Y’all…. MANY of you… SO many of you are about to descend upon my great city…. you’re about to witness first hand why I came and decided to make this my home forever (well, aside from meeting a super handsome barber and his beautiful daughter)… Y’all ACTFL is HERE! I can’t WAIT to see so many familiar faces in just a couple of weeks.
Paul and I were married on the 20th of October. Thank you to so many of you who sent cards and little gifts. Thank you to the North Carolina workshop last April, y’all helped me pay for my wedding dress! We created this HUGE list of things to do, drink, see, and EAT while our wedding guests were in town. I had family come in from all over the world and lots of my teacher buddies flew in from Colorado. I thought I’d cheat and use it as a blog since it has been a while, and since it may just be super useful!
Also, before that list… If you haven’t already seen on my social media, WE ARE HAVING A BABY! We revealed at the wedding! We are 5 months pregnant with a little loc@ and OVER the moon happy!
I am completely aware that we may have 0 “extra” time on our hands that weekend, BUT,Â seriously, if your family is here with you looking for things to do, or if you plan on coming a little early or staying late, these are some great ways to spend your extra time in New Orleans.
Festivals/Events in New Orleans during ACTFL weekend:
- FÃªte des Fromages – November 17th- Wine and Cheese connoisseurs- be ready! Â at the New Orleans Jazz Museum from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. (This is a new festival this year)
- Treme Creole Gumbo Festival– November 17th Â and 18th -The festival will be staged in Congo Square in the corner of Louis Armstrong Park, as well as in other sections throughout the park. Hours are from 11:00 a.m. until 7:30 p.m. both days and admission is FREE. Donations to the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation are accepted.
- BUENA VISTA: SOCIAL LATIN DANCE NIGHT – November 16th- 11:00PM – 508 Frenchmen St., New Orleans, LA 70116
- PRESERVATION ALL STARS WITH WILL SMITH– November 16th- 8:00PM- If you enjoy Jazz, consider a show at preservation hall, one of the oldest (and still untouched) venues in the city.- 726 St. Peter St., New Orleans, LA 70116 | P: (504) 522-2841
Things to do in New Orleans with all your extra time (hahaha! jk!):
- Swamp tours (airboat is more “extreme”, Â faster and much louder on the water , but definitely more up close and personal …. the platoon boat is slow and steady but Paul says itâ€™s quiet and peaceful)
- There are other tour companiesâ€¦ you can find them online or tons of options as you walk around the French Quarter
- If you have a car and you donâ€™t want to spend money on a swamp tour, you can do your OWN walking tour of the Jean Lafitte National Park and Barataria Preserve. We have spotted deer, TONS of alligator, otters, spiders of all shapes and sizes, and lots of other fun critters. If youâ€™re traveling with children it is a really fun adventure but keep them close just to be safe. The walkway is literally straight through the swamp, it is truly in the middle of nature.
- Speaking of kiddos, the childrenâ€™s museum is awesome and downtown. Parking can be tricky but it is a pretty cool museum.
- The Food and Beverage Museum spotlights wine, food, culture and all things great in life. It is really unique just like our city
- Le MusÃ©e de Free People of Color is a house museum honoring the history Â and culture of the free people of color of New Orleans. It is a block from my beautiful new school, Bricolage Academy (in the old John McDonough High School)
- Edgar Degasâ€™ House has been turned into a museum FULL of his work. It is really neat and if youâ€™re familiar with his work youâ€™ll love this experience.
- Steam boat/paddle boat (Natchez or Creole Queen): this is SUCH a fun experience. If you ask locals theyâ€™ll STRONGLY advise you to NOT eat the food (overpriced and NOT that good) just go on a tour instead and have dinner elsewhere
- Old cemetery tours- There are loads of them, or you can just wander them yourselves
- City Park– If you go to city park you can rent paddle boats, surrey’s, bikes, kayaks and canoes! We love doing this and then getting lunch at Morning Call which is IN City Park. I get the Jambalaya and it is one of my favorites in the whole city and they also have great Beignets and coffee. Crystal is my favorite Louisiana hot sauce (there are many, in fact, the tabasco factory is on Avery Island only 2-3 hours away by car!)â€¦. SO SO SO flavorful.
- Storyville and City Park Theme Park– if you have children, city park has a really cool â€œstoryvilleâ€ area and theme park with rides big ones and small ones.
- The New Orleans Museum of Art is IN City Park and always has amazing exhibits
- WW2 museum (nationally recognized) Many people who went to our wedding visited this and they said it was one of the highlights of their trips. They spent one day and had to return the next because there was so much to see!
- A walking haunted tour through the French quarter- Black Rose Tours– Willow is our friend and the owner of the company. She Â is legitâ€¦ (She also does tarot card readings and is the real deal. You can find her on Jackson Square)
- A horse and buggy ride through the streets of New Orleans (Find these for hire in Jackson Square where you can walk around and see all the artists, this is where my mommy Susie Allen sets up and sells her paintingsâ€¦ if you know me, youâ€™ll know herâ€¦. The apple didnâ€™t fall far from the treeâ€¦ in MANY ways…)
- Get a snoballâ€¦ They are the worldâ€™s best treatâ€¦. Seriouslyâ€¦ and Snoball stands are starting to close for the season. Some of our favorites are: Hansenâ€™s, Salâ€™s, Plum Street Snoball (our #1 favorite is already closed) I am hoping that some will still be open for mid Novemberâ€¦ you never know!
- Taking the streetcar up and down St. Charles street and looking at all of the incredible houses. Drew Brees, Brad Pitt and MANY other celebrities have homes on this streetâ€¦ One day I will tooâ€¦ that is what I tell Paulâ€¦. Sighâ€¦. One can dream
- Visit the Audubon zoo or the Audubon aquarium. Both are really incredible and worth a day of wandering. The zoo is quite expensive but really one of the best I have ever been to
- Side note: we were married in Audubon park at the Labyrinth, right next to the tree of life
- If you decide to visit the zoo, our favorite date night spot is called the Fly. It is attached to Audubon park and overlooks the river. Go watch a sunset and bring a picnic
- Plantation tours
- City/hurricane Katrina tour
- Kayak swamp tour
- Bourbon street but donâ€™t stay for too long …once you’ve seen it once you’ve seen it how it is everydayâ€¦. Also, sometimes going during the day will give you a good idea about whether you want to visit in the night again…
- Frenchman street (“where the locals go”) live music in almost every bar and on almost every corner- there is also a great night art market here! We LOVE it!
- In Jackson Square, there is a free tour of a 1850â€™s house that is really informative and wonderful, but not many people know about it. Yes, FREE!
- Getting a â€œreadingâ€ in Jackson Square can be a real rip off if you donâ€™t go to someone who knows what theyâ€™re doing.
- If you have never been to the â€œbeachâ€ and youâ€™re renting a car, Biloxi, Long Beach, and Pass Christian are all within an hour and a half away and it is the gulf. We love our day long getawaysâ€¦ Our favorite place to eat when we go is called Slap ya Mommaâ€™s BBQ which is right next to a HUGE arcade with two mini golf courses, fake gold panning, and lots of fun things for grown ups and kids!
- Gulf shores is in Alabama and the sand is WHITE and stunningâ€¦ it is a further drive (3.5 hours) and may require a night stay (or more) but worth it if you have the time and want an escape from the city
Some of our favorite bars!
- MURIELS- patio bar and then visit the upstairs “haunted area” (this is MY FAVORITE PLACE!!! If you believe in ghosts, you MUST visit…)
- BACCHANAL FINE WINE AND SPIRITS– outside bar with live music (Monday night is our favorite because of the musician playing ) they serve small plates and amazing meat and cheese boards that you construct yourself ..or they can do it. LanceÂ Piantaggini (Magister P) went with his wife, Paul and me when he was visiting and he gave his approval too!
- PAT O’BRIENs– mainly the piano bar … home of the famous hurricane drink
- LAFITTE’S BLACKSMITH SHOP BAR -oldest structure used as a bar in the entire country built and used originally for a house in 1722….known for their “purple drink ” dangerously good like purple koolaid ,but MUCH strongerâ€¦ MUCHâ€¦
- CAROUSEL BAR– elegant bar connected to hotel Monteleone. The bar itself spins (very slowly) but if you sit at the bar for 20 minutes and you look up you’ll be in a different spot. Home of the legendary drink- the Vieux Carre.
- HOT TIN ROOFTOP BAR– great view of the city right on St. Charles and the streetcar line
- THE DUNGEON– hard to find rock and roll/ heavy metal bar…Really gets good on Saturday nights
- BARREL PROOF -a whiskey bar with everything from squeeze bottle whiskey to $100 dollar an ounce whiskey located in the garden district on magazine street.
- THE CATS MEOW– the place for watching people who are a little more than tipsy give it their all at karaoke, located on bourbon street.
- OLD ABSINTHE HOUSE– voted the best bourbon street bar .located in a historic building with a quirky atmosphere serving up some absinthe and other great cocktails
- Cure- Â Firehouse turned stylish, dimly lit cocktail lounge with creative drinks & eclectic array of dishes.
Some of our favorite restaurants (some fine or casual fine dining, some just good bites):
- Poboy sandwiches- PARKWAY BAKERY AND TAVERN (I recommend the roast beef or the the shrimp) (also when they ask if you want it “dressed” or not….that means pickles lettuce , tomatoes and mayo
- Beignets- Skip â€œCafÃ© Du Mondeâ€ it is NOT worth the 2 hour wait and awful service. Â Go to Bourbon Street instead (I know, that sounds crazy) and find CafÃ© Beignet where the beignets are WAY better and there is 15 hours of live Jazz!!!
- Seafood- GW FINS– a little pricey but definitely worth it. Fresh seafood and not all fried like everywhere else. I would say make a reservation
- Steak- DORIS METROPOLITAN – our favorite steak in the city (get the dry aged ribeye…worth it!) Make a reservation (also super pricey)
- New Orleans style/cajun JACQUES-IMOS– great new Orleans style cajun food . Good eats! Make a reservation
- New Orleans style /french /cajun – RESTAURANT R’EVOLUTION. Make a reservation
- Breakfast- RUBY SLIPPER great yummy breakfast/brunch place … pick one in the city and get there early (our favorite is in an old bank that Bonny and Clyde robbed, this is the one on Burgundy)
- Rock n Sake– My favorite Sushi restaurant!
- If you havenâ€™t had Poke yet, why not try it here?! Poke Loa! There is a location on Magazine street!
- Breakfast – SURREYS- another good breakfast place. With two locations both are pretty popular
- Fried chicken- WILLIE MAES SCOTCH HOUSE– amazing fried chicken
- Lighter lunch or dinner –ST JAMES CHEESE COMPANY– a deli with sandwiches, cheese boards and meat boards , salads and WINE
- Italian- DOMENICA – Paul used to work there so he knows from the inside … it’s great Italian food with an amazing happy hour special from 3pm-6pm half price gourmet pizza in wood fire oven and half price beer and wine by the glass = WINNING â€¦. The Cauliflower starter is one of the best things ever in the history of everdom
- Fancier date night- Adolfoâ€™s on Frenchman street (above the Apple Barrel bar) A local secret and our favorite date night spot. Cash only but well worth it!! It is an italian creole seafood fusionâ€¦ Literally every single person weâ€™ve sent here RAVES!!!!
Sending you ALL the love in the world! Come give me a hug while you’re here and please share this far and wide so everyone has it as a resource!
Until next time,
La Maestra Loca (now totally happily married and totally pregnant)