Portraits by Hannah Pickle
I’m now sitting in the airport not quite sure whether recapping my first trip to New Orleans is going to make me really depressed about heading back to what feels like a substantially less colourful New York OR make me grin from ear-to-ear reminiscing over the genuinely best couple of days travelling I’ve had in a long time. Nonetheless – welcome to the first instalment of my ’48 hours in’ series! In this series I’ll be sharing my travel itineraries on trips I go on including what I think is worth seeing if you’ve only got a limited period of time to see & do everything possible – especially if it’s your first time. Some of my trips will obviously be longer than said 48 hours but the guides will keep to what will be possible in that period of time to keep things concise and help build your future itinerary and get the most out of your trip (including what to avoid)! Without further ado…
NEW ORLEANS TRAVEL GUIDE
Where To Stay:
After lots of research I personally would recommend staying in the Garden District if you want somewhere convenient & pretty with it’s very charming quiet neighbourhoods (also you can hop onto magazine street easily from down here which is a good base) – It’s about a $7 uber away from the Quarter but you can also use the street car system. To me staying on Bourbon or in the heart of the Quarter is just a no-go unless your on a hen-do or stag party. Theres also SO much construction & roadworks going on in Bourbon Street so even if that is your thing the constant drilling during the day would do anyone’s head in! Canal Street is the main wide avenue off Bourbon Street and is home to a lot of typical chain hotels like the Marriott and Sheraton. The Street is cool but very ‘strip-like’ and that doesn’t have that charm you come to NOLA for in my opinion. Here are my reek’s for various price points in the Garden District:
“Go BIG or go home” The Henry Howard Hotel, Prytania St: Gorgeously columned white mansion-turned-luxury boutique hotel. I stayed here for my first night in a room with access to one of those dreamy balconies and my only regret is that my flight got in so late that I didn’t have more time to enjoy it. Southern Hospitality hit me as soon as I came in the door and I loved how the rooms were the perfect mix of contemporary and the classic New Orleans colonial style.
“I want Orleans Quirky & Cool” Airbnb lovers rejoice! I found the cutest damn place on all of NOLA Airbnb HERE nearby with Nancy & Neil. It has a beautiful courtyard with the most eclectic mix of shabby-chic-cool decor and the rented rooms are located separate from the main house across the courtyard which allows for lots of privacy. The room was so cosy and just added to the warm New Orleans vibe. Nancy was also an awesome host! Drinking my cappuccino in the morning sun with my orange from her orange tree was a simple delight!
“I’m on a damn budget ok” I got’chu don’t worry. Nearby is also a popular hostel called Garden District House (popular with Mardi Gras go-ers) where you can bunk for dead cheap or have your own private double room for around $50 a night if you don’t want to share.
I wouldn’t worry too much about getting fancy accommodation if your here for a short period cause you really do spend 90% of the day out only coming home to sleep!
| THE FRENCH QUARTER |
The oldest part of the city is beautifully preserved by the Vieux Carre committee, and this entire area is exceptionally well kept despite the nightly parade of party-goers on Bourbon Street. Here you’ll see streets lined with the colourful Greek revival balcony-clad buildings New Orleans is best known for. Even though it’s a painfully obvious place to hang out while in New Orleans, it’s definitely the spot my mind keeps coming back to when people ask me what I’ve enjoyed the most. There’s a lot to do in a small area and no matter what mood your in there’s going to be something in the Quarter that will suit you. Wanna’ enjoy yourself and perhaps unexpectedly get hammered make new friends and perhaps even catch some live jazz music (like the legit real jazzy stuff)? – Stick to the infamous Bourbon St. Want to soak up the French Quarter atmosphere without Bourbon street madness? Hop one parallel street over to Royal St which somehow maintains a very serene ambiance despite being a stone’s throw away. Royal St. is wonderful for an afternoon-into-evening stroll with its incredible street musicians, antique shops, boutiques and restaurants and has multitudes of side streets which are all very much insta-worthy. I would recommend floating that direction after hanging out in Jackson Square post beignets-eating at Cafe Du Monde (beignets are those wonderful doughnut like pastries covered in powdered sugar that are famous in NOLA).
Recommended To Do:
- 5 in 1 ghost tour with the Voodoo Bone Lady (I did the 8-10pm tour and really enjoyed it – interesting ghouly tales without being cheesy or turning too much into a history tour and pretty cheap!
- Bourbon Street jazz show at the infamous Preservation Jazz Hall (multiple hour-long shows per night and such an authentic NOLA experience. *$20 cash only). I would recommend getting your tickets online in advance to get a good seat as it’s a very small & intimate venue.
- Jackson Square – Beautiful square where you can have a peak into St. Louis Cathedral (oldest cathedral in the U.S.), watch cute old people dance to public jazz, check out the art vendors / psychic readers, check out the sprawling french street markets and most importantly make a beignets stop at the very famous 24-hour open Café Du Monde for your dough-y fix and fantastic frozen coffee (yes you heard me right – refreshing frozen goodness that I would recommend for sweet-coffee lovers!).
Where to Eat:
- Café Du Monde – for obvious reasons stated above!
- Arrow Cafe for lunch or a coffee break
- Arnaud’s for soufflée potatoes
- Café Amelie for a mix of reasonably healthy options (also good if your sick NOLA’s predominantly seafood offerings) and the best alfresco dining in the area! This place is THE CUTEST and the food is great!
- Brennan’s – Really popular creole/cajun food. I found most of the local cuisine mild and hearty so if your Irish you won’t be far off even if words like jambalaya or gumbo scare you!
- This area is buzzing with the usual pizza, burger joints too but I’d highly recommend rolling like the Orleanians and trying some classic local cuisine like po’boy sandwiches at least once (I recommend the fried catfish or roast beef ones)!
- One MUST stop at the Pat O’Briens bar on Peter Street for their acclaimed Hurricane cocktail – take at your own risk, I was hammered after one which resulted in me heading on a tour spending the whole thing sobering up, not before making friends with two teachers and getting a marriage proposal from the bartender though! And THAT is why I love New Orleans.
Other Things in New Orleans I’d Recommend Seeing:
- Plantation Tour – Really worth the half a day (got back from mine at 3.30pm) to see an integral part of Louisiana’s past. If your on a budget, stick to the Oak Alley only tour but if I could do this over I would tell myself to also book the joint Laura plantation tour. It takes the same amount of time there (which I didn’t know) and you get to hear much more history. As the tour guide explained “Oak Alley for beauty, Laura for real history”. It was worth it just to see those three-hundred year old oak trees lined up!
- Street Cars – The city still operates very old-school trams and they are such good craic! Not only do they look cool but they also take you almost anywhere a tourist would want to go! At $3 for an unlimited day ticket or $1.25 single ride they are by far the cheapest (albeit a little slower) way to get around town.
- City Park – The largest in-city park in the US, (again an easy uber or streetcar away) is also home to a fabulous art museum (mix of contemporary art and antiques with a great mix of well known artists) a pretty good botanical garden and a nearby sculpture park. Lot’s on the museums and gardens are free entry on Wednesdays so be sure to check before you go!
- Magazine St. – This is a long stretch of street in the lower garden district with cute bars, antique shops, vintage stores and interior shops with stretches of residential colonial style houses in between breaking it up. You could spend maybe two-ish hours down here and the houses feel so much more colossal up close! I can’t get enough of looking at southern style porches!
Other Recommended Places To Eat:
- Miss Mae’s fried chicken – Famous to locals and tourists a like Mae’s fried chicken is a winner and again it’s a good option away from the seafood heavy alternatives in the area. I pretty sure they’re on Uber Eats App too so if your hungry don’t forget you can get some good options delivered easily! Good option if your walking from City Park back to the French Quarter!
- Deville’s Coffee & Crepes – Great coffee and a nice little lunch crepe – can’t go wrong! Lower Garden District.
Things I’m raging I didn’t get a chance to do:
- World War II museum – From what I’ve heard, you really need a full day in here. I’m a WWII history lover and really wanted to do the museum (and it’s entrance fee) justice by waiting to see it on another trip. If I hadn’t lost my first day at the airport waiting for a delayed connecting flight I definitely would have gotten this done!
- St. Louis Cemetery tour – New Orleans is famous for its above ground burials and mausoleums. To prevent vandalism you can’t enter the French Quarter cemeteries without a tour guide (voodoo tours above also do these!) and it closes at 3pm. Sad I couldn’t add this extra piece of spook / history into my trip. This cemetery in particular is famous because it has an actual voodoo queen buried in there.
- More time to just browse – as I literally only had two full days I was zipping here there and everywhere to check off my list and really didn’t get a chance to just potter around aimlessly through all the amazing markets and shops. I would need at least a full day for this alone!
If your going to see museums or attractions do note that most of those close before 5PM so if you really want to see something with opening hours, get it done first so your not clawing for time.
Definitely wanted to bring up travelling to NOLA as a solo traveller. This was my first solo trip in the U.S. and honestly I must of met six people who all gasped when I told them I was here alone! Like shock horror! Their main concern is that it’s a little dangerous to be a lonesome female here but honestly ya’girl just spent two years alone in New York, we got this! I honestly never hit a point where I felt unsafe (except when I walked from the Quarter to magazine street, yeah I wouldn’t recommend that) because I was in such highly populated areas and never ended up in quiet areas alone. It’s like any city, theres good parts & bad parts – just use your street smarts and you won’t even need to think about it (like ubering or getting a taxi straight home at night for example). I’ve been to a good few places in the U.S. now and I have to say this is the one place I am DYING to go back to! Even though being the self-proclaimed itinerary ‘get the most out of any trip’-kinda’ girl I am, I barely scratched the surface here. I wasn’t bored for a moment! I got to say, I’m now a very big fan of travelling solo, it’s so much less exhausting and I loved going at my own pace. It’s also a very open and inviting city and had many a great conversation with strangers! I would recommend staying in NOLA for 4 full days if you want to leave satisfied,
I can’t wait to return to it’s charm! If you want to really submerse yourself in my experience, watch my travel vlog below 😉