“Laissez les bon temps rouler!!”
In one month I’ll be taking my first flight of 2019 and I’m very excited! I think I might be starting a new tradition. Last February, I took my first trip of 2018 for a friend’s bachelorette party and I realized I need to continue traveling during my birthday month. My friend’s bachelorette party was held in the fabulous city of New Orleans and it was my first visit ever. I don’t have a good reason why I had never been but it didn’t matter anymore, I finally made it!
Since the primary focus of the long weekend was to celebrate my friend’s upcoming marriage, I knew I was going to have limited time to explore on my own and that was ok. I was excited to participate in the bachelorette party activities in a new city and any free time would just be a bonus for me. It didn’t take me long to realize I’d definitely return one day soon.
My friend’s maid of honor put together a fantastic itinerary and my job as a guest was to simply show up. I was also pleasantly surprised to find some pockets of free time for me to wander. I won’t be sharing any of the bachelorette shenanigans that occurred but I will gladly share everything else I witnessed throughout the weekend.
The entire group was staying at a hotel near the city center. The hotel cost was out of my budget so a friend and I reserved an Airbnb in the lower 9th ward, a neighborhood away from the tourist spots. We figured since we weren’t planning on sleeping much, we’d save money on our accommodations and share a single room, which conveniently was a short car ride to the party headquarters. When we checked in, there was a huge party going on next door and we joked about crashing it before the end of the night. When we asked our Airbnb host about the party, she informed us that it wasn’t a party but a funeral. I was shocked because you wouldn’t know it by all of the music and laughter. It turned out to be a celebration of life and in that moment I knew this city was something special.
I could spend years exploring the city and barely scratch the surface but this was an excellent start. I love food and something happens to me when I’m on vacation…I become a really adventurous eater! But I also have the tendency to eat less on a trip since I’m usually on “go” mode and I don’t normally eat every standard meal. Well, I made an exception in New Orleans and I ate breakfast, lunch, and dinner with multiple snacks and nightcaps in between. Everything was SO GOOD! Here is a short list (and links) of the restaurants I visited:
Even though I never went to sleep before 4am all weekend, I was still able to squeeze in some good sightseeing, both with and without the group.
One day our group decided to explore the Garden District after the second line parade was rained out and canceled until further notice. It was disappointing at first but we ended up exploring a part of the city we would have likely missed otherwise. We eventually stumbled upon the last free walking tour of the day at Lafayette Cemetery No.1. I really enjoyed what I learned and our guide was extremely knowledgeable and funny! She was completely unapologetic about debunking some very common myths about the above ground cemeteries in New Orleans. I highly recommend this tour and remember to have cash on hand to tip your guide!
Frenchman Street was my favorite part of the city to experience nightlife. Don’t get me wrong, I had a blast taking part in some harmless debauchery and being a quintessential tourist on Bourbon street and I wouldn’t talk another first timer out of spending some time there. However, I do see myself going back to Frenchman street and exploring the immediate area some more during my next visit. I particularly enjoyed hopping from club to club listening to musical performances and shopping in outdoor markets.
At the last minute, my roommate and I decided to take a swamp tour offered on Groupon. We essentially took a “nap” at 5am and somehow made it to the pick up spot at 8:30am. We were driven about an hour outside of the city and climbed aboard a small boat. I was disappointed to learn the gators at this spot were baited, so I won’t recommend this tour. I should have done more a bit more research before heading out but you live and learn.
I completely fell in love with the colors of the city in its art and architecture. I also really enjoyed how effortless it was to find yourself secluded away from the crowds.
Everyone I came across, whether they were locals or fellow tourists, were so nice! I look forward to indulging into my love of U.S. history and visit some historical museums and sites, all while discovering new places to eat. I was told by a few Uber drivers that the best fried chicken is found at local gas stations and I am more than willing to return, you know, for research purposes…