I think by now, Whitney and I can call ourselves professional weekenders. The art of late night flights on Friday, racing around a given destination on Saturday and Sunday, and another late night flight on Sunday night has become the norm. It may be exhausting and at times stressful, but I wouldn’t change it for the world. My itchy feet and wandering soul need these short adventures to recoup and recharge. We spent a little less than 48 hours in NOLA with Whitney’s family to celebrate an early Christmas. We hit up the major tourist spots and spent some quality time with family, everything we had been hoping for.
The beautiful Lafayette Cemetery was founded in 1833 and is home to many famous Louisianan burials, including Samuel Jarvis Peters, father of the New Orleans public school system. The rows of entombments are lined with magnolia trees and strung with mardi gras beads on many of the tombstones.
The Lafayette Cemetery is located in the Garden District, an opulent neighborhood filled with historic mansions dating back to the 1830’s. The land was parceled out from various plantations, most notably the Livaudais Plantation. The district is known for various famous inhabitants, including the Buckner Mansion, a filming site for American Horror Story, the Manning’s home, and the site of Jefferson Davis’s death. The homes vary in style with corinthian, ionic, and doric columns but many feature the quintessential New Orleans balconies with cast iron work.
For lunch after our Garden District tour, we popped into Tracey’s, an Irish pub and sports bar that serves THE BEST shrimp po’ boys I have ever tasted.
The French Quarter is the oldest part of New Orleans, based around Jackson Square. The iconic St. Louis Cathedral is the oldest continually functioning catholic cathedral in North America. It is flanked by the Cabildo and the Presbytere overlooking the square.
To quench our tourist thirst, we snagged some hurricanes at Pat O’Brien’s. The Hurricane is named after the hurricane lamp shaped glass. It was developed around WWII when whiskey was difficult to come by, but with rum in abundance.
After a quick drink at Pat O’s, we meandered along Bourbon Street, home to more bars than you can count.
In true New Orlean’s fashion, we dined at Antoine’s on Saturday night. Antoine’s is a famous restaurant in the French Quarter, founded in 1840, still run by members of the Antoine family. It houses 14 dining rooms and serves some of the best French-Creole cuisine in the city.
After our fine dining experience, we headed to Frenchmen Street, home of some of the city’s best jazz music. A group of jazz players congregated along the narrow street and serenaded an entourage with their tunes.
Number one on my personal bucket list for the magical city of NOLA was Cafe Du Monde for their famous beignets. Who can resist fluffy donut-y goodness topped with powdered sugar? The sweet delicacies lived up to the hype, and we snagged another bag to go on the second day of our trip as well.
Down the block from Cafe Du Monde is the French Market. It began as a Native American Trading Post, initially built in 1791. It now houses a food market with typical bayou fare such as oysters on the half shell, as well as a flea market in the rear. We strolled through various stalls until we found the classic Mardi Gras masks that Whitney had been looking for.
The Mississippi River is an integral facet of New Orleans history. If it weren’t for the river’s trading hub, the city would never have been founded where it is today. The riverfront was quite gloomy and foggy when we visited, but still provided an expansive view of the majestic force of nature.
New Orleans is most notable for Mardi Gras, a French Catholic tradition of Carnival celebrations lasting from Three Kings Day to Fat Tuesday. Mardi Gras recalls images of flashing women, colorful beads, alcohol, and all sorts of nefarious behavior. It also boasts the most magnificent parade floats in the country. Throughout the year, these monumental floats are made in Blaine Kern’s workshop. The workshop is home to Mardi Gras World and has been operating since 1947.
This past weekend was a quick trip, but was packed to the brim with good eats and beautiful architecture. We will definitely head back to New Orleans to celebrate the fantastical Mardi Gras festival, but until then I will satiate my NOLA wants with memories of beignets and old brick homes. Until next time NOLA, you were a blast!