Companies in asterik (*) were mentioned in sponsorship with this post. All opinions expressed are my own.
There's no doubt in my mind that New Orleans is full of culture. The lively crowds, colorful buildings, live jazz music, and rich foods can make anyone who visit the city feel like they are right at home. It's no wonder why people all over the world travel to New Orleans to witness the charm of the French Quarter, Bourbon Street, and Jackson Square. Being 5 hours away from the city and it's popular destination spots, I decided to travel there for the weekend to discover the best way to enjoy New Orleans within the span of 48 hours.
As a frequent traveler, I try to avoid overpopulated areas that make me spend time in tourist traps. I wanted to get to know the local culture of the city and experience what makes New Orleans, NOLA, so popular. If you want to travel to the most popular city in Louisiana and gain a unique experience from the average, stereotypical tourist spots, then read more about my travel guide to New Orleans.
BEST PLACE TO STAY: The Quisby*
With the French Quarter being the most popular tourist spot in NOLA, many people will try to book luxury hotel reservations within that area. Although it's walking distance to the non-stop fun and night life, it's also a noisy and crowded spot to lodge and relax. During my trip, I stayed at a brand new, hip hostel that recently opened in the Lower Garden District called The Quisby. This hostel is not only affordable and digital nomad-friendly, but the amenities are nothing like the average hostel next door.
With free hi-speed WiFi, free breakfast, free locker storage, and ensuite bathrooms + sink, it easily competes with the standard hotel experience. The area has a contemporary, rustic design that creates an ambiance where anyone can easily relax and socialize, and my favorite part of the hostel is the state-of-the-art lobby bar with "happiest hours." The location is walking distance to many restaurants and bars, and if you ever want to immerse yourself to the French Quarter scene, take a trolley car right across the hostel ($1-2 one way) for a quick 10 minute ride there. During my stay, I noticed a lot of young adults (many foreign, solo travelers) stayed there, and I made quick friendships with my roommates in the 4-bed female room.
BEST VIEW OF THE SKYLINE: Crescent Park
If you want to find a locally known spot to view the skyline of NOLA, check out Crescent Park. The park is located further above the French Market, and with free parking, it was a no-brainer to visit. At first, it was questionable where to find the park, but you access it by crossing over the big, crescent-shaped bridge. At the very top of the bridge you notice the skyline at the distance with a beautiful view of the riverfront.
The sight of the skyline is quite breathtaking once you reach the other side of the bridge and surround yourself with lots of greenery and floral gardens. When I reached closer to the edge of the walkway, I couldn't help but notice the damage that had been made to the levees underneath the park and could still visibly see the water level marks from Hurricane Katrina. Still, being so close to the skyline made me feel lucky to have had the entire skyline view all to myself. This spot is a great photo-op location, and best part of all, it's free.
BEST INSTAGRAM-WORTHY SPOT: Bywater District
You'll soon realize that bright colored houses are a thing in New Orleans. When you walk around the surrounding neighborhoods, you'll feel amazed at the array of colors that you can't help but take photos of the beautiful houses. When I was researching spots for do photo shoots, many people suggested Garden District and Irish Channel for the best bright colored houses. When I visited the areas, I ended up finding a few colorful houses that caught my eye, but I mostly saw pastel pink/beige ones while walking around the streets. Randomly, I discovered Press Street right along the Bywater District that has houses painted with all the colors of the rainbow! My friend and I were the only tourists photographing the street! I ended up taking tons of photos around that area than the Instagram-known spots. So, take the drive up to Bywater for your colorful travel photo-ops.
BEST PLACE TO PAMPER: Paint'd Nail Salon*
I understand that everyone who travels are primarily looking for adventure, but I wanted to find a relaxing place from the hustle and bustle of the crowds. When I looked down at my nails while making my trip itinerary, I figured, "Why not get a manicure in NOLA?" When I booked an appointment with Paint'd, it made my little road trip even more special.
I explained more about my personal experience here, but I really believed it was a huge highlight to the entire trip. Plus, my fresh manicure really made a difference when creating online content for the trip. Frequent travelers like myself tend to forget about treating ourselves to a salon every now and then, so it's important to spend time pampering. Plus, this place is absolutely perfect for bachelorette parties, birthdays, mommy-daughter dates, and any occasion to make you look glamorous and red-carpet ready. You can check out more of their salon services here.
BEST DINNER BALCONY VIEW: The Royal House Oyster Bar
If you want to opt for a fancy, classy night at the French Quarter and you're a huge oyster lover, you should consider dining out in the balcony at The Royal House. There's so many seafood options in NOLA, but trust me, the dining experience and service here is like no other.
During the evening, the tables are candlelit, the ambiance is quiet and far from Bourbon Street. During my visit, I was listening to beautiful violin playing from below, and it was such a charming experience. Plus, the waitress serving my table was so friendly and funny! I absolutely loved the char-grilled oysters and gumbo soup when I visited. The dinner view is perfect for romantic dates, anniversaries, special occasions, and tourists who opt for the serene scene of the French Quarter. If you want to know more about the restaurant, look here.
BEST DESSERT SPOT: Drip Affogato*
When I was exploring the French Quarter, I wanted to try something a little different outside the standard beignets and snowballs. When I stepped inside Drip Affogato, I instantly felt charmed with the shop. If you are a coffee and ice cream lover, you'll fall in love with affogato!
Drip Affogato is a unique experience in the French Quarter where you try Italian dessert and other sweet treats. Affogato comes in espresso shots, so you can have fun in pouring over the ice cream! It comes in seasonal flavors, so no matter what time of the year you visit, the menu will always surprise you! If you want to read more about my experience, read my post here.
NOLA is easily one of my favorite cities to visit in the US, so I hope this guide helped you in planning out your own trip! What do you think about my guide? Leave a comment down below telling me what you think, and if you want to follow more of my travels, subscribe to my newsletter and follow me on Instagram: @ressamazing. Until next time- Ressa