This past New Year's Eve just felt different for me as it approached. Ending a decade and starting a new one, one where I would be getting married, seemed like the perfect opportunity to do something spontaneous - so that's exactly what Andrew and I did!
One Tuesday evening in early December I remembered that we had leftover flight credits from our summer vacation, aka FREE AIR TRAVEL. Instantly I felt like New Year's Eve would be the perfect chance to go somewhere fun. With the time we had available to take off from work, we quickly agreed that New Orleans was the best place to explore. So we packed our bags, set alarms for our 3:00 am departure and flew down to the Big Easy!
Andrew and I were only there for 2 days, but we made the most of that time. A little tidbit about us on trips: we cannot sit still. We like to go, go, go! Anytime we have taken a "relaxing" trip we find ourselves thinking about what we can explore next so I knew this trip would be no different.
While this was Andrew's first time in New Orleans, I had been itching to go back ever since a girls trip I went on in 2015. I had a long list of places I hoped we would return to and a handful of new ones to try out. Below I'm sharing everything from where we stayed to what we ate!
Where We Stayed
Having been to New Orleans once before, I knew the lay of the land. Andrew and I wanted to spend the majority of our quick trip in the French Quarter, so we decided on the St. Christopher Hotel. The hotel is located right off Canal Street making it only a 5-minute walk to Bourbon Street, Jackson Square, and all the town’s hot spots.
The French Quarter
The French Quarter is truly one of my favorite places to be. Ever since my first visit, I fell in love with the French architecture, bustling streets, live music, street art, and delicious treats that all live in this iconic section of New Orleans.
Streets are lined with beautifully colored buildings and when you look up balconies are adorned with lush greenery and gorgeous florals. When deciding which photos to include, I realized I could probably create an entire blog post just of these balconies!
Andrew and I enjoyed our daily walks throughout the French Quarter, each day uncovering a new street or local shop to explore. However, our favorite spot was Jackson Square. This historic, must-visit park is home to St. Louis Cathedral and Café Du Monde, in addition to many talented artists, street performers, carriage rides and other popular NOLA attractions.
Café Du Monde
All I can say is beignet done that! But really, a trip to the famous Café Du Monde French Market Coffee Stand is a MUST. I dreamt about these legendary beignets for over 4 years since my first taste, so we made sure this was the very first stop on our trip.
Café Du Monde is located on Decatur Street and sits right between Jackson Square and the Mississippi River. While this location is the original and most fun to visit, you can also find more locations here - there's even a new cafe right at the gate in the airport!
What to order is pretty simple: incredible coffee and even more incredible beignets. Andrew and I each devoured an order of the fluffy, warm, powdered sugar-covered beignets and I opted for the frozen café au lait, while Andrew tried the hot. Both are equally delicious AND if you are dying to enjoy their treats at home, you can purchase both their coffee and beignet mix to take with you!
Is it really a trip to the Big Easy if you don't spend some time on Bourbon Street? This epicenter of food, drinks, music, and nightlife is just what you would imagine - one big party that never stops!
Andrew and I spent both daytime and nighttime on this street and honestly there's not too much of a difference. Those who visit are there to have a great time, regardless the time of day.
While there are hundreds of places to stop by, these were some of our favorites:
Pat O'Brien's: Their Hurricane's are the best...and probably the strongest.
Old Absinthe House: This landmark saloon serves unique absinthe cocktails - a must try while in New Orleans.
Bourbon Bandstand: The live music never stops and their balcony access makes for a fun place to toss beads.
As you can tell, we squeezed a LOT into two days but there were a few places that really stuck out as our favorites. Below I am sharing three spots that were 100% worth visiting while in town.
The Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone
This was by far our favorite spot of the entire trip. This bar is located inside of the stunning Hotel Monteleone and features an actual carousel bar that very slowly spins and has been since 1949!
The ambience here is everything I look for in a bar: a bustling lounge, swanky atmosphere, and deliciously hand crafted cocktails. My favorite cocktail was the Fleur de Lis, a delicate mixture of Hendrick's Gin, St. Germain, fresh lemon, cucumber and club soda!
The Ruby Slipper
If you are looking for breakfast, this is the spot! While a visit will most likely be accompanied by a wait, it's fully worth it.
The Ruby Slipper is a local chain of restaurants throughout New Orleans that was established after Hurricane Katrina to build a sense of community and resilience. All around a great cause, great people and reallyyyy great food.
I very much enjoyed their French vanilla latte and 'Bam Bam Biscuit', which is their version of a breakfast sandwich, while Andrew feasted on their incredible 'Benedict Trio'.
Arnaud's & The French 75 Bar
Last, but certainly not least, on my list of top spots worth visiting in NOLA is Arnaud's and the French 75 Bar. Andrew and I have a true appreciation for good food and enjoy the chance to dress up, so we were in search for one last beautiful meal of the decade. When we came across Arnaud's we knew it was the place!
While you can certainly walk-in to The French 75 Bar for a drink or small bite, I most certainly recommend making a reservation for Arnaud's if you would like to dine.
The dining room was absolutely gorgeous and the meal, incredible! We started by toasting to a new decade with two delicious French 75's, Arnaud's signature cocktail. Our waiter then brought us a warm loaf of bread to break right on the tablecloth - a tradition created to welcome their guests and ease the atmosphere.
As for our entrees we enjoyed crab cakes, puffed pastry soft crab and what Andrew called, "the world's best baked oysters". Overall, this might have been our best meal of the decade!
New Year's Eve
For our second and final night in NOLA, we rang in the new year in the place where it's always a party, Bourbon Street. Together, we sipped fun drinks, threw beads off the iconic balconies, watched the fireworks and celebrated all that this new decade will bring!
This last minute trip seemed crazy at first, but it was worth every single second. When 2029 comes rolling around, I know we will look back and be so happy we did it!
Wishing you all happiness, health and prosperity as we embark on this new year and the decade that lies ahead. x0,