This post is so long, sorry. Everything in bold is that areas/places that I recommend to check out. We only had about 18 waking hours TOTAL spent in New Orleans and did all this- with a baby. We will definitely be back for a longer trip because I just know there’s so much more to see!
After stopping in Atlanta our next stop was New Orleans. Neither of us had ever been there before so we were really excited. I got a great deal on a hotel right off Canal Street downtown so after the 7-hour drive (during which I needed ALL of my resources) we decided to head straight there, drop off the bags quick and start exploring.
Parking in New Orleans is kind of a bitch, and it’s pretty expensive- our hotel’s garage was $30 for one night. I went on the BestParking website instead and found a nearby lot for $15, so I’d recommend the same to other visitors. We parked at a meter near the hotel entrance to check-in and carry up our things for about a half hour, and then headed to the garage I found. When we left, we just brought the car back to the hotel and parked at a meter again while we loaded it up. We did the same thing on our return visit to save some money, it really wasn’t a big deal.
We immediately headed to Bourbon Street because duh, right? I was kind of already in a stressed out mood because the baby was freaking out after the ride from Atlanta, and we thought our car needed an oil change, e.t.c. … but Michael looked up a bar and lead the way. The GPS took us through an alley with a ton of crackheads and I started getting more stressed out, then when we got to the bar (Carousel Bar) it was super crowded so we went to Bourbon Street instead.
I was really put off by how dirty it was and how bad it smelled, and all the porn shops and strip/sex clubs with strippers just chillin outside, who weren’t exactly easy on the eyes LOL. This was like 4pm on a Thursday, and it was pretty wild. I’ve been to my fair share of stripclubs (including The Clermont Lounge– you don’t even want to know) and lived in the ghetto and went to weird gross bars in the hood so it is NOT easy to shock me- but at this particular time there were just soooo many drug addicts (like not drunks, drunks are fine lol) and homeless people legit rolling around on the street in front of me smelling like cat pee. One guy had a sign that said “Beer for asshole”- DA FUUUUQ?! I was just in a serious WTF state of mind. I was expecting more of a Mardi Gras feel I guess- more college kids and touristy, not so much dirty dive bars and homeless people. There were a few street performers as expected but it was a 50/50 mix between actual performers and people with no talent just chain smoking and wearing something weird hoping to have some $$ dropped in a hat…..
But, like Savannah, you can drink on the street, so we got a daiquiri obvs.
We headed to Jackson Square then to the river. Again, there were a LOT of homeless/train hopping people asking for money. You know- the ones wearing like combat boots and hiking gear, always with a dog, begging for cash yet they have iPhones in their pockets. Then I saw this and I 100% believed it was actual coke because of all I had just seen:
It wasn’t. It was sugar from Cafe du Monde. Clever though.
We just weren’t getting a great vibe and decided to get another drink, head back to the hotel and eat some food. Per Macy’s recommendation we ordered takeout from Daisy Duke’s and it was the most unhealthy feast ever but totally delish.
The next morning, I saw a guy about our age passed out on the ground with his head laying in the street, body on the sidewalk. That was our first impression of New Orleans.
On the way back from Houston we stopped in New Orleans again to break up the trip. We stayed on Canal Street and this time, it was a Monday, and we got there a lot earlier. I researched some spots that I wanted to check out so after settling in the room, we headed straight to Bourbon Street again to give it another chance. It was MUCH better- still smelled like puke, but at least the strippers were inside. I wanted to see the “oldest bar in America” called Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop so we headed all the way down Bourbon, and it was super interesting to see the area get more residential as the blocks went on.
We got a hand grenade at Tropical Isle (so yum) and then headed into the Marigny neighborhood, which was fun to explore. It reminded us a lot of an in-town Atlanta neighborhood, with a Charleston feel, mixed with more European influences. Our favorite thing ever is just to walk around new cities and explore- New Orleans is so perfect for this, and we don’t have to hide our cocktails in Coke bottles (kidding, kind of).
Once we hit Frenchman Street life started making more sense- and we started realizing what our friends who have been here and used to live here were talking about. There were bars, restaurants and cafes that probably weren’t “locals only” per se, but much less crowded and less of a shitshow. If I were to go out at night barhopping in NOLA, this would probably be where I’d go, to avoid the old people having mid- and late-life crises on Bourbon.
We then hit Decatur Street where there were even more shops and bars, and Michael stopped in one to get some beers to-go, and spoke to a bartender who gave us more insight on the city. We explored the French Market, which is a total twin to Charleston’s Market Street. I felt at home with all the tourists and random knick knacks haha. I mean, there was even a Pepper Palace, just like Market Street here.
Eventually we ended up at Cafe du Monde and I don’t know if it was the drinks or what, but my husband actually agreed to stand in the line so I could eat some fried sugar. It was around 2pm, and the line was 20 minutes or so, not too bad. It was cash only so we couldn’t get anything more than one order of beignets haha. They were really good and we ate them on the steps near Jackson Square.
When in NOLA, you drink a Hurricane, so we got a Hurricane, and started walking the other way, out of the French Quarter and towards Canal. We headed down Tchoupitoulas Street, got coffee and planned on getting dinner on Magazine Street but by that time little lemon had had it, and we made our way back towards the hotel.
After a quick nap we headed out again and ate dinner at Johnny White’s on Bourbon Street. We just wanted somewhere outdoors- and after Pat O’Briens was too crowded, we went there instead because it was the closest place and the little was HUNGRY. It was typical American food but the upstairs balcony has a great view and it’s not really expensive. On the way back to the hotel we walked down Royal Street and Chartres Street. Whew- it was a busy day.
The next morning we went to the Garden District and explored Magazine Street. There were SO many shops and restaurants- you could easily spend a whole day here walking up and down the entire stretch. We stopped at District Donuts and ate the BEST donut I’ve literally ever had in my life, Vietnamese Iced Coffee it was called. The coffee was also amazing and we tried a kolache for the first time. I actually dropped it in the trash by mistake, but it was wrapped up tight, so I grabbed it out right quick and still ate it. Ha.
We ended up uptown and saw some gigantic mansions, then headed towards City Park where the art museum is located. There wasn’t enough time to check it all out, but next time. The park has a place called Storyland that looks super cute for kids, too.
By no means am I an expert on New Orleans, but these are just my recommendations, especially if you have a limited amount of time like we did. I would hate for someone else to be like us and almost give up on it after one quick stroll down Bourbon and through the touristy areas- it is SO much more than that and so worth another chance!
It’s also worth noting that we did ALL of this on foot, but the transit system seems easy enough and really affordable. We just like walking ha.
We’re super excited to plan another trip back, preferably a week long or more!
PS I haven’t recapped the weekend with our house showing and all but will soon. We’re going to see it again this week, and then I’ll elaborate a bit more. Right now it’s all up in the air so I don’t want to get ahead of myself =)