New Orleans: A vibrant party town full of beautiful architecture, delicious food, and a wild history. This Southern town has something for everyone, and even those not interested in the party scene will still take something away from this stunning city.
Where to Stay:
I loved that we stayed outside of the French Quarter at the end of the St. Charles Streetcar Line. The Streetcar is a fun and affordable way to get around. For $1.25 you can ride the Streetcar all the way to the beginning of Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Uber’s are also relatively inexpensive in the city, so it’s pretty easy to get around.
I was glad to stay outside of the crazy French Quarter (stay on Bourbon Street for a seriously authentic experience, but warning: you might be kept up all night!).
We stayed in the most adorable Airbnb. Our backyard casita was nestled among the Oak trees and came with everything we needed, including a gorgeous pool in the well-decorated backyard. There are several adorable Airbnb’s around the city, all reasonably priced.
When I return, I want to stay somewhere on Magazine Street. This 6 mile long street is home to some of the best boutique-ey shopping in NOLA, making it the perfect place for me.
Where to Eat:
New Orleans has AMAZING food. Seriously, the best. I wanted to try it all (and I definitely achieved that). Prepare to be over-stuffed and seriously happy.
I loved the food we had in the French Quarter. Let’s start with the most important- the Beignet. I’m sure you’ve heard of the most famous spot for a coffee and a beignet, Cafe Du Monde. However, my amazing local friend, Ria, took me to her fave spot, Cafe Beignet. I loved that we could avoid the touristy vibe, and instead grab some inexpensive beignets and listen to some beautiful live jazz. I also suggest grabbing a Daiquiri here (in a to-go cup since you can walk through the French Quarter with open containers, yay!). I was surprisingly really into the daiquiris from Cafe Beignet. Don’t skip it!
On the more touristy side, but not to be missed is Oceana Grill in the French Quarter. This historic spot is where yours truly became obsessed with Red Beans & Rice (holy cow this is good). This is the most comforting bowl of goodness ever. Ria loves the Blackened Chicken Po-Boy (but all their po-boys are good). Can’t go wrong! Be sure to save room for dessert, because their dessert selection is to die for. We scarfed down a slice of the Bourbon Caramel Bread Pudding- a dessert that NOLA is known for. I’ve never tasted anything so good. Must try!
I highly recommend ordering the classics when in New Orleans: Beignets, Bread Pudding, Crawfish Etouffe in the Spring (Crawfish Season baby!), Gumbo, Po-Boys, Fried Chicken, oh the list goes on… You’ll gain 5 lbs but it’s SO WORTH IT.
Another place that I came across and absolutely loved was Drip: The Affogato Bar. If you’ve never had an Affogato, you’re missing out. An Affogato is traditionally a scoop of vanilla ice cream topped with a shot of espresso. However, this place allows you to make your own affogato. So, even if you’re not into coffee, you’ll find something you love (promise). This chic spot was delicious!
Although not what one thinks when they think of food in New Orleans, Dat Dog is an absolute MUST. The best hot dog I have ever had (think juicy dog with a brioche-like bun), the Chipotle of Hot Dog shops allows you to customize your dog to your liking. This is the perfect late-night drunchie, and there’s a shop on Frenchman Street, not far from Bourbon.
What to Do:
New Orleans is a city full of activities. It seemed like there wasn’t enough time to do everything we wanted to do, but we tried to fit in as much as possible. **Pro Tip** bring comfy walking shoes. Seriously. We walked around 4-5 miles/ day and I was sooo glad I had a variety of comfy shoes to choose from.
Walk down Bourbon with a Hand Grenade from Tropical Isle: There’s nothing more traditionally NOLA than walking down the lively Bourbon Street with a drink in your hand. New Orleans loves a good blended drink, so opt for either a hand grenade (classic) or select a fun daiquiri flavor from one of the many bars that you’ll run into on the strip. Take in the music, the costumes, and the beads hanging from every balcony.
Watch the dueling Pianists at Pat O’Briens (and enjoy a Hurricane): Enjoy a show at the birthplace of the Hurricane. This fun spot is a great place to hear some live music and get rowdy. **Pro Tip** drink your Hurricane slowly- it’s jam packed with several types of liquors, guaranteed to get you feeling some kinda way!
Take a Ghost Tour: I am not usually a tour person, but I couldn’t pass up a creepy ghost tour (*disclaimer* wasn’t actually scary, don’t get too excited). We took the “Bad Bitches of NOLA” tour, and we had a blast. Our tour guide was so into it, and made a point of showing us all the crazy slashing maneuvers that these badass ladies used back in the day. It was a great way to learn more about the city, but also get to hear about some crazy murders.
Enjoy the Art Market on Frenchman Street: Only a 10 minute walk from the end of Bourbon, Frenchman Street is the lesser known party place, full of locals, jazz bands playing in the street, and a little art market, open late.
Visit a colorful art gallery on Magazine Street: There are tons of perfectly curated galleries on Magazine Street, the 6 mile long bougie shopping street in NOLA. We fell in love with Ashley Longshore’s galley. This colorful room is chocked full of giant plastic lolipops, sequin couches, and laugh-out-loud posters that I am dying to put into my future home.
Take the St. Charles Streetcar and ogle at the beautiful mansions: Make sure to have $1.25 in change, hop on, and enjoy. The open air streetcar is such a cool experience, and it’s a beautiful ride. Put your phone down and enjoy!
Enjoy the nightlife, eat the food, and bring out all your ‘sirs’ and ‘maams.’ You’re southern-living now!
While you’re here, follow me on the gram to see other travel ideas @harpergreylifestyle.