Flashback to August 2016: It had been over a year since my roommates from Prague and I had all been in the same room together. The last time I saw them, I was hugging them goodbye before I headed off to the airport and back home to the states. So, when I got a group message suggesting a reunion trip to New Orleans, a city none of us had been to before, I knew I had to figure out a way to scrounge up what little money my post-grad, job-hunting self had.
Next thing I knew, I was flying down to New Orleans, Louisiana at the beginning of August, home of the Saints and the location of my favorite American Horror Story season. What followed was a long weekend spent exploring the French Quarter, drinking the famous Fat Tuesdays and Hurricanes, and eating as much food as we could. Oh, and we celebrated two birthdays. I don’t think there could have been a better reunion trip.
Below are a few (okay, a lot) of pictures from our trip with suggestions of what to do, where to stay, and what to chow down on. Enjoy.
Where to Stay
If you stay anywhere while in New Orleans, make it the French Quarter. You’ll be able to walk around and admire the buildings like the ones below. One of the buildings is the infamous mansion of Madame LaLaurie that was featured in American Horror Story: Coven. Read more about LaLaurie’s story here. We stayed at the Courtyard Marriott on Iberville Street, about a 10 minute walk to the popular Bourbon Street. Highly recommend.
What to Eat
We ate here three separate times because it was that good. Located on Canal Street, a two minute walk from the Courtyard Marriott, this restaurant offers everything from omelettes and pancakes to shrimp n’ grits. I would recommend the Eggs Benedict paired with an Irish iced coffee if you want to get your day off to a great start.
After walking in the Garden District on Magazine Street while it was a sweltering and humid 95-degree day, we escaped the heat by heading to lunch at The Rum House. The waitress greeted us with giant mason jars of water like she knew we were all dehydrated from being both hungover from the night before and from the day’s high temperatures. She also suggested ordering a drink that was a combination of a margarita and a sangria. It didn’t take us long to finish our pitcher, that’s for sure. If you order any food, make it the sweet potato and conch fritters. YUM.
This place was over-hyped for me prior to checking it out. I expected to be blown away by the famous cafe; it’s been around since 1862 after all. But, we were met with your typical tourist scene, an overcrowded location with staff who acted as if this was the last place they wanted to be. We tried multiple times to get the staff’s attention to be served with no success. Finally, we placed our order for the beignets. After one bite, we came to the realization that the terrible service was worth it.
Note: We went during your typically busy hours, close to noon. I highly suggest waking up early and beating the crowds. Fingers crossed you’ll receive better service.
What to Do
Walk down this street just to say that you did. Be wary of Mardi Gras beads being flung from the balconies by drunk men and women who are most likely there for a bachelor or bachelorette party. Get the famous Hurricane and Fat Tuesday drinks, but don’t stay too long. The smell alone will make you want to check out another part of town.
Now, this is where you actually want to go if you’re looking for better nightlife. Bars line both sides of this street and feature live bands, jazz bands, and DJs. There’s also balconies to go out on, so that’s a plus.
If you’re looking to leave the city for an afternoon, book a swamp tour. With hotel pickup offered for an extra fee, you can go explore the swamps 45 minutes outside New Orleans and hope to see a few alligators in the process. Let me warn you, though. If you go in August like we did, the humidity will have you pouring sweat. Swamp ass is a real thing, people.
This location is a great photo opportunity and happens to be home to a lot of history. I would highly suggest booking this ghost tour that meets up right in front of St. Louis Cathedral outside Jackson Square. It was one of our favorite activities we did.
Located in the Garden District, this New Orleans mansion acted as Miss Robichaux’s Academy in American Horror Story: Coven. Although you can’t go inside, you can at least take pictures out front like we did.
As a piano player, I was super excited to check out the dueling piano performance that happens at this French Quarter bar. My excitement doubled when the pianists started playing because they were beyond talented. Grab a few drinks and watch them perform just about any song you want for any tip you’re willing to give. We requested and heard “Dancing in the Moonlight” by King Harvest.
New Orleans now takes one of the top spots for locations that I’ve visited in the U.S. because of its history, culture, and things to do. If you’re looking for a destination to check out, please make it this city. You won’t be disappointed.
As the sign below says, I hope you’ll soon “take a lil time for some [New Orleans] sunshine.