This may just happen to be one of the blog posts I am most excited to write! Ever since we were little, my sister and I have dreamed of visiting New Orleans, or better known as NOLA. My mom had a side job while we grew up and every year her convention was in New Orleans. I remember waiting every year for her to return so she could tell us how cool it was. And every year it seemed like the energy never faded, no matter how many times she went! I had visited once before to assist Karena Dixon with a wedding, but didn't really have time to explore or see the city. So earlier this year, Laura and I decided to take a leap and travel together for our first ever sisters trip!
To say I fell in love with the charm of New Orleans would be an understatement. If given the perfect opportunity or any opportunity at that, I would up and move in an instance. I'm not sure if it was all the history (I am not even a history buff), amazing food, good company or just all over excitement the city embodied 24/7. This trip was well worth every penny and so much more! When Laura and I arrived we realized we had made zero plans. The only thing we bought previously were tickets to a food tour. Although we had heard a ton of recommendations from family and friends and weren't sure exactly where to start. So I decided to turn this recap post into a partial recommendations post! While showing you our images from the trip I am also going to explain the things we loved and the things we didn't love!
First things first, NOLA is obviously known for it's drinks and Bourbon Street. So this is a must do upon landing or arriving. Even if it's not your thing, visiting bourbon street is an experience in itself and one I think anyone should witness at least once! Plus, it doesn't hurt to roam the street with a hurricane in hand (drink of choice).
Then of course, you have to visit Cafe Du Monde. But like at least 45 times. No seriously I think Laura and I went back between every single meal. Between here and Cafe Beignet we ate our weight in powdered sugar!
So you may not know, but I am not a huge fan of Jazz. It's true. When it comes to Jazz I am essentially Mia from Lala Land! However, Laura and I decided to take everyone's advice (including the random stranger on the street) and visit Preservation Hall. I have to admit, it was one of my favorite moments on the entire trip! There was something so magical about witnessing men who had such a passion for the music they were creating and sharing that with this world. We were one of the first people in line so we grabbed the cushions on the floor up front as recommended by the host! If we were to do it again, I would definitely grab a bench because half way through I couldn't feel my legs since they had fallen asleep. Of course, then we saw Lala Land while in the city of jazz and it had me feeling nostalgic.
During the trip, we stuck to what I knew from before and stayed at Hotel Monteleone. When I visited for the first time with Karena, this is where we stayed for the wedding and it was AMAZING! A rooftop pool, located in the middle of the french quarter and Laura and I had the chance to stay on the 14th floor, which if you look up anything about the hotel you will know it is the haunted floor. Of course, Laura and I didn't know this until the last day when we got off the elevator and a fellow guest happened to tell us. No worries, no crazy stories to tell on that subject.
While we tried to keep most our days remaining cool and pretending to be a local, we totally went to Mardi Gras World. Like I said, I am not a huge fan of tourist attractions. Unless it's Disney I would much rather hear from the locals and see what their favorites in the area include! However, this one couldn't be passed up. The whole time during our tour I was in awe of all the art and hard work that goes into this yearly event. The warehouse even had me asking if a photography associates could snag me a new job. One thing I would recommend is don't do the 4:30 tour. This was the tour that Laura and I made it to and we almost just missed the artists working for the day. Luckily a few of them stayed to work later, but I say better safe than sorry and see a packed warehouse of artists earlier in the day. They also restrict the final tour from making masks, which would definitely have been a perk of visiting!
Another of the many places we fell in love with (and I knew we would) was Jackson Square. I think this one was kind of a given. I mean, it is our last name. However, a fun story you may not know is that this park is actually the place where my older brother got down on one knee and asked his now wife, to marry him! How cute is that? I mean she became a Jackson and was asked in Jackson Square? Idk, I mean I know I am a sap, but that is just cute on any scale!
Ok, so far I have just raved about things I LOVED, and while I am going to continue with that in just a moment. I need to mention the one thing we did not love, AT ALLl. The food tour. So as I mentioned earlier we bought tickets before heading to New Orleans for a food tour that was suppose to take you to 9 different restaurants to experience the most well known cuisine of NOLA. Well after only visiting four (and that was it) and having not the greatest of meals fed to us, we decided this was absolutely our least favorite thing. My recommendation would be to save your money on tickets, google search what New Orleans is known for and ask locals where to find the best of that dish!
For example, our doorman at the hotel recommended Mr. Eds to us. Immediately off the plane Laura and I got ready super fast and headed out the door because we knew we wanted a po boy. And let me tell you, if you are a fried oyster fan then you don't need to look anywhere else because Mr. Eds was A M A Z I N G! Between there and Port St Peter, where I found a peanut butter and bacon burger (aka my all time fav) I was set on experiencing the best food New Orleans had to offer (I'm not a huge fish fan). Oh, and of course the a million and one beignets we inhaled earlier!
One thing that heavily influenced our decision to stay in the French Quarter was that we wouldn't need to rent a car! Everything (for the most part) was right there within walking distance or a short and affordable uber ride away! This was super helpful for cutting down travel expenses and being able to enjoy and see the most of downtown!
Ok, final two recommendations and then I promise I am done blabbing! When we planned our trip to NOLA, we heard a lot of recommendations and ideas from others, but one thing no one ever seemed to mention was City Park. I am not sure if this is because it was so quiet or just not up anyone's alley, but we fell in love! Inside of the park was this stunning Botanical Gardens (also a wedding venue, heyyy) and even with nothing in prime blooming season it was still breath taking to walk through and experience! Plus, I had no idea that spanish moss was a thing in Lousiana? I guess that's kind of naive on my part, but it was such a nice surprise to run in to!
Finally, our very last stop of the trip was one that came very highly recommended! New Orleans is known for it's above ground graves and I'm pretty sure any local could tell you all about them! With our last hour before take off we decided to visit Lafayette Cemetery because unlike some of the others, it was free! We could openly walk around and explore and even over hear a few tours to receive some fun facts. Like that they can bury up to 100 bodies per tomb! If you also find death interesting like we did (I swear we aren't creepy), you can visit NOLA's Museum of Death downtown! There are unlimited stories of mass murders and death masks of some pretty popular celebrities (like I didn't even know this was a thing)
As I am sure (if you've done any research on New Orleans at all) you know, there is probably so much more to be said about this amazing city! So many more attractions or must do's. But with our limited time of four days and three nights, I would say we covered quite a lot of ground. And I can promise that we will be back!
All photos of me were taken by my amazing twin Laura!