New Orleans

For the past several years, I’ve taken a Spring Break trip with my mom. She works in the school system here, so we’ve always taken advantage of that time off as a family in the past … but now that my brother + dad have a lot going on, we started doing girls trips instead. And this year, my aunt is coming along for the ride! My mom and her together are hilarious, so it’s sure to be an adventure. As of right now, we’ve decided that we’d like to drive ( 18 hours!! ) down to New Orleans. None of us have been there before, so I thought I would check in with you all for any recommendations. I have a feeling that we’ll be doing a lot of walking around, bouncing into shops / eateries, and simply exploring. So if you have ideas of places to stay, see, eat, tour, etc. – we are definitely open to them.

Before heading back home, we also plan to head east for a few days of relaxing along the coast. After our horrible winter ( with no end in sight ) … it’s exactly what we need. We’re not sure where to stop, though, so again : I would love to hear your thoughts! We’ve considered everything from Biloxi, Mississippi to the Gulf Shores of Alabama, and even Florida’s Panhandle. We’re not very familiar with the South ( only have driven through Georgia ), so I’m excited to explore a bit down there and see what it’s all about. March 22nd can’t come soon enough! It’s cold up here.

  1. This sounds so exciting! I’ve never been, so unfortunately no tips from me, but I am sure you will have a wonderful time! :)

  2. Whitney says:

    Ooh, I can’t wait to hear about this trip! I’ve always wanted to go to New Orleans!

  3. Lori says:

    What fun! I’ve been there a couple of times and you have to go down to Bourbon Street, stop in and have a Hurricane, too. :) There are also lots of galleries in the area – I think a couple of streets over.
    Have a great trip!

  4. Rashi says:

    Ah I love NOLA! Some tips:

    + Eat dinner at Coquette. It’s a bit pricy, but if you are looking to splurge, this is the place to do it, in my opinion. The food and ambiance is FANTASTIC!
    + If you want to listen to live music, go to Frenchmen Street. It’s where all the locals hang out at night and the live music is awesome. I went to Blue Nile, but there are a bunch of great places to listen to music here. I think hitting up a spot here is a MUST—the music is truly intoxicating and it was one of the best nights I had while I was in NOLA. A bunch of cute bars here and it’s away from the craziness that is Bourbon street.
    + Get a beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde
    + Take the St. Charles Streetcar Line out of the central part of NOLA and see the beautiful Southern mansions
    + Eat dinner at Acme Oyster House— awesome Oysters and Po’ Boys

    I hope that helps! Enjoy your trip!!!

    • breanna says:

      Thanks for the tips, Rashi! I totally appreciate it. :) Which direction did you take the street cars on the St. Charles line?

    • Rashi says:

      I can’t remember which direction exactly, but you are looking to go through the Garden District (the St. Charles Line passes right by it). The line picks you up right near the French Quarter. Also, you’ll pass Loyola and Tulane Universities and their campuses are beautiful, so make sure to hop out of the street car to explore!

  5. Danielle says:

    I have never been, but Megan gives a really good overview of their stay in New Orleans. (http://www.thefreshexchangeblog.com/2014/01/wild-weekend-new-orleans/) Might be helpful! My mom and I were thinking of taking a cruise for a girls getaway. We’ve never gone on a vacation just the two of us. Sounds like fun!

  6. Alyson says:

    NOLA is so beautiful! I think you’ll really enjoy the architecture and scenery. I would HIGHLY recommend getting beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. And of course seeking out some delicious cajun food.

    I’m from Florida, so if you ladies do decide hitting up some beaches, Pensacola/Destin/Gulf Breeze areas are some of my favorite beaches. Gorgeous white sands and blue waters! Pensacola also has a pretty cute city center with shops and restaurants.

    Hope that helps! Have fun on your trip!

    • breanna says:

      I think we are leaning towards Pensacola in general, because it would only be about a 3 hour drive from NOLA and the same distance back home on our way out. I’ve been to Florida many times before, just never the panhandle … so question. Is Pensacola a big city? Trying to figure out if we do go there, where it would be best for us to stay @ night. I know we’ll want to go to the beach and bum around shops ( mom mom loves the kitschy stuff ), but you mentioned the city center being cute. How far is that from the beach?

      I guess the reason I’m asking is because I’ve gone to other cities in FL where it takes FOREVER to get to the beach from the main city area ( ie : Fort Myers, Fort Lauderdale, etc. ) Thoughts?? Hopefully I’m making sense. :) Florida is my favorite place to go during the winter, so I’m glad we’ll be stopping by.

    • Alyson says:

      Pensacola isn’t a big city. The Panhandle in general is nothing like South Florida, MUCH more relaxed, easier to get around, etc! The last time I was there, my friend and I stayed here: http://www.soleinnandsuites.com/ It’s a cute little Inn, nothing too fancy or pricey. It’s off of Palafox, where you can walk 1/2 mile to the bay area and pass by lots of bars and restaurants on the way (including The Leisure Club, go there for their coffee, desserts! So good!)! Gulf Islands and Pensacola Beach are just a 10-15 drive from that area and I can’t tell you enough how gorgeous it is. I don’t remember too many kitschy shops in the area but I did find a cool record store off of Gregory St and Palafox.

      Hope that helps!

  7. Lara says:

    I went to New Orleans last summer and absolutely loved it!! I stayed at a home I found on AirBnB and it was great – the owners name was Tara if that helps. It was close enough to the French Quarter to ride bikes there, but we drove mostly everyday and parked in the main French Quarter lot which was pretty reasonable for the whole day, so I’d recommend that.

    My other big recommendation is to skip the riverboat cruise or at least go into it with lower expectations than I did. Also eat first because the food was SO overpriced/bad and you weren’t allowed to bring lunch on the boat. But it was a lovely ride, I had just really over-hyped it in my head.

    I seriously loved NOLA though, and could walk around there for days. Can’t wait to see your photos from the trip!

  8. Peyton says:

    I am from the Gulf Coast (Pensacola, FL) and this sounds like such a fun trip! You’ll have to drive over as far as Seaside, FL, and Aly’s Beach for some great shopping and eating at all the small boutiques and local restaurants.

    • breanna says:

      Good to know! We really are looking for some relaxation + nice beaches. Do you think Pensacola will do that? My mom loves kitschy ( beach side ) shops, too. Thoughts? I would LOVE to get to Aly’s beach, but worry it’s too far east for us to turn around and have to drive back home. Pensacola is tops on our list, I’m just trying to get a feel for size / things to do / beaches / etc. Any more thoughts would be lovely, since you’re local!

    • Peyton says:

      I feel so terrible that I am just no seeing your reply – I noticed on Instagram that you are already in NOLA!

      The Pensacola area is fairly small, but the downtown area is nice and is growing quickly. Pensacola Beach is about 10 minutes from downtown and there is a $1 toll at the beach bridge. There aren’t too many boutiques on the beach that I know of, but there are a few great restaurants and the beaches are gorgeous – nothing compares! Grand Marlin is located on the water and is great for lunch or dinner – a spot many locals frequent; Cactus Flower is on the boardwalk and my favorite California-style Mexican restaurant; Red Fish, Blue Fish is a newer restaurant located on the water with a great outdoor seating area and their prices are really good. Many locals also love The Native Cafe for breakfast. I would recommend spending some time downtown as well – there are a bunch of great restaurants along S. Palafox. A few of my favorites… The Fish House – they have amazing shrimp and grits, “Grits a Ya Ya”, and sushi; Leisure Club is great for coffee and a light lunch; Jaco’s is a bar & grill located right on the Palafox Pier Marina with awesome views and really good flatbread pizzas, salads, etc. There is also an Airstream food court with outdoor seating and a few different options at the corner of Palafox and Main. Slightly north of downtown on 9th Avenue is Norma’s at Duh. It’s part of a newly-renovated home decor shop and great for lunch – Norma is known for her chicken salad and bread pudding. Depending on the dates you are there, you may be able to catch a Blue Wahoos game – their stadium is located downtown on the water!

      I hope I’m not too late in giving some more specific advice, and I hope this helps! Looking forward to reading about where all you guys go!

  9. Kadie says:

    Oh, this sounds so wonderful!! I’m from Alabama, and grew up going to Seaside and Grayton Beach. The most relaxing beach towns with the best little shops. You’ll love it!

  10. Heather says:

    The panhandle is amazing! Anywhere near the gulf will always be beautiful. There are some super cute little towns in that part of FL with some incredible southern charm. I would check Apalachicola FL and Destin. Destin for the pretty beaches and Apalachicola for the sweet little village feel.

  11. Laci says:

    So exciting! For New Orleans definitely get beignets and coffee at Cafe du Monde. Also, while deciding the other leg of your trip definitely check the weather! I live in LA but my whole family is in the south… in a week in a half they experienced a snow storm, 70 degree, weather, and a tornado warning.. so the weather is pretty wishy washy. I would suggest Destin, Gulf Shores, or even Atlanta if you want a big city shopping vibe.

    • breanna says:

      Oh, I know! CRAZY winter it’s been – right? All we know is anything will be better than the sub-zero temps we’ve endured off and on for the past couple months. ;) Hopefully the end of March will be a tad warmer than now down in the south, though!

  12. Vicky says:

    Breanna! exciting! the travels with only womans are amazing! Enjoy it! nice trip!!! :)

  13. Oh NOLA! We adventured there last summer + it was definitely one of the best trips I’ve ever been on. The highlights for me: beignets from Café du Monde, a swamp tour (you can find a ton of info about it downtown in the French Quarter), and just wandering the sweet shops and cafes. The architecture is really something else. You feel transported to Europe and it’s the best feeling ever! Oh also! Street jazz at night, cocktail in hand. True New Orleans style. Have fun planning!

  14. Ah! You’re going to have a blast!

    My mom grew up in Baton Rouge, so we’ve been to New Orleans a couple time growing up, went back for a spring break trip in grad school, and then most recently back with a whole bunch of extended family for Thanksgiving last year. We were all ‘of age’ so we definitely had a stupid amount of fun on that one, hah. Annnnyways.

    One of the really fun restaurants we went to was Jacque Imo’s — it’s all food that is unique to the area, done in really amazing ways. It’s just an experience. You walk through the kitchen to get to your seat, and there are saint candles and plastic tablecloths set when you get there.

    Cliché, but don’t miss cafe du monde for beignets. Bring wet wipes! And head down bourbon st. for some sight seeing and a hand grenade — two tops ;)

    Hope you have so much fun! Can’t wait to see all that you do!

  15. Shelby says:

    Café Du Monde is a must if you’re headed to New Orleans! The beignets and cafe au lait are delicious, and of course there’s the crazy birds that hang out there.

  16. Brianna says:

    I’m so jealous! I love NOLA – it’s such a unique and special place, we’ve been trying to plan a trip to go back. After you’ve had your fill of Bourbon Street, make sure to ride a trolley car to the Garden District for old beautiful houses and visit Frenchmen Street for a less touristy night out (and live jazz). Killer PoBoys is worth checking out and the beignets at Cafe Du Monde are a must as well. Visit the Napoleon House Bar & Cafe for a charming (really) old bar with the best Pimm’s Cup in town. Have fun!

  17. I looove NOLA! So many great memories there. I stayed at a hostel, which was a blast but I hardly think your mom would think so lol. But there are a lot of great hotels, I’d say look for one within walking distance of the French Quarter ;)

    There are heaps to do and I’m sure you’ll find out most of them as you drive in, but highlights for me were beignets and Au Laite’s (excuse my spelling) at Cafe Du Monde, Going through the markets and really to all the shops in the French Quarter, and you can’t leave out bourbon street and all the specialty drinks! I forget the name, but there is a bar that has a “secret” door, disguised as a bookshelf, to get the bathroom.

    Most importantly though, be happy and be social! There are some really fun and cool folks down there, both locals and out-of-towners that will add so much to you experience! Have fun! I’m jealous!

    pilgrimmemoirs.com
    Memoirs of a Pilgrim

  18. Quyen says:

    That is such a great idea to take Spring Break together. My mom is a teacher, and this is a good idea for us to do together. NOLA is a great pick. Hope you have fun!
    http://liveitinerantly.com/

  19. Ranu says:

    I just went for the first time between Christmas and New Years! Great city! Some must-do’s:

    –Visit Frenchmen St. and the bars there for great music
    –Get coffee at Spitfire in the French Quarter
    –Beignets at Cafe du Monde of course
    –Sylvain, Domenica, Cochon / Cochon Butcher and Elizabeth’s all have great food (Elizabeth’s is delicious for brunch, in the Bywater district)
    –Take a trolley ride up to the Garden District and walk around Magazine St. / marvel at the mansions

  20. I never leave comments on blogs, but I’ve been a follower for quite some time and was inspired when i saw New Orleans in the headline.

    I actually published a guide book for New Orleans featuring some of the under-the-radar people, places, and projects that make our great city so unique.

    For food, I recommend Jacques-Imos (authentic cajun cuisine), Seafood Poboys from Parkstreet PoBoys and a fancy brunch at Galatoires.

    For music, I recommend visiting Frenchmen street. Theres a cluster of jazz bars with live music that you can pop into easily. Most people have to see Bourbon and if you do I suggest seeing the Preservation Hall Brass Band.

    Hope you enjoy!

    • d'Auria says:

      Listen to Justin! This man knows what he’s talking about. We went to college in New Orleans together and I too have been a long time reader :)

      I highly recommend taking a stroll around City Park’s sculpture garden, lake, the St. Louis #3 cemetery, down the edge Bayou St. John and finishing with a lunch of Po Boys at Parway Bakery and Tavern. Great outdoor seating and wonderful food. I also recommend staying in the Bayou St. John neighborhood if you’re looking for an air BnB.

      Magazine St. is six miles of wonderful and a quirky diner called Slim Goodie’s is a great place to stop in for a bite if you find yourself on the lower stretch. This lower end of Magazine St. can have you walk through the Irish Channel which has so much charm and history (and you’ll be there shortly after St. Patty’s Day! The trees will be decorated with green beads!) and leads right into the Lower Garden District. Go get yourself a fresh juice at Surrey’s Juice Bar and Café then walk up to the Streetcar and head downtown. My friend Shannon’s gallery in the French Quarter called the Green-Eyed Gator is full of local flavor. Royal St. is a great street to walk down in the Quarter but I’d bypass Bourbon on the whole.

      Oak St. in the Uptown/Carrolton area has really bloomed over the years and is another destination street. A great place to go in the evening too and catch a brass band at the Maple Leaf after dinner at Jacques-Imo’s. Two of New Orleans’ classic establishments.

      This list could go on for-freaking-ever and http://cieradesign.com/blog/ Ciera probably has a current list of gems that is a mile long.

    • Ciera says:

      Hey Breanna! Yep Justin and D’auria know what’s up.

      – Just want to second the Maple Leaf after dinner at Jacques-Imo’s… on a Tuesday if possible to see Rebirth Brass Band!

      – I agree with those who say skip Bourbon Street (or do a quick walk-by) and head to Frenchmen Street when you are looking for bars/music!

      – I like Domilise’s, Guys or Parkway Bakery for po-boys

      – Satsuma Cafe is great for breakfast or lunch

      – and I wrote some other suggestions here: http://blog.allisonlehman.com/2012/07/city-guide-new-orleans/

  21. Mackenzie says:

    I will be in New Orleans then, too! I will be going for the Tennessee Williams Literary Festival which is happening that weekend… that might sound kind of boring, but it’s not if you want to experience some “old south” New Orleans in the French Quarter that weekend! I’m staying at the Hotel Monteleone which has a famous Carousel Bar that Williams and Capote were known to frequent. Also, that Sunday there’s a “STELLAAAA” yelling contest at the French Quarter!

  22. Kaylie says:

    You HAVE to get beignets. Duh!
    http://www.cafedumonde.com/beignets

    And take LOTS of pictures. It’s a different world down there. So much culture, so much FOOD! You’re gonna love it. I went a few years ago on a Habitat for Humanity trip and I’d love to go back some day.

  23. Melanie says:

    Yessss, SO FUN! New Orleans is great.

    // I definitely recommend Juan’s Flying Burrito (the waitresses at the location on Magazine St can be a bit unfriendly but they’re a lot nicer at the Midcity location).
    // Alligator cheesecake at Jacques-Imo’s is something I recommend everyone try (sounds weird…it’s not really cheesecake though!).
    // I always stay as far away from Bourbon as possible! Frenchmen is a great strip and has so many fun bars and restaurants and coffee shops.
    // Cafe Du Monde is an obvious stop (they’re open 24 hours). Beignets + au laits, that’s the classic thing to get!
    // CRAWFISH! (I’m so sad that fresh crawfish isn’t delivered to MPLS : ( So please eat some for me when you go down South.) Get a po-boy, crawfish etouffe and/or gumbo if the opportunity presents itself : )
    // I like to stay at B+Bs in NOLA. They all have these great French-style courtyards and it’s so, so pretty!
    // For museum-type things I really like the WWII museum, art museum and the aquarium!
    // I’ve never done these things but river boat rides, haunted tours + city carriage rides are a big thing in New Orleans too.

    The MS Gulf Coast (i.e. Biloxi) is still in a bit of devastation from Hurricane Katrina, but Ocean Springs is a really cute little town to visit. Don’t know too much about Alabama but I’ve spent a lot of time in Destin/Pensacola/Gulf Breeze. The obvious thing to do in those places is eat as much fresh seafood as possible!

    The drive isn’t really all that bad! I made pit stops in Chicago and Nashville on my way to MPLS, which isn’t the most direct course to take but made for more fun times. And that was in a cramped car with my dog + no human company…so I’m hopeful that you three will still have a blast despite the long drive time!

  24. Sarah Rose says:

    My husband’s family (from Wisconsin) LOVE Orange Beach, Alabama. We went a couple years ago, and it is a wonderful beach town! We did venture over to Florida one day, but honestly got our beach-fix in Alabama. There are some cute cafes, art exhibits and boutiques to explore in the area, too. Enjoy NOLA! Can’t wait to visit someday!

  25. […] But if I wait patiently enough, we’ll be heading down to New Orleans shortly. Thanks for all your tips about things to see / do there, by the way! I truly appreciate it. But back to today! I’ve […]

  26. Anne Ulku says:

    Hey! We took a trip to New Orleans last Feb for Mardi Gras (which Mardi Gras intensified the scene a bit, but all these are still great). Drove from MPLS which wasn’t horrible (if you’re used to road trips), especially helped making some fun stops on the way. Stopped in Chicago and Memphis on the way down and St.Louis on the way back. Loved Memphis! I recently wrote a couple tips for someone else who was traveling to NOLA – here they are:

    -Bourbon St is the main bar/night street to walk up and down (was crazy during mardi gras) Lots of bars, live music, restaurants, etc. Get your drink to go and walk on the streets from bar to bar.
    -Walk around the French Quarter – lots of little shops, antique stores, museums, restaurants
    -Jackson Square is fun with lots of little shops, restaurants, street artists/performers
    -Stanley – in jackson square – great food, good breakfast/brunch spot
    -Try a beignet at Cafe du Monde or at Cafe Beignet (smaller and less of a wait/line at Cafe du Monde)
    -Canal st lots of restaurants and shops, and where the streetcar runs- Palace Cafe is a bit fancy but really good
    -We took a food walking tour (which was really fun – it’s called Tastebud Tour if you’re interested in checking it out.) But it allowed us to try a bunch of different foods that are known in New Orleans, plus you get to see parts of the city and learn a bit and get tips from the great tour guide. Places we went and what we tried:
    -Serio’s Po-Boy & Deli, tried the famous muffeleta sandwich
    -Cafe Beignet – beignet and coffee – they usually have a chill live band during the days
    -Coffee Pot Restaurant, tried jambalya and seafood gumbo – would recommend trying their breakfast, I heard it’s really good
    -Johnny’s Po-Boys – the famous po-boy sandwich. they have the best roast beef po-boy in town (according to tourguide)
    -Laura’s Candies – pralines
    – oysters are a specialty – best are at Felix’s which is across the street from Acme which is more expensive, always has a line, but the exact same oysters
    Sorry most of the places are food-orientated, but theyre definitely good. We spent most of our time walking on bourbon st at nights, which never failed to be a good/crazy time.

    Have fun! :)

  27. […] Gap had a 40% off sale on everything ( SCORE ), so I snagged a few basics just in time for our trip down south! My closet, after all, is a bit sparse when it comes to spring attire since we haven’t seen […]

  28. Shana says:

    I live very close to New Orleans and Gulf Shores so we go there often. In fact, we are going this weekend. The best way to experience NOLA is just walking around. It has a very unique culture, and you have some good restaurant suggestions. I suggest doing a ghost tour. You learn a lot about the history and it’s really fun. I would go to the Alabama beaches verses Florida. They are very pretty and will have less spring breakers. I am only guessing you guys don’t want to drink from a beer bong and have people throwing up on your walkway ;) There are some lovely southern towns nearby, like Fairhope (downtown), that are nice to visit too. You can email me if you have any questions. I also have some post about it online. http://rosyglasses.com/travel

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