New Orleans, LA!

Hey Friends & Fam! How is everyone doing?! I am psyched about this post. Just writing the name of this travel location makes me giddy- New Orleans has been on my bucket list for ages, and to have actually step foot there is still hard for me to believe!

Lemme back up in how this all happened… One of my best friends back in Ohio, Rachel, and I planned a pretty spontaneous cruise to Mexico. You may remember Rach from here or here!

This all came about when I decided to try to use some vacation time since I have hit my one year mark (we are allotted one vacation per year). DJ won’t be able to do a full vacation until probably this winter, so I figured even if I didn’t do anything or go anywhere I could at least have two weeks without work, right?! Well when I told Rach my dates, she coincidentally had this time off too as her last week of recovery from a knee surgery. It could not have worked out more perfectly! Even though Rach was still on her crutches she was a TROOPER. She did not miss a beat, and didn’t let them stop her. We agreed it would be nothing but reading in the sun and relaxation (I mean you’re either healing up at home or lounging on a boat- so why not choose the one with more sun?!).

DJ had to work on Easter & this is a super busy time of year for him, so he encouraged me to go and soak up this time. (No worries, I ordered him Freshly so he didn’t starve 😉 ).

Anyways, we decided on a Carnival cruise that went out of New Orleans on Saturday the 31st of March!

We planned & planned, packed & packed, and then met early on March 30th in in NOLA to get the vacay started! That morning, I woke up at about 3:45 riddled with adrenaline and couldn’t fall back asleep before my 8:45 am flight. I decided to go for a run. Once at the airport I grabbed Peet’s (duuuuuh) and ate a protein bar while I waited.

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Time for the flight! I binge listened to the podcast “Unexplained” while I dozed on and off.

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And before I knew it I had arrived in NOLA! My Lyft driver from the airport was sweet and knowledgeable. I noticed that everyone was authentically kind & helpful. It appears Southern Hospitality is still going strong! She drove me past a couple old cemeteries (their mausoleums are HUGE) and through the French Quarters as I snapped shots along the way.

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When I walked into The Sheraton on Canal Street (where we were staying that evening) I was greeted by lively music in the lobby & people bustling around in the most cheerful manner. It felt as though I had stepped right into a party. I grabbed some of the complimentary cucumber water and waited to check into my room. Once taking the old fashioned elevators up to the twelfth floor, I was finally in a NOLA hotel room. I had to pinch myself. I am in New Orleans. For years I have wanted to go to New Orleans for the culture, history, boss beignets and shrimp & grits. I couldn’t believe I was actually there.

I looked down after opening the shutter windows to a view that was both fantastic, although could probably  be terrifying for someone afraid of heights (hence the shutters). I highly recommend staying in this hotel. We were able to get a night stay for a reasonable price and it’s conveniently located to everything you could want to see in New Orleans!

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I changed out of my grubby travel wear & freshened up after the long flight. Time to Explore! (Rach’s flight still wouldn’t touch down for a bit).

I decided to make the first stop Garden District!

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I adored the local architecture with balconies lining the alternately pastel pigmented shops and homes.

img_2141img_2142These houses! I just love the wrought iron and hanging baskets at every turn.

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I perused the shops on Magazine street. I was fascinated by the mix of mysticism, antique shops, and enticing bakeries that lined the way.

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NOLA, you are bizarre, I’ve gotta say! But a fun bizarre…..and I guess at times just a bizarre bizarre! 😉img_2149

Around 7:00 pm, Rach texted me saying she was at the hotel! It was perfect timing. Since it was getting dark I didn’t want to spend much more time alone in the Garden District. I went back to the hotel and wanted to cry when I actually saw Rach standing there in front of me! It had been 18 months since I’ve been with my best friend y’all. TOOOO LOOONG.

We got ready & organized our room while having totally non-linear conversations (because after a day of travel you have stories to share about the characters you met along the way and also have been storing up “oh I need to tell her when I see her” stories).

We then hit the town! We stepped out greeted by a beautiful sunset.

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We walked around the French Quarter, taking in wafting scents of cooking Creole cuisine, the fascinating people & costumes, a sundry of shops (including Halloween shops in March- what… well I guess explains the costumes?!).

Of course, we had to see the famed St. Louis Cathedral. It was interesting… there were religious groups preaching next to psychics with their crystal balls adjacent to street performers. Probably more entertainment right here than anywhere in the quarter!

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We kept walking on to Bourbon street! It wasn’t as rowdy as I expected, but it was certainly crowded. I was somewhat concerned about safety after doing a ton of research. We were extra cautious, but overall, I felt extremely safe in the main high traffic areas. The Uber driver back from the Garden District drilled into us not to go into any weird side alleys or anything that looked remotely sketchy.

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Do Pirates count as sketchy?

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We jumped into a Lyft to go to Arnaud’s!

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This restaurant was promised to be one of the most authentic New Orleans restaurants.

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I stepped in and immediately thought, Yep, this is the Big Easy!. The red and white stripes, jazz band playing the background, and elegant old fashioned decor met every NOLA expectation.

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Arnaud’s has a deep history like everything in the city. We loved the ambiance, the friendliness of everyone, and the live band made us relaxed and at ease immediately.

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I started with a dirty martini that seemed to fit the scene. It was one of the best I’ve had- not too strong and not too salty!

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Rach tried one of their specialty drinks- The Contessa! It was sooo goood!

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So, debate here- is turtle part of a pescatarian diet? I don’t know! Haha, but I had to try the turtle soup which is a staple of New Orleans cuisine. It was just okay to me, but if you are a chili lover & a meat eater, you would love it… even though this photo probably does the opposite of making it look appetizing, ha!

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Since Rachel arrived I hadn’t stopped talking about shrimp & grits (particularly the dish I had seen at Pat O Brien’s, our next stop). We decided to go light here for dinner so Rach and I split the amazing pompano duarte with sauteed fillet topped with gulf shrimp & tomatoes, seasoned with garlic, fresh herbs & chili peppers. Yum! It was delish- but I will say, my baby SF does have some fish dishes that could rival this.

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We then we weaved through the quarters to the next spot- Pat O Brien’s!—recommended by Rachel’s cousin. My grandma also said this is one of her favorite places in New Orleans to go, especially around St. Paddy’s day.

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The courtyard is the prototypical scene for some R & R on a Friday night in NOLA. There were laid back tunes playing and multi colored lights exuding festive vibes. They immediately welcome each guest with Pat O’s mardi gras beads- the only mardi gras beads either of us would be heading home with,  lol!

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We were told we had to try their Hurricanes, considered one of the staple drinks in the quarters. I had looked up Pat O’s before hand, so I knew they were massive! I told Rach there was no way I was able to even finish half of one and asked if she wanted to split. She said, “It’s one drink, how big can they be?!!”. We both ordered one and as they set them down she looked at me with the widest eyes. Needless to say, we barely put a dent in them, but the few sips we had were delicious!

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And *cue dramatic music*…. the ultimate reason I wanted to go to Pat O’s….. their shrimp and grits!!!!

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It lived up to the hype and the weeks of yearning for the ultimate shrimp & grits experience. Ugh, I can nearly taste them looking back at this picture. If I had to make a suggestion- I would say skip the fine dining and just go straight to Pat O’s.

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We jumped into a little unassuming place next to Pat O’s playing some good ole’ upbeat 90s tunes. We danced for a bit before heading back to the hotel!

We went to bed at a decent hour to get sleep for the next day. The morning of March 31st I woke up bright and early and hit the gym. I considered running outside, but since I’m not always positive where to run and which roads are safe, I just played it safe and ran in the Sheraton gym. I squeezed in about 8 miles, then was ready for some breakfast!

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I decided to walk to the Riverwalk on the GORGEOUS morning and grab some beignets and coffee from Cafe Du Monde for me & Rach (they are famous for their beignets!).

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I even spotted our Cruise Ship on the way!!

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We weren’t the biggest fans of them, sadly… I think the ones I had in Fort Worth were better. They are basically like donuts in flavor and have soft interior/crispier exteriors. I will say their coffee was PHENOMENAL. I would easily go there every day just for a cup of jo’.

After getting ready for the day, we decided to grab some grub at their famous Brunch spot, Atchafalaya! We weren’t able to make reservations, but the wait wasn’t as bad as we expected- only about 45 minutes!

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Atchafalaya is in the Garden District, so we were able to see cute little homes while we waited.

img_2189img_2226img_2225I just adore her yellow hat, can you picture any better outfit for brunching on a Saturday in the South?!

They have a fun little frying pan you can actually sit in too, how creative!

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One of their reasons their brunch is so popular is their epic make your own Bloody Mary bar. I have never made my own bloody, so Rachel helped me big time. I accidentally poured the tabasco instead of letting drips in, so it was spicy spicy, but in my opinion, the spicier the better!

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Rach had their refreshing grapefruit mimosa!

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We weren’t starving, and had no place to store leftovers, so we decided to go pretty easy on brunch. Rach tried their AWESOME potatoes and fruit, and I had their butternut squash salad with a side of poached eggs. It all hit the spot and dat cheese (triple cream) was some of the greatest cheese I have ever tried!!! It was tremendous.

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The rest of the trip may require about three more posts. Next time we go to NOLA, we’d like to do a cemetery tour & see Frenchmen street. If you are planning a trip, we were told NOW is the time to go. The weather was just perfect, and it doesn’t have the crazy traffic of their holidays seasons. Have you ever been to New Orleans?! Have any favorite restaurants/spots/memories to share? Stay tuned for some cruisin’, sunshine, & Cozumel!

xo <3

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54 thoughts on “New Orleans, LA!

    1. YESSS! They need to make that their city mantra … hahah. It’s truly nothing but fun!!!!! I wish we had more time there, but thankful we could fit in so much in the short time! Do you have any favorite restaurants/bars/things to do or see ?!

      1. Oh yeah, of course! I love the Maple Leaf and Tipitina’s, Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop, Mothers, St Louis Cemetery, the Garden District, Riveebend, Café du Monde. There’s countless places to drink, eat, hear live music. It’s a fascinating place.

      2. Oh my gooodness thank you for this lovely little list!! I am going to have to remember all these places next time I return 🙂

      3. Hahaha! You’d have to visit a 100 times to try everything. There’s plenty more where that came from. If you ever get back, just explore. You’ll find someplace you love no matter what. 😃

  1. Hi there, little Miss Sunshine!! It was so nice to follow you and Rachel through New Orleans 🙂 18 months?? You well deserved the vacation together… Traveling with one’s best friend is the best thing!! Which brings me to give you a little scoop, I haven’t told the Lovelies, yet. I’ll be taking (well, planning and aranging, she’ll pay her share, I am not that rich LOL) my best friend to Paris soon! Her and her boyfriend of the last 6 years broke up reccently, and she asked me to take her to her dream destination… Of course, I couldn’t say no!! So, yeah, I’m going to Paris in a couple of months! Yay!!

    I can’t wait to see the posts about your cruise!

    Take good care, Gorgeous! *Lots of love* xx

  2. Nice blog!! I’m from New Orleans so I’m so glad you enjoyed it!! There’s a restaurant called the gumbo shop that’s pretty good if you ever go back 🙂 also you have to get some crawfish and a “dressed” shrimp po boy! The carousel bar is pretty cool too! Thanks for sharing your journey!

    1. Aww you’re from New Orleans?!? How exiting!!! oh my gooooodness, The Gumbo Shop sounds like a dream. Thank you for the awesome suggestions! I can’t wait to try them out next time I go back (which I hope is sooner than later!).

  3. New Orleans is one of my favorite cities! I went on a family vacation forever ago and I want to go back now that I’m older so I can indulge in some fancy adult beverages 😉 A reason the mausoleums are so big is due to the fact that they can’t be buried in the ground for flooding. Can’t wait to hear about your cruise! Hope your Sunday has been wonderful girly 🙂

    1. Isn’t it such a fun place?!? I definitely think you neeeed to return as an adult. That’s soo interesting about the mausoleums!!!! I didn’t know that, how fascinating! Thanks for stopping by girlfriend!!!

  4. I love how you’ve written about New Orleans!! I recently had two co-workers talk poorly about the area. They said it smelled terrible and wasn’t what they expected. I think the problem is having too certain of an expectation rather than an open mind. You and Rachel certainly found some amazing restaurants and places! I’ve never been but would love to visit one day. I look forward to reading part two. XOXO

    1. Thanks, Kori!!! Aww I’m so sad they didn’t have the best time, but like you said allll about expectations! I will say it was a bit “dirtier” than I expected, but I think that’s because every picture portrays it as picturesque and clean (they won’t take pictures of the dirtier streets, right?!)… but all the good overshadowed the bad for sure! I felt like we didn’t quite have enough time, so I’m hoping to go back soon too 🙂 We should just have a big blog convention there! Lol. Have a great rest of your week 🙂

  5. New Orleans has always been on my bucket list, too! That’s so nice that you & your friend had the same time off!! It’s like it was all meant to be. 😀 I’ve also always wanted to try Freshly, lol did DJ like the food? The interior of Arnaud’s looks like a dream! Love the white & red stripes! Those hurricane drinks are ginormous!! & the shrimp & grits is making my mouth water… yum!! Sorry you guys didn’t enjoy the beignets as much, it looks soo good! I love your lipstick that you wore to Atchafalaya! Thanks for sharing all of the wonderful pictures and taking us on your trip with you! 😀 Can’t wait to see the rest of your vacation posts!! <3

    1. Hey girl!!! Yes exactly- it was just meant to me and we couldn’t pass that opportunity up, right?! Oh my gosh, YES, DJ loved Freshly! We already have it on auto delivery for the next couple weeks to use up the rest of the promo code. The shrimp & grits were one of my favorite dishes of the entire trip! I have heard there are a couple other hole in the wall places that are better to grab a beignet, so next time 😉 Thanks, love! I will include the lipstick in a Friday Favorite soon 🙂 XOXO

      1. Lol omg awesome to know, I’m gonna have to try Freshly someday. 😀 I hope I can vist New Orleans one day, I’ll def remember to get that shrimp & grits!! Looking forward to your Friday Favorites. <3

      2. Definitely do! They have promo codes for the first couple shipments, so make sure to use those! Shrimp & grits are a must- when you finally do try them let me know how much you love them 🙂 XOXO

  6. That red dress is so cute on you! I just love your style! Im glad you finally got to visit NOLA! I agree about cafe du monde, I don’t really like their beignets either…but Cafe Beignet in NOLA has DELICIOUS beignets! So next time you go you must try them! Cant wait to read your next post!

    1. Hi Diam!!!! oh soo good to hear from you! How are you?! You are the SWEETEST, your compliment just made my day. I’m glad you agree about Cafe Du Monde.. I thought there was something wrong with me! LOL. Oh my gosh YESSS I have heard Cafe Beignet is where to go since then! And I follow an instagram account that just posted about them yesterday. That’s first on the agenda when I go back! Any other go to places you recommend?!? XX

  7. What a fabulous trip. I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans, I’ve decided to go now for sure. In october. Hope you had a great cruise too. I look forward to you stories.

    1. YAYY! Oh I am SOOO excited for you! I am eager to get back there asap. You’ll have to let me know how you like it after you go! Have a great rest of your week, Myra! 🙂

  8. I actually grew up in a suburb right outside of New Orleans. My parents would take visiting family over all the time. I have been on that Riverwalk, rode the Natchez, and eaten at the Cafe Du Monde in the square. Oh, and I remember we would buy pecan pralines in on of the stores on the square as well. We didn’t eat at a lot of the restaurants there, but we enjoyed the aquarium, the children’s museum, and the zoo. I’m glad you had a great time!

    1. NO WAYYYY!!!! You grew up near there?! Oh I need to pick your brain! How was riding on the Natchez?! That’s on my list now for sure. Pecan pralines sound incredible. Definitely will need to add those places to the list next time 🙂 If you think of anywhere else that is a must visit I am ALL ears! XO

      1. The Natchez is pretty nice. Idont remember the trip being very long, but if you spend a lot of time walking, it can be a relaxing break. A lot of things changed after Katrina, but if I think of something, I will let you know!

  9. Girl first I am SO flipping excited for you! And second SO jealous! New Orleans has been on MY list for years!!! Some day! Actually I really want to go for Mardi Gras!
    Yasss girl! Any airport that doesn’t sell Peets is not an airport…Rigghttttt? Okay kinda Lol.
    And I LOVE Southern Hospitality! Ahhh it is amazing! And now I am super nostalgic for the South!
    Oh my lanta STOP! Your pics! Girl I am SO jealous right now! They are stunning! I legit feel like I am touring N’awlins with you! I NEED to go!
    And can we talk about your dress!? It is stunning! And Arnauds sounds amazing! Though maybe NOT the turtle soup? Though totally going with pescatarian (wait is Alligator or croc part of the pescatarian diet?!)
    Pat ‘Os sounds amazing! How did you like the hurricane? I had my first (knock off) in New York and hated it (way to orange-y), but yours looks really good and more berryish? (totally picking your head for when I go, because girl I NEED to go!)
    Shrimp and grits are the best! love them!
    And oh my lanta you girls are so flipping cute! I love it!
    Girl I love you, But but BUT you went to Cafe Du Monde? I am dripping with green right now! Dripping with green!
    And you are killing the Southern Fashion game! Killing it! And I love those shoes! and your friends hat!
    You can make your own bloody mary?!?!?! I am buying my ticket TODAY! Ahhhh Seriously this is one of my favorite spots of yours you have given me some serious wanderlust envy! I am glad you had a great time (oh I can now write in coherent sentences after drooling over this post lol) and I can not wait to read more about your cruise! <3

    1. Good omen for a good day seeing a comment from youuuuu!!!!! 🙂 Oh. my. goodness. WAIT- you haven’t been??!!?!?!!?!! I know you would LOOOOOVEEEE it. It’s such a fascinating place…. so much to do, so much great food & drink. Haha! Peet’s should be mandated in ALL airports. It’s my favorite part of the wait!!! I actually thought of you quite of few times and your Charleston pictures! Many of those homes reminded me of some I saw in your posts. Also saying you are touring with me is the ULTIMATE compliment for these travel posts, I’m sure you understand!! so the red dress is actually a romper (hard to tell from pics), but I got it dirt cheap on sale from American Eagle the day before I left. I was stoked about it, so thank you for getting excited about it with me!! I would definitely say the Hurricane was fruity- It was sweeter than anything I’d usually go for, but it was delicious and complimented the shrimp & grits PERFECTLY (that savory/sweet combo, mmmmm!!!!!). YOU DO NEED TO GO, and you NEED to get those! Maybe make a pit stop on your way to SD and I’ll join ya?! Haha. Per usual you just made my day with this comment, so glad you enjoyed our short time in New Orleans with us <3 <3 <3

      1. Girl you have no idea how much reading your comments this weekend brightened my day. THANK YOU! No I haven’t been! and I NEED to go! ahhhh And I loved Charleston! New Orleans would probably steal my heart! Awe huge hugs. I mean it! Your posts legit take us with you!
        Oh my lanta it is SO cute! I love it! Girl YASSSS! Seriously! Things have been crazy/stressful but I would love if we could get together this Summer or if you could join us in San Diego! I miss you! Awe you made my day! <3

      2. Awww! I am so glad 🙂 That makes me SO happy. And I can say the EXACT same to you. I’m so serious… we have to do Mardi gras together. It’s happenin’! We need to keep in touch about SD too. I’d LOVE to join y’all! I MISS YOUUUU! XOX

      3. Girl Yasssss! I would love to do Mardi Gras! And yessss!!! I will text you about San Diego I would LOVE to see you! We have room! And if you want to come to New York you are more then welcome! I have a “Guest Room” (I.e. A couch :p) That has your name on it! I MISS You! <3 <3 <3

      4. Girl, a couch is alll ya need (well I actually am one of those weirdos that sorta like sleeping on the floor too! Haha). I’ll text ya and figure something out hopefully! June- August should be a bit lighter for me 🙂

      5. Bwahahaha Girl wait until you see my apartment….bedroom, guest room, kitchen, dining room, yoga room, dining room, living room, dance studio, are all one room! :p Hehe BUT I do have plenty of space for visitors and you will not be sleeping on the floor 🙂 Yes girl! We have to make this happen! Been to long! <3

      1. I loved walking around and looking at the shops, we went to the marni gra museum too, which was fun. We also found the best hole in the wall Po boy place a block or so from the French quarter

      2. Ooooo the Mardi Gras museum was right by our port! Next time, next time!!! Mmmm that sounds incredible- that’s one thing we didn’t get while we were there (a po boy) & hole in the wall places are always the best! Thnks for the suggestions, Emily!!! XO

  10. Makes me what to go back! Love the play by play of your trip babe! And yes to seeing Frenchmen St next time. We went there one night and checked out a jazz bar called The Spotted Cat. SO AMAZING. Live jazz epicness!

    1. Hey girlie! Thank you for stopping by 🙂 Ahh definitely need to go ASAP. Frenchmen St. is essential next time for sure. Oh my gosh, Spotted cat was on the list of places we wanted to visit, but didn’t make. So good to know! Thanks for the suggestions, beauty!

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