4 Days in New Orleans
After just a couple of hours post landing, New Orleans became one of our favorite American cities that does not feel American at all. Heavy influences of creole culture and cajun cuisine makes this a unique experience and destination. Swayed by the notes of jazz filling every corner, drifted by the savory smells that lingered in my taste buds and carried away into believing legends of haunted places-- We invite you to discover the best of New Orleans through our complete 4 day itinerary, and yes! we're going way beyond bourbon street!
New Orleans-- Perhaps the most popular city in Louisiana that's on the Mississippi River and near the gulf of Mexico, is known for its festive atmosphere, exuberant nightlife, jazzy live music and bold/ spicy culinary flavors. Nicknamed the" Big Easy"this melting pot combines historical and generational cultures of French, African and American immigrants.
Best Time to Visit New Orleans:
🔸February to May: has good comfortable weather.
🔸June to September: is extremely hot so bring sunglasses, a hat and plenty of sunscreen. 🔸October to January: it begins to cool down.
🔹 January to March: Mardi Gras 🔹May : New Orleans Jazz Fest 🔹 September: Hot Air Balloon Festival 🔹October: Halloween Parade
🔹 December: Nola Christmas Fest/ Holiday light show in City Park.
⚜️ March to June: Crawfish season ⚜️ May: Food and Wine festival ⚜️ June: Oyster Festival / Cajun-Zydeco Festival ⚜️ July: Tales of the Cocktail Carnival ⚜️ September: Fried Chicken Festival
We decided to visit at the end of September during their Fried Chicken Festival, being foodies that we are and we couldn't have been happier with our decision. Despite the weather still being extremely hot, lines were short, hotel accommodations were affordable and bourbon street only slightly had that infamous vomit smell to it... So for us that was a win, win! No matter when you decide to visit New Orleans, I promise you this: There will always be a party going on with the best live music and the food will be so full of flavor, it will blow your mind!
Transportation from the airport: I have to hand it to New Orleans, most organized airport we've been to! So easy to navigate... They even have a designated area for App related pick ups 🙌🏽 so we knew exactly where to wait for our Uber 💃🏽🕺🏽
With so much free time (not having to look for our Uber driver) we decided to take a bunch of selfies! At that moment I knew this trip would be hassle free and easy going...
Day 1 -- Exploring The French Quarter & sailing the Mississippi River to Algiers Point...
We arrived in New Orleans at exactly 9:11am. After Taking our Uber downtown (approximately a 30 min ride), we decided to skip checking in since we were traveling light and headed off to one of our favorite breakfast spots -- Willa Jean! We had: * Louisiana Crab Benedict * BBQ Shrimp Toast * A couple of lattes * Cookies and milk with cookie dough
After breakfast, check into your hotel or if it's too early drop your bags off. We stayed in the downtown area, walking distance to the French Quarter. If you're looking to party all night then staying in the French Quarter is ideal for you, we knew we wanted a sound free sleep, so we opted for the more relaxed downtown area stay. During the next 4 days we'll be doing a lot of walking so I recommend comfortable shoes. Now that we're luggage free, let's start exploring Nola at its core-- strolling around the French Quarter! Grab a welcome early morning frozen drink at Erin Rose-- Open 21 hours and known to have great po' boy ( a traditional Louisiana sandwich) but my favorite thing there is their frozen Irish coffee... so good!
Traveling with kids & Heat survival tip: If you're traveling to New Orleans during summer and the heat gets to ya or it starts to rain out of nowhere...the best spot to cool off at ( besides a restaurant/ bar ) is the aquarium... The AC is always blasting in there! Plus you get to see cute little sea creatures. The aquarium is also a great google maps location point to find the ferry area stop to cruise the Mississippi River. This general area has outdoor festivals ( in this case, the fried chicken festival), shopping malls and restaurants.
Near the aquarium, on canal street take the ferry and sail the Mississippi River. *Money saving tip: instead of booking a cruise to sail the Mississippi, take the local ferry for just $2! & get a view of Nola from Algiers point. Ferry leaves every 30min and coming back every 15min
Once on Algiers Point, you can find local bars and restaurants. The vibe on this part of town is way less touristy and very local, there's really not much happening. We were full so instead of eating we decided to go on a hunt for colorful houses. We found 3 main areas with beautiful vivid colorful houses; throughout this itinerary, I'll share all these locations with you. Beginning with Algiers Point -- our favorite homes were on De la Ronde street , Vallette street and Oliver street. Take a look at the beauties we found!
After some strolling around, make your way back to the French Quarter via ferry.
View of Nola from Algiers Point.
If its the weekend and you make it back to the French Quarter by 2pm ( they close at 2:30pm and re-open at 5:30pm) head to Sylvain for some cocktails. After, visit Jackson Square and walk around. You'll find live music, street food, art for sale and fortune teller gypsies...real or scam? share your experience on a comment bellow if you decide to have your fortune read. New Orleans is known for its ghostly spirits. In fact, its said to be the most haunted state in all U.S.A! In Jackson Square visit: The St. Louis Cathedral.
Near by you'll find Pirates Alley a 1830's cobble stone street alley full of vendors and artists hanging out. In the mood to see a show? Head on to Le Petit Theater one of the longest running theaters in the United States, established in 1916. Then find a nook, escape the southern heat and drink! @napoleonhousenola has the best #pimmscup we've ever had, went in for one stayed for 3! Beyond the Pimm's Cup, this is a great spot to try a Muffuletta at. The Muffuletta is an italian on the go sandwich that's usually picked up at a deli or grocery store and served cold. Invented in 1906, this type of sandwich was created by an Italian immigrant and first made and served at the French Market in New Orleans. Years later Napoleon House adapted this recipe and brought it in to a sit down restaurant, making it a hot dish to enhance the flavors. What's in a Muffuletta?
🔸Seeded Muffuletta bun 🔸Extra virgin olive oil 🔸ham 🔸salami 🔸 pastrami 🔸 provolone cheese 🔸Swiss cheese 🔸olive salad... Yum!
Ready for bar #4? Have a cocktails inside a spinning, functioning carousel! At Carousel Bar inside the Monteleone Hotel. Touristy? Sure!! A must do? Absolutely!!! Where else can you feel like a kid and grown up at the same time!?! Plus, they make amazing craft cocktails here. This is a great spot to try one of New Orleans signature cocktails -- The Sazerac, handcrafted to perfection! Heads up, this bar is always crowded so if waiting for a seat just keep walking straight and you'll find a second bar that's part of the hotel, crowd free! This is the perfect spot to wait while a chair in this carousel opens up, just keep an eye out!
Having the Mississippi River right there it's no surprise Nola is filled with amazing seafood spots. One of our favorite Happy Hour Oyster spots in the the French Quarter was Luke's Restaurant. We loved it so much, we came here twice! Raw Oyster are .75¢ and Fried Oyster are $1.25 -- beyond happy hour, they have an amazing selection of specialty oysters! Definitely a place for foodies to check out! Have an early dinner here and save room for dessert, our next stop...
Drip Affogato Bar--
@dripaffogatobar has the best affogato flight in NOLA!
What's on my plate?
* Green Tea
You can end your first night in New Orleans walking along Royal Street. In that area you'll find Preservation Hall-- a very famous old school jazz club & Pat O' Brien's -- an old school bar, established in 1933 that's famous for their hurricane drinks. Or instead walk along Bourbon Street -- where all the partying happens, there's no shortage of bars and restaurants in this area! We opted to join a ghost tour offered by " Free Tours by Foot"
New Orleans is known to be one of the most haunted cities in the U.S.A.
T.V. shows, movies and documentaries are shot here often do to it's spooky setting and haunting legends. Groups of tourists gather up in Jackson Square at night to go on a guided ghost tour, where they take you to haunted bars, restaurants and houses! This photo was taken on the rear side of the St. Louis Cathedral. It's a haunting sight with the shadow of the statue of Jesus projected in such a grand way yet it's supposed to symbolize openness and acceptance. I recommend selecting a tour that's no longer than 1.5 hours, anything longer will seem like a lecture and will not be fun. Our tour ran over to 2.5 hours and we were over it by that point. Nevertheless, I do believe these tours could be fun depending on the tour you choose. Maybe next time we visit we'll do a paying tour and compare the difference, also haunted bars instead of haunted places and people night be more fun... you get to drink along the way with every stop! -- end of day 1
DAY 2 -- Cruising though Frenchmen Street, Faubourg Marigny and the ByWater district...
Today is all about colorful houses, the best live jazz music scene and good beignets! The two most popular places in New Orleans to try a beignet at are: Cafe Du Monde -- established in 1862 ( cash only ) & Cafe Beignet. We went to both and have a favorite. For us it's Cafe Beignet all the way! The Beignets were lighter, fluffier and tasted so fresh!!! Head here for breakfast, a great way to start your day.
After breakfast head on to the French Market for some shopping, snacking and if feeling adventurous some wild gator game meat --tastes a lot like chicken, just a bit tougher. Today we'll be doing a lot of walking, so make sure to bring those comfy shoes, your feet will thank ya!
Up next we'll be taking a city walk (approximately 4 hours ). In this walk we'll see more local neighborhoods, rail tracks, warehouses, colorful homes and make two stops. One for lunch and one for wine and snacks. From the French Market we're heading on to Faubourg Marigny and ending in the ByWater district. Along this walk we'll pass another popular market
St. Roch Market, which we will not stop at but you totally can :) I'll give you the street name and general area to some of my favorite homes but in respect for the owners privacy as these are private residences, I will not disclose the full address. Make as many stops as you like. Go out there, explore and get lost! We had so much fun doing so and felt like little kids on a colorful treasure hunt! That's part of the fun-- getting lost and finding these beautiful houses!
Not as crazy as the French Quarter.... Not as far as Bywater... But right in the middle, we found the neighborhood of Faubourg Marigny to be one of our favorite! Just the right amount of walking in southern heat, this more secluded neighborhood is boasting with bohemian bars, local jazz clubs and Cajun bistros. Ohh and the houses I mean, look at this beauty!!! This is our first stop, a 6 min walk from the French Market. Located in Esplanade Ave this pink beauty will make any dancing disco queens dreams come true!
a 4 min walk after, find this home full of sunshine and ready for spring all year round on Chartres St.
a 9 min walk from there, this Barbie dream home can be found on Marigny St.
a 7 min walk after, say hello to red doors in Burgundy St.
* Challenge : can you find what street theses are on? Leave a comment if you found theses!
Find popping colors on Clouet St.
Hungry? Stop at Red's Chinese for Lunch--2min walk from our last house!
We were a little skeptical to try Chinese food in a city like New Orleans-- known for it's bold Cajun flavors and Creole cuisine. But since we were already in the area and Fernando really wanted to give it a try, we decided to give it a go, and after our first appetizer we fell in love with this place... Add it to your list of places to eat at! It will not disappoint! This restaurant has infused traditional Chinese food with Southern flavors and eccentric charm... Super yum!!
Fall in Love with all the street art murals in the area, this was my favorite one!
Find my favorite house in Nola at Independence St.
End your colorful journey at Bacchanal-- This is such a cool spot! They have a wine store where you can buy refreshments and snacks with an amazing cheese selection. After your purchase, simply give your items to the chef and he'll make up a plate for you 😍 then head upstairs or to the patio for some live music!
After cooling off at Bacchanal, head back over to the Frenchmen street area in search of some of the best live jazz music spots. But before, enjoy happy hour at Cane & Table (3-6pm) We loved having cocktails and eating their Haitian Fried Chicken! A local gem bar, far enough from bourbon street yet close enough to all the local jazz clubs!
Here were some of our favorite spots for live Jazz in Nola: Street Jazz at Jackson Square. This is free and impromptu as its local jazz musician sharing their love of music for a tip. So, no planning ahead
(unless there's a festival) chances are you might be walking by and spot them! Stop, listen, tip and chat when they're not playing. People in New Orleans are super friendly, we made new friends that day!
Jazz, drinks and bites at Three Muses. Check their website before arriving as they have different set times. The one we went to was the 7pm and those guys were killing it!
Find more street live Jazz on frenchmen street, have an outdoor party with your
to-go drink and don't forget to tip!
Our last Jazz spot goes to The Spotted Cat, where we ended our night. This spot is also based on different set times so check their website before going. There's no cover charge ( unless its a big band playing ) and this spot is cash only.
Need a sugar fix? head on to Cafe du Monde for a beignet! This spot is cash only and open 24 hours.
--end of day 2
Day 3 -- Magazine Street & The Garden District...
Today we're riding the street car. Yes, it may be slower than an Uber but it's such a neat experience! Plus you get to relax and take the scenery in... Ride the street car uptown to magazine street! It's only $1.25 The St. Charles Avenue line, is the oldest continuously operating street rail system in the world! Up and running since 1893!
Magazine Street--For breakfast head over to Surrey's Cafe for hipster breakfast vibes.
After Breakfast go vintage shopping at one of the cutest stores ever--
Century Girl Vintage
We stopped for sweets at :
After strolling around Magazine Street, make your way down to the Garden District, where you'll find mansions own by celebrities, mansions used in famous Hollywood films and T.V shows and a mansion turned restaurant that offers $.25 martinis.. what!?!? The Garden District is where the other half lives-- the super wealthy other half that is! Worth a stroll on a day you're feeling fancy... The vibe in this neighborhood is upscale with muted colors and elaborate gardens... Hence it's name 🍃 Here were my favorite Mansions in the Garden District:
1. 1315 1st Street : Owned by Carroll Crawford, built in 1869. Known for hosting lavish parties back in the day... Just close your eyes and picture a "Great Gatsby" moment... Limousines pulling up and reveling the "IT" crowd wearing lots of beaded sequin dresses and even bigger precious stone jewelry. Men in bow ties and hats, women with delicate feathered adornments in their hair or perhaps it was way before the 1920s that these parties were being held and the "I crowd arrived in carriages. Women wearing corsets and big dresses; no matter the era, this was the place to be at and be seen at!
2. 1432 Magazine Street -- Something to keep in mind while walking this area is to wear comfortable shoes. Some of the side walk is broken and uneven, making a fall or ankle twist just around the conner, so be careful while walking and always look down. You can also download an app on your phone that will give you a self guided tour experience of this location and Mansions, guided tours are also available.
3.1410 Jackson " Bunkers Mansion " built in 1856 and also used as front set in the American Horror Story season 4 "Coven".
4. 1331 1st Street built in 1860.
5. That Pink and Brick Mansion--
Out of all the mansions in this area, this one is probably the most edgy / different one with the exception of a couple other colorful ones we found. You won't find this mansion as part of the tour, for this one you'll have to steer away from the crowd and take the less traveled road. Hint: It's easy to find if you look at the side streets from all the other ones we're visiting, that's how we found this beauty!
6. As you stroll around, make sure to pay attention to all the beautiful handmade old iron fences, gates and architecture that dominate this area. You'll find really neat styles; corn, flowers, Pumpkins etc. This one was one of my favorites...kinda looks like Bojack, don't you think?
7. 2523 Prytania Street --Nicholas Cage's Former Mansion-- eccentric much?
ohhh the drama...we definitely felt the energy. As soon as we got to this Mansion, the sky turned grey and harsh showers followed after. This is very common in New Orleans, so it's always a good idea to carry a small umbrella with you, no matter how sunny and promising the sky looks when you leave your hotel. Nicholas Cage Owned this mansion before loosing it to foreclose in 2009. He also owned another very controversial ( for its dark past ) Mansion in the French Quarter. If you decide to take the haunted homes tours that other Mansion
will be covered there. It belonged to Madame Delphine LaLaurie in the 1800's -- a New Orleans socialite and serial killer who tortured and murdered slaves in her household.
8. 2707 Coliseum -- Hollywood movie fans: can you guess what movies opening scene takes place on these steps? Hint: it's a film about aging in reverse...
9. 1540 Harmony --The most colorful mansion in the Garden District!
10. 2701 Saint Charles -- Some of these mansions are for sale! Who wants to buy one? ( Look at how fast the sky is changing, I took these photos not even a minute apart from one another, right before the storm hit! ).
After have luch inside an old manison turned restaurant and drink .25 CENT martinis!
Commander's Palace is a staple to the garden district. This mansion turned restaurant is probably the most colorful mansion in this area. In fact when Ella
(founder / Owner) painted it aqua blue all the neighbors were freaking out, but she wanted everyone to know she was in town and her old spot had relocated with a new name but same inventive cuisine... This was back in 1974 so you can imagine. There's an awesome documentary on Netflix " Ella Brennan, commanding the table" that if you're a foodie or simply planning a visit to Nola and this restaurant, I recommend you watch. For me as I traveler I love knowing where I am and the history of the place I'm in, plus Ella has major #girlpower this woman straight out of high school dedicated her life to her family owned restaurant in the French Quarter and created a name for herself... What a legacy!
The basic's and what you need to know:
🍸 Reservations are required
🍸 There's a dress code
🍸 .25 CENT martinis are offered only during lunch 11:30-1:30PM
🍸 there's a limit of 3 martinis per person " cause that's enough" and I'm quoting the menu 😂 and it is, they're so strong, colorful and yummy!
TRY-- Their Turtle Soup, takes 3 days to make and its delicious!
TRY-- Their bread pudding and remember to order ahead of time as this is freshly baked and takes about 25min to cook...
Lafayette Cemetery Number 1
Did you know that once you purchase cemetery space, that's the only property the government can't take away from you if you go bankrupt? Yeap, that's right! Totally rethinking the order in which I buy property now 😂 If you have extra time, I recommend strolling around one of Nola's many cemeteries. What makes these so unique is that they're built above ground, not a common practice in the U.S.A , due to this, they've served as many movie sets for horror films... Can you name any? 👻
P.S: This one is located right across Commander's Palace, so you can head here after lunch!
From here we're taking the street car back to the French Quarter. Visit any favorite spots one last time, buy some souvenirs to take home and enjoy the rest of the evening without an agenda! Get lost, find new places, meet the locals, hang out and have fun!
Day 4 --Half Day
Let's start our last day in NOLA with a classic creole comfort breakfast! For a truly southern diner experience we recommend visiting Mother's said to be Beyonce's & JZ's favorite spot in New Orleans!
Before you go have that famous Nola Hurricane drink in one of America's 10 oldest bars-- Seriously this place was established in the early 1770s and has no electricity! Everything is lit by candles at night. Definitely felt a little haunted... I recommend visiting during night time. Check out their calendar online, on some nights they have live piano in a candle light setting. I wouldn't call it a romantic setting, with it's eerie feel, this spot tele-transports you to time where pirates would gather to drink and share ghost stories 😜 definitely deserves checking out... And whatever you do DON'T STIR that drink!
Our third spot for spotting colorful, lush and beautiful houses is all throughout the French Quarter, they're everywhere! Take a look at some of the ones we found simply strolling around!
One last bar before we leave the French Quarter... this spot has amazing cocktails!
On your way to the airport, stop at Willie Mae's for some lunch.Their specialty? Fried Chicken! Crispy, juicy and made to order. If they ask you wether you want white or dark meat, we recommend white meat. We bought a plate of each and preferred it over dark.
This concludes our Itinerary guide for first timers in New Orleans! Nola is definitely a place we want to keep going back to! There are so many restaurants we have yet to try, drinks to have and music to listen and dance to! Thanks for reading, hope this guide helps you on your journey exploring New Orleans. Please leave a comment below and let me know about your trip! Would love to know how your Nola experience was....'till next time!