Last weekend I went to New Orleans for a quick girls’ getaway. We stayed in an apartment right in the heart of the French Quarter and spent the weekend eating and chatting. Don’t you just love friends with whom you can pick up with right where you left off – even if it’s been a year?!
I am sharing my packing list as well as some fabulous New Orleans restaurants, bars, and shops!
My college friends – and bridesmaids! – have been taking trips together since we graduated 12 years ago. In those early years, we all lived in different and exciting places so would just take turn visiting each other. New York, San Francisco, Chicago, Charlotte, just to name a few. Back then we didn’t care about sleeping on the floor or couch of each other’s apartments. (We are beyond that now!)
We decided on New Orleans this time because it was quick flight for some of us and reasonable drive for the rest. Plus, we had an opportunity to stay in a splendid little apartment right in the heart of the French Quarter.
Honestly, I was a tad hesitant to go to New Orleans because it gets such a bad rap, especially the French Quarter. (Locals often roll their eyes at the tourist explosion down there.) But I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised.
My friends are all really good researchers (did I mention we all were liberal arts majors at Vanderbilt?). So when we go on a trip, at least one of us will spend the time finding the best restaurants and things to do in the cities we visit. This time my friend, Kelly, put together an entire spreadsheet of her New Orleans research. (She was the Math major!).
Another bonus: we happened to stay right next to the home of Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie. We didn’t see them – although they were in town! – but his house manager did pop out and say hello. Actually, he introduced himself by saying, ” I manage the big house next door.” And, without skipping a beat, Kelly responded, “You mean Brad’s??”
Anyway, it was so fantastic to meet this guy because he is a New Orleans native and told us all his favorite, non-touristy places to go in the French Quarter – you know, the ones that all the “locals” frequent. Of course, he said to stay off Bourbon Street. (We walked on it for about five minutes, then steered clear of it the rest of the trip!)
That first night we went to Irene’s. We already had the reservation, but turns out it’s a local favorite, too. My uncle (who loves New Orleans and goes often) said if you don’t have a reservation, slip the “maître d” a twenty dollar bill. (Note: if you go to New Orleans, best to plan ahead and get reservations for dinner!). Another local tip: order the soup and pour it over the soft shell crab! Who would have thought?!
The next morning, my friends walked to Cafe du Monde for beignets and brought them right back to our little apartment to eat. Such locals we were!
I am always a little skeptical of any place tourists flock to, but the hype is true: the beignets are delicious and warm, crusty and soft all at the same time. I could have eaten 10! D-I-V-I-N-E!
We then got dressed and headed to the Magazine District to – you got it – eat again! (Isn’t that what you are supposed to do in New Orleans?!) Several people had recommended La Petite Grocery (owned by former Top Chef contestant Justin Devellier).
It did not disappoint! The Blue Crab Beignets were to die for. Seriously. And a good bloody mary doesn’t hurt either.
We then walked around the Magazine District and popped in some darling little shops. I love a good silver shop. Always looking for sweet little finds…
All our window shopping warranted some lattés and macaroons at nearby Sucré.
After walking around the Magazine District, we headed back to the French Quarter to do a little shopping.
During our stroll, we stopped to listen to some live music and then popped in Molly’s on the Market for a frozen Irish coffee (another recommendation from our new friend!). I don’t even like Irish Coffee but this was delicious.
I can’t confirm this, but our friend told us that Molly’s was the first place that opened in the French Quarter after Katrina. Definitely a local fave, as well as Coop’s next door.
That night we headed to dinner. We walked, of course. I think one of my favorite things about the trip was being able to walk most everywhere. All the beautiful doors and windows and window baskets full of flowers were so incredibly charming and put us all in cheerful moods!
After dinner, we took the advice of our friend and headed over to The Spotted Cat for some live music. This was authentic New Orleans! They surely didn’t have a fire code because the people were packed in this little bar like sardines, but we heard two fantastic local jazz bands. I highly recommend this place!
On our last morning, we ate breakfast at Stanley’s on Jackson Square. There were definitely a lot of tourists, but we walked right in and dished on Bananas Foster and chicory coffee. The perfect thing to get us on our way back home to our husbands and babies!
Thank you to my sweet friends – Lisa, Kelly, Laurence, and Carey. I love you dearly and can’t wait for our next trip!
It’s been so much fun sharing photos from my New Orleans Girls Trip. Our little research for our trip is below in case you want to go to New Orleans. It’s a great little trip to take!Consider renting an apartment on VRBO and having a real French Quarter experience!
Have you been? Share your favorite places below!
New Orleans Recommendations:
French Quarter Restaurants/Bars:
The Ritz Carlton (drinks and jazz on Fri/Sat nights!)
Muriel’s (for drinks on patio)
Stanley’s (for brunch)
Elizabeth’s (late breakfast/lunch)
The Spotted Cat (live music and place a few doors down but can’t remember name!)
Coop’s (local bar food)
Molly’s on the Market (Irish Coffee/local bar)
La Petite Grocery (Lunch or Dinner)
Lillette (celebrity fave)
Bouligney (small plates only with fun crowd)
Ivy (small plates only)
As You Like It (silver store)
Luke (John Besh Restaurant – best oysters on half-shell; happy houreveryday 3-6 or lunch or dinner)