Earlier this year, I decided to plan more domestic trips since I don’t really travel within the US. I’ve always been interested in visiting New Orleans for its history, music , culture, food and of course its open-container law. I planned this trip with my sister and a friend as an escape from the cold in the northeast!
Where i stayed
Airbnb: We rented a place in the seventh ward – a predominately Afro-Creole community. The based on reviews, some thought the area was shady and others advised not walking from the house. I personally didn’t think the area was sketchy. It may have a rough exterior, but it has rich history and beautiful shotgun houses 😍!
Facts i learned about the seventh ward
It was once home to many early jazz greats, successful businesses and wealthy members in the community. But the city built a highway splitting the community in half and causing property values to decrease. When people couldn’t sell or rent their properties, they were forced to abandon their homes or close their business. Decades later, the seventh ward was impacted by hurricane Katrina. This once flourishing community is still recovering from both natural and man-made disasters. It’s evident by the condemned buildings, empty lots, potholes in the road, etc. But one thing that’s still consistent in this community, and in New Orleans, is that southern hospitality. The epitome of southern hospitality was right next door to us; a sweet older woman who immediately made us feel welcomed in the area.
What to see/do
- Bourbon Street: The atmosphere on Bourbon street is lively and unlike anything I’ve seen. There’s music playing in every bar and shop, day and night; you can freely walk in and out of bars as there’s no cover charge. Vendors on the street luring tourists into their business. And since there’s an open container law, you see people drinking and walking around. There’s performers, restaurants, tarot card readers and more on Bourbon street.
- Studio Be: Studio Be is an art warehouse in the Bywater neighborhood. The current exhibit, called “Ephemeral Eternal”, was created by Brandan “Bmike” Odums – a visual artist. This exhibit deals with the constant struggles of being black in America and black history. It’s moving and empowering; one piece of artwork that stuck out to me the most was the “I am a man” painting. It displayed Trayvon Martin, Mike Brown, Eric Garner and Oscar Grant all holding a sign saying “I am a man”.
- Canal Street: A shopping center in New Orleans, Canal street is right off of Bourbon street. Stroll down Canal Street to watch trolleys drive down a palm tree-lined street.
- Jackson Square: This historic park is close to Bourbon street, Café du Monde and Café Beignet.
- Louis Armstrong Park: A park named after Jazz legend Louis Armstrong. There are ponds, sculptures and Congo Square (where slaves used to meet).
- The Whitney Plantation: I’d highly recommend taking this tour to learn the history of slavery at the Habitation Haydel and in New Orleans. Since we weren’t driving, we used a tour operator. We booked our tour through Legendary Tours, a small locally owned tour company. Legendary tours provides hotel/Airbnb pick-up and drop-off and Edward is the best tour guide!
- American Horror Story Unauthorized Tour: This tour discusses American Horror Story: Coven, Madame Delphine LaLaurie’s torture of slaves. You learn about the real-life tales that inspired some of Coven’s plot and discuss voodoo in New Orleans.
What to eat/drink
- Café Beignet: This place was recommended by our Lyft driver because he liked the atmosphere more than Café du Monde. It’s a 9 minute walk from Café du Monde (in case you want to test as many beignets as possible). You can order 3 beignets for $3.99. The beignets at Café Beignet appear a bit bigger than Café du Monde’s. Café Beignet also offers other breakfast/brunch options.
- Café du Monde: Go to Café du Monde for the staple beignet. I didn’t try their beignet but I did attempt to, we didn’t realize it was cash only 😅. I did get to witness Café du Monde’s atmosphere and it’s crowded and busy.
- Cajun Seafood: Po’ boys, crawfish, catfish, oysters, crab legs, cajun fries, gumbo, and shrimp – Cajun Seafood has it all! There are four locations in New Orleans – my Airbnb was a 5 minute walk from one of their locations. We went to this place twice, first time I ordered fish & fries. The second time, I ordered 3 lbs of crawfish which is more than enough for 2-3 people to share. The crawfish had just the right amount of spice and flavor – it was truly addictive!
- The Joint: If you decide to check out Studio Be, this restaurant is only 10 minutes away, walking. The Joint is a barbecue restaurant and is known to be one of the best barbecue places around. Possibly because they smoke their barbecue out back? Besides the delicious food there’s also great 90’s-00’s hip-hop playing in the background for you to sing along – or maybe that was just us?