New Orleans has always had my heart. I often visit once or twice a year and I make it a point to try out new restaurants, places, neighborhoods, and activities. My last trip was at the end of June and I had a blast exploring some new places that I’d love to share with you!
I visited the Court of Two Sisters for their jazz brunch. This restaurant is located in the French Quarter and has a beautiful courtyard that I could just relax in all day. It’s not really visible from the FQ, providing a lovely little hidden spot for you. I think it makes for a fine brunch with the girls or a perfect spot for a date night. The food was good and plentiful and included Southern, Creole, and Cajun favorites. I especially loved the biscuits. Tips: Be sure to make reservations — it can get crowded!
Hyatt Regency New Orleans is an upscale hotel in the middle of the Central Business District. It’s within walking distance to the French Quarter and right next door to the Superdome. I didn’t stay here but I toured the place and loved so many things about it. First, they have a great rooftop pool with a fun, hip atmosphere. The gym was on the top floor allowing for stunning views of the city from all of the machines. I did eat at Borgne, the on-site seafood restaurant. The oysters were divine, as was the stuffed fish. I talked to a lot of the staff (who were so nice, btw) and discovered that the hotel is often a site for Hollywood filming crews and celebs attending a game or event or performing at the Superdome next door.
There’s a small park right by the Mississippi River in the Garden District behind the Audubon Zoo called “The Fly.” If you don’t know where to look, you could miss it. The best way I can describe how to get there, is to turn into the Audubon Zoo, but take River Drive toward the Butterfly Riverview Park. You have to go into a one-way gate with an awning type structure.
I met a friend out there for a potluck lunch. It’s a cute park and on weekends, lots of locals go to hang, cookout, and play volleyball. Tips: I made sure to grab a frozen daquiri before I went and brought it along with me (it’s legal!).
I have to admit that I wasn’t so sure about DTB (Down the Bayou) when I arrived for dinner. I did LOVE the location on Oak Street. Plus, the design is quite upscale and fancy – perfect for a romantic night in NOLA. However, I was a little disappointed by the menu at first. It seemed so small with a lot of tapa-like plates of Cajun/Creole delicacies. But I looked past it and I am glad I did. I ordered the redfish and it was super amazing. I also tried my friends’ meals – the spicy gnocchi and the Louisiana rice bowl. Both were very delicious! Tips: Never judge a place too quickly and budget for a high bill here.
Bacchanal’s is definitely on my “must-return” list. You enter into a wine store and choose a bottle of wine. There’s a fridge with meats and cheeses you choose from, too. Once you pay out and grab a couple of wine glasses, you walk to the backyard, filled with cute tables and lights, and find a seat. The servers bring your plate of cheeses and meats with some nuts, olives, and bread and you enjoy your spread and wine throughout your evening. Tips: They do have a restaurant, indoor area, and wine by the glass. Get there early as tables run out quick.
If you want a great, tasty, and affordable breakfast, head to Camellia Grill. Its an old-timey diner inside a white colonial building. You sit at a counter and watch your meal prepared at the grill. I LOVED the vibe here, the low-budget price, and how tasty the food was! Tips: Weekends are especially crowded. Arrive early to avoid lines.
I had never visited a plantation until my last visit to NOLA and I am glad I did. I went to Oak Alley Plantation, just 30 minutes outside of New Orleans. The grounds were beautiful. I got a little obsessed with the oak trees. I also took a tour of the main house and learned about the owners. But my favorite area was the section which provided background and information on the slaves who lived at the plantation. It was so insightful to learn about these people so long denied a place in history. Tips: Try to get there early before too many people ruin your pictures.
I am so thankful for friends who live in NOLA because they introduced me to the Columns Hotel. I didn’t stay here, but rather came for a drink. It was still super cool, nonetheless. The hotel sits in a grand dame of a historic home in the Garden District and has a historic 1920s vibe inside. There’s a great patio to sit on and enjoy your drink. I loved how old it was, its haunted past, and that it’s been featured in films. If I lived in NOLA, I could definitely see myself visiting it on the regular.
9. Hot Tin
Hot Tin is a bar in the Pontchartrain Hotel. I can’t speak for the hotel — only the bar. It’s a rooftop bar with a classy edge and a largely preppy and tourist clientele. The drinks are a little overpriced, but delicious. My favorite part of this bar? The view. At night, New Orleans is lit so beautifully. No wonder this place has stolen my heart.