“Laissez les bon temps rouler”- a Cajun expression used in New Orleans meaning “let the good times roll”.
New Orleans ( or NOLA) is one of the most interesting cities in North America. It is well known for Mardi Gras, the birthplace of Jazz, Southern hospitality, and cajun cuisine to name a few.
I have had the good fortune of visiting NOLA twice. The second time was a couple weeks ago for my cousin’s wedding. In this piece I will share a compilation from both trips of where to stay, where to eat and of course what to do.
WHERE TO STAY
My first trip to NOLA was for a conference, so the hotel selection was predetermined. But for this recent trip, my choice was initially based solely on aesthetics. The Mercantile hotel had exposed brick in each of the rooms making it an instant win for me.
In addition to the loft like appearance, The Mercantile hotel offered suites equipped with a bar area, separate bedroom, living room and spacious bathroom.
And to add to the NOLA vibe, a record with jazz music. What a wonderful treat to put you in the spirit.
In addition to the aesthetics, this boutique hotel is in a great location. The Mercantile is in the Art district, and is walking distance to many of the cities’ attractions e.g. 20 minute walk to the French Quarter. To add to the charm, this hotel used to be the former site of a sugar refinery!
And if location and quality of the room aren’t enough to impress you, then the hospitality takes it to another level. I was overly delighted by the Southern charm and wowed with a welcome package (filled with edible goodies and useful gifts) to add to that special experience.
For more information on The Mercantile Hotel, please refer to the link below.
And for the record, I was a paying customer here. This stay was not sponsored and my review is completely my own and independent of the establishment.
WHAT TO DO
As this was my second trip to this city, a lot of the attractions were covered a few years ago. Thus some of the photos are from my initial trip.
Some of my recommendations include:
1. French Quarter (especially Royal street)
This is the oldest section of New Orleans and a must see!
Walking the cobble stone streets, while listening to jazz players, watching the plethora of party goers in the streets, the endless amounts of bars and restaurants are just some of what you can expect in “Vieux Carre” (old square).
This is La Branche building, the second most photographed in NOLA
2. Jackson Square
A historic park in the French Quarter, Jackson Square was declared a national landmark in 1960s. It’s directly in front of St. Louis Cathedral. Cafe Du Mode is across the street so its perfect to grab a beignet with coffee and sit in the park.
3. Lafayette Square
Located in the Central Business District, Lafayette is the second oldest park in NOLA.
4. Lower Garden District
One of the neighbourhoods in New Orleans that is perfect to explore for the architecture, including variety of doors, cool cafes, etc.
5. St. Louis Cemetery
Taking tours of cemeteries is a listed attraction in New Orleans, including the most popular one – St Louis Cemetery. I admit to have gone my first trip, but the idea of visiting places of the dead makes me feel disrespectful so now I am more conscientious of doing so; but I appreciate that others may want to endeavor in this.
For more information, feel free to check the link below:
6. St. Louis Cathedral
This famous landmark in directly behind Jackson Square in the French Quarter.
There are tons of local musicians and artists surrounding the cathedral drawing in many tourists.
In my recent trip, I didn’t realize until my uber driver pulled up that this was the same St Louis Cathedral I was taking photos of that my cousin was now getting married in!! It was really cool after the ceremony that a jazz band entertained us outside the church and then they led a procession with the bridal party, guest to follow, down the streets of the French Quarter to the reception at the Royal Sonesta.
If you follow me on Instagram (@scrubs2sweats), you may have seen my stories showcasing this. It certainly was a cool experience. In fact, the day before I saw another wedding party parading down the street and I filmed it, having no idea that the next day I would be doing the same thing!
There are lots of other attractions you can do including museums and plantation tours. The latter was something I would have done if I had extra time. Coming from Barbados, I have an appreciation for the history and culture behind plantations.
WHERE TO EAT
The food in New Orleans is one of the most unique in America. It comprises a combination of Creole, Cajun and Soul food.
Some of these foods include Gumbo, Jambalaya, red beans and rice to name a few. I admit I am not a foodie and usually gravitate to a simple chicken with veggies meal if its not Thai, Indian or Sushi. But the Bajan in me loves peas and rice, so I was more excited about eating out here.
A few of my limited recommendations are:
- Oceana Grill
This restaurant came highly recommendation by many locals. It coincidentally is across the street from the Royal Sonesta, which I discovered after the fact.
I came mainly for the rice and peas with cajun chicken, and it did not disappoint!
This was one of the first places I went to on my first trip, and it left a memorable impression. It was some of the best rice and peas I’ve had.
3. Saints and Sinners
My cousin lives with her family in NOLA so she took me to this on my first trip. It is Channing Tatum’s restaurant (think Magic Mike) so of course I was curious but impressed that the food AND the ambiance was worth it.
4. Cafe Beignet
New Orleans is known for these pasties- the beignet.
I am not a pastry person so completely admit I took one bite then gave the remainder to a couple sitting next to me. But if you are a pastry lover, then you have to try one at either Cafe Beignet or the famous Cafe Du Mode (good luck finding a seat).
5. Catahoula hotel
This cute boutique hotel offers the perfect location for an afternoon cocktail either on the lower level patio by the patio, or rooftop deck. I fell in love with the decor and ambiance.
While my NOLA travel guide isn’t exhaustive, it does give you an idea of some places you can check out.
As always, stay tuned for more travel guides and be sure to check out some of my previous postings.