New Orleans Travel Diary

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I only spent 3 days in New Orleans with a group, so I titled this blog post as a travel diary. I don’t want to call it a travel guide as it was my first time in the city, I was only there for a short weekend, and I missed out on a lot of the major stops (like Café du Monde). We still were able to accomplish a lot, but I’d love a chance to go back and experience more!

Stay

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Astor Crowne Plaza. Source: booking.com

We stayed at the Astor Crowne Plaza New Orleans, which was a great location for our group. It is right on the corner of Bourbon Street, with easy walking access to the French Quarter and trolley, so even though we drove down, we didn’t need to use our cars all weekend. Despite the slight seediness of the area, the Astor is clean and well kept, with a nice onsite restaurant (Bourbon Steak House), and surprisingly quiet pool deck.

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Ace Hotel. Source: kayak.com

If I come back, I’d love to stay at the Ace Hotel, which is only a few blocks away from the French Quarter and has all of the millennial amenities I desire (like good coffee, nice restaurant, rooftop pool). We spent the better part of Friday afternoon at their pool sipping on frozen adult beverages. Or, I’d hole up in a small French Quarter AirBnB or Garden District boutique hotel.

Eat & Drink

On Thursday night after we arrived (just a quick 7-hour drive from Nashville), we got a late dinner from Arnaud’s on Bourbon. It is a charming spot with strong drinks to help get your night started in a convenient location.

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Tableau. Source: OpenTable

The restaurants that we dined at in the French Quarter were exquisite. French Truck Coffee is some of the best coffee I’ve ever had and served everywhere (kind of their version of Frothy Monkey, Nashvillians). Kingfish Grille is a cute corner restaurant that has lots of French, non-seafood options, if that’s your thing. Tableau offered a sumptuous selection of oysters, and the best shrimp (and grits) I’ve ever had in my life. Shrimp has been my favorite food since I was 7 years old, so this is a big deal. I would come back just for that dish, and the coffee. Oh, and possibly the bottomless mimosas too.

Ruby Slipper Café is a touristy brunch option that is nonetheless delicious. They have several locations all over town and can reserve parties up to 6, making it easy for groups to grab a morning meal. I heard that they recently opened a location in Franklin, TN, so I may have to check that one out.

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French Truck Coffee. Source: WhereTraveler

We spent the better part of Saturday afternoon on the upstairs patio at Gris-Gris, which overlooks a charming area of the Garden District. Order the Voodoo Queen – a delicious vodka cocktail with vines of thyme undulating out of the glass.

You might notice I didn’t mention anything about beignets…well that’s because I didn’t have any. Again, this is a travel diary, not a guide, so my NOLA experience is a work in progress.

Do

When I’m in a new city, I love to walk as much as possible, and New Orleans makes it easy to do so. Staying in the French Quarter, we ended up wandering around the streets admiring the colorful building facades with elaborate iron balconies. Bourbon Street was a must for me since it was my first time, but it’s very similar to Broadway in Nashville, so it wasn’t overwhelming or particularly extraordinary. That’s not to say we didn’t have a good time there, of course…

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French Quarter & Kingfish Grille, New Orleans.

Meandering through the streets of the French Quarter led us to Jackson Square, which is a beautiful park at the riverfront surrounded by lovely buildings and overrun by tourists like us. Definitely a great spot for a photo op.

On Saturday, we rode the trolley to the Garden District and spent the day walking around and stopping at random places. The houses of the Garden District are an incredible mix of Roman-Greco and Southern Francophile architecture, and the shops are positively charming. I am a flora enthusiast, and funnily enough I have never seen a live oak in person, so they were incredible to witness.

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Garden District, New Orleans.

The idea of touring the mausoleums in Lafayette Cemetery seemed creepy but was bright and beautiful and fascinatingly historic. As with any trip, keeping an open mind and relatively open plans can lead to exciting new experiences.

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