The Big Easy has been top of my places to visit in the USA since moving here – the music, the culture, the Southern food, the European architecture…the list goes on! For my brand new hubby and I’s first Christmas together we decided to spend the holidays in The Paris of The South and wow I can safely say it was even more wonderful and fun that I had hoped! At the bottom of this post I am going to list my must-sees/do’s for anyone else visiting. I will be writing a separate post about my top 3 restaurants and what to eat in NOLA….as that is a whole other delicious story!
We stayed at the Ritz-Carlton in the French Quarter and it was just breathtaking – the old school classy ambience, the daily music, the food and of course you cannot beat that Ritz-Carlton service. If possible, I would absolutely recommend staying in the French Quarter, you just find yourself getting lost down all of the streets looking up at the incredible architecture. Bourbon Street is easily New Orleans’ most famous street and it is every bit as fun and crazy as you can imagine – every single bar has a band and the people watching is out of this world. For a more relaxed ambiance right next door there is Royal Street – known for its antique and art shops and some gorgeous high end restaurants.
My favourite bar of all was called Carousel and located in the gorgeous Monteleone Hotel in The French Quarter. This was top of my ‘bar list’ and we could not wait to see it – as you walk in you see that it is an actual carousel that moves slowly around in a circle with the bar in the middle and an awesome band and main bar area behind it, delicious cocktails and such a fab and unique experience!
Frenchman Street is where the real music lovers must go! Supposedly this is where the locals hang out and listen to live music and there is a completely different vibe here to the madness of Bourbon Street. This was actually my favorite evening of the whole trip – a local suggested we head to Blue Nile where an awesome band played called the Brass-o-holics, they played everything from jazz to pop to hip hop and the energy from the band and the crowd was so good.
The Garden District is also a must visit for the beautiful homes, cemetery and the famous Magazine Street which has some fab boutiques, bars and places to eat. I will be doing a separate outfit post on our day here. Weather permitting I would also recommend a swamp tour if like me, you have never seen a swamp in your life then it’s a pretty cool thing to see with all the alligators and wildlife you come across.
Being that we are well into January now I won’t go into our Christmas experience too much but I just must mention the lights – for anyone planning a trip over the holidays – the festive spirit in New Orleans is a solid 10 out of 10! Coming from London and it’s spectacular Christmas lights every year it is safe to say Southern California is a big let down when it comes to Christmas decor…the same cannot be said for New Orleans! The lights themselves were a draw at hotels such as The Roosevelt, The Monteleone and of course our fabulous Ritz.
My New Orleans MUSTS
1. Walk around the French Quarter – particularly Bourbon Street and Royal Street
2. Cocktails at Carousel Bar after having dinner at Mr B’s Bistro (right opposite)
3. Frenchman Street in the evening for some live music
4. Walking Tour around the Garden District and lunch or dinner at Commanders Palace – an iconic NOLA restaurant.
5. Magazine Street for shopping – amazing clothing boutiques and quirky shops.
6. A ghost tour! Whether you believe in spirits or not I would absolutely recommend this as a great way to learn some fun (and spooky) history of one of America’s most haunted cities.
7. Beignets at Cafe du Monde. Because you have to.
8. Swamp tour – a fun way to see some alligators and another side of the South.
9. Jackson Square & St Louis Cathedral
10. Eat eat eat! New Orleans food post coming very soon!