Enjoy New Orleans like a local …sorta
Your first time visit to New Orleans: Getting There
This will be a great glimpse if it’s your first time visit to New Orleans. I am not a NOLA native, but I have spent countless hours in this city. We had a mini vacation open up for us so we decided to spend 2 days in New Orleans, LA. We drove three hours from Pensacola, FL to New Orleans (NOLA). The drive was sunny but there were state troopers lurking to catch unknowing speed demons. By the time we arrived to NOLA it had begun raining and we had driven through 4 states! (That sounds crazy, I know!) Yay for interstates!
Before any trip, I recommend checking out these useful free travel apps to plan a smooth vacation! As with any place we go, we live as the locals do. We booked an airbnb to be closer to the action, near Frenchmen street. Our home was a 1900s shotgun house with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom, and a small entry room with a rustic fireplace. It was quite cozy. The interiors were decorated with “junk” such as broken hair clips, tools, screws/bolts, etc. but were ALL placed together to create art. This art was found on the walls, the table tops and the window sills, I LOVED it! This house was meant to be in New Orleans.
Parking, King Cake, Jackson Square, & Coffee
Here is how to experience New Orleans like a local…sorta. We arrived to the French Quarter and paid $18 to park for 3 hours *gasps*. Parking is not cheap here! We usually do NOT pay to park but rather walk everywhere, but since it was raining and we were limited on time, we drove. Our stroll through the French Quarter consisted of puddle jumping and dodging rain drops. This city below sea level does not take long to dampen. We needed coffee to fight the rainy blues and ducked into PJ’s coffee house. PJ’s is the Starbucks of Louisiana, there are franchise throughout the state. After coffee and King Cake we headed towards Cafe Du Monde and Jackson Square
What is King Cake? Pure Deliciousness! “Originally, king cakes were a simple ring of dough with a small amount of decoration. Today’s king cakes are much more festive. After the rich Danish dough is braided and baked, the “baby Jesus” is inserted. The top of the ring or oval cake is then covered with delicious sugar toppings in the traditional Mardi Gras colors of purple, green and gold. The tradition of King Cake Parties have evolved over time, and the “lucky” person who receives the slice of cake with the baby is asked to continue the festivities by having the next King Cake party (or at least purchasing the next cake for the office).”(http://www.mardigrasneworleans.com/kingcakes.html)
- Jackson Square-I was pleased to see that Jackson Square was filled with artists this day. We admired artwork hanging on the wrought-iron gates, saw costumed couple posing for pictures, marveled at the street magicians, and got jiggy with it for the street musicians and dancers.
Bourbon Street, Mardi Gras Parades, Frenchmen Street
2. Bourbon Street-Our walk continued towards Bourbon Street where the Krewe De Cork Walking Parade was about to begin. The rain let up and the fun was about to begin!
Bourbon street is always quite the sight, day or night. If this is your first time visit to New Orleans, you MUST visit Bourbon! We met guys with hats made of wine corks, caught beads as big as fists, and passed women wearing nothing but nipple glitter. Yep, you read that correctly. To make it even better, they had signs that read “Face Painting”, however, their lack of clothing “painted” a much different scene. (See what I did there?)
Also, on Bourbon, is Sinners and Saints, Channing Tatum’s bar!
We had an early dinner at Mona Lisa’s pizza shop and ordered the DaVinci. This was a thin crust pizza topped with bacon, artichoke, and Italian sausage! *drooling* The crust was perfectly crispy having cooked in a brick oven. YUMMY!
3. Frenchman Street-Nightfall brought more rain but we ventured on. For your first time visit to New Orleans, you must listen to jazz! We decided upon Frenchmen street for the jazz halls and artists’ quarters. We found live music at a bar called 30*/90* or 3090. Marina Orchestra was jamming through their music set and got the whole bar dancing.
Their sound is unique, “A EUPHORIC BRAND OF ROCK N’ ROLL STEEPED IN LATIN AMERICAN, CARIBBEAN AND AFRICAN MUSICAL STYLES” . We indulged in local stouts into the late night.
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Metairie, Haydel’s Bakery, Baby Cakes
The next morning brought with it SUNSHINE and much needed quality time for Michael and I. It is so nice to be on our own time frame. This is why we are working so hard to build an online business, so that our time is ours to control! Anyway, this is for another post.
4. Ruby Slipper-We decided on breakfast at the original Ruby Slipper for a mid morning Brunch. Afterwards we drove into Metairie, LA to get Michael an early birthday present. I would not go to outside of the city if this is your first time visit to New Orleans. NOLA will keep you busy!
5. New Orleans Baby Cakes-We arrived at the baseball stadium and found the perfect hat. Once known as the Zephrys, this minor league team is now called the Baby Cakes. It is literally an angry baby with a bat, popping out of a king cake! (look at the hat he is wearing) Michael collects minor league hats so I let him indulge on this one. It is quirky as hell! He looked sexier than ever though with his low man bun and fitted cap!
6. Haydel’s Bakery-While we were in Metairie, we stopped by Haydel’s Bakery off of Jefferson HWY for king cakes. At $15 a cake we bought two and felt we were stealing it! I am also not ashamed to say that we ate both cakes within 4 days!
French Market, French Quarter, Beignets, & More Coffee!
7. French Quarter-On the ride back to NOLA we watched traffic slow to a crawl as the afternoon parades were setting up to roll. We parked again, this time paying $30 total (only for convenience), and ventured back to the French Quarter and the French Market.
8. French Market-The French market is an open-air flea market filled with voodoo, crafts, local flavors, and hand-made clothes.
While on Frenchmen, I also picked out my birthday gift. Hand made earrings (as pictured above) and I met the artist herself of Twisted Earth Artistry. Each layer is hand painted and hypoallergenic. Shop local to enjoy New Orleans like a local! FYI: I would stay in the Garden District upon my visit.
So, if this is your first trip to NOLA, here are some food you must try in New Orleans! Of course, no visit is complete without beignets at Cafe Du Monde. Cafe Du Monde is a MUST for a first time visit to New Orleans. I don’t care that it’s touristy, it’s damn good!
What is a Beignet? Straight amazingness! According to Cafe Du Monde *ahem the Experts*, “Beignets were also brought to Louisiana by the Acadians. Today, the beignet is a square piece of dough, fried and covered with powdered sugar. They are served in orders of three.”
9. Cafe Envie-Late afternoon hit and it was time for COFFEE! We indulged in a latte at Cafe Envie which has beer drafts at one end and an espresso maker at the other. New Orleans always finds a way to sneak the booze in but this is how you Enjoy New Orleans like a local!
Before leaving town to go home, we stopped by the water where the Natchez steamboat was docked and took in the city-scapes as the trolley line chugged along, touristy but still a nice sight at sunset.
OTHER ACTIVITIES TO ADD IF YOU HAVE MORE THAN 2 DAYS IN THE CITY OF JAZZ:
New Orleans is ALWAYS a fun time because you can make it as mild or wild as you want. I’ve had the chance to get to know NOLA very well over the years. Here are more suggestions!
- Run a 1/2 marathon with the Rock N’ Roll Marathon Series
- Go to the VooDoo Music Fest
- Run the Red Dress Run (in a red dress, of course)
- Brewery hop between Crescent City brewery and Nola Brewery
- Celebrated a best friend’s bachelorette party on Bourbon Street! (or just go to drink, I mean, who needs a reason?!)
- Indulge in a Voodoo shop
- Get a psychic reading
This trip was relaxing with no big plans to keep. Total money spent for the trip between lodging, gas, food, and birthday gifts came to ~$370.
Have you ever wanted to visit New Orleans? Tell us in the comments below!
Be Well and Travel Often!
*This is not a sponsored post, all opinions are my own**
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