The #LastDestinationof2014 for us was a quick hop over to New Orleans after Christmas. I had been before as a very young child, but didn’t recall much, only remembering that I wanted a voodoo doll at a store in the French Quarter. Voodoo dolls (by the way what’s that all about?) wasn’t enough for me. I needed to find out more. New Orleans, what are you about?
It felt like the perfect end to our year, just my husband and I, after a 10 day stint in Houston with family and friends. I didn’t know what to expect from New Orleans. Over and over I heard people recommending it and telling me it was a foodie haven. In my recap, I’ll give you 10 reasons my husband and I fell in love with New Orleans after our trip.
Our weekend was 4 days, not rushed. We stayed in the French Quarter at The W Hotel and also the newly renovated Le Meridien Hotel for our last night. If you’re visiting for your first time, I would highly suggest the French Quarter as it’s central and walking distance to many of the sights, savories, and sounds you’ll want to experience.
Counting down!!! Here goes….
10. It’s easy.
As I mentioned, the French Quarter is where most of the action is so getting around is quite easy with walking, pedicabs, or taxis. We walked our entire trip. Even if you have to drive, it’s not far from the French Quarter. Your 4 days will be jam packed within that radius.
9. It’s a healthy city.
By healthy, I mean you get exercise. I’m totally ignoring the food you’ll ingest here. Buttttt, if you take my advice and walk everywhere, the pounds you pack on will be offset with the walking. This part of our trip gave me New York City nostalgia. We even did a 45 minute walk from the French Quarter to the historical district where Bon Castor shop lives.
8. It’s a wandering city.
You can’t find yourself bored because everywhere you turn, there is liquor, lights, music, small shops, restaurants, beautiful old homes, or people to watch. Let your eyes wander.
Don’t worry, it’s not so crowded (and we were there during peak season) like New York City where you have to push your way through the crowds. Most of the streets in the French Quarter are closed off for your wandering pleasure. I think this is also partially because the inebriated people need more room to trip over themselves.
One night we stumbled upon an art market. It was awesome that it was running at night because I usually only see these night markets in Asia. We didn’t buy anything but we’re also not hungry to buy anything on trips.
7. It’s fun.
I kept imagining what it was like to be a young guy on a bachelor trip. I told my husband he should convince his friends for a boys weekend. The booze keep coming and you can drink on the streets! Think, block party 24/7.
Even without it being a boys trip, as a couple we enjoyed ourselves and fed off the energy. Live music at many venues is the norm here. We loved our cozy date night that ended at the Ritz Carlton. Jazz and dancing every week. You can’t help but feel classy. Thanks New Orleans!
6. It’s affordable.
You’re still in the USA. Find cheap flights and hotels. This isn’t like a trip to New York City. The cost of city transportation is minimal to none and when eating, you’ll get southern sized portions for not so bad prices. There are many options from fine dining to fast food. I didn’t get to do this but try the Popeye’s fried chicken here. It’s the original and apparently it’s different than anywhere else.
Live music venues are free entry at many spots. If you hang out and buy a drink, you’re squared away!
5. It’s unique.
Where else can you find an eclectic mix of gator dogs (hot dogs from alligator meat?), voodoo, swamps, haunted houses, and historical southern plantations? If you go during February, you’ll be in the center of Mardi Gras! The culture here is one to experience for yourself.
We took a drive to visit The Houmas House sugar plantation. It was a nice getaway for the day. I recommend checking out at least one plantation while you’re in New Orleans. See more of The Houmas House in my previous post!
4. It’s well lit.
Yes, many people in New Orleans French Quarter are lit (I could even smell it on a patron’s breath next to me as he ordered at Deanie’s Seafood counter) but I’m talking about the city. We went post Christmas so it was extra beautiful and lit! The holiday decor and lights made this city feel even more special. I was in awe going from one hotel to the next.
3. It’s a blast to the past.
Charm. That’s what makes New Orleans easy to fall for when you visit. A pretty girl can catch your eye, but a charming girl can steal your heart! How do you explain charm? It’s hard to pinpoint a single thing that makes Nola charming but something about the obvious historical presence. The city feels genuine, authentic, unique, rich and respectable. There’s a story to be told everywhere you turn. There are history pages written about these buildings and the people that occupied it. Even Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie fell in love with Nola so much they bought a home in the French Quarter!
There’s a soul here.
How do you not fall in love with the architecture here? Very few cities look like this! I would have loved to take a picture in front of every facade but I spared my husband and you guys! You’ll have to check it out yourself and pick your favorite New Orleans house. What’s even more interesting is when you wander into the historical district where they have actual historical homes that people live in still today. The ones in the French Quarters have been converted to mostly to businesses and restaurants. Doesn’t it look like you’re on a Universal Studios movie set?
2. It’s got crawfish.
Amongst the other southern sea food dishes like fresh broiled crab and shrimp served bbq or cajun style (my husband thinks cajun means sprinkling chili pepper flakes), you’ll find crawfish!! And lots of it. The crawfish I grew up eating and introducing my husband too is Louisiana style crawfish– lots of delicious cajun seasoning (spicy!), so flavorful, big and juicy. Peel and devour. This was one of the foods I missed most when I lived in NYC. Note when crawfish is in season, it’s not year round. We sadly missed out because Deanie’s Seadfood didn’t get crawfish in yet! Not to worry, we still ate our hearts out. There’s other fresh seafood year-round!
1. It’s got fried chicken, famous beignets, and gumbo.
When someone asks me what my last meal would be, I answer without pause, “FRIED CHICKEN AND BISCUITS.” I have no idea why I this is my favorite food, but it is. I don’t eat it all the time, because obviously it’s not something I can or should have too much of, but when I do have an opportunity, it’s a treat! I should specify and tell whoever is serving my last meal in the future, “Make sure it’s from New Orleans!”
One cute restaurant we went to for brunch, Cafe Amelie, was recommended to us by a dear friend, Kate Greer! We loved this quaint little spot. We even got to meet the awesome chef as he came out to greet us. Must try: The bread pudding. I packed what I couldn’t finish and indulged in bed later on after a nap. How preggers of me, I know!
If you’re thinking about checking out New Orleans, DO! Here is our itinerary to download for your desk! xo
Note: We didn’t make it to Willie Mae’s Scotch House because it was closed. Tell us how it is if you do! We found Willie’s Chicken Shack fast food joint on Bourbon street which fed my craving for delicious fried chicken! Best part, it was cheap as heck.
Photos taken with Nikon D40 and iPhone 5s