Like many couples, my husband and I have a pretty extensive travel bucket list separated by continent, length of trip, and places we have to go before we have a kid and have to travel with an alarming amount of unwieldy baby items. New Orleans was one of our ‘pre-kid’ travel destinations, so we took a 4 day trip there in the Spring of 2014 as a partial adult spring break/yay we just got engaged/happy birthday vacation.
When I tell you that I ate 5 po’boys in 4 days I am not exaggerating. My husband still tells people that he has never seen me eat more in my life than I did in the 96 hours we were in Lousiana. He says it with awe and admiration, not with judgment, which is part of the reason I married that son of a gun! I digress…
Here are some New Orleans must eat, cannot live withouts:
* Breakfast- Eggs Cochon from the Ruby Slipper
* Lunch – Muffaletta from Central Grocery
* Dinner – Roast Beef Po’Boy from Mothers Restaurant
* Dessert (or all day every day) – Beignets from Cafe du Monde. We stopped at Cafe du Monde every day. The line looks intimidating, but it moves quickly. There’s no one there to seat you, you just grab a table as soon as someone stands up to leave. This type of aggressive, action-packed seat claiming was not a problem for us native New Englanders, but those from other regions are going to have to pocket the pleasantries if they want to get their hands on the sweet doughy goodness that is a beignet.
* Take a trip to one of the plantations. You can book a bus trip that will take you out there, but we rented a car and drove ourselves so we could experience the outskirts of the city more for a day. We chose to go to Oak Alley, on the advice of a friend who had lived in the area previously, and it was truly stunning. We toured the plantation and mansion, sauntered through the exhibits, and ate lunch at the on-site restaurant (catfish po’boy and a mint julep flight = heaven). Sidenote: a scene from the classic Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer was filmed there, so now you obviously need to go.
* Do a ghost tour. We have done a lot of ghost tours and this was by far our favorite. I got the tickets on groupon for Witches Brew Tours. It was 2 hours long, you stopped in the middle for a to go cup at a local bar, and learned all about NOLA history and ghostly folklore. Amazing.
* Spend a night on Frenchman Street. It’s where are all the best local and original jazz music is played. If you want to hear Rhianna and One Direction, go to Bourbon Street. If you want to hear genuine New Orleans jazz, go to Frenchman Street.
* Venture through the Garden District. Unless you’re staying in the Garden District (which is not advisable because you’ll be far from everything else) you’ll have to take the trolley/streetcar out there. The trolley was a rather miserable experience: small seats, long waits, long stops, and slooooow. On the way back we took the trolley halfway and then just walked the last couple of miles. We made it back before the trolley. Anyway, the Garden District is gorgeous! Old and beautifully kept houses, lavish gardens, massive cemeteries, and of course more stellar food.
Here are some New Orleans should nots:
* Stay in a hotel on Bourbon Street…unless you are a 19 year old college student, enjoy the continued harassment of exotic dancers who stand outside of clubs to ‘lure’ you in, and/or prefer to listen to the thumping sounds of techno music 24 hours per day.
* Begin your day with a daiquiri and assume you will be able to sustain the daiquiri lifestyle for the next 12 hours. You can drink on the street in New Orleans. You can get a drink at a bar, decide you want to leave, ask for a ‘to go’ cup, and walk into another bar with the first bars drink! This is very tempting, so are all of the stands with multiple flavored daiquiris whirring around in slushi machines waiting for you, yes YOU, to simply make a selection and go about your day. That being said, our favorite daiquiri, the ‘Voo Doo’ daiquiri (aka grape), came from Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop.
* Decide to live up your last day in New Orleans by indulging in multiple beverages and then immediately head to the airport. Learn from our mistake.
New Orleans is magical. We found it incredibly relaxing even though we did a lot of sightseeing…and eating…and decided that if we ever have enough money as John Goodman (New Orleans resident) we’d get a vacation home down there in a second!