Late last summer my husband told me he would be travelling to Galveston, Texas for three days of leadership training. The wheels in my mind immediately started churning. A work trip for him to Texas = a potential trip for me to Texas with an additional city tagged on for the both of us. An added bonus was that one my husband’s colleagues would be doing the same training and his wife had the same idea as me. Great minds think alike! We decided that our second city would be New Orleans based on its proximity to Galveston/Houston and because none of us had ever been there before.
Planning for the trip didn’t really happen except for choosing to use Airbnb for accommodation and that we would get a rental car for us ladies to use while the guys were in training at the San Luis Resort and to get us to New Orleans. Lorraine, my friend and shopping partner in crime, looked online before leaving and while we were in Galveston and had a general idea of what we wanted to do but nothing concrete. This strategy or lack thereof ended up working out well. We needed up doing a lot in our two days without making it feel too structured.
The drive from Galveston to New Orleans took about five and a half hours plus time for dinner. Although it would have been ideal to make the drive to New Orleans during the day, we made the drive during the evening/night because of end time of the training session. I’m sure the scenery is beautiful but I didn’t see any of it. We arrived at our Airbnb tired from the drive but I was super happy with the apartment we booked. I love character homes and the space had some of my favourite details: Exposed brick, high ceilings and original hardwood floors.
We started day one off with coffee at Treme Coffeehouse and then walked along Bourbon Street in the French Quarter. Bourbon Street during the day is not like Bourbon Street at night. If ruckus drinking isn’t your cup of tea, than stroll the street during the day so you can say you’ve been there and done that. After we hopped on a streetcar which took us to the Garden District.
The Garden District is home to some of New Orleans best architecture. The streets are perfect for wandering and photographing. Although organized tours are available in the area you can easily navigate yourself around without a guide. We didn’t use a guide book on this trip but I suggest you find one if you are going to do your own walking tour so you get more of the history. Otherwise, take the St. Charles streetcar and ask the driver to let you off at a good location. There are lots of places to grab coffee and food on Magazine Street. Although touted as a shopping street, I didn’t find it that great with the exception of one store/interior design studio that had the most incredible wallpaper I have ever seen. If you want to shop, you are better off checking out stores in the French Quarter.
One of the most popular stops for tourists is Cafe du Monde for beignets and coffee. Never heard of beignets before? They are pretty simple but extremely delicious rectangle pieces of fried dough covered with heaping amounts of icing sugar. They come straight out of the deep fryer where the servers cover them with the icing sugar themselves. Cafe du Monde only does a few things but they do them really, really well. The menu is limited to beignets, coffee, juice water and pop. Be warned that the only way you can pay is with cash. We loved the beignets so much that we ended up going for a second helping after dinner on our second and last night. Don’t worry about missing out because they are open 24/7.
We ended our first day with dinner at Maison on Frenchman Street. We were told that for real music we should skip Bourbon Street and go to Frenchmen Street. We lucked out with a prime table and listened to live jazz music while having dinner. I learned that in order to eat at what are considered the best restaurants (those recoomended by locals or highly rated online) reservations are required. We were turned away from a few spots because they were fully booked all weekend. If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, consider making reservations for dinner ahead of time.
Our second day in New Orleans stated with a BIG breakfast and double-brewed chicory coffee. Known for it’s strength and full flavour, it packs a decent punch. After breakfast we explored the French Quarter a little more and slowly. Local musician are a common sight and play for the eager crowds of tourists. It’s easy to enjoy the atmosphere in the French Quarter and the fall weather we had while there made it even better.
My husband and I spent the afternoon at The National World War II Museum which is about a 30 minute walk from the French Quarter. It is rated by Trip Advisor at the #1 activity in New Orleans. The museum occupies several buildings which are home to a really well done exhibit outlining American contributions to the Second World War. You can add one one or two optional movies for an additional cost on top of the regular $24 U.S. museum entry fee. We opted for the recommended 4D movie narrated by actor Tom Hanks. The movie was the best part of the museum experience. I would reccomend the museum if you are interested in history but it isn’t a great museum if you are travelling with kids.
We headed back to Frenchman Street for our last dinner. Afterwards made the quick walk to the Frenchman Art Market where I purchased a handmade silver ring for $10. It was one of two small souvenirs that I came home with from New Orleans. I highly recommend visiting Frenchman street for dinner, music and for shopping.
We capped the night off with a walk along Bourbon Street. I can only imagine how packed it is in the summer months and Mardi Gras. Drinking is the most popular activity which likely draws a lot of tourists to New Orleans but you don’t have to make it part of your trip. The city is beautiful, engaging and full of life and is a great city for a weekend getaway or couples trip.
I really loved New Orleans and would go back again… But likely not before visiting some of my other must-visit spots like Austin, Charleston, Memphis, Nashville, Savannah and Dallas. I will get my chance to visit on of these cities (or maybe Chicago) in April when my husband heads back to Galveston for another work trip. I can hardly wait.