or 2-3pm. We ordered a dozen oysters, which tasted so fresh, some gumbo, which was perfect over rice, and Fried Oyster Po -Boy, which has so many flavors.
Beignets – If you can wait, Café du monte. We didn’t have time to wait in line for these famous beignets, so we went to another café on Bourbon St. Beignets is must have dessert while you’re in NOLA. It’s a deep-fried piece of dough, fluffy on the inside, topped with powdered sugar. Eat it warm and enjoy!
Red Fish Grill – This was our first restaurant we tried on first night in! One dish to highlight was the BBQ oysters! This is a must order, if you plan to stop by. Freshly shucked and fried with a dash of hot sauce and house-made blue cheese dressing makes the perfect combination of New Orleans flavors.
King Cake – Your Mardi Gras trip is not complete without trying a King Cake from one of the bakeries. Colored purple, yellow and green this traditional cake is made with cinnamon, sugar, and pecans!
Where to Drink
Bourbon St. – This street is the hot spot for night life. cheap drinks, good music, and bead throwing makes this the perfect way to celebrate Mardi Gras. It’s literally lined with bar and bar with drink specials, jello shots, and of course pizza for those late night munchies!
The Beach – This open-air bar had the best music! There is also a back house with a dancefloor and a stage where you can dance.
Hand Grenade – A top drink to try out while you’re on Bourbon St. is a Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle. A tall green souvenir cup with the bottom that looks like agrenade. This drink is definitely a creeper drink, it doesn’t taste that strong, but you’ll feel it!
Laffitte’s – Head all the way down Bourbon St and you’ll reach Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop. Supposedly this bar is haunted, so when you go late at night it does get a little creepy. It’s one of the oldest bars in America and it’s lit up with candlelight. The bartenders here make the best Hurricane drink, so try it out, plus you get a souvenir plastic cup.
Resurrection Drink – Stop by Spirits on Bourbon, home of the Resurrection mixed drink. We ordered two Resurrections and it came in these awesome skull shaped plastic cups with a blinking light on the bottom. With liquid inside it made the whole drink look like a glowing ball! There was an option to put jalapeno slices on top as well if you want a spicy kick!
Carousel Bar – Visit Hotel Monteleone to see the famous Carousel Bar & Lounge. You’ll be reminiscing about your childhood days if you get a seat on the revolving bar.
Wish we could’ve stayed longer, but here is our short list of places we visited during our stay! Till next time NOLA, definitely need to visit the swamps and do a Graveyard Tour.