I just got back yesterday from a 4 day trip to NOLA, Louisiana. It was a bit of a last minute affair for a friend’s cousin’s birthday, and absolutely worth every minute. It was my second trip there and will certainly not be my last.
In a nutshell… I will always love and come back to New Orleans. Many cities scramble for the coveted title of “melting pot” but NOLA is one of the few who can rightfully claim it, and with good reason after being a hub of multiculturalism for over 300 years.
We stayed in the French Quarter in a 200 year old cottage with three cute kitties but we made sure to venture out both Uptown and Downtown to get the full experience.
We were also there in the week leading up to Halloween, and this is a city that takes Halloween seriously. So so many wonderful house decorations. One of our Uber drivers mentioned that he used to go to secret graveyard parties where there would be a DJ spinning in the cities of the dead and everyone partying on top of the mausoleums. That is something I would like to do someday.
Defining moment… we met up with a friend who grew up in New Orleans, and he told us about the tradition of pinning a dollar to your shirt on your birthday. Residents kept stopping by to wish my friend a happy birthday and buy him drinks.
Bizarre encounter… we were eating at a café off of Frenchman St. and an entourage of at least a hundred cyclists rolled by in full costume to wish us a “Happy Thursday”. Not sure yet if there was any meaning to that beyond it just being a Thursday.
Best meal… it’s hard to say (it’s New Orleans after all), even the po’ boy and red beans and rice from the corner store was amazing. I was the most surprised by a waffle I got at a cafe for breakfast at Mister Gregory in Tremé that somehow had a caramelized candy coating. The crawfish étouffée hot dog from Dat Dog was a solid choice as well.
Souvenir-wise… I still have a few wooden signs I bought the first time I came to NOLA so I didn’t want to overwhelm my boyfriend with more kitsch. I got a green marble mortar and pestle at a spice shop and a few amazing art books at Arcadian Books & Art Prints.
Fave activity? We were staying down the street from Louis Armstrong park and I noticed some tents going up — a good sign of some kind of street fair. It turned out to be an art and food market and free jazz concerts with $3 cocktails called Jazz in the Park that happens every Thursday. Can’t beat that.
I have to recommend… this is going to be tough. Here’s a few spots I stopped by that are worth the visit:
The Maple Leaf, Uptown/Carrolton.
A legendary NOLA jazz venue with strong drinks, great music, and a lovely backyard. There’s a residency by the Rebirth Brass Band every Tuesday if you want to see a classic jazz brass band. Usually has a small cash cover but the price may raise on festival weekends.
Dragon’s Den, Downtown/Marigny
A two story club/dive bar with a giant backyard and different events from salsa to DJs to comedy. During our visit there was a DJ downstairs in the lounge area with old school hiphop, skate videos, and Mario Kart setup on another projector with another DJ upstairs in the more club-like area with a $10 cover. Not bad at all.
While we were there this guy came by and told us to get off our phones and handed me this business card. Apologies for the bad quality.
Le Bon Temps Roule, Uptown
The alpha dive bar, open late with all kinds of craft beer and live music almost every night in the back “House of Dues”. We saw the Soul Rebels on Thursday, a brass band with a residency there that plays all kinds of hiphop tunes with their own lyrics.
Napoleon House, French Quarter
We were searching around for a reasonably priced lunch in the French Quarter and found this old place. Solid muffuletta that I kept munching on for days, and a lovely selection of local cocktail classics. The building is called the Napoleon house because of the failed plot to rescue Napoleon from St. Helena.
Arcadian Books & Art Prints, French Quarter
This independent used bookstore is a precious find, with books stacked to the ceiling and a dubious organization system. I found art books that would have cost me $80 for only $10 in the stacks. Guaranteed you will find something you love and haven’t seen before.
Pharmacy Museum, French Quarter
A creepy museum for only $5 off of Chartres Street in the Quarter. Learn about all of the misguided medicinal practices in the dusty exhibits downstairs. During our visit there were special exhibits on bitters and midwifery upstairs. Not for the faint of stomach.
Frenchman Art Market, Marigny
Only open from Thursday – Saturday, this medium-sized art market features local artists and artisans in two different fenced in areas. There’s no sales tax on art in NOLA, an initiative passed to promote artist careers, so it’s definitely cheap in comparison to other art markets I’ve been to!
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