New Orleans

With Fat Tuesday / Mardi Gras being yesterday, I thought I’d share some photos from my recent trip to New Orleans with four of my college sorority sisters.

Funny story: I was planning on getting pregnant with Owen AFTER my trip to New Orleans (MLK Jr. weekend), but things didn’t work out that way, and I was 9 or 10 weeks along when I went. Brad and I hadn’t told our families yet, so I had to hide my pregnancy from my friends and fake drink to throw them off. I did tell my BF Natalie so she could help me out with the fake drinking.

nola 1
Karen, Natalie, Kim, Yours Truly, Melissa

We started our first day in NOLA by walking around Jackson Square. Taking in the sights, street art vendors, street musicians, and mule-drawn carriages. (They use mules because horses can’t take the summer heat.)

FYI, I used my iPhone 5s to take all of these photos because it’s a pain lugging around my big DSLR. For tips on taking better photos with your smartphone see this post.

new orleans jackson square

  We met up with my best friend’s aunts, who live in New Orleans, for lunch and a guided tour of the city. I had an awesome time hearing about the city from people who actually live there. They were living here when Katrina hit so it was interesting to hear their firsthand stories. They even took us to the spot where the levee broke and showed us where debris was piled three stories high in this giant common area.

The city is absolutely beautiful. It doesn’t even feel like you’re in the United States.

new orleans

On our second day there, we did a walking tour of the Garden District. We saved money by buying the tour tickets through Groupon (NOLA Native Tours).

Developed between 1832-1900, the Garden District is considered one of the best-preserved collections of historic southern mansions in the United States. If you’re an architecture lover/home gawker like me, you’ll LOVE touring the Garden District. Seriously, these homes are gorgeous. I just wish I could have gone inside some of them.

And while some celebrities (Sandra Bullock, John Goodman, The Manning’s) own homes in the neighborhood, we didn’t spot any celebs. I did see John Goodman’s dog’s toy in the yard though.

garden district homesbottom left: Sandra Bullock’s home | bottom right: The Manning’s home (as in Peyton Manning’s childhood/his parents’ home)

I had to share this cornstalk fence. I think our tour guide said there’s three or four in New Orleans. This one is around a home in the Garden District.

cornstalk fence

The Garden District tour also included a short walk through Lafayette Cemetery No. 1. I know some people may think it’s creepy to tour cemeteries but I’m a fan of it. There’s so much history and beautiful architecture in old cemeteries. While we’re on the topic, one of my favorite cemeteries is Bonaventure in Savannah, Georgia (a must see).

lafayette no 1 cemetary

We capped off the afternoon with a late lunch and cocktails (water for me) on Bourbon Street.

bourbon street daytime

In case you’re curious, this was Bourbon Street at night. I didn’t see anything too crazy that I hadn’t seen before.

However, I was walking down Bourbon during the day and a stripper’s bare booty was peeking out of a doorway as I walked by. I may or may not have let out an “Oh my!” That type of thing can startle someone, especially before sundown when they aren’t expecting it.

bourbon street nighttime

The next day we were up bright and early for another cemetery tour (also a Groupon deal). This time we toured St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, which opened in 1789. It spans one square block but is the resting place of thousands. I won’t get into the burial process they use in New Orleans, but to me it’s quite fascinating and very black and white.

st louis no 1 cemetary

st louis no

Voodoo queen, Marie Laveau is buried in St. Louis No. 1. She has such a cool story– I loved hearing our tour guide talk about her life.

Now, if you ever visit her tomb DO NOT do what so many dummies do and vandalize her tomb by writing on it. I can’t believe people actually believe this draw an X, knock on the tomb, spin around, and yell their wish garbage. This sort of stuff infuriates me because I would be vivid if someone defaced one of my family members’ tombstones. If anything, I think Ms Laveau would haunt people for marking up her final resting place.

marie laveau tomb

Nicholas Cage’s future resting place is in St. Louis No. 1. Want to guess what movie he was filming when he had his mausoleum built?

nicholas cage tomb

We spent the rest of the afternoon exploring the city some more. Later that evening we met my best friend’s aunts and uncle for dinner at Irene’s to celebrate our visit and my birthday. Oh. My. Goodness. Ah-mazing food. (I had the lasagna. And the cheesecake is to die for.)  If you’re ever in NOLA you have to go. I highly recommend making an early reservation. We had a reservation for 5:30, and I kept cracking early bird special jokes, but we didn’t get our entrees until 7:00 (don’t worry– we had appetizers and soup/salad). They’re very leisurely in the Big Easy.

nola 2

And a visit to New Orlean’s wouldn’t be complete without some beignets and cafe’ au lait at Cafe Du Monde.

cafe du monde

A couple tips if you plan on visiting New Orleans:
Bring your walking shoes.  We probably walked 5-6 miles a day. I didn’t think it would affect me that much (being a preggo), but when I got home and looked at my ankles they had turned into cankles. Thankfully, they returned to their normal size the next day.
Look into restaurants and make your reservations weeks in advance.  Trying to make reservations a week in advance didn’t work out so well for us. We still got into places by waiting, but it would have been nice to have been able to have reservations.

If I think of more stuff I’ll add it to this post.

I highly recommend putting a visit to New Orleans on your bucket list. I came home and told Brad we have to go back one day (he’s never been).

Have you ever been to NOLA?
What was your favorite part of your trip?

Check out the other fun places I’ve been!

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  1. Great post!! I live in Baton Rouge and really need to enjoy the sites of NOLA more often!

  2. Christine F. says:

    We went to NOLA on our honeymoon – took the Silver Crescent train from Atlanta. We had a great time. My favorite part was all the wandering we did – I loved the distinct areas of the city and the fact that you can walk so many places.

  3. Looks so fun! Those houses are amazing. I always tell Jeff that I wish it was socially acceptable to just knock on someone’s door and tell them I think your house is gorgeous and I need to see more, and request a tour 🙂

  4. It sounds like you had such a great time! I’ll be visiting the city for the first time in May, so I’ll have to check out the tour company you mentioned!

    1. You’ll have so much fun! I highly suggest looking into restaurants and making reservations now. They book up quickly. Oh, and bring your walking shoes! We must have walked 5-6 miles a day.

  5. Michelle Shimp says:

    Thanks for speaking so highly and taking such amazing pictures of my hometown! I sure do miss it when I am getting up in the morning in facing a day of going to work in the snow. I am going to have to take a cemetary tour, never have even living there all my life. Glad you had a wonderful time. Lessez les bon temps roulez!

    1. No problem! It wasn’t hard to say nice things. Yeah, definitely take a cemetery tour (or two). Lots of interesting things to learn!

  6. Never been there. But after I saw the movie ‘Double Jeopardy,’ I definitely wanted to see that cemetery!

  7. New Orleans is my all time favorite place to visit. Those are really beautiful photos you took there. I went to Mardi Gras my freshman year of college and I was really something to experience. The history, the culture, and the people just really add so much to this amazing city. Definitely a bucket list must in life. I would love to walk up and down the French Quarter every day and around Jackson Square.

    1. I bet that was a blast. I wouldn’t mind going during Mardi Gras sometime. All the different parades they have sounds like so much fun to experience.

  8. Small world – I recently went to NOLA with my sorority sisters from college and posted about it on my blog yesterday. Looks like we did some similar activities! Perhaps we were there the same weekend?! Such a fun city, can’t wait to go back! So jealous you got to go inside the cemetery – it was closed when we tried to go 🙁

    1. Whoa! Definitely a small world! We went on MLK weekend. That stinks about not being able to get into the cemetery. We toured St. Louis No. 1 on a Sunday morning and it closed around noon so we couldn’t stick around and look anymore.

    1. Do it! It really wasn’t that expensive of a trip. We took advantage of a Southwest promotion so my flight was only $250, and after we split the hotel room up it was $265 for 4 nights. Jump on it!

  9. What amazing pictures! My husband and I were thinking about visit NOLA this summer, where did you stay? Do you have any hotel recommendations?

    1. Do it! It’ll be hot, but if you like that kind of thing I say go for it. 🙂 We didn’t stay anywhere fancy because I don’t require much out of hotel rooms other than a clean place to sleep and shower. We stayed at the Wyndham French Quarter which is on Royal Street, one street over from Bourbon. It was a great location. If you’re not into frills I’d recommend it. The only negative we experienced was loud college kids who were there for fraternity or sorority semi-formals, but semi-formals won’t be taking place in the summertime.

  10. I was just talking about NOLA and how I don’t know much about the city and would like to go someday. Thanks for the pics and tips!

  11. Alice Jackson says:

    We LOVE NOLA! We’ve been twice now and are planning a trip already for next year, possibly Halloween. Our favorite places are Cafe Beignet, right on Bourbon Street; not nearly as crowded as Cafe DuMonde and just as good; Crescent City Brewhouse; Emeril Lagasse’s flagship restaurant in the Warehouse District; and for fun stuff, we love Spirits on Bourbon – fantastic drinks and very fun atomosphere; and a band that we found when we went there the first time, called The Wa Wa play at the Beach on Bourbon.

    I’m also also a fellow Hoosier (live in Northwest Indiana)! I found your site from I Heart Organizing. Love your blog! and congrats on the new baby:)

    1. You’re a NOLA pro! We had beignets from Cafe Beignet for breakfast the first day. They were pretty good! We didn’t get a chance to hit up any of the other places you mentioned, but when I drag Brad back one day I’ll have to check them out.

      Yay! Where in NW Indiana? I grew up between Michigan City and South Bend, and my family still lives up there.

      1. Nola is a fantastic place for a long weekend. My husband and I went a few years ago and it was fabulous. I’d love to go back very soon. Can’t believe it’s such a small world, I also live between michigan city and south bend. I had no idea that you were a ‘region’ girl!!

  12. We love NOLA! It’s about a 5-6 hour drive from me and I seriously want to go back. Even preggo. Because of the food.

    1. Lucky! NOLA is basically a preggo lady’s paradise. Too bad I was experiencing preggo stomach issues and could only eat a small amount at a time or I felt like I would die. Definitely NOT a fun symptom to experience in that city.

  13. Did you see Ann Rice’s old home? The wrought iron had skulls in it. So cool.

  14. I was in NOLA over 30 years ago. I was with a ladies group from the church. We went to conventions all day and in the evenings we were free to visit this beautiful city. I want to go back someday, my husband has never been there. I loved the trip.

    God Bless

  15. Hey Chelsea! What a lovely post about our beloved NOLA! I came across it via Bloglovin, and just wanted to stop in to say ‘hello’, and greetings from Abita Springs on the New Orleans Northshore. So happy to hear that you had a wonderful time during Mardi Gras. On your next visit to the City, you might also want to check out the New Orleans City Park, tour the Longue Vue House & Gardens, and/or shop till you drop along Magazine Street. If you’re able to see a Broadway play or other show at the Saenger Theater on Canal Street, you’ll be amazed by the interiors (absolutely stunning!). Also, a few restaurants that are favorites of NOLA locals that you might try are Commander’s Palace (the Creole Bread Pudding Souffle’ is amazing!), Crescent City Steak House, Mosca’s, Middendorf’s, and Liuzza’s by the Track. Just a little lagnaippe for you! 🙂

  16. I really wanna see New Orleans! I saw pics from when my husband went there during the Mardi Gras and since then I’ve been so envious! Pretty useful tips that will come in handy when(ever) we plan a trip there!

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