I’ve just gotten back from New Orleans and I’m already itching to go back (or maybe that’s just my mosquito bites…)! It was a wonderful few days exploring a new city, and new region of the U.S., with my two sisters. Although we managed to pack a lot into this trip, we still managed to find time to take some time to just relax. This trip also felt very celebratory since my younger sister turned 21 in June and my big sister got a new job!
The minute we booked this trip, I started putting together an itinerary of things to do. While I love having itineraries available, I don’t always follow them to the letter because (for me) traveling and getting to know a new city should include some flexibility and spontaneity. Below, I put together a travel diary outlining what we did and didn’t do on our trip. The things we didn’t manage to get done that day (or at all) have been crossed out, while things that were added to our itinerary, as we went along, have been italicized.
Monday, June 25, 2018
11:20 AM – Flight from LAX to MSY✔️
5:06 PM – Expected arrival to MSY. Uber to Ace Hotel.✔️
- Late dinner at Ernst Cafe ✔
Drink at Compère Lapin
- Sightseeing after dinner, pick up supplies maybe(CVS) ✔
The first day went fairly smoothly. No flight delays, no traffic from the airport to our hotel, and the Ace Hotel always makes check-in a breeze! I had my first ever po’boy (roast and fried oysters) at Ernst Cafe, which was only a short walk from our hotel. I had expected to also order a side of gumbo and some fried green tomatoes, but when I got my order, I realized it was so huge I could barely finish it in one sitting!
Shortly before I left on my trip, someone suggested that I try fried oysters. I love fresh oysters, and had never tried them fried, so this was a good first experience with them. I later found out that I am not a big fan of fried oysters, but this po’boy had a lot of flavors and textures so the fried oyster texture I dislike did not detract from the sandwich overall.
Afterwards Sarah and I were going to head to Compère Lapin for some after-dinner drinks, but we forgot our IDs and were really tired. So Sarah and I decided that we would try to make it back later.
Tuesday, June 26, 2018
7:00 AM – Breakfast @ Between the Bread nearby✔️
8:00 AM – Pick up from hotel for Cajun Encounters swamp tour✔️
- Swamp Tour✔
- Ride back to hotel✔
- Lunch at Dooky Chase✔
- NOMA and then Morning Call for beignets to fuel our City Park walk.✔
Dinner at Saint Cecilia for FRIED PICKLE SPEARS After dinner drinks at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
It was a good idea to have skipped the bar the night before because I woke up refreshed and ready to hit the ground running. Sarah and I booked a swamp tour with Cajun Encounters early in the morning. What I liked about this company was that they organized hotel pick-ups and drop-offs, which was convenient for me because I don’t drive! Since the tour and the pick-up were fairly early, our “fast” 7AM breakfast options were limited. Thankfully, there was a great little sandwich shop called Between the Bread right behind our hotel that was really reasonably priced. The drive to the swamp area where our tour was to take place took about 40 minutes, and tour was gorgeous and we got to see alligators and raccoons in the wild. Our tour guide was also really funny!
When we got back to the hotel we freshened up and grabbed a coffee to-go at the Stumptown near our hotel lobby to fuel our walk to Dooky Chase. There was a 40 minute wait for lunch, because this place is equal parts beloved by tourists and locals, but the food was really good! The service, if I am being truly honest, was lackluster. In part perhaps because we were tourists (and it’s possible our server is tourist-weary), and also maybe because we ordered small dishes to split (maybe we seemed cheap and like a waste of a table). Though we couldn’t really help it since Sarah and I don’t eat a whole lot at once and, because we had other places to visit right after, we couldn’t really take leftovers with us.
Our next stop was the New Orleans Museum of Art, located right near City Park. This museum has a large and diverse collection, and we spent about two hours going through the entire place. Afterwards we re-fueled with beignets at Morning Call and took a walk around City Park. Since it was a pretty long day, and because I was unfamiliar with the area around the hotel and NOLA in general, we got lost going to St. Cecilia and ended up heading back to the hotel to get some well deserved rest.
Wednesday, June 27, 2018
5:30 AM – Helen arrives to NOLA✔️
9:00 AM – 10:00 AM – Breakfast at Central Grocery and Deli for their muffuletta sandwiches and grab a coffee at Molly’s at the Market ( 😉)✔️
- Take the St. Charles Streetcar to Lafayette Cemetery no.1✔
- Walk around the Garden District✔
- Take Streetcar back and walk to Gumbo Shop for lunch✔
- Head to Faulkner House Books (36ish min via street car)✔
- Go to Hove’ Parfumeur (4 minute walk from FHB, closes at 6PM)✔
- Pre dinner drinks at Compère Lapin
- Dinner at Balise Nola (12 minute walk to the Carousel Bar)✔
Head to Carousel Bar and French 75 for post-dinner drinks
- After dinner drinks at Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop Bar
Helen was finally able to join us on our second full day in NOLA! She arrived really early (after taking a red-eye) and we caught up over coffee downstairs (while Sarah caught up on sleep in our room). After everyone was up and ready, we all took a walk down to the French Quarter to the Central Grocery and Deli for their muffuletta sandwiches. Sometimes, certain things are played up so much that when you actually see–or in this case, taste–them, they fail to live up to the expectation. I cannot say that about the muffuletta sandwiches here. They were so delicious, and the pickling of the olives was just perfect!
After breakfast, we walked to Molly’s at the Market for our second morning coffee. Of course, all three of us ordered their signature Irish coffee and looked on as Mexico lost to Sweden in the World Cup.
One change of shoes later, we were on a streetcar and on our way to Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. We walked through this beautiful cemetery for some time before taking our stroll through the Garden District in search of Beyonce’s mansion. We did not find it, but we took a couple of cute snapshots in this picturesque neighborhood!
All the walking made us hungry, so the three of us hopped back onto the streetcar and walked over to Gumbo Shop. When I created my itinerary, I chose this place at random because it was near two other things that we wanted to do that day. I was pleasantly surprised to see that this place was cozy and pretty (and had really great food)! Faulkner House Books was only a short walk away. This tiny bookstore, which was a former home of William Faulkner, reminded me of Shakespeare and Co. in Paris. All three of us walked away with a new book! Then we braced ourselves for a visit to Hove’ Parfumeur. I recently visited a perfumery in DTLA that left me with a headache, but Hove’ Parfumeur was not at all overwhelming! Everything smelled so good, but Sarah and I know that choosing a signature scent can be difficult depending on your body chemistry. We tried on our favorite scents and hoped to be back the next day to purchase them once they had settled in.
All decked out in our perfume samples, we walked over to Compère Lapin for an apéritif. This classy bar and restaurant is located in The Old No. 77 Hotel, and its menu consists of some amazing craft cocktails.
Afterwards, we were ready for dinner at Balise. Their fresh oysters were so good, and a steal at their happy hour prices! Since dinner gave us a surge of energy, we went to the Carousel Bar for a second drink. This bar is one of those places that attracts visitors who like novelty bars (which I do), or people who just want that “‘gram”. Unfortunately, for a Wednesday night this place was too packed and none of the drinks seemed super appetizing so we made a choice between going to French 75 (on our original itinerary for the day) and Lafitte’s Blacksmith Bar on Bourbon Street, and we chose the latter.
Located on Bourbon St (but just far away enough from the raucous crowds), Lafitte’s has the feel of a modern dive bar, set in an old-world pub. If you like drinking in the dark, alcoholic slushies, and a relatively quiet place to grab a drink on a weekday on Bourbon St, then this is the place for you!
Thursday, June 28, 2018
6:00 AM – Head to Cafe du Monde for early morning beignets and tourist photos✔️
- poolside drinks and relax✔
- Lunch at Bevi Seafood Co✔
- Pharmacy Museum
- Dinner at Cochon✔
- NOLA Bar Crawl✔
- Cane and Table
- Muriel’s Jackson Square
- Napoleon House
One of my habits when I travel is to reserve at least one early morning for taking “touristy” photographs. Besides great lighting and less people in your photos, getting up early to take tourist photos allows you the time to get the perfect shots without getting in people’s way on the sidewalk, or having to jump out of the street in a panic if you are taking a middle-of-the-road photo. During the day, the French Quarter is usually very busy, so Helen and I headed there to get photos we hadn’t been able to get the day before.
Once we took the photos we wanted, Helen and I stopped by Cafe du Monde for beignets and cafe au laits. Having previously gone to Morning Call, Cafe du Monde was kind of a letdown. The service was quick and efficient, but also felt impersonal and curt in contrast to Morning Call’s service. Again, I attribute this to the heavy tourist traffic they get at this location. Lots of people want their chance to experience Cafe du Monde so you got to get people in and out. The beignets here were thicker and doughier and felt a little heavy, but they were still delicious! We also got some to-go for Sarah, who stayed in bed to catch up on sleep.
When we got back to the hotel, we all got ready to take a dip in the gorgeous rooftop pool at the Ace Hotel. I took full advantage of the Alto bar…
Thursday was our most relaxed day, so after hanging out at the pool for a couple of hours, we took an uber down to Bevi Seafood Co. to have crawfish for the first time. Our server must have detected what total noobs we were (accurate assumption), so she was kind enough to take some time to give us a demonstration on how to eat the two pounds of crawfish we had ordered. Because we were a long ways from dinner, we decided to have our mini bar crawl earlier in the day instead of after dinner. Although there were a lot of bars I would have liked to have gone to, my liver narrowed our bar crawl down to three places: Napoleon House, Muriel’s Jackson Square, and Cane & Table. On our way over to our first stop, Napoleon House, we encountered the Pharmacy Museum and took a quick detour. For $5, we were able to look at a huge collection of old medicines, surgical instruments, and other pharmaceutical wares. This museum was really neat! We also had another detour at Hove’ Parfumeur after Napoleon House, where Sarah and I bought a couple of perfumes.
Having a short bar crawl was great because we got to settle in and appreciate each stop. There was no rushing from place to place. After drinks, we made our way to Cochon for dinner. Hands down this was my favorite meal in New Orleans. From start to finish (Fried Alligator & Wood-fired Oysters, Catfish Courtbouillon, and chocolate ice cream), my meal was perfection. I know I will try to revisit New Orleans, and visit whole new places, but Cochon is one of the places I would happily revisit again and again.
Friday, June 29, 2018
Breakfast at Josephine Estelle @ Ace, and hang out in pool until check out time or even after, if we can.
- Breakfast at Willa Jean’s✔
- 12: 00 PM – Check out of Ace Hotel✔
- Souvenir shopping and coffee @ The Stacks✔
Lunch at Acme Oyster House
- Lunch at St Cecilia’s
- Drinks at Cane and Table
- 4:15 PM – Start heading to Airport✔️
The last day in New Orleans was also pretty relaxed, and we spent it making up some of the things we had missed earlier and revisiting a bar Sarah (our birthday girl) really loved. We started with breakfast at Willa Jean’s, a place that had been on an earlier version of my itinerary, but had been replaced with Brennan’s However, since we were pretty worn down from all the walking we had done the last couple of days (and because an uber driver had cast their vote for this place), we decided on this place. I chose a pretty standard breakfast, but I got to try cheesy grits for the first time!
Afterwards we went to do some souvenir shopping at The Stacks (in the Arts District), and the French Quarter, and then we stopped for lunch at St. Cecilia’s to try those fried pickled we had been craving since our arrival (they did not disappoint). We also made another quick stop at Cane & Table for one last drink before picking up our bags and heading to the airport.
Overall this trip was really great. I felt that we got to see a lot and had some wonderful experiences in New Orleans, and that we left feeling excited to return and explore many more things.
Let me know down below if there’s anything you think I should do in NOLA the next time I visit!
- I took a small notebook with me and tried to record how my day was going, and my impressions of places and food to better help me remember my event-packed days. It really helped!
- Next time I plan to eat 2 pounds of crawfish….by myself.
- My makeup held up really well in the humidity, and dry shampoo helped me avoid some frizz-causing showers.
- During our trip we made approximately 25 callbacks to Disneyland, including (but not limited to) NOLA Square, their Mickey beignets, the accuracy in capturing that swampland sound, fried pickles at Carnation cafe, and their Jungle Cruise ride.
- This was my first post created/written entirely in html. So somethings may look a little wonky! [EDIT: I tried to make this post only n HTLM, unfortunately I couldn’t quite get the mobile version of this post figured out, and I had to rewrite it!]