4.12.2019 – 4.16.2019 || New Orleans| Louisiana
Since we had such a fun time in San Diego with my brother and sister-in-law a couple of years ago it was long overdue for another adventure. We selected New Orleans because of direct flights from our respective cities, most of us have never been there, the weather had to be warmer than our respective cities in April, and the promise of good food, drinks, and live music. We spent four nights and three full days in New Orleans and covered a lot of ground. Here is a recap of what we did!
We arrived late Friday afternoon and planned to check out the craziness of Bourbon street that awaited right around the corner from our hotel. We set out to explore before meeting up with friends who recently moved to New Orleans. They showed us around the French Quarter introducing us to their favorite watering holes and some of the local spots. Not many pictures from this evening…
Saturday morning started with beignets and cafe au laits at Cafe Du Monde near Jackson Square. We grabbed an order of beignets (3 per order) and some coffee to hold us over until our 11:30am brunch reservation. Do yourself a favor and have at least one french-style doughnut covered in powdered sugar while you are in New Orleans, you won’t regret it!
Caffeinated and covered in powdered sugar we headed towards the water to get a glimpse of the Mississippi River.
What a view of Jackson Square from the river!
Royal Street is a must see when in New Orleans so we checked it out before brunch. Many of the antique shops and gifts shops were just opening but there was plenty to explore in the colorful streets.
My favorite balcony was at the corner of Royal Street and St. Peter Street, just steps away from The Court of Two Sisters where we had brunch.
The scenes of New Orleans around the French Quarter did not disappoint.
We had no idea the weekend we planned to be in New Orleans overlapped with the French Quarter Festival. There were more than 20 stages throughout the French Quarter with live music and free admission! We checked out one of the main stages in Jackson Square after lunch and wish we had some tailgating chairs like many others in park!
The park was a great setting but I preferred the smaller stages in the middle of the street where you could grab a to go cup of champagne (or your beverage of choice) and hang out for a few songs.
One of the highlights of the trip for me was the champagne bar, Effervescence, that my sister-in-law discovered! We all had the “may all your pain be champagne” half flight but the real star of happy hour was an undocumented grilled half wheel of cheese. You MUST check this place out if you head to New Orleans.
One of RJ’s college roommates and his wife recently moved to New Orleans and planned to show us around their neighborhood and surrounding area on Saturday night. We met them on Frenchman Street for live music followed by dinner in Marigny.
With room for at least one more beignet we walked two blocks to Cafe Beignet for breakfast on Sunday. Their beignets were bigger and dough-ier than Cafe Du Monde’s. They tasted pretty similar to me so you are going to have to try both and pick a favorite if you are in New Orleans.
The big adventure for Sunday morning was an airboat ride and swamp tour with Airboat Adventures. This company came recommended by a local and lived up to the recommendation and ratings. The tour is ~30 minutes outside of New Orleans and comes with an option to add on transportation from/to the French Quarter.
There was plenty of time for a photo shoot with my selfie stick before the tour started…
We opted for a smaller boat that had a total of eight passengers and one local tour guide who was the driver.
It was a gorgeous day for exploring the swamps, looking for alligators. Our guide told us we might not see that many alligators since it was a brisk morning in the low 60s but we were hopeful and really just wanted to see a single alligator.
After cruising through some Cyprus trees we came across a huge alligator. I am still not convinced this alligator was real. I think they planted a fake one in case we didn’t find a real one in the swamp. We were still excited!
The next alligator we saw was little in comparison but definitely alive.
We spent a little over an hour on the air boat and learned a lot of random facts about life on the bayou and the many animals that reside in the swamp. Happy to report nobody fell out of the boat and nobody was harmed by an alligator.
In search of lunch back in New Orleans we found a great wine and beer garden combo in Mid City. It was a nice day so we decided to talk the two miles to Mid City where we discovered Bayou Beer Garden and Bayou Wine Garden, two separate venues that share an outdoor space. We skipped the crawfish boil for some more substantial food but check out the massive amount of crawfish you get per person! Highly recommend coming here to get out of the French Quarter for a bit.
We headed back to the French Quarter Festival along the river for the closing performances.
Sunday Funday still going strong back in the French Quarter
The last full day that we had together in New Orleans was reserved for the St. Charles Streetcar Line to the Garden District.
Once there we did a self-guided walking tour starting with the Lafayette Cemetery.
The above ground burial vaults date back to 1833 and are still in use today.
We checked out the houses in the Garden District before heading over to Magazine Street where I declared April 15th a fine day for a champagne stroll.
We had plans to meet up with our friend , now local resident, for an afternoon in the Bywater neighborhood. We had some time to spare before lunch so we headed to Crescent Park along the river.
What a gorgeous view of New Orleans in the background!
The reason for coming to Bywater was to dine at The Country Club, a historical cottage with a pool and cabana bar. It was a little chilly for an afternoon at the pool but their food and ambiance was excellent and the ladies agreed that a pool membership is necessary if you are a local and live in the area nearby.
Our friend wanted to show us a few more spots in the neighborhood so our post lunch walking tour took us to Bacchanal, a wine shop in Bywater with a cozy backyard patio. It doesn’t look like much from the outside but there is a large selection of wine, beers, and snacks to enjoy out back in their courtyard patio.
We made one more stop around the corner to check out Parleaux Beer Lab. The adult swing on their outside patio was a great way to relax before making our way back into the French Quarter.
Just chillin at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, a corner bar that has been serving drinks since the 1700s.
Our final walk down bourbon street was a colorful one. Until next time, New Orleans!
Where we stayed
- Grenoble House – Located on Dauphine Street (between Bienville and Conti). It was a great location just one block away from Bourbon Street. Most places in the French Quarter and surrounding area looked unassuming from the street but opened up to quiet courtyards and inner facing balconies. This is a great location if you are looking for a shared space (suites) in the heart of the French Quarter, just be aware of the private property signs!
Notable Food Experiences
- Brennan’s – We ate dinner in the courtyard on our first night and this was the most memorable, best meal of the trip.
- Cafe Du Monde – If you go, there are two lines – the really long one is for seating if you plan to eat there, the much shorter line to the far right is for the take out window. They only have beignets and coffee.
- Court of Two Sisters – If you are looking to try A LOT of New Orleans specialties at once, their jazz brunch is a great opportunity to try crawfish, gumbo, catfish, jambalaya, and much more. Be sure to sit in the courtyard.
- Cafe Beignet – Great breakfast spot with shorter lines than Cafe Du Monde. They also serve breakfast and lunch items.
- Paladar 511 – Great spot for pizza or pasta in Marigny
- Peche – Serving unique seafood like Sheepshead, a fish with human teeth (Google it)
- Ruby Slipper Cafe – There are several locations around New Orleans. We dined at the Canal Street location before taking a streetcar to the Garden District.
- The Country Club – Go for the food, stay for an afternoon at the pool!
Notable Drink Experiences
- Effervescence – Champagne bar!
- Bacchanal – Wine Shop with small plates, live music, and a great back patio
- Parleaux – Neighborhood Brewery and Taproom off the beaten path
- Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop – One of the oldest bars around, serving drinks since the 1700s
- Bayou Wine Garden and Bayou Beer Garden – Located next to each other in Mid City with a shared outdoor patio area.
- Pat O’Brien’s – Great outdoor patio bar off Bourbon street. If you are looking for at least one Hurricane, try it here at their Hurricane bar.
Question: Have you been to New Orleans? What notable experiences have you had?