5 Days in New Orleans
At the beginning of May, we FINALLY went on a bucket list trip of ours: New Orleans, LA. We had a great time and it's taken me this long to finally put everything together. Bourbon Street is everything you expect it to be….it’s dirty and gross and just ALWAYS has people walking up and down and bouncers trying to pull you into bars. But I mean, what were you expecting? It’s exactly as advertised! Ha. I thought I would give you a quick run down of our trip – where we stayed, ate, and what we did so if you’re considering a trip down to low country, but aren’t quite the bar hopping queen you used to be, you can still feel like there’s a lot to do.
Where we Stayed:
The Aloft by Marriot. Meh. It was ok….actually, it was good. It was exactly what we wanted. We don’t typically indulge in super expensive hotels because we don’t spend a lot of time in our room. We’d rather be out exploring so we usually look for something around $200/night. And that’s where the Aloft was. It’s one of Marriott’s boutique/trendy hotels in that it was a lot of neon lights, a communal pool table and hip bar in the lobby. The room was very standard…a king bed with a bathroom, and single vanity. The only weird things were that the room didn’t have windows because it was an interior room, which actually, we didn’t mind. It kept us sleeping in longer which was very much needed! But also, the lighting in the room wasn’t great. It was relatively dim, and that’s not always the best especially in a bathroom while trying to put makeup on. The hotel also had an 11th floor “rooftop pool” which was nice, but we only used once for a night time swim. Overall, I’d give it a 7/10. It was clean, the bed was comfy, free wifi…and decent water pressure in the shower! All on our must have list. I think if I were to do it again, I’d love to stay at one of the boutique mansions turned hotels like the Hotel St Vincent or The Columns or Windsor Court Hotels.
Where we Ate:
Any time we travel we really try to eat local or cultural food – we have a no chain restaurant policy on vacation! And indulge we did in New Orleans! Some of our favorites:
Daisy Dukes: great diner food. We had lunch here when we first got into town. I had biscuits and gravy and AJ had chicken fingers. Nothing over the top, but good food.
Napoleon House: we ate here our first night. We had red beans and rice and split a Muffaletta sandwich. I may have a new favorite sandwich. It was delicious!
Antoine's: We went to brunch on Sunday morning here for their jazz brunch. Antoine's is one of the oldest restaurants in NOLA and it did not disappoint. It might have been the best eggs benedict I’ve ever had. And that’s saying something because I’m an eggs benedict connoisseur! It was shaved ham instead of Canadian bacon and it was on a biscuit instead of an English muffin. And the hollandaise sauce was so light and just, divine! AJ had praline French toast and they make their French toast from French baguettes. He loved it! A jazz quartet plays all during your meal. I highly recommend making a reservation and definitely wouldn’t skip this one!
Boil: This was in the Garden District and it was your classic seafood boil place. We absolutely loved it! It was kind of a create your own boil which was awesome. We had shrimp, crawfish, blue crab, sausage corn and potatoes with their home made spice rub. Crawfish and blue crab are both a lot of work for little meat, we decided, but still delicious!
Ruby Slipper: Another awesome breakfast place! AJ had French toast on a baguette again and loved it. We also had French toast bites as an appetizer, and I am HERE for breakfast apps. They were delicious! I had breakfast tacos…which, I mean, who doesn’t love tacos?!
Daily Beet: Now, this is probably the healthiest we ate on the trip and it was for breakfast. There is an Eat Fit initiative in NOLA to help promote healthy eating options across the city, and this restaurant is a part of that initiative and is much more along the lines of how we eat at home. We loved it. I had a Morning bowl which had quinoa and salad and beans and seeds, egg and avocado. AJ had an acai bowl. If you’re looking for something light, healthy, and delicious, 10/10 recommend.
Crescent City Brewhouse: We ate here our last night. Elevated pub fair. I had Boudin Balls and baked mac and cheese. Would DEFINITELY recommend the boudin balls. They were delicious! AJ had a gator sausage po-boy and loved it.
Crazy Coronet: The only restaurant on Bourbon St that we actually ate at. It was for a quick lunch. I had a Caesar salad and AJ had a shrimp po boy. It was fine. Bar food…good for a quick bite. I couldn't find a website, but it probably doesn't need one. Its the restaurant with all the yellow umbrellas on the corner. Ha.
Fat Boy Pantry: this was in the lower garden district. It’s a sandwich shop and was SO good! Not quite “local” or “cultural” food, but still. AJ had a Havana (basically a Cuban sandwich) and I had a Gyro – we both ate the whole damn things. It was really good.
Where we Drank:
NOLA definitely turned me on to what I’ve dubbed “Courtyard Culture.” So many of the buildings there have cobble stone courtyards or gardens that they’ve turned into part of their restaurants or bars and I AM HERE FOR IT. It was so nice just be able to sit outside and have a drink surrounded by sun and plants. I loved it. Every chance we got, we sat to have a drink in a courtyard.
Café Beignet on Bourbon St: This was such a low key place and totally our vibe. It’s a courtyard called Legends of Music Park right on Bourbon St with a Café Beignet in it and a bar. There’s always live jazz music and closes at 9:30. We stopped for a drink almost every evening here. It was a nice little escape from the blaring club music in the rest of the bars on Bourbon.
Fourth Wall Coffee: We love to try new coffee shops on vacation and this was no exception. A very industrial hole in the wall spot right down the street from our hotel. We grabbed coffee and sipped it in their courtyard that was also home to a record store!
French Truck Coffee: I sense a theme, do you? Another local to NOLA coffee shop that we had first with breakfast at the Ruby Slipper, than stopped at in the garden district, then on our last day in the French quarter.
Pat OBriens: you can’t go to NOLA without having a hurricane. And Pat OBriens was the inventor of the Hurricane. This was probably the rowdiest courtyard for a drink, but it was fun! And hurricanes are dangerous.
Polo Lounge at the Windsor Court Hotel: In another life, I was definitely a British Aristocrat because this hotel was calling my name! NOLA is known as the birthplace of the Sazerac, a cousin of the Old Fashioned. And if you know AJ, you know his obsession with bourbon and his drink of choice is an old fashioned. NOT one made in Wisconsin though. So anyway, I looked up the best places to get a Sazerac in NOLA, and this bar was on the list. It did not disappoint. In atmosphere or drinks. It’s decorated as if it were a Polo lounge in Britain and there is a piano player every night. We sat at the bar and had Sazeracs and I drank a Pimm's Cup (another NOLA drink with Gin, club soda, lemon, cucumber and Pimm's) a new favorite. They also had a Brussel sprout flat bread that was incredible!
The Columns: A hotel in the Garden district that has a courtyard bar so we stopped in for a Sazerac and Pimm's Cup. Delicious and the cutest courtyard. I think this was my favorite of the Pimm's Cups I tried.
Hotel St Vincent: A newly renovated hotel in the Lower Garden district that is supposedly haunted. It used to be an orphanage, which is creepy and I love it! So of course we stopped for a drink 😊 Another Pimm's and Sazerac. My least favorite Pimm's because it was made with Sprite instead of club soda so it was on the sweeter side. Still good, just not my favorite.
Café Du monde: The beignets are really as good as advertised. I will say though, we actually loved their frozen coffee more! We got frozen coffees twice and beignets only once. Word to the wise, it’s cash only so make sure you’ve got at least $15 with you!
What we Did:
We walked SOO much! We averaged about 20K steps a day, which was great. Because of where we stayed, pretty much everything was in walking distance. We did take an Uber to brunch at Atoine's because it was raining that morning, and we took the street car to the garden district, mostly just because! It was cute and fun.
Obviously Bourbon St: We walked up and down it a couple of times every day and evening just to see the debauchery and everything going on. It’s certainly something to see, that’s for sure.
Jackson Square: This is probably the most iconic site in NOLA. It’s anchored on one end by the St Louis Cathedral which is just stunning, and the horse carriages and Mississippi River on the other side. The square itself has a statue of Andrew Jackson in the middle and is just a small little park with shops and street performers and artists all around the outside.
Sazerac House: A distillery and museum in one. As I mentioned above, AJ loves bourbon and Old Fashion’s so we wanted to check out the history of how it came to be
The Garden District: This is a street car ride (bring cash!) away from our hotel and we really just wandered around looking at all the amazing houses and courtyards and little shops in the area
Spa Isbell: Every vacation we take together, we get a couple’s massage or some sort of spa service. Spa Isbell is in the lower garden district and AJ got a deep tissue massage and I got a facial. It was a cool space in that it was a house converted to a salon and spa
French Market: This is right next to Café Du Monde and is kind of like a flea market. There are lots of artisans that sell their goods here. We picked up a couple small pieces of art after watching the artist draw them right in front of us
Shops: We love to meander and bop in and out of shops while on vacation and we had no shortage of them here. We stopped into Faulkner Books and bought a coffee table book – this bookstore was actually in the house that William Faulkner once lived in. it was really cool! We also stopped in the Garden District Book Store and stopped in quite a few antique/vintage shops in the Garden and lower Garden districts. They had some really awesome stuff, but unfortunately there was no way to get them back home.
We also spent time listening to live jazz music every chance we got, and we would make a point of walking down to the river every day at some point to see the massive barges moving along.
Overall it was a great trip! We were there 5 days and felt like with everything we did get to do, we could have gotten it all done in 3 or 4. However, at some point, we’d love to go back and hit up some of the things we missed like the National WWII Museum, Lafayette Cemetery (which was closed while we were there) Frenchman St for live jazz where all the locals go, City Park which is apparently actually larger than Central Park, and getting out of the NOLA area for a swamp tour and/or plantation tour. We also would have liked to take a ferry ride to Algiers Point or even done a dinner and jazz cruise on the steamboat ferry. Next time!