The city of New Orleans, Louisiana had captivated me long before I ever visited it. I had romanticized the city so much that I knew it needed to be my next trip. Enter Michael. On something like our fourth date, I mentioned my obsession with New Orleans, and he simply said, “well, let’s go then.” I didn’t really think he was being serious, but a few weeks later we were booking our hotel and planning a road trip there. We drove to New Orleans with an overnight stop in Nashville, TN, arriving in Louisiana just in time for dinner. That was two years ago today. Our time in New Orleans was amazing, and though we encountered a few bumps along the way, we didn’t fight once, which is no small feat for a new-ish couple during a 16 hour drive!
Each day was a new adventure, and each night was spent wandering on and around Bourbon Street, Big Ass Beer in hand. My favorite memory of this Louisiana trip is our first full day there: we walked all day, in the rain, popping into stores and bars to try to get dry and toasty. In my humble opinion, New Orleans is prettiest in the rain. While we were there, it was also Southern Decadence, which is NOLA’s pride celebration. This meant that in addition to rain drops, beads and small tubes of lube also fell from the sky. It was a fun festival to partake in and I am glad that our time there fell on the same weekend. This trip is among my all-time favorites for a lot of reasons, but here are nine places and activities that made it so great:
- Omni Royal Crescent Hotel: This hotel is a real class act. We
liedtold them it was our anniversary and they upgraded our room and sent champagne up right after we checked in. Their beds are the comfiest clouds of white linen and their bathrooms are huge. Plus, the location was perfect for us – out of the excitement, but close enough that we could walk almost everywhere we wanted to go.
- Cochon Restaurant: We had our first meal in New Orleans here and it gave such a great first impression. Everything we ate was delicious and the atmosphere was very warm and inviting. The restaurant is in the Warehouse District of the city, so it is the perfect place to start out your night if you plan on going out in style. Fair warming: make reservations!
- William Faulkner House: Located in a cobblestone alley next to Jackson Square, the William Faulkner house sits perfectly preserved in time. The first floor is a charming bookstore, featuring beautifully bound copies of all the classics. Faulkner wrote his first novel here and it’s a very inspiring place to visit.
- Verti Marte: This hidden gem is about a ten minute walk from Bourbon Street and makes the most amazing sandwiches. We had the All That Jazz Sandwich which featured shrimp, deli meat and veggies and was easily one of the best meals we had in New Orleans. The sandwich shop is within a small market and tends to have a line running through it. Be patient though, it’s worth it!
- Barataria Preserve: I touched upon this in last week’s blog, but I really, really loved this portion of the Jean Lafitte National Park. We took a four mile hike through the swamp in search of gators and it was amazing. BUT! Learn from our mistake and bring water, not coffee, to quench your thirst while you hike.
- Mango Mango: I know, before you say it, I know these slushie/pizza joints or one like it are on every other corner in New Orleans, but hear me out. After hours of drinking and wandering, the pizza at Mango Mango is a lifesaver. It’s perfectly cheesy and thin-crusted and just greasy enough to give you a second wind.
- Louis Armstrong Park: If you want to get away from the drinking and debauchery of Bourbon Street, or just want a quiet place to drink your Mango Mango hurricane slushie, Louis Armstrong Park is the place to do it. The park is beautiful and peaceful with well-maintained grounds, ponds and statues of Jazz Greats, like Mr. Armstrong himself.
- Carousel Bar: Located in Hotel Monteleone in the French Quarter, the aptly named Carousel Bar is truly unique. They offer classic cocktails that are freshly made in the center bar as you rotate slowly around it. The drinks are delicious and the bar is gorgeous. The spinning may cause a tiny bit of motion sickness, but I promise it is worth it.
- City Park/Lake Pontchartrain: Both of these must-see spots are just a short drive from downtown, and are so, so pretty. You could easily spend a whole afternoon at either destination, but we visited on our last day of our trip which means we were rushing a bit. Both locations would be perfect for a picnic. We strolled through City Park, enjoying the gardens and then moved to the lake to soak in the Louisiana sun on the concrete steps surrounding it.
There were a couple things we missed during this trip that we really wanted to see, including Preservation Hall, Longue Vue House and Marie Laveau’s grave that definitely would have made this list had we been able to visit them. Hopefully that means that we can go back soon and check them out!
Have you ever been to NOLA? Which are your favorite places there?