I moved to New Orleans (well, the suburbs of New Orleans) at the start my senior year in high school and yes it was quite traumatic and dramatic (but let’s not talk about that right now). I attended college in New Orleans and got my first job after college in New Orleans as well. I moved to Chicago a few years after that because I wanted the big city life. My first year in Chicago was hard because I missed my family, friends and the New Orleans life. I remember how good it felt when I went back to visit New Orleans after one month of living in Chicago. Yes, one month. I definitely had a new appreciation of the city and realized I overlooked so much of its beauty while I was living there.
A lot has changed in New Orleans since I moved away. The city went through a renaissance after Hurricane Katrina. I still go back to visit my family at least twice a year and always seem to find something new to do or see. Just recently, I started noticing that the city is mixing the old city charm with some contemporary changes. New hotels, donut shops, dessert shops, restaurants, cafes are popping up in buildings and storefronts that have sat vacant for years or even in parking lots. Some neighborhoods are even more colorful than ever. I love how these new places embrace the city’s culture and seem to blend in seamlessly. They all add to the character of New Orleans.
I’ve been wanting to share a little guide to New Orleans for some time. I posted about eating in New Orleans a few years back (I can’t believe Luke was so tiny back then). If you follow me on Instagram, you know I post pictures from New Orleans whenever we are there. This post is is a guide to my “new” New Orleans… things that are new to me, new to Luke and Charlie, and some things that are fairly new to the city. I want to emphasize some of these things are not all “new” to the city but they are new experiences for us.
Eating Beignets / Donuts / Desserts
Nothing beats beignets from Cafe Du Monde. Nothing. Luke looks forward to devouring them when we’re back. So eating beignets at Cafe Du Monde is a must and so is drinking a cafe au lait from there too!
But…we are also open to trying different places around the city like Cafe Beignet and District Donuts.Sliders.Brew. My favorite at District Donuts is the Vietnamese iced coffee donut (it has tapioca balls in it). Luke’s favorite is just anything with chocolate.
A fun and really good dessert place is Sucre, located in uptown, the French Quarter, and in Metairie. Their cupcakes are insanely good (my favorite is the salted caramel).
Drinking Coffee and Finding New Cafes
Coffee is my fuel. The one thing I love to do while we travel is sitting in a cafe, especially in between our walking explorations.
Stumptown Coffee is located in the Ace Hotel New Orleans and less than a block away is Drip Affogato Bar where you can eat ice cream with coffee. I wish these places were around when I worked down the street at One Shell Square.
Finding Colorful Architecture and Houses
New Orleans is a very colorful city, not only in culture but in architecture. The French Quarter is very European and being a Francophile, I think it takes me back to being in Paris (but with the heat and humidity). We do stay away from Bourbon Street but love walking along Royal Street and into the surrounding areas of the French Quarter like Treme, Frenchman Street, and the Fauhourg Marigny District. But if you want to experience more New Orleans charm, St. Charles St. and the Lower Garden District are the places to go.
Taking the Streetcar
I didn’t really take the streetcar that much when I lived in New Orleans but because Luke loves so much, we take the street car up and down St. Charles Avenue and enjoy looking at all the mansions.
Looking for Street Art
My love of Chicago’s street art has me hunting for street art wherever we go. We found some fun street art in New Orleans and had to “rock that wall.”
Exploring New Hotels
We never stay in a hotel when we’re in New Orleans because we stay at my parents house. Besides, my parents would be upset if we didn’t stay with them. But on our last trip to New Orleans, we explored some new hotels in Central Business District. After drinking some coffee at Stumptown, we hung out in the lobby of the Ace Hotel New Orleans.
We also got a chance to check out a new The Catahoula Boutique Hotel too! I loved the charm of the hotel, the pisco bar and the rooftop bar. Luke loved the piano! It really felt like we were in boutique hotel somewhere in Europe.
Although Hotel Monteleone is a classic in New Orleans, it was a first for Charlie to go to the Carousel Bar there. He loved the 360 degree rotation while enjoying a cocktail or two…and he didn’t even get dizzy because the carousel spins around very slowly.
Eating at Classic Restaurants and Some New Ones
No trip to New Orleans is complete without eating the food! This last trip, Luke finally got to experience lunch at Commander’s Palace with the bananas fosters presentation (we told them it was was his birthday…shhh). We like going for lunch because the martinis are only a quarter! Yes, 25 cents!
We try to stay to some of the classics in New Orleans. Brennan’s is another favorite and they even have turtles in the courtyard for Luke to see. When we were there in the fall, he even got to watch them feed the turtles.
A restaurant that’s sure to be a NOLA classic Willa Jean! The bakery section gets me every time!
Have you been to New Orleans? What are your favorite things to do?