My family has never really done spring break trips because it was always one of the busiest times of year for my parents. However this year (in part to commemorate my basically month-long 21st birthday celebration), we decided to go to New Orleans!
I went with my family- my mom, sister, grandparents, and aunt’s family for four days. It’s the city where my grandparents met, a place my dad loved, and also where my grandparents and parents last vacationed together before I was born, so it has a lot of history and was incredibly special trip for me.
I wrote a post about packing here.
Since we were just going from Texas to Louisiana, we decided to make the nine hour drive there and back! Honestly I was surprised that my car made it on a tank and a half of gas!! Basically three of us traveled round trip for the cost of three tanks of gas or about $70. Of course parking in NOLA is expensive and sort of a nightmare, but our condo rental was in a PERFECT location. We were able to walk all over the place. The place we rented was through HomeAway and it was on the corner of Toulouse and Decatur directly across the street from Cafe Beignet. It was just 3-5 blocks walking distance from almost anything you’d want to see in the French Quarter!
We got there late Sunday afternoon, which happened to be St. Patrick’s Day! It was insane. Being two blocks from Bourbon St. we were right in the middle of everything- it was an all day party. After frantically getting unloaded and moved into the condo, we drove out to meet up with my Aunt and her family for dinner at Felix’s and WOW- it was such a good way to start our trip in terms of food, and was actually probably my favorite place we ate. Our waitress was amazing and the food was SO GOOD. I tried oysters for the first time- both Rockefeller and fried, and discovered they weren’t really for me. I shared fried shrimp, grits, and jambalaya with my mom and we nearly died and went to heaven.
Later that evening, we went out to join the festivities at the famed Pat O’ Brien’s for a classic Hurricane on St. Patty’s day. The piano bar was in full swing and everyone was singing. It was a good ‘ole time.
Woke up and grabbed breakfast to-go across the street at Cafe Beignet. There was literally never an outstanding line the entire time we were there! While most of my family went to see the New Orleans Aquarium as their morning activity, I spent time with my grandparents exploring Jackson Square and the French Quarter. I was blown away by the culture and architecture of the city as a whole. We stopped in all the small shops and art galleries. There was always street musicians playing jazz. You could see an incredible view of the Mississippi River and all the boats back near Cafe Du Monde, which always had a two hour wait and a line down the block.
After meeting up with family around noon, we got muffalettas at The Market Cafe and listened to the live jazz band playing. We then ventured around the French Market shops, looking at cheesy souvenirs, gorgeous art, and handmade goods from local vendors. I’d wished we would’ve grabbed food in there because it all looked AMAZING. I managed to avoid trying the alligator.
We headed over to Canal Street and hopped on a classic Street Car over to Magazine Street for some shopping. I definitely underestimated how far stretched Magazine Street was- we got off at Washington and only got to explore a few blocks. I bookmarked Lafayette Cemetery for the next day and we wandered through several shops before catching a bus back toward the Quarter for dinner at Mother’s Restaurant on Poydras. This was a recommendation from a family friend and the food was good, but I wasn’t completely in love.
That evening the exhaustion of the day got the best of me and I called it an early night, which is why I never made it to Frenchman Street or Harrah’s Casino unfortunately.
My mom and I stopped by Cafe Beignet for breakfast (again) and sat down this time. We couldn’t resist going back for more beignets and cafe au lait to start our day- we’d split an order the day before which was our first mistake. I had to restrain myself from going back one last time our final morning.
Since we had our car with us, my grandpa drove us back to Magazine Street that morning. Its seriously several miles long and pretty spread out, so it was nice not to have to walk up and down it in its entirety. You could definitely make do without though. My grandpa showed us his apartment from when he was younger and lived in Nola!
I toured Lafayette Cemetery without a guide. Looking back though, I would’ve liked a more formalized tour and to visit the original St Louis cemetery with Marie Laveau.
Right across the street was the famous Commander’s Palace, which we didn’t eat at this time around! It was pretty pricey and has a strict business attire dress code, which other member’s of my family hadn’t planned and packed for.
Among all the incredible shops on Magazine Street was Ashley Longshore’s Gallery! She’s an incredible artist who was introduced to me by a friend studying at Tulane who’s working for her. It’s definitely a must see!! Of course I didn’t walk out with my own painting, but I’m determined to own one someday! It definitely aligned with my new obsession with the color pink.
After reading tons of reviews, we had to make a quick pit stop at District Donuts. My personal favorite was the funfetti, but the flavors change daily!
Around the corner was the famous Buckner Mansion, which was featured in American Horror Story Coven. It was absolutely stunning and I was channeling all my witchy feels. There was some FOX film trucks around, so I’m curious to see what they’re filming next…
Since we had the car, we spent about an hour driving through the Garden District. My sister didn’t even believe they were houses! Some of them honestly looked like castles. I could definitely get used to living in one of those.
After a pit stop back at our condo, my mom and I ventured back out to Jackson Square to scope out some art, but got distracted by this really great street show- we ended up staying for almost an hour! We were running out of time before our evening activity, so a local woman pointed out the Clover Grill to us on Bourbon Street. We stopped for quick, cheap, and good diner food before my mom and I rushed off to what might be my favorite part of the trip- an evening ghost and vampire tour.
You guys… this is SO MUCH FUN. I thought tours were cheesy but this was incredible. At night on a Tuesday, there weren’t very many people out, so the streets were nice and spooky. Whether you believe in all the folklore or not, this is a must. The company was French Quarter Phantoms, and we met up at 8 pm at the Voodoo Lounge where you got a voucher for buy 1 get 1 Hurricanes at their bar, which you then got to take on the tour. We only walked the equivalent of a mile, and the tour lasted just under two hours with a break halfway at a bar to refill or go to the restroom.
Our tour guide Mike was a hoot, but he was also so knowledgable about everything. I got to see all the hotspots I’d missed like Sultan’s Palace and the LaLaurie Mansion. There were lots of creepy stories, but Mike kept it light with his own sense of humor and personal stories as well. Overall, it was probably my biggest highlight and what made me interested in more formalized tours/tour guides.
To top off this incredibly action packed day, we stopped for our second round of beignets for the day at Cafe Du Monde, just to say we went! If you want to go, I’d recommend going in the evening when there are no lines! It’s open 24 hours and they’re cash only. We got three orders of beignets and three cups of coffee for under $20. It was so nice to just walk right inside and sit. I even ran into some girls from my spirit group at UT who’d just arrived in New Orleans! I hate to say it, but I thought Cafe Beignet was better… Still loved both though! You just won’t find me standing in those two hour lines.
Our last morning!
We woke up early and packed so we could check out and be at the World War 2 Museum when it opened! We could only stay for 3 hours, so the tickets seemed a little pricey at $18 for students and $28 for adults, but it was so worth it. The exhibits were gorgeous and so well done. I’ve always been a history and government buff, so I was engaged the whole time. I missed the two films and had to rush through some of the exhibits, but overall still had a great experience. I’d recommend spending most of a day here if you’re really interested, but we made it work.
For our last meal, we went to Camellia Grill, which was recommended by my Aunt and Uncle, who’d been eating breakfast there almost every morning of their trip. It was amazing and on our way out of town! It’s a small place with only classic bar seating and fast service. There was a cheesecake-stuffed snowcone place next door they also said was out of this world, but we decided to pass since we were about to drive for nine hours.