A Weekend in New Orleans
For the longest time, I've wanderlusted over New Orleans. My birthday happens to be the same month as Mardi Gras so as soon as the new year came around, I booked my tickets for my birthday weekend; it had completely slipped my mind that the NBA All Star Games would fall on the same dates, which bumped up flight and hotel costs.
There's a lot that I want to mention about this fantastic city, and so much that I still wish to have experienced. I should start by bringing up their open container law: yes, you can freely drink in the streets of NOLA, as long as it's in a plastic container and you're not belligerently drunk. After 2 days, this became overwhelming. I was happy to catch the pre-Mardi Gras celebrations which was an experience watching the city come alive and catching beads and random goodies (and breaking a nail in the process) from the floats.
Along with a hotel, which I will talk about later, we stayed at an Airbnb in Treme, a 9 minutes bike ride into town. I recommend renting a bike during your stay if you plan to sightsee. Cars and Ubers are available, however, traffic will be unbearable on busy weekends: I remember two episodes where roads were getting blocked as we were driving to our destination, doubling Uber costs. Obviously, biking demands physical labor and not recommended if you're planning to enjoy a night after a few drinks. My suggestion is to book early so that your lodging is of walking distance from the hotspots without sacrificing a good night's rest from the constant noise. In addition to my favorite phone apps, Hotel.coms and HotelTonight (use LRANDRIA for $25 off your first booking), I love artsy and modern hotels so here are my recommendations:
-Catahoula: ($) I've seen amazing photos of the rooms and lobby, as well as their cute bar and cafe. I booked my stay thru hotels.com for $98 a night during All Star Weekend, thanks to their Secret Price, available once you download the app. Stay tuned for my full review !
-Ace Hotel: ($$) A friend of mine mentioned the Portland location and how great their service was. Beautiful interior, a rooftop pool and personable rooms and just minutes from the streetcars to bring you to Bourbon St. I will definitely be checking them out next time in town.
Eateries (...where to begin?)
-Cafe du Monde: I don't want to sound cliché, but you simply must. Beignets are familiar breakfast items to me from Madagascar, so I wasn't initially excited until I realized the convenience of 24/7 beignets & coffee in booze-galore NOLA :) Seats are first come first served (quicker service than it looks), but their take-out booth is also available.
-Cafe Envie: Spiked coffee in the AM is a dream come true, so order yourself a rumchatta to go as you explore the city.
-New Orleans Hamburger & Seafood Co. : Great spot for drinks, ask for Stevie !
-Coops Place: I tried the Chicken Tchoupitoulas, which I enjoyed more than I planned. It was chicken in some creamy, spicy, savory sauce over rice. The spice eventually catches up but it didn't stop me from finishing my plate.
-Bourbon House: Crowned “Best Bourbon Milk Punch” in New Orleans, and I agree 1000% ! My love treated me here for my birthday dinner and I had the New Orleans BBQ Shrimp and received cheesecake & the frozen milk punch. Delicious dinner !
-14 Parishes + Willie Mae's Restaurant : We didn't plan accordingly to visit these spots but I've heard amazing things. It's become one of my greatest NOLA regrets that we weren't able to try them out...you cannot go wrong with Jamaican food or fried chicken in the south so, these will be the first on my to-eat next time around.
I don't want this post to be super long so I only suggest some comfortable footwear and for you to visit these neighborhoods and discover the city yourself: Lower Garden District, French Quarter & Marigny. I will be back very soon my NOLA, you treated me so well !