Bloggers Guide To New Orleans
Literally a guide for the most instagrammable stuff.
I've lived in New Orleans for over three years now, so I finally feel like I should cover a little travel guide for bloggers. We're talking the most instagrammable everything in this New Orleans guide. I'm thinking about doing several specific guides to New Orleans, so let me know what you want to know!
Before we even start, let's chat Mardi Gras. It's way different than you probably think. If you don't live here/aren't in a krewe, you won't be able to just jump in a Mardi Gras parade for a photo. Most of the big ones have barricades in popular viewing areas. If you're into sci-fi/fantasy and are willing to travel for the experience there is Chewbacchus. This parade allows basically anyone to sign up (even if you aren't in a subkrewe) and walk for a reasonable fee of somewhere around $40.
If you want to come for Mardi Gras keep in mind there are parades pretty much all month long. Coming into town for Mardi Gras day/the weekend beforehand can be pretty expensive and the traffic is horrific. You can stay in the French Quarter (which I've never done because it gets rowdier there) or watch the parade from literally anywhere along the parade route for a much more relaxed time. I'll do a whole post on Mardi Gras if people are interested, but till then let's get into the blogger-y-ist things you can do in NOLA.
Best Time To Visit
Weather wise, I'd aim for October, November, or March through May. We don't really get seasonal color change (no cute autumn leaf photos in October or November) but generally these couple of months are the most comfortable for being able to go out and do things the majority of the day. If you're comfortable with high temps and humidity, feel free to come during the summer, there's tons of deals (restaurants, probably hotels too) because there are so few tourists.
Even though I've lived here for years I still find the summers pretty unbearable, TBH, so if you're used to a cooler climate I'd visit when you aren't going to pass out from just walking around.
Classic Tourist Spots
Obviously if you're coming to New Orleans, you have to do the classics. These are the best classic tourist activities that you can experience and photograph without looking like a drunken mess on Bourbon street.
- French Quarter - You could easily spend a whole three day weekend in the French Quarter. I don't recommend it because there is so much more to see outside the French Quarter but you totally could. The most popular things you need to experience are:
- Cafe Du Monde - You basically can't come to New Orleans and not get a beignet. They're basically big hot square doughnuts covered in powdered sugar. And they're only like $3 per order so it's not one of those tourist traps that will cost you a zillion dollars for nothing. There is a Cafe Du Monde in the french quarter, conveniently located right outside the next biggie, Jackson Square.
- Jackson Square - Honestly, I don't get the fuss around Jackson Square. Sure, St. Louis Cathedral is right there and it looks like a Disney castle, but the park is just tiny with a giant statue of Andrew Jackson in the middle. The history is actually pretty interesting, but again, this tourist destination is more like a nice two minute walk through to get to Royal Street, behind the Cathedral. If you don't go into the square, there are lots of artists that surround the fence and you can mosey and look at art.
- Preservation Hall - New Orleans and Jazz go hand in hand and I highly suggest popping by the Preservation Hall for a show.
- Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - Personally, I'm not a huge fan of Bourbon Street. It's just not my cup of tea. But, if I were on Bourbon, I'd head to Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop Bar. It was built in the early 1700's and is (probably) the oldest bar in the united states! It has an atmosphere that no other bar on Bourbon is going to give you.
- Garden District - The Garden District is a neighborhood outside the French Quarter where all the giant pretty houses are. You can walk around and take in the architecture with an iced coffee. It's brilliant. Visit by Prytania street and get an ice cream from The Creole Creamery. In a not at all close section of the Garden District, there's the house that was used for filming American Horror Story: Coven. You could even DIY your own AHS tour, if you wanted.
- City Park - City park is sprawling. It's a great spot for a picnic or if you're still craving beignets, there's Morning Call, a 24/7 cafe. City Park is also home to the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) which is always worth a look.
Under The Radar Gems
Personally if I were visiting New Orleans, or for when I eventually move and come back for a short visit, I'd do all the quintessential things as quickly as possible, then move on to less popular stuff.
Living in a tourist city and hating crowds means that I rarely go into the French Quarter, and instead I spend my time in less popular, local haunts. I'm particularly fond of the Uptown area because everything is in walking or biking distance from where I live, but the Bywater is great too.
But, before we get to that, there are a few things left to do in the French Quarter.
- French Quarter - Whenever I do make it out to the French Quarter, I spend a lot of my time looking at the gorgeous buildings. Literally everything is so picturesque and colorful. You want pink walls? They're EVERYWHERE. Another place I like to stop in is Krewe, their sunnies are above and beyond my price range but they're awesome. The shop alone is worth a visit, it's filled with plants, boobie plant pots, and gorgeous selfie lighting. I also love a good walk up and down Royal Street, and there are a couple of cool art markets.
- Magazine Street - Magazine Street is six miles long of cool shops, restaurants, and occasional spatterings of residential areas. It's great if you have a car or a bike to visit because it's so long. These are my favorite Magazine Street shops for super cute, unique, 'grammable things.
- Sunday Shop - This place is a bloggers dream. Every detail is curated and photographable. There is a nice mix of homewares and through the back of the shop beauty and Byredo.
- Lionheart Prints - This very very new shop (about one month old as of writing) is adorable. All the cute stationary and little gifts you could ever need.
- Pied Nu - Pied Nu is very similar to the Sunday Shop, but you can swap Byredo for Diptyque.
- Aux Belles Choses - If you need something to bring home for a parent, head to Aux Belles Choses. Think delicate tea towels and soaps, but it's all beautiful and packed in like the home of a cool vintage grandma.
- Century Girl Vintage - For pretty vintage everything take a tour through Century Girl. Again, this place is curated to have only the best, in theme collection.
- Oak Street - For a super low-key wander around, try Oak street. It's fairly short and has cute coffee shops, bakeries (Breads on Oak is a favorite), and little shops to pop in and out.
- Freret Street - Another low-key street to check out is Freret. It's filled more with restaurants than anything else but lots of cute, colorful buildings. I'll cover this and Oak street in much more depth when I do a restaurant/bar guide.
- Bywater - The Bywater is another neighborhood to see. St. Roch Market is gorgeous and has a bunch of food options so it's great if you're with a large group and everyone wants something different to eat. There's also Bacchanal Wine, which is one of the most unique bars in the city.
Have a request for a specific guide? Let me know! I'm thinking I'll cover food, happy hour specials, and festivals but let me know if you have any burning questions about New Orleans.