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My New Orleans – Tips for Visiting the Big Easy

Most of you know that my favorite city in the world is New Orleans.  I have been obsessed for several years and Jay and I go back as often as we can.

I have had several people ask me what to do and where to eat so many times that I thought it’s time to write a blog about it.  LOL

There’s just something about it.  The whole city just has this vibe that’s undeniable.  I love to photograph the patina, everything is worn and old but still loved.

So here’s a list of my faves….and a few tips along the way. #sorrynotsorry for how long this post is going to ramble on for.

Mostly…what Jay and I go down there for is to walk around the Quarter and EAT!! (and occasionally take in a Saints game)  We like the quiet side of things.  We are not out to party.  So we basically stay off Bourbon street.  If it’s your first time going…then yes, you are going to want to hit a few things up on Bourbon Street just to say that you’ve been there.  But if you’re like us…and you actually want to SEE the city, then you need to stay off Bourbon.

I have a lot of people ask about safety.  We’ve been there many times, and even walk around the quarter at night.  My opinion of that is like anywhere.  If you go looking for trouble…you’ll find it easily.  If you stay smart and stay out of the shady looking alley ways etc.  you’ll be fine.

Jackson Square and St. Louis Cathedral

Generally busy all the time.  Our favorite time to go is the week after Mardi Gras.  I feel like that is when it’s the quietest.  UNLESS it also happens to be spring break (we learned our lesson this year).  So just do your research on when things coincide if you’r looking for a quieter trip.

We have stayed in 4 different hotels…

Our favey fave is the Bienville House .  It is a beautiful old building that has transformed over the years.  LOADED with charm. Rooms are very updated and clean.  Hot breakfast is included and there is a tiki bar downstairs.  The courtyard is GORGEOUS!!!  and the pool is really neat.  Not your typical hotel pool.  Parking is valet (like most places in the Quarter).  So if you are relying on your own car, plan for valet to take about 15-30 ish minutes to get your car.  I’m sure in off seasons it’s quicker.  We love the Bienville house when we’re flying down.  Or if we have our car…but aren’t relying on it for our whole trip.  Uber/Lyft has made our trips so much easier!!  Plus there’s the street car…but I’ll get to that later.

It’s only a few blocks down from Jackson square and is on the busier side of the Quarter.

It’s supposedly haunted…but we’ve never had any weird experiences.  Jay is all about the haunted stuff…so he really goes looking for it too.  LOL

Our next fave is Le Richelieu . Still only a few blocks away from Jackson Square, but this one is located on the quieter side of the Quarter.  It’s a super old building.  Honestly the rooms definitely need some updating but they are clean and as a charming bonus, they still give out REAL KEYS!!!

Le Richelieu calls itself a motor lodge, and it is our fave when we are driving down and need to have our car a lot while we are there.  They have private, gated parking.  The only one in the Quarter like that and it is a game changer.  You get a garage door opener for the gate and you can come and go as you please.  No need to wait for valet.

No breakfast is included, but the bar downstairs has a great kitchen!  Another gorgeous courtyard with a pool.

Also supposedly haunted…but no experience here either.  Honestly….let’s just say everything in the Quarter is haunted! LOL

When I shot Brooke and Matt’s wedding in 2015 we stayed at the Loews Hotel.  It was great.  Super boujie.  Not our fave simply because of it’s location.  The restaurant downstairs called Cafe Adelaide was AWESOME, but this last time we went back, it was closed.  Womp Womp.   Still a good hotel if you want to throw down some cash.

When we come down for a Saints game we stay at the Holiday Inn at the Super Dome.  It’s your typical Holiday Inn.  You know the drill.  Parking garage blah blah blah….but here’s the kicker.  It is only 2 blocks from the Super Dome.  SOOOOOOOO  you can walk from your hotel to the game and not have to pay to park at the Dome.  Whoop!!! 🙂

Ok…so let’s talk about stuff to do

Just walking around the Quarter and shooting pictures is my absolute favorite thing to do.  Obviously.  LOL

My husband…..is a HUGE WWII nerd.  So the National WWII Museum is like his Disneyland.  If you’re in to history…and this sounds like something you want to do…..plan to spend most of your day there.  It takes about 6 hours to see the whole thing.  I am not that into History like this…but I still enjoyed it.  WATCH THE MOVIE!!!!  It’s narrated by Tom Hanks and it’s 4D and it’s so good!!!!!  They have a restaurant that’s pretty good too…but there’s a cute little pizza place across the street too.  Magazine Street Pizza I believe…but we haven’t tried that one.

The French market is a really cool little place to go and buy some souvenirs.  There’s usually a lot of hustle and bustle but lots of cute shops and good lunch spots that are good for some day drinking.  LOL  This isn’t too far from Cafe Du Monde….so you can start the day by eating beignets and then walk here for some shopping.

The street car is simple, but fun.  You can hop on one and just ride for as long as you want for a pretty cheap fair.  My suggestion is to take the one that goes down St. Charles to see all of the beautiful homes.  You can hop off and on to take pictures as much as you want.

Preservation Hall is a New Orleans tradition.  It is small….like super small and mostly standing room only.  We have done it once.  We liked it, had a great experience….but probably won’t really feel the need to do it again.  If you are a music nerd…you may LURVE it.  The show is only about an hour long.  They have 2 shows a day.  At busy times the lines can be SUPER long….and if they fill up…you may not get in.  However, if you buy tickets online you can purchase seats up front.  (what we did and I suggest it)  If you just buy general admission you may be standing in the back and if you’re vertically challenged you won’t see anything.

The Cemeteries are a popular tourist site in NOLA.  I would say the most popular being the St. Louis #1 because that is where Marie Laveau is buried.  It is on a not so great side of town and so very recently they have shut it down and if you want to see it you have to book a tour.  So….there’s that.  If you don’t care if you visit Marie or not, my favorite is the Lafayette Cemetery in the Garden District.  It’s not as touristy….just as pretty, it’s on a better side of town, and there is street parking all around it.  It’s right next to Commanders Palace….so if you’re planning to eat there you could just go early and walk around the cemetery.  They do close down at 4 or 5pm though.

Here are a few other things that I just don’t have images to go with and I am kicking myself because of it:

The walking haunted tours in the Quarter at night.  There are a TON!!!  You can’t really go wrong.  We’ve had good experiences with all that we have done.  They are mostly historical tours.  You aren’t actually going to go out and see a ton of ghosts.  They basically walk you around and tell ghost stories about the buildings.  I am sure people have had weird experiences while on the tours…..just not us.  LOL

Plantation tours.  We have only been to one plantation, Oak Alley Plantation.  It is beautiful.  The tours are great.  You can sip a mint julep while you’re there.  Totally awesome thing to do.  Here’s the catch.  All of the plantations are about an hour outside of the city.  You can either drive yourself or schedule to take a tour bus.  Either way….plan to spend all day there.  Worth it!  But tight schedules be warned.

The Kitchen School is also worth a try.  I am not a great cook…and I didn’t really “learn” anything…however it was still a fun experience listening to the teachers stories.  It’s kind of like a culinary tour of New Orleans in a  2 hour kitchen classroom.

We have never done a swamp tour!!  I have heard great things and it’s on the list!!  We have also never done the dinner cruise on the river steamboat….but have heard rave reviews….so it is also on the list for next time.

Le Fittes Bar is a really cool spot with lots of history.  Very dark and broody…but a good atmosphere if you want somewhere to go sit and hide for an evening.

Alrighty….let’s get to the good stuff.  THE FOOD!!!!

Cafe Envie if a really awesome coffee shop/breakfast/brunch shop.  There’s a big one 2 blocks behind Le Richelieu and also a smaller one right next to Bienville House.  LOL  Convenience.

The Louisiana Pizza Kitchen is seriously the best if you want pizza!!!  It is also only 2 blocks behind Le Richelieu.

This past trip….we asked the bartender at Pirates Alley Bar for suggestions for dinner that night.  She said that she loves the Goat Cheese Crepes at Muriels.  So we decided to give it a whirl.  Let me tell you what.  BEST FOOD we’v had in NOLA.  For reals.  It’s a touch boujie.  Kind of on the pricier side.  WORTH. IT.  I still dream of those damn goat cheese crepes.  LOL  It also has a little bit of a haunted history.  Apparently they still leave a place setting out for one of it’s spectral residents.  You can ask to go see it….we didn’t…and we’re bummed we didn’t.  So do it….for me.

We wanted to do a few things that we had never done on this trip….so we decided to get all fancy and go eat at Commanders Palace.  They have a dress code.  Super pricey.  The food was good….and the experience was FANTASTIC.

Muriels food kicks Commanders Palaces ass.  Hands down.  I cringe while I’m typing this because I know Commanders is a New Orleans staple, but we WILL go back to Muriels.  Commanders….maybe not.

Jay loves absinthe.  I think it’s the nastiest crap ever!!  LOL  But if you want to try the good stuff go to Pirates Alley…just over behind the Cathedral.  His opinion is it is better than anywhere else in the Quarter.  Tiny little place with TONS of character….always a good time.

You HAVE to stop in at the Creole Creamery in the Garden District!!!  My favorite is the Lavender Honey.  They have all kinds of unique flavors.

St. James Cheese Company is just a couple of blocks from here and it is also a great lunch place.

Of course you need to go over to Cafe Du Monde for beignets and cafe au lait’s.  Serious YUM TOWN.  During busier seasons….the line will be stupidly long to sit and eat…..If you go at a popular time…like breakfast.  My suggestion is to go at off times….OR  order yours to go and then go either sit in Jackson Square OR sit up by the river.  Both are right next to the restaurant.

Sure…there are other places you can go to get beignets….but it’s not Safe Du Monde.

Suggestions with no pictures (facepalm):

If you want to have a religious experience with a Muffuletta…..go to Remoulade’s.  It’s on Bourbon, which is a bummer….but it’s worth it.

Acme Oyster house for Oysters.  Not a huge fan of Oysters….but this is a good spot.

We just discovered a place right around the corner from Bienville House called Sobu.  We were there for lunch before our flight left to come home…. the sliders we had were out of this world.  So it’s on the list to try dinner there next time.

Gris Gris was a referral from one of my brides who had just gone down.  She recommended the chefs table so you can watch them cook your meal which was the totally right thing to do.  The food was great, but didn’t leave a huge impression….we had just eaten at Muriels the night before….so I think anything else we did the rest of the trip was NOT going to live up to that.  LOL  I would go again to give it another shot.

That’s all I have for now friends!!  I’m sure I’ll think of more as time goes on…..If you ever have any questions please feel free to email me….I could talk about New Orleans ALL.  DAY!!

Happy Travels!!

 

@stephaniesusiephotography