We went to New Orleans back when our kids were small (hated it). I then went back with my mom in 2012 (loved it). So, the week after Christmas everyone had a break and the Mister surprised me with a short trip to New Orleans, Baby!! I was SO EXCITED when he told me we were going. This wasn’t going to be a bike ride, we packed light, packed the girls, and took his little yellow car, Lucia.
We stayed at a great Laquinta in Slidell, Louisiana, which is about a half hour from New Orleans. We had some friends that were going at the same time. While we weren’t going WITH them, we definitely planned to meet up a couple times for dinner and such.
Here’s the view from our balcony the evening we arrived (Yes, the pool was open), as well as a photo of our room.
We didn’t partake of the hotel’s free continental breakfast in the mornings, mostly because we like to lounge around late, in our PJ’s, drinking coffee…so we just got something quick at the McDonald’s close by.
The first day we headed to Vacherie to go to Oak Alley Plantation. Oak Alley is famous for its iconic view up the “alley of the oaks” toward the plantation house. It was terribly crowded…much more so than when my mom and I went on a cold, rainy November day a couple years prior.
The wait to tour the house was looooooong…and you couldn’t get on the grounds without purchasing a tour of the house. However, you can get a great Mint Julep while waiting to get in.
I had found a great local deli on the previous trip, so I insisted that we eat lunch at B & C Seafood Restaurant and Deli in Vacherie. What a cool place!
If you want to go to a cemetery in while in New Orleans, actually I would suggest one right outside of town, the Metairie Cemetery, at 5100 Pontchartrain Blvd. New Orleans. It is open from 7:30 a.m. – 5:30 p.m.
I’ve never gone to one of the cemeteries right in New Orleans, but my understanding is you need to book a tour. However, when we went to the Metairie Cemetery, it was free and we didn’t need a tour at all.
There are SO many places to get good Cajun and Creole food around New Orleans, obviously, and the choice for fine dining also offers many, many choices. However, after checking out reviews on Yelp, we narrowed it down to three restaurants for dinner our second night, and decided on Muriel’s on Jackson Square. I had roasted duck for the first time ever, and the accompanying smoked carrot puree was divine!!
Once we finished dinner, we took a stroll around Jackson Square. Fortune tellers and card readers replaced the day merchants who sold their own art or trinkets It was interesting, for sure, and I loved the eerie, bizarre vibe of the whole environment.
Back to New Orleans the next morning for our last full day in NOLA gave us more great food, music, and a peek into voodoo culture with a visit to the Voodoo Museum.
We also wandered through the French Market, as it was the first place we came to since we parked in the public parking near there.
From the French Market we COULD have taken the trolley, but we opted to walk up to Jackson Square instead. You should take the trolley somewhere if you visit New Orleans, if nothing else just to have done it because it’s pretty cool.
- Just a tip here…they have the great big Mardi Gras jester masks for sale at the market AND a lot of places all over The Quarter. If you think you want it, just go ahead and get it. I spent time looking to see if there were better prices anywhere, and only found a difference of about $2.50. Then, I completely forgot to go back to buy the mask and ended up paying twice as much to order one online when I got home.
The French Market is also a great place to get your first cocktail to walk around the streets drinking because yes, you can do that there! Shopping while day drinking is more fun, in my opinion.
From there, Cafe Dumond is right up the street at 800 Decatur Street. I didn’t find the beignets or the cafe au laits the best thing on the planet, but they were really good and no tourist should skip Cafe Dumond.
- There are usually signs by the door saying “Seat Yourself” so just do it. The servers are busy, busy so if you need to sit at a dirty table just do it and the server will be around ASAP to clean off the table and take your order.
- Don’t wear black…the powdered sugar will get all over you.
- Be ready to order when the server comes by…they are busy and if you are going to need to take time to make up your mind you might not see him or her again for a while. It’s pretty simple…coffee and beignets…so just order!
- CASH ONLY!
At any given point, on any given street, you’ll probably be treated to a pop-up jazz performance, a cajun group, or possibly a solo serenade.
- Tip the performers! Especially if you take a photo, because they appreciate it and they’re working for it.
Again, there are a lot of places to get New Orleans cuisine, so for lunch on our second day I wanted to go to Channing Tatum’s Saints and Sinners. It had an interesting look, but not as much as the website indicated. The food was GREAT but the service was not. The servers were friendly, they just never came around…and we were there at a very slow time when only about four or five tables were filled. So, don’t go there if you’re in a hurry, but the food is good.
- While in New Orleans, we ALWAYS kept aware of our surroundings, but never felt unsafe. It’s got a reputation, so don’t push it by being stupid and getting off the beaten paths or not paying attention.
You never know what you’re going to see or who you’re going to meet, but just stay safe, look around, enjoy all the food, music, and culture of this great city and have a wonderful time!!