Where I Stayed
The Airbnb in the Bywater was a room in an old shot gun-style house. All the other rooms were rented out to other young tourists. The bathrooms were huge and clean, which was a major plus! They also had bikes to borrow for free! The Bywater is supposedly the “up-and-coming” area in town, but it’s very questionable. There’s a lot that needs to be done.
Where I Drank Coffee
Cherry Espresso Bar was on Joy the Baker’s list and it’s off the beaten path, across from a park in a neighborhood in Uptown. They have food, but I just stopped in for drip coffee – they have beans from Portland and Nashville.
Cafe Du Monde wasn’t all it’s hyped up to be. Granted, I realized I don’t like chicory in my coffee.
Where I Ate
Peche Seafood was my first stop in New Orleans. It’s fancy and packed. Going alone, I found a seat at the bar between two groups of polished women drinking rose. I swear, everywhere in New Orleans, they have rose. I got a glass of wine with my steak tartare and of course, oysters. The ambiance of this space was phenomenal and made me think about living the “good life.”
Willa Jean is a modern restaurant in the Central Business District and transported me to Portland. They have avocado toast you must eat with a knife and fork, frozen rose, coffee, and a giant case of baked goods.
Shaya won the James Beard Foundation Award recently and it was suggested by locals. I believe it’s Israeli (light blue and white decor). Coincidentally, the woman next to me ordered the exact same meal as I did: curried cauliflower hummus and the falafel plate, served with oven-fresh pita.
Sneaky Pickle is in a sketchy part of the Bywater. I walked very fast here and still felt a bit uneasy. The restaurant is fairly large and serves meat although they are primarily vegetarian. I got their seasonal veggies, a short rib flatbread, and fries. All of it was amazing, especially their fries.
Bacchanal Wine was my favorite spot. I came here twice in one day, first for happy hour ($5 wine, chorizo-wrapped dates, and shaved Brussels salad) and then again to share two bottles of wine with some guy I met 10 years ago at a conference. This is where all the hip travelers come to buy a glass or bottle and head to the back patio for some live music. If you can’t snag a spot in the ‘backyard,’ you can head upstairs to the full bar that surprisingly looked less dingy and more classy.
Where I Visited
Jean Lafitte National Historical Park is a 20+ minute drive southwest of New Orleans. It’s easily navigable by foot on wooden bridges. I went early and ran into lots of lizards, frogs, and even a raccoon. At times, I was a bit scared to run into an alligator, but I’m pretty sure that wouldn’t happen on the trail. You can also take a swamp tour where you will see larger wildlife.
New Orleans is so diverse in its architecture. The bike ride to City Park took me through a beautiful historic neighborhood with large homes and wide streets. Part of the park is the New Orleans Museum of Art with a botanical garden and sculpture garden. I am a sucker for botanical gardens and spent 2 hours amid the monarch butterflies.
I didn’t make it to the far west side of town to the zoo and Audubon Park, but I hear it’s a gorgeous place to watch the sunset.
Where I Stayed Active
Biking is the best way to get through town. Otherwise, it’s a long walk. I walked 12 miles and my feet were swollen one day, but I stopped into restaurants for to-go cups of margaritas because you can drink in the streets legally!
I went to yoga at the Cabildo, but for a serious student, Reyn Yoga is a better bet.