This past October, I jumped at the chance to fly south to New Orleans to see a couple of my best friends for the weekend! My BFF, Katy, actually lives in New Orleans for work plus it was her birthday! Brit and I let her take the reigns with planning the weekend: First up – a short hour drive from NOLA to the beautifully historic Oak Alley Plantation in Vacherie, Louisana, right on the Mississippi River.
While living in Charleston, South Carolina for a couple of years, I toured a few area plantations. But I’ve never seen anything like this Oak Alley… well except for in the movies + videos (Django Unchained and Beyonce’s Deja Vu video to name a just a couple). It was the most picturesque plantation I’ve ever seen. The alley of oaks leading from the “Big House” to the Mississippi River steals the show.
A lil’ bit of history (which I always love): In the 1800’s, the southern River Region sugar industry was thriving and a ton of amazing plantations neighbored the Mississippi (FYI, in the above photo, the River lies just on the other side of that bank at the end of the alley of oaks). A lot of them did not withstand the test of time but I can attest to the fact that Oak Alley surely did.
Bonus points? Yep, they sold all kinds of southern-inspired drinks like Hurricanes and Mint Juleps at the restaurant/bar on the grounds. We all took in the grounds while leisurely sipping our cocktails in the hot Louisiana sun. Oh and we also had a tour of the inside of the home! We were off to a great start to the weekend. 🙂
After seeing much of the bayou and returning to downtown New Orleans, where we were staying, we got ready for the night’s festivities: Katy’s birthday celebration! We had an amaaaazing dinner at SoBou, the W New Orleans French Quarter‘s restaurant.
SoBou (South of Bourbon) specializes in Louisiana Street Food-Inspired small plates. The sweet potato beignets were a winner in my book.
Following a few glasses of wine + champagne, we headed out on the town. Bourbon Street was first on the list. Now, this really isn’t my kinda scene but it’s definitely something to see WINO (when in New Orleans).
Bourbon street is insane! The open container laws, or lack of, definitely help to make this street one of the craziest (and dirty as a result) party scenes out there.
After awhile, we decided to head to Frenchmen Street. I had been to New Orleans before a few years ago and I remember loving Frenchmen. The music scene is just something out of a movie. We hung out at the quintessential jazz club, The Spotted Cat aka “The Cat”. This place is small but packs a punch. I love it. The music is another level and takes me back in time.
On Sunday morning, we attempted to have breakfast/brunch at the infamous Cafe Du Monde but as expected, the line was just a bit too long for our hunger level. We decided to stop in later that day, not during peak hours.
Next stop: St. Louis Cathedral, across the street from the Cafe. This Cathedral is stunning and historic, overlooking Jackson Square. It’s actually the oldest Catholic cathedral in continual use in the United States.
Oh, and, in the front, there’s General Andrew Jackson on his bronze horse! A pretty cool statue.
We spent the next half an hour perusing around the city looking for a good place to stop in for food and possibly a drink (by this time, it was definitely lunch hour). The NOLA architecture is obviously beautiful. Plus, Jackson Square was boasting some seriously colorful art.
We stumbled upon the historic Pat O’Brien’s for lunch. This was a must-see for me on this trip because I never visited this historic on my last trip. Plus, a few years ago, my mom gave me her souvenir glass from Pat O’s from when she visited when she was my age.
Pat O’s history is pretty cool. This bar was converted from a speakeasy after the prohibition in 1933. Then in the mid 1940’s, the Hurricane Drink was invented because liquor was in short supply but rum was very available for purchase from the river. History has it that bar owners had to buy at 50+ cases of rum before they could buy other liquors. So, the Hurricane was invented with the plethora of available rum. The food was decent, we were able to sit outside, and Brit and I tried their infamous Hurricane drink and got our glass. Personal mission accomplished.
We explored the city the rest of the day and later that evening, we decided to go out for a low-key, classic New Orleans meal at Royal House Oyster Bar. I had the crawfish ravioli which was excellent. I loved this restaurant because we sat upstairs by the patio by an open-air window/door (pictured below). You know I’m going to share a bit of history, right? So, supposedly Royal House used to be the residence of the Tortorici family. They opened a café on the first level, then the entire building became a popular Italian restaurant, Tortorici’s. It became the fourth longest running restaurant in the French Quarter. Dean Martin and Frank Sinatra were regulars at Tortorici’s. So cool. After surviving Hurricane Katrina hit in 2005, it switched ownership and this restaurant became Royal House.
I love how all the street names are ceramic tile with blue letters on the sidewalks… On Royal Street…
After dinner at Royal House, we decided to hit up the super-popular Café du Monde for some of their famous beignets and coffee (well, decaf for us given the time). We figured we would beat the crowds going at about 9PM on a Sunday night. We didn’t have to wait but the place was still packed!
The Original Café du Monde Coffee Stand was established in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. The Cafe is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Wondering what a beignet is? It’s a square French -style doughnut, covered with powdered sugar, pictured below. The beignets are delicious as was their coffee. You MUST stop in here when in NOLA.
After dinner we walked around a bit and even caught a glimpse of Angelina and Brad’s home on Governor Nicholls Street, just off of Decatur. We were surprised to see that the home is up for sale! Soooo, if anyone’s interested in moving to New Orleans…
Successful trip. Until next time, New Orleans…
You can follow more of my adventures via my Instagram, @girlaboutcolumbus!