January has already been a great month, because I’ve been able to indulge in two weekend getaways with my boyfriend. The first was a weekend in New Orleans, one of my favorite cities.
I absolutely adore the French Quarter. And I’m not talking about Bourbon Street. (Although it’s beloved for a reason.) I love the quiet side streets lined with adorably crumbling buildings that are a to-die-for mixture of French, Spanish and Southern architecture.
I love the lively crowds of people in Jackson Square: the carriage protesters duking it out with the miniature mule breeder, the vivacious street performers amusing hordes of happy people, the pseudo-physics and tarot card readers mixing in with the Southern frat boys.
And most of all, I love the food. I wish every Sunday morning could be spent at Cafe Du Monde for the rest of my life.
I sometimes daydream about how life would be if I wrote full-time from an apartment in the heart of the French Quarter, where I could stumble down the street for inspiration.
But for now, weekend getaways will suffice.
5 Things You Must Do in New Orleans’ French Quarter:
1. Eat beignets. Lots of ’em. Eat them with abandon and don’t give a damn about the powdered sugar splattering all over your jeans — or your face. My Favorites: Cafe Du Monde and Cafe Beignet on Royal St. (You must try Cafe Du Monde at least once in your life, but Cafe Beignet’s are just as good and it’s a quieter/calmer atmosphere. Especially when you get there early and snag a seat in the shady courtyard.)
2. Eat pralines (and pronounce them “prah-leens,” of course). These are easily on my list of the top five most amazing things I’ve ever eaten. My Favorites: Southern Candymakers on Decatur St. Get a lb. You won’t be disappointed.
3. Eat gumbo and shrimp etouffee. Sensing a pattern here? I love eating – and I love eating in New Orleans. You can’t go to New Orleans without enjoying some gumbo and shrimp etouffee. My Favorite: I don’t have a hands-down favorite for these since I love them pretty much anywhere I try them, but I had some especially delish gumbo at Pierre Maspero.
4. Take the St. Charles Ave. streetcar! Hop on the St. Charles Ave. streetcar at the stop off Canal, and you’ll get a calming tour of the Garden District and experience a slice of New Orleans history. It’s $1.25 each way, so plan on having $2.50 exact change prepared.
5. Do a nighttime ghost tour! This was hands-down the best thing I did on my first trip to New Orleans. I’m both a history buff and a lover of all things spooky, so this was perfect for me. Doing the tour at night adds an extra chill to the experience, and it’s surprisingly (and eerily) calm in the streets at night. My Favorite: Skip the one with the tour guides who dress up. As I was on my tour, with four other people and a witty, laid-back guide who was very knowledgeable, I felt bad for the massive 20-person horde I saw walking the streets with a dude in a cheap costume and vampire make-up. I wish I could remember the exact company I toured through (this was a couple years ago) but nonetheless, it wasn’t the cheesy costumed crew.
Did you notice my five things didn’t even touch on Bourbon Street? There is so much fun to be had in New Orleans: Great live music, great drinks, great people. My list could go on and on if I let it.
Have you ever been to New Orleans? What was your favorite part?