New Orleans has been on my bucket list for a while and last week I was lucky enough to travel there for my work. Most of my time was spent in meetings (ugh adulthood) during my few days there. So I had to maximize my free time and prioritize what I wanted to see. Our hotel was on Bourbon Street, which was a little crazy for my taste, but it was central to everything in the French Quarter. And it was within walking distance of Frenchmen Street up in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. (This is where the local cool kids go *wink*)
Thankfully I had enough time to munch at some historic New Orleans restaurants, drink at some swanky bars, listen to some live music, and tour its colorful streets. Not bad for my first trip to NOLA right? Keep reading to see how I packed everything in a couple days and what my favorite spots were.
Halloween in The Big Easy
I landed in New Orleans on All Hallows Eve, where the city’s festivities made up for missing those cute trick or treaters come to my door. The balconies and awnings of the historic French Quarter buildings were decked out in spooky decorations.
Likewise, people all over the city were dressed up for Halloween. We stopped at Napoleon House for Pimm’s Cups and Italian muffulettas, where most of its patrons were enjoying candlelit dinners in full costume. After we wandered up to Frenchmen Street, where we listened to a great blues band from a balcony and watched a crowd of Batmans, Medussas, and nuns dance in the street. Being the Portlander that I am, I appreciated the emphasis on creativity and weirdness with people’s costumes. Less of the Mean Girls vibe with sexy leotards and animal ears that we’re usually inundated with.
Brunch at Cafe Conti
The next day, I made use of my limited free time to explore as much of the city as I could. Of course, I had to start off with some brunch, so I stopped by Cafe Conti. This quaint but elegant cafe had super yummy crepes and sandwiches (both NOLA staples).
Wandering Around the French Quarter
After I was full of brunch goodness, I walked down to Chartres Street past rows of colorful townhouses complete with iron balconies.
Then I walked past the gorgeous Louisiana Supreme Court Building, which stood out with its marble and French Beaux-Arts architectural detail.
While the city’s French influence is everywhere, the Spanish tile street signs serve as reminders of its other former European rulers.
As I got farther out in the Quarter, the quiet neighborhood streets were a welcomed contrast to the mania on Bourbon.
Seriously how dreamy is this apartment balcony covered in plants? I’m still dreaming about sipping on a Pimm’s Cup up there.
As I kept walking, I couldn’t stop marveling at the variety of New Orleans architecture styles, all equally beautiful and colorful.
From grand Parisian style rowhouses to delicate shotgun homes to humble Creole cottages and townhouses, every street was postcard worthy.
Even this pharmacy I stopped in was super old school with its original vintage decor.
The friendly pharmacist at the counter told me that Royal Pharmacy has been around for a hundred years, and his family has been running it for over 70 years. I could not get over how much history and how many stories are in New Orleans.
From the old soda fountain to the honeycomb tile to the tin ceiling, this pharmacy was a vintage decor lover’s dream.
Just look how old this floor is! I wonder what number customer I was in its many years here.
Touring the Beauregard-Keyes House
Thankfully, I was able to squeeze in a historic home tour which is my favorite thing to do when I travel. The guided tour of the Beauregard-Keyes House was led by an uber knowledgeable fellow with the silkiest southern accent. I just wanted him to narrate my life.
It was so interesting to learn about the home’s many owners, including its two namesakes, General Beauregard and author Frances Parkinson Keyes. The tour also gave a lot of insight into what life was like in the neighborhood through the years.
Side note, can we just talk about this wallpaper? I’m still trying to figure out how I can get a reproduced roll of it.
A Door in Every Color
As I walked back to my hotel, I couldn’t help but stop and take about 50 photos of cool doors I passed by. Hey, I’m a sucker for a good door and yes I have thought about a coffee table book.
Each door was a different shade in the rainbow paired with an equally vibrant building exterior.
From pink and royal blue to brick and mint, each palette gave me major home envy.
Music on Frenchmen Street
I rounded out my trip with another night on Frenchmen Street. The street is lined with clubs all playing live music. Friends had told me to go to d.b.a. but sadly my timing didn’t match up with their show lineup. However, I caught a great jazz band at Cafe Negril, which had a funky Carribean vibe. I’m pretty sure you can’t go wrong on Frenchmen.
I had so much fun during my first visit in this charming city. The people were so friendly, the food was delicious, and the city’s love for a good time was infectious. I can’t wait to go back (hopefully for longer) and explore even more of its history, and unique culture.
My Favorite New Orleans Spots
- Drinks at French 75 – swanky, old-school cocktail bar where the bartenders where bowties
- Dinner at Napoleon House – historic restaurant in a building from 1812 with a super lovely patio
- Lunch at Royal House – stylish oyster bar with really yummy shrimp if you’re not an oyster person
- Dessert at Cafe Beignet on Royal Street – a fancy cafe with a gorgeous tropical mural on the ceiling
- Live music on Frenchmen Street – pick any club or listen to a band parked on a street corner