R and I have been together through four years of college, two years as roommates, and continued friendship for the past four years after she moved out west. From dancing in a car to dancing on a stage to dancing through life, this girl has been there with me through the highs and the lows. So, when she told me she was getting married and asked me to be her bridesmaid, I was honored and thrilled to be part of her special day.
To celebrate R’s last few weeks of singledom, all of her close friends from childhood, school, and work came together from all ends of the coast for a weekend of reliving memories, making new friends, partying, and of course, eating! Aside from some unexpected surprises, i.e. coming home from a night of partying and finding a drunk neighbor bachelor party member sound asleep in our bed, New Orleans was pretty fantastic. We all came home 5 pounds heavier and ready for another weekend to the Big Easy.
We stayed in a colorful cottage right off of Bourbon Street which was alive with music and party-goers until the early morning. We woke up to the clomping of horse drawn carriages and day drinkers staggering through the streets.
In addition to being a city of constant celebration, New Orleans is spiritual and rooted in its rich Southern history. New Orleans is spontaneous jazz and electric street performers. New Orleans is hot sauce, beignets, and cajun everything!
> Sylvain: A gastropub near Jackson Square that serves Southern infused dishes and delicious drinks. When the weather allows, guests can sit in the lovely courtyard, sip rosé, and snack on crispy shitake mushroom bruschetta and curried potato empanadas.
> Commander’s Palace: Food is wonderful (Cajun / Creole), the service is amazing, and the ambiance is beautiful. Situated in the heart of the Garden District. A great place to celebrate!
> Cafe Amelie: Another great place in the French Quarter with amazing cajun / creole dishes. A gorgeous courtyard and garden.
> Cafe du Monde: Famous beignets and a cold chocolate milk. Be prepared to wait in a line.
> Central Grocery Store: Muffulettas. An Italian inspired sandwich originating in New Orleans. Layers of marinated olive salad, mortadella, salami, mozzarella, ham, and provolone in a Sicilian sesame bread.
> Acme Oyster House: There may be a line… in fact, there will be a line, but it’ll all be worth it when you slurp down a few of their oysters! Raw or grilled, the oysters are amazing!
> Explore the French Quarter: Gorgeous architecture, amazing food, and full of stories, laughter, and music at all hours.
> Catch a parade: People in New Orleans celebrate any occasion with a parade. It seemed that every corner we turned in the French Quarter, a crowd was dancing and prancing down the cobblestone streets of the Big Easy with umbrellas, handkerchiefs, Mardi Gras beads, and of course, music! This is what makes New Orleans so special, so consider yourself lucky if you come upon one!
Saint Patty’s weekend parades… threw party potatoes instead of beads…
> Take a walking tour: From garden tours to Voodoo tours, a walking tour is a must! Our group did a Garden District tour with a local who played in a jazz band on weekends and was named Queen of the Cosmo Mercury something or the other in her teenage years during Mardi Gras. She was an eclectic woman who was fun, passionate, and full of interesting facts and knowledge. The Garden District is one of a kind from the cemetery to the streets of colonial houses with its French windows and tall columns.
On our last night in New Orleans, we did the famous Ghost walking tour through the French Quarters and it was like listening to ghost stories around the camp fire, except we were standing before the very place where something unsightly had allegedly occurred. Whether or not you believe in ghosts, Voodoo and spirits are part of the New Orleans culture and this walking tour shouldn’t be missed!
The Garden District tour:
> Listen to jazz on Frenchmen Street: Sure, there’s jazz in the heart of the French Quarter, but the real stuff is on Frenchmen Street. Whether inside a bar or out on the street, the music is incredible! The street is a little bit outside of the French Quarter, but is easily walkable from Bourbon Street.
Happened upon the Frenchmen Street Art Market:
> Skip down to the Mississippi River: If you go straight down Dumaine Street toward the Dumaine train station, you’ll hit the Mississippi River where tug boats, cargo ships, and steam boats float in and out of the port of New Orleans. Enjoy your treats from Cafe du Monde on one of the benches along the river!
> Experience Bourbon street, day and night: It wouldn’t be a bachelorette weekend without Bourbon street! Considering we lived right on Bourbon Street, it would be hard not to peak out when a parade was passing by or scream for beads across the street. Hurricanes, dancing, throwing beads, screaming for beads, and complimentary VIP service at Channing Tatum’s bar, Saints and Sinners. I’d say we had a pretty successful bachelorette weekend!
Day time debauchery. Tourist scam: don’t agree to hold the “Huge Ass Beers” sign and take a photo. You gotta pay up… Lesson learned.
Night out on Bourbon street:
> Go beyond the French Quarter: In addition to walking tours, there’s plenty to do outside of the French Quarter, including visiting a plantation, going on boat cruise, wandering the other city districts, or taking a swamp tour. With only a few days in this city, we weren’t able to make it on any of these excursions, but it’s on my list of things to do for my next visit!
NOLA is a magical place and the perfect place to celebrate anything and everything! Everyone must experience this city at least once in her life!