{Gallivant} A Weekend in New Orleans

New Orleans Travel Guide

Remember when I spontaneously went to New Orleans with my girlfriends last March? Well, I couldn't get enough, John still hadn't been, and my parents were dying to go, so earlier this spring we all met in the Big Easy for the most incredible weekend! 

John and I drove over from Pensacola in the morning (it's such an easy drive from Pensy, just under three hours) so that we could meet up with our friend Katie for the afternoon. Katie goes to Tulane so she was an expert on the surrounding areas. We picked her up, took a quick tour of campus (SUCH a beautiful school!) and then headed to Dat Dog for a late lunch. 

Dat Dog New Orleans | New Orleans Travel Guide

If you haven't been to Dat Dog than you have to stop into one of their locations next time you are in NOLA. Specializing in gourmet hot dogs, the menu features items such as apple smoked sage dog, the turducken dog, the crawfish sausage--even alligator sausage! We kept it simple and went for brats and cheese fries, all washed down with ice-cold Mexican cokes. Yum. 

Audubon Park | New Orleans Travel Guide

My parent's weren't arriving until the evening, so we spent the afternoon in Auduban Park, strolling through the verdant avenues shaded by grandiose live oaks, and counting the turtles we saw floating down the river. Sadly, we didn't make it all the way to the Zoo, but opted instead to walk back a different route and admire all the old historic homes that abut the park. The architecture was amazing, each house complete with a lovely lantern-lit porch,  and I couldn't help but peak into the hidden yards, many of which held beautiful gardens or a shaded swimming pool.

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant
New Orleans Travel Guide
Audubon Park | New Orleans Travel Guide
New Orleans Travel Guide

On a captivating note: During our visit the whole city seemed to be dripping with fragrant jasmine, the aroma of which was only intensified by the heat. It made me dream of having an arbor of jasmine one day at our dream house...

New Orleans Travel Guide

One of the things NOLA is known for is it's culinary scene, and to say we ate and drank well during our visit is such an understatement. Our first night, after picking up my parents at the airport and freshening up quickly, we headed down to the Marais for pre-dinner drinks at the hip Cane & Table. We sat at the marble-topped bar, toasted to the weekend and being together, and sipped our various potions while catching up. Mom and I also did our fair share of oogling over the smoky industrial chic ambiance of Cane & Table, complete with exposed brick walls, arched windows, and sparkly chandeliers. Between the quality mixology and the atmosphere--this was definitely one of my favorite stops of the weekend. 

In terms of dinners we were completely spoiled. Our first night we headed uptown to Clancy's, an off-the-beaten-path local secret. Located on the corner in a residential area, Clancy's truly is a neighborhood restaurant, but when we walked in we were greeted by the vested waiters and white tablecloths reminiscent of an older and more elegant tradition of dining not often seen today. Between the four of us we tried all of the classics on the menu, including shrimp remoulade, crab salad, crawfish etouffee, and (my personal favorite) smoked pork loin with green peppercorn and mustard sauce...mouth watering. 

The Gallivant
New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant

Clancy's was fantastic, but John Besh and Alon Shaya's Domenica, located in the gorgeous Roosevelt hotel, was my priority for the weekend. (Yes, I do in fact go to sleep dreaming of my next meal and plan entire trips around dream restaurants. Sue me.) The Italian themed menu is inventive and far beyond the type of heavy Italian most Americans are used too--think house-made charcuterie, fried kale, oxtail ragu, and campanelle with morels and bone marrow, all complimented by a fabulous  wine list. While we went for dinner (and I could have died happy) Domenica's happy hour deals are awesome, (1/2 priced pizzas? No brainer.) It would be a great place to spend an afternoon noshing and sipping a glass of wine. 

The French Quarter | New Orleans Travel Guide
Jackson Square | New Orleans Travel Guide

We only had one full day to explore all together so we opted to do a carriage tour of the French Quarter and graveyards. While I cringe just a teeny bit thinking about how ultra-touristy this sounds, it really was a great way to see the entire quarter and learn a ton of the history in just a few hours. Our tour guide was super knowledgeable and full of fun facts, and being a native himself, could answer all of the questions that inevitably came up along the ride pertaining to the rich history of New Orleans, as well as Creole and Voodoo culture. Since the carriages all line up in Jackson Square, it was also super easy to find an open one, no prior booking necessary. 

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant Blog

Our gentle steed...

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant Blog

Many of the mules who kindly pulled the carriages were bedecked with colorful flower crowns. I thought hers was particularly enchanting..isn't she gorgeous?

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant
New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant

These guys were my fave...

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant

Of course, we couldn't visit New Orleans and not listen to some jazz, right? After my trip last year, I knew to skip Bourbon and head straight to Frenchmen St. for the best jazz and nightlife. We are all huge music lovers so both nights after dinner we headed down and danced the night away. The scene was buzzing, and in classic NOLA style, the party carried into the street, with amazing musicians both inside and outside on the curb. It's infectious and so unique to New Orleans--you absolutely cannot miss it. Some of our favorite spots were the Spotted Cat, Three Muses, and the Blue Nile.  

New Orleans Travel Guide | The Gallivant Blog

I knew my parents would love the Garden District like I do, so we spent the better part of an afternoon exploring neighborhoods and wandering down Magazine St. We nipped into various adorable boutiques, and grabbed a quick happy hour snack and drinks at Slice. Pimm's Cup for me please!

On our final morning, before heading back to Pensacola, we returned to the Garden District for jazz brunch at Commander's Palace. I was a bit skeptical of all the hype surrounding Commander's (it's a classic) but was pleasantly surprised by how delicious everything was. Not to mention the physical palace itself...how fun and cheery is that blue?

Travel Guide to New Orleans | Commander's Palace | The Gallivant Blog

Eggs Benny with slow-roasted pork shoulder on biscuits, as seen on instagram...(@evr_gallivant) Now I just need to publish my best-selling novel and hire a chef to replicate this in my house on Sunday mornings..

Travel Guide to New Orleans | Commander's Palace | The Gallivant Blog

Pure decadence in the form of strawberry shortcake. 

Travel Guide to New Orleans | Commander's Palace | The Gallivant Blog
nola 14b.jpg

John's birthday was a few weeks before so we took this opportunity to celebrate him, and the staff a Commander's happily obliged. Completely stuffed after brunch, we all agreed that it was the perfect way to round out an amazing weekend . Thanks Mom and Dad for letting us tag along!

Have you ever been to New Orleans? You can read about my first visit to this beautiful city here.  Some places I still want to see/visit are Butcher, SoBou, Folton Lanes, and the WWII Museum. Where are some of your favorite spots and/or things to do in the Big Easy? I would love to hear!

xoxo,

Emily

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{Gallivant} New Orleans

Cat and Abbey outside Café Du Monde.

Cat and Abbey outside Café Du Monde.

Last week three of my best friends from college came to visit and we decided to take a spontaneous road trip to the Big Easy for a night. Since it was the week after Mardi Gras, we scored a sweet hotel deal, right on the corner of Bourbon and Canal St. 

I had never been to New Orleans, but since moving to Pensacola I have been dying to go since it is only a quick 3 hour drive. I have heard mixed things about the city, mostly that the european influence is cool and the food and jazz are incredible, but the late night scene can be pretty sketchy.  We did a ton of research and decided to just try and get local advice when we got there, and wing our itinerary accordingly. 

When we first arrived we went straight to the Garden District. I had read about the Garden District and was excited to check it out. It truly is beautiful. Although spring is not in full bloom yet here, we still got a sense of how beautiful the district must be when the trees and gardens are are in their prime. The old southern mansions were stunning, and the driving through the neighborhoods reminded me of a mixture of the Fan in Richmond, New Port RI, and Charleston SC. Lately I have been really inspired by Southern literature (To Kill a Mockingbird, The Sound and the Fury, The Helpand this area really evoked Kate Chopin's haunting novella The Awakening. I could imagine the dripping heat of summer and girls in white dresses sitting on the porches of the stately houses drinking iced tea, both smothered by heat and smothering their desires to rebel against society. 

After driving through the Garden District we parked on Magazine St, near the Whole Foods, and checked all the cute boutiques and shoppes. We grabbed a quick snack at Slice, which had delicious pizza and great happy hour deals. Definitely worth a visit for a good bang-for-your-buck bite to eat, as well as a fantastic bloody mary. 

Dani and I at Slice

Dani and I at Slice

One thing we noticed early on in our visit was that the people are so nice in New Orleans. Both the shop girls and our server gave us some awesome recommendations for dinner that night and fun places to go out. They all resoundingly told us to skip Bourbon St, and hit up Frenchmen St. for the local experience and the best jazz. We did see a bit of Bourbon because our hotel was right on the corner, and although it was an experience, it is definitely a huge tourist trap. 

We stayed at the Royal Crown Plaza, right on the corner of Canal and Bourbon St. We happened to score a great deal, and would highly recommend the hotel to anyone because the location is primo. Tip: Don't use RCP parking, instead park in the garage on the backside of the block. It is $10 cheaper for the night. 

Fried Oyster and Grits at 3 Muses

We grabbed a cab and headed to 3 Muses on Frenchmen St. for dinner after a friend recommended it. (Thanks Katie!) The place was packed when we arrived around 8:00, and the music was already in full swing. We put our name in and decided to walk down the street and check out the scene. New Orleans is fun because you can drink in the street, so we popped into a bar down a few blocks to check out their band (which was awesome) and then took our drinks on the road. There was live jazz in every bar or restaurant that we passed, and some fun stuff happening in the streets two. Some of the best advice we got was that "the music is always worth the cover charge in NOLA." Our advice would be to hit up one or two places, and then pick one and stay put for a while. When we got back to the 3 Muses the place was hopping and the food was insane. Definitely worth the cover and one drink per set. 

After a couple sets it was getting late so we moved on to One Eyed Jack's, a club across the French Quarter. We decided to walk and check out the quarter along the way. There were definitely moments and blocks where, with the cobbled streets and shuttered windows, we could have been in France, except the townhouses and flats were all painted in fun pastels. We arrived at One Eyed Jacks to discover that it was 80's night, complete with a theatre screen playing 80's classics and dancers. It ended up being a fun surprise, even though they played such obscure 80's songs for the first half of the time we were there. (Disclaimer: I was not born in the 80s. I do not know what I am talking about.)

The next morning before we left we did some exploring and grabbed breakfast at Café Du MondeGotta do it once, right?

Overall, given that we had less than 24 hours, we felt like we got a great taste of New Orleans. Next time I would love to see some more of the parks and sights, but being able to just enjoy the jazz and food was a blast. Sometimes when traveling it's fun to just skip all the touristy stuff , relax, and take it all in. We totally fell in love with the city and would love to go back, and we din't feel like we missed out at all by skipping Bourbon St. Below is our blitz in a nutshell, incase any of you find yourselves taking a spontaneous trip to the Big Easy anytime soon!

New Orleans Blitz:

Areas to Hit up:

  • Garden District: Beautiful historic area, mostly residential, with lovely southern houses and gardens.
  • Magazine St: Fun street in the Garden District with great shoppes and cafés. Fun place to stop for lunch and window shopping. 
  • French Quarter: Another historic district, home to the famous Bourbon St. Known for its french architecture and food, nightlife, jazz scene, and historical significance.
  • Frenchmen St: Located off of the French Quarter, know for its authentic jazz and local scene. Great restaurants and night life. 

Places to Eat:

  • Slice: Small pizzeria with multiple locations. We ate at the one Magazine St. Great pizza, salads, and drinks, with awesome slice and drink deals. Very reasonable prices. 
  • 3 Muses: Fantastic restaurant and jazz bar. Food is small plates, service is quick and excellent. Mix of Southern, Creole, and French fusion. Highly recommend the Fried Oysters and Grits with Bloody Mary Sauce, as well as the Coconut Shrimp and Lamb Sliders. 
  • Café Du Monde: Probably one of the most famous places in New Orleans, located in the heart of the French Quarter. Totally touristy, but the Beignets really are great, and it's open 24 hours! Don't be afraid of the line--it moves fast. 

Late Night:

xoxo

Emily

P.S. Have any of you been to New Orleans? What were your favorite parts/spots? I would love to take notes for my next trip!

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