Monday, March 17, 2014

5 Things I Loved About New Orleans

5 Things I Loved About New Orleans

As you know, Paul and I  (and 25 of my coworkers) recently traveled to New Orleans.  Our super gracious owners rewarded us (above and beyond) with a super fun weekend away after a really crazy fourth quarter.  It was an amazing trip – my first time to New Orleans and I can say 100%, without a doubt, that we will be back.

Now let me say that there were many more than five things I loved about New Orleans but I tried to sum in up in five as-to not write a novel about how much I loved our trip!

New Orleans is packed with so much history, culture and character that three days just wasn’t enough to get to explore it all.  So here are a few things that I loved:

1. Call me cliche, I don’t care – Bourbon Street & The French Quarter.

Bourbon Street

Our hotel (the beautiful Royal Sonesta) was right on Bourbon Street so we had our fair share of time to explore.  If you want a lively experience, definitely stay on Bourbon.  So many people, restaurants, bars, shops and, ahem, more.  I was actually surprised by how clean it was…they clean the streets daily.  I was expecting something far worse than what we got.  We experienced several different locations on Bourbon street and while they are all similar in ways, they are also unique in the experience they provide.  I loved being able to hop from one place to the next and really feel like I was experiencing the Bourbon Street.  We heard some really awesome bands and singers in several of the venues.  Paul *might* have even sang a song!

Equally as fun as Bourbon is Royal Street, which runs parallel to Bourbon.  As packed as Bourbon is with bars, Royal is as packed with shops, antique stores, art galleries and more restaurants.  

Royal Street in New Orleans

Gypsy Jazz bands and performers line the streets and the architecture is gorgeous! 

Gypsy Jazz in New Orleans

New Orleans

Every time we crossed this street I couldn’t help but think of Friends…name that episode!


2. Food.  Um, duh.  I had very, very, very high expectations of the food in NOLA and NOLA delivered.  I was blown away at the quality of food.  I ate seafood at every meal and I’m already craving more shrimp and crab and oysters. Holy cow, I can’t even put words on the quality of food.  We had po’boys (fried shrimp!) at Felix’s along with fried crawfish and etoufee (so so good).  The fresh French bread in the French Quarter – you just can’t imagine it.

Oysters everywhere (Felix’s, Bourbon House, Royal Oyster House, Oceana) all amazing, but my favorite were at Oceana – they had a super salty, briney flavor to them and I could have eaten my weight in those, along with the char-grilled oysters with parmesan, butter and garlic.  Oh. My.

Oyster Tacos from Royal Oyster House in New Orleans, LA

Oh yeah, and then I ate oyster TACOS for lunch at Royal Oyster House.  I almost died.  Equally as good were the crab cakes at Oceana (where we also had alligator!).  I am still craving another Oceana crab cake.

Cafe Fleur de Lis in New Orleans

As if that’s not enough – I have to tell you about what could be my favorite meal of the trip and that was seafood benedict at Cafe Fleur de Lis.  A homemade buttery biscuit topped with a seafood cake topped with a poached egg and hollandaise sauce.  All day, every day, please.

So, obviously, we ate well.

3. The Garden District

We got to take a trip out of the French Quarter and check out the historic Garden District and Lafayette Cemetery #1 both of which were really cool.  For the most part, people are buried above-ground because of the water table so cemeteries are filled with above-ground vaults that are shared by families.

Lafayette Cemetery Number 1 in New Orleans

The rest of the Garden District is filled with very large, very beautiful homes, surrounded by very beautiful trees.  I can’t imagine what it looks like in the spring and summer.  We got to walk by Sandra Bullock’s house and Nicholas Cage’s former home and our tour guide pointed out so many homes that have been in movies…I had no clue New Orleans was a hot spot for movies.  We ate lunch at the Columns Hotel and then made our way back to “the quarter”, as the locals call it.  Call me silly, but I could have sat in the tour bus for hours listening to our tour guides.  You could tell that they were totally immersed in the history of New Orleans and it made me want more.

4. 2nd Line Band Parade to Steamboat Natchez.  So do you know about 2nd Line Band Parades?  I had absolutely ZERO clue what it meant.  As it turns out, they are a HUGE freaking deal.  Like, the whole city stops what they are doing to pay attention to the parade whether it’s a wedding, a funeral or a big group of people from Jefferson City, Missouri, people stop and clap and watch and it’s SO crazy!  And yes, we totally did this.  We had a band and flags and colorful beads and we marched from our hotel to the Mississippi river to take a steamboat dinner cruise.  The parade was one of my favorite parts of the trip.  Our two owners lead the parade (the first line), followed by a jazz band and then the rest of us.

Sandra Bullock's Home in the New Orleans Garden District

The cruise was amazing, too.  The Steamboat Natchez is one of the oldest steamboats and the cruise was a beautiful way to end our time in Louisiana. 

Steamboat Natchez in New Orleans

5. The French Market & Cafe du Monde

French Market in New Orleans

New Orleans Jackson Square

So this is definitely an obvious one.  The whole French Market was incredible.  SO many people!  All over the place!  Of course there was food, amazing art all over the place, street performers on every corner, and then in the corner, with green awnings and smelling like coffee and funnel cakes, is Cafe du Monde.  The simplest and most inexpensive “meal” we had while in New Orleans, the beignets did not disappoint.  They are like little fried funnel cakes with POUNDS of powdered sugar on top and I want another plate right now as I type this.  We sat in a large group with some of my amazing friends and coworkers while we indulged on powdered sugar and fried dough, and coffee.  The lines are long but you cant’t leave New Orleans without experiencing the French Market, and especially without experiencing Cafe du Monde.

Cafe du Monde Beignets coffee & beignets

So to sum it up, the food was great, the people were great and the whole city was great and we will definitely be back.  And here are the things I’m looking forward to the next time we go back:

The World War 2 History Museum, exploring Magazine Street, a swamp tour, more beignets, more Bourbon street and more food.  Ready to go along with me next time?

Obviously, we can’t wait.

New Orleans


13 Responses to “5 Things I Loved About New Orleans”

  1. #
    Meagan @ A Zesty Bite — March 17, 2014 @ 7:37 am

    What a great and fun trip! I can’t wait to make my way to NOLA someday.

  2. #
    Erin | The Law Student's Wife — March 17, 2014 @ 8:54 am

    WHAT a trip! Thanks for taking us along for a bit of it. I’m dying to go back now!

  3. #
    JulieD — March 17, 2014 @ 9:22 am

    Gorgeous photos, Cassie! I have always wanted to visit NOLA!!

  4. #
    Kristi S — March 17, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    I absolutely LOVE New Orleans! My husband and I actually got married at the Royal Sonesta! We try to make a trip every year, but the best time we have been was in November, it is gorgeous!

  5. #
    Whendi Martin (Mom) — March 17, 2014 @ 10:43 am

    Wonderful photos of a beautiful time in a spectacular place. I love the stories but I would have loved a taste of that crab cake even more than just “hearing about it”. Let’s do NOLA sometime soon – I am totally biased, but NOLA should think about letting you write this inviting article for one of their travel guides 😉

  6. #
    Bianca @ Confessions of a Chocoholic — March 17, 2014 @ 11:16 am

    I love New Orleans too and reading about your trip is making me want to book a return trip soon! I went there for the first time last year and fell in love with the same things you listed here. Especially the beignets!

  7. #
    Luv What You Do — March 17, 2014 @ 5:09 pm

    I’ve never been to New Orleans and I loved seeing your photos!

  8. #
    Lauren @ Climbing Grier Mountain — March 17, 2014 @ 5:36 pm

    Gorgeous recap! I’ve never been to NOLA! Glad you had a blast!

  9. #
    ashley - bakerbynature — March 17, 2014 @ 6:30 pm

    Your trip looks awesome!!! Can’t wait to get there myself!!!

  10. #
    Joanne — March 17, 2014 @ 8:45 pm

    So fun! I went to NOLA last year to run a half marathon and it was amazing. I definitely plan on going back!

  11. #
    Joanne @ Fifteen Spatulas — March 18, 2014 @ 8:31 am

    This made me really miss NOLA! It’s such a fun city, and I agree, even with high expectations the food is amazing!

  12. #
    Lori @ Foxes Love Lemons — March 18, 2014 @ 12:32 pm

    Nestle Toooulhooose. DO YOU MEAN NESTLE TOLLHOUSE?!?!?

    Loved this post. My friends and I spent New Years in NOLA last year, and we just kept going back to the silly Tropical Isle. We knew it was so cheeseball and touristy, but we couldn’t keep away. haha.


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