New Orleans, Louisiana. A city of its own culture. I’ve visited the Big Easy three times now and each time is better than the last. This time, Chris and I were visiting with our friends, Vern and Peyton. Out of the group, I was the only one who was very familiar with the city, so I did a lot of the recommendations and directions on where to go.
We left Pittsburgh on Wednesday, early evening and by the time we arrived at our hotel, it was time to order some food and get some sleep for a busy first full day of exploring.
Thursday consisted of exploring the city and showing my friends some of the famous sites and spots, such as Jackson Square, Bourbon Street (of course) and everything in between. We had a wonderful, quick breakfast at The Daily Grind, a coffee shop attached to our hotel. For late lunch, we stopped at We Dat’s Chicken & Shrimp for a quick bite. Later that evening, Vern had reserved spots for go karting for the boys’ birthdays who had just passed, which was super fun to watch. We later went to grab some authentic New Orleans dinner at Deanie’s Seafood before exploring Bourbon Street later that night. We got the chance to see what a thunderstorm looks like down south as well, because on our walk home, it was a downpour. Like… rainwater as high as the sidewalks. Crazy.
On Friday, we went to breakfast at Cafe Beignet on Bourbon Street, which was absolutely delightful. There was live music, string lights, all outdoor seating and delicious food. It was a great start to the day. We then explored the surrounding areas of Jackson Square where there is an outdoor mall of sorts. We were told there were ice cream daiquiris at the Gazebo Cafe and I knew I needed to have one. The creamsicle was absolutely to die for. After cooling off back at the hotel, we decided to grab a snack at a shop down the street since we didn’t have much time before we needed to meet up for our haunted pub crawl tour.
When in NOLA, I highly recommend taking a haunted tour of some sort. When I was there four years ago, we did a “sober” tour and our tour guide was DJ Hayes, and I adored him. When he gave out his business cards at the end, I took one and told myself that we’d use him for another tour when I would inevitably be back. And that’s exactly what I did. He has such a dry sense of humor, which our group loves, and he’s so unbelievably smart. The amount of knowledge he has in his head is incredible. We went around to a number of haunted bars, such as Molly’s at the Market (famous for their frozen Irish Coffee) and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (famous for their Voodoo Daiquiri) as well as a few famously haunted landmarks such as Lalaurie Mansion and Sultan’s Palace. It was a very cool tour with lots of weird and crazy stories. I highly recommend the tours and DJ!
Per DJ’s recommendation, we went to Frenchmen Street for the rest of the evening to check it out. To quote the words of DJ, “Bourbon Street is the same party every night. Go to Frenchmen. It’s where us locals go.” Most of the places were already packed, had a cover and their kitchens were closed. But it was a cool vibe and I’d definitely go there again. The best talent in the city plays there, according to DJ. We were all starving so we chose to go to NOLA Po boys and hang out there for little before calling it a night. The food was bomb. On the way back to the hotel, we stopped for some gelato (cause if you know me, I cannot resist some good gelato) at a place on Canal Street called Amorino. Let me just say… I haven’t had gelato that was almost on par with what I had on my trip to Italy. I got raspberry and I can still taste it.
Our Saturday started out with an adventure to the swamp. This is yet another tour I highly recommend you take on a trip to New Orleans as it’s just as much a part of the culture as experiencing Bourbon Street and eating the delicious seafood sold everywhere. We had booked an airboat tour and our guide was Corey, who was also a really cool guide. He has years of swamp experience and knows where the gators hang out and has a special relationship with some of them, mirroring of the late Steve Irwin. He brought the gators to our boat so we could see them up close, which was such an awesome experience. When he took us to where Mama gator hangs out, that’s when the real show started. He showed us the relationship and trust he has built with her and to see it before our own eyes was unbelievable. He brought her to the boat, gave her a nose kiss, and proceeds to bring her up next to us on a mini dirt island of sorts. She was closer than I’d ever like to be to a gator, lol. But he did a great job handling her and making sure we were all safe. Absolutely incredible experience. The swamp is so vast, you’d think you’re in a completely different area. But it’s only about a half hour drive from the city.
After our swamp tour, we made our way down to Jackson Square to grab some lunch at the French Market Restaurant. Walking by, it smells like seafood. I’d had fried crawfish tails for just about every meal thus far and this was the first time I was able to find boiled crawfish. It hit the spot, I can tell you that. Delicious. Everything I wanted on the trip 🙂 we then made our way back to the hotel for showers, naps and getting ready for another night on the town.
Our evening began at Hotel Monteleone, which you may recognize as the Carousel Bar. It’s another haunted landmark, but the bar is literally made out of a carousel. It moves just the slightest bit and it’s just super cool. We then made our way to Bourbon, where it was expectedly nuts, where we spent some time before deciding to find a more chill bar to hang out at. We ended up at an Irish pub called Erin Rose, located on a street adjacent to Bourbon, where it was much more laidback and more our vibe.
Our last partial day was Sunday, where we had to catch our flight around 6pm, so we spent the day doing things we had yet to do, such as souvenir shopping and stopping places for more photos for yours truly. We started our adventuring by heading a ways down Burgundy Street to The Ruby Slipper for breakfast. At the time, we were completely unaware of the distance, but made the trek anyway. It was kind of cool to see the more suburban side of the area that most people don’t get to see. We went into a few shops on the way back, one of which was Marie Laveau’s Voodoo Shop. Most of these places I’d been before and this was one of them. It was incredible to see yet again, especially since we started to watch the Coven season of American Horror Story recently.
And that is a summary of our trip to New Orleans! I’d tell anyone who hasn’t experienced this beautiful city, to visit. Like any city, it does have its ugly sides, especially the sheer population of homeless folks scattered everywhere. But putting that aside, it’s a beautiful, unique and antique city that should definitely be on your list of must-sees.
If you’re ever planning to visit and need some recommendations, I’m happy to assist! For the time being, check out a few of my favorite photos from the trip! the rest can be viewed on my Flickr portfolio below!