One of the benefits of having a best friend who’s from New Orleans is spontaneous road trips to the Crescent City. So when we both had a long weekend for Memorial Day, we packed up the car and the pup and headed out on the 10-hour-ish drive from Orlando.
New Orleans is one of my favorite cities to visit and I’ve been there more times than I can count on both hands. I have my favorites of course but every trip I try to do one thing or go one place I’ve never been before. One of the biggest reasons I love this city so much is that the people there really LIVE the values of diversity and inclusion. As long as you’re friendly and down to have a good time, people want you to join in. It’s a city full of people who feel empowered to express themselves and their individuality and that’s demonstrated by the bright fashion and sequin-embellished costumes you can see on any given day in the French Quarter. The dress code in New Orleans is “Be Yourself” so you can see why it’s considered one of the most creative cities in the US and is home to numerous artists, foodie chefs and designers, both well-known and up-and-coming. It’s like the City version of the Disney Community. If you’ve never been, I encourage you to throw away any pre-conceived notions you may have about it and go experience it for yourself.
There are so many great things to see and do in New Orleans that it’s hard to narrow it down when you only have three days, so here’s a quick re-cap of my New Orleans long weekend to help you plan your next visit!
Sleeping in. Ok, maybe not for most people, but anyone who knows me, knows how much I love sleep. We left Orlando at 3pm Thursday and drove straight through until 1am (that’s with travelling back in time an hour to the Central time zone) so getting up early was not an option. We took our time getting ready then in the afternoon we headed down to the French Quarter to hit up Lafitte’s for Purples. If you don’t understand any of those words I just said, let me introduce you to your next hangover. Lafitte’s Old Blacksmith Bar on Bourbon is the oldest structure used as a bar in the U.S. Don’t expect to be able to see much because the entire bar is lit by oil lamps and candles. You’ll want to order a Purple, which is basically a daiquiri that tastes like a grape popsicle without a trace of alcohol detectable by the human taste buds. You’ll want to drink this one reeeeeal slow. Don’t let the taste fool you, this drink will knock you off your chair. All you’ll need is one. Pace yourself. Trust me.
After Lafitte’s we took our Purples to-go (reason #587 to love New Orleans – no open container law). We headed over to Jackson Square to take some pictures before the sun went down, but not before running into two members of Penatonix just hanging out at a bar on St. Ann. See, everyone loves this town! Jackson Square is a popular spot for photo ops, and where you’ll see plenty of artists selling their work, horse drawn carriage rides, and always live music. We also caught the tail end of a New Orleans Second Line from a wedding with the bride, groom and wedding party dancing in the street with the band and their 50 new best friends, including me. So many people think New Orleans is only good during Mardi Gras or Jazz Fest, but this city is a party every day of the year!
Moving on from Jackson Square we headed to Sucre for macarons. I first went to their Magazine Street location several years ago, and was taken in by the pastel color palette and thoughtful design. I remember remarking to my friend that who ever had done the interior design work had done a great job. About a month after visiting, I was perusing my company’s new website and stumbled across images of the store in our Retail portfolio of our Los Angeles team! I was saddened to learn that Sucre closed for business just a couple of weeks after my recent visit, on June 17. So don’t put this on your must-do list cuz they not open ya’ll!
Last on the day one agenda was a stop at the Hotel Monteleone for a drink at the famous Carousel Bar and Lounge. The Carousel bar is quite literally that – a carousel where your seats move slowly around the bartenders as the center of the bar is stationary. Keeps the bartenders on their toes remembering who ordered what, I guess. If you want to sit at the carousel it’s likely going to require a seat-stalking situation. Seats at the bar are popular, so you’ll want to pay attention for anyone who appears to be paying their tab or finishing their last round and politely ask them if you can have their seats when they get up. After a drink here we headed back to Sarah’s house for home cooked Cajun kabobs and puppy snuggles.
Day two was all about the puppies. We loaded all three doggos into the car and drove over to City Park for a walk and beignets. The world famous Café Du Monde has a food truck outpost at City Park, so it’s a great place to get beignets without the huge tourist crowds typically at the original French Market location. After breakfast we walked over to the sculpture gardens at the New Orleans Art Museum. Dogs aren’t allowed in the sculpture gardens so Sarah’s mom walked around the garden fences with the pups and met us on the other side. City Park is enormous, so if there are specific parts of the park you want to visit, make sure you consult a map before heading out.
Next stop was a great little beer garden in the heart of Mid City called Wrong Iron where there is a huge yard with picnic tables, fire pits and Adirondack chairs on a wrap-around porch. It’s very pet friendly and there are food trucks if you get hungry. They’ve got five cocktails on tap and a rotating menu of over 50 beers so there’s plenty of variety. I had the Crown Valley Blackberry cider and I think I’ve found the perfect summer cider – it actually tasted better as my drink got warmer.
After a couple of rounds, we headed back to the house for a nap and then Sarah headed out to the Arianna Grande concert while her mom and I went down to Frenchmen Street for dinner at a great little Creole Italian restaurant called Adolfo’s. It’s a quaint little place on the 2nd floor of a walk-up building overlooking Frenchmen street and the food is great and the portions are large. There are only about 20 tables in the place and they don’t take reservations (and – are cash only), so you may have to wait up to an hour, but that’s okay because on Frenchmen you’re surrounded by bars, live music venues and the Palace Market, an open-air art market with vendors selling art and fashion, so there’s plenty to do while you wait.
The third day we had a pre-Memorial Day pool party at Sarah’s house and her mom made snacks and hamburgers, which was so nice being waited on and taken care of for a day. Living alone and always preparing your own food makes you really appreciate that stuff – so thank you, Lee Lee, you are the best! But, since I’m pretty sure Lee Lee won’t be having all of you to her house for a pool party on your visits, you can fill your third day in New Orleans visiting some of my favorite places in the Garden District. The Garden District is one of my favorite areas in NOLA, and if you like quaint little streets to walk and shop, you need to visit Magazine Street. Magazine is endless shopping and restaurants for blocks. One of my favorite shops to pick up a tee or souvenir is Fleurty Girl (and I love a good play on words). Mahoney’s has the best po boys I’ve had outside of the Jazz Fest tent vendors, and I get one almost every trip. Go hungry, these things are huge. Another favorite Magazine Street eatery is Dat Dog (they also have a location on Frenchmen Street). This is hands-down the best hot dog I’ve ever had, and I lived in New York City for five years. I get the Guinness Special, which is an Irish Guinness sausage with andouille sauce, cheddar cheese, bacon and yellow mustard on their signature sweet buns. If I could FedEx overnight myself a Dat Dog to Orlando I would do it right now.
The morning of the fourth day we packed up the car to head back to Orlando, but first made a quick stop at Stumptown Roasters at the Ace Hotel New Orleans for coffee to-go. I had read about it on a design blog and as per usual when I choose my food and beverage establishments based on the interior design, the coffee was actually amazing too. Even better, they are pet friendly, or at least the barista who was working that day was, because she said Stella could come inside with us to order. Stella is really more of a wine gal, but she loves any place with great smells.
Both my striped dress and my rainbow top are from Oh Yeah Apparel.
It was a quick but fun trip and hopefully I will be back again early next year for Mardi Gras! Have you been to New Orleans? What are your favorite things to do there? Leave a comment and let me know!