Back in October I had the opportunity to visit New Orleans with Tyler and his family. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I loved every minute of it - from the ornate houses to the sweet treats! It's been a few months and I'm still thinking about the beignets and sno-bliz (featured in Part 1 of my New Orleans travel guide)
In Part 2 of my guide I wanted to share my favorite part of our New Orleans visit, and the place we spent the most time: the French Quarter.
The French Quarter truly felt like the heart of the city. It's full of life, art, and delicious food. There's so much to do, and in the 4 days we spent there we barely scratched the surface!
Here's a list of 10 things to do when visiting New Orleans' French Quarter:
1. Beignets at Cafe du Monde
As I mentioned, the beignets in New Orleans are amazing, and Cafe du Monde is iconic! It's cash only, so come prepared and know that lines can usually be expected. We luckily didn't have to wait long on a weekday morning but if you end up waiting for a bit just know it's worth it! There's both indoor and outdoor seating, and the service is pretty quick once you find a table. I recommend pairing your beignets with a cup of the Au Lait coffee, especially if you're starting your day there!
2. Riverboat Ride
The French Quarter is only a few blocks from the Mississippi River, and we took a ride on the Riverboat as a way to see the city by night. Ours was a dinner cruise, and the food was just okay in comparison to what we ate later in the week, but the experience itself was really fun. They have live music and a bar on board, so it's a relaxing way to spend the evening with friends and family while still getting a great view.
3. Listen to Live Music
Speaking of live music, the riverboat certainly isn't the only place to hear a performance. Similar to Nashville, it seemed like New Orleans is in constant rhythm. Many of the bars and restaurants have Jazz throughout the day (and night), and Frenchmen street is described as "consistently musical". A visit to any of the Jazz Clubs along Frenchmen is a great way to experience the culture and nightlife of New Orleans!
4. Do a Walking Tour
We were originally signed up for a guided walking tour of the French Quarter, but by the time it rolled around we had already done quite a bit of exploring on our own. However, I think it would have been a great way to experience the area the first time, and eavesdropping on a few tours we passed made me feel like we missed out on learning some really cool history. If you don't want to pay for a guided tour, I definitely recommend you still walk around the area as much as possible. The buildings are really beautiful, and I couldn't stop taking photos of the bright colored homes and intricate details they had! There are also quite a few free tours you can download online if you don't want to wing it.
5. Bar Hop on Bourbon Street
After our Riverboat ride we went out for a night on the town, to New Orlean's most notorious party street. The drinks are cheap and the bars seem to go on forever (to me it felt like a mini Vegas without the gambling) and people will be passing you beads regardless of whether it's Mardi Gras. Just a tip from experience: avoid the "daiquiris". They seem like a great deal, but are more kool-aid than anything and all the sugar will leave you full of regret.
6. Visit a Cemetery
Unfortunately we weren't able to tour a cemetery during our trip due to poor timing, which I would say is probably my biggest regret of the trip. Luckily we were able to learn a bit about the above-ground tombs during the bus tour we did, but I would have really loved the opportunity to go inside the cemetery itself rather than a quick look as we drove by. On the bright side, I definitely want to take another trip someday and it's good to have a few more stops on the bucket list for next time!
7. Go Shopping
The French Quarter has plenty of little shops and boutiques, which we stopped periodically in as we walked around. There are also a lot of souvenir stores and art galleries. If you're looking to get away from the brick and mortar shopping, you can head to the French Market for a variety of stands.
8. Taste New Orleans' Classics
New Orleans is known for their traditional foods like gumbo, po-boys, jambalaya, crawfish, king cakes, red beans & rice... the list goes on and on. We weren't able to try it all, but we did our best. In order to maximize our taste testing adventure we ordered family style at a couple restaurants and got a little bit of everything. We even tried fried alligator!
9. Ride the Streetcar
Riding the Streetcar was another thing we missed during our stay, but if you're tired of walking or just want another way to see the city I recommend checking it out. It's a lot like the cable cars in San Fransisco and you can purchase unlimited day passes to get in as many rides as you'd like (or need depending on where you choose to stay)
10. Watch the Street Performers
Last but not least, New Orleans is full of street performers. We watched a hip hop group backflip over some people while telling jokes and one guy is known for juggling swords while standing on top of a rolling barrel! It was all super impressive, and since crowds usually form they're usually easy to find when you're looking for a break from all the walking. However, if you're going to stay for a performance it's standard to leave a tip so be sure to have your leftover cash from Cafe du Monde ready.
Hopefully this guide is helpful when planning a trip to New Orleans, or at least convinces you to add it to your travel bucketlist! I loved it so much there and look forward to making it back someday to see even more of what Louisiana has to offer. There's a never ending list of things to do, and these 10 that I recommend are only a few of the ways you can spend your time in New Orleans!
Happy International Womxn's Day! To celebrate I'm sharing a few of my favorite female owned businesses in a variety of categories. This is in no way comprehensive - the list of businesses I love supporting could go on forever but I wanted to highlight a few that I keep returning to over and over.
Rarity by Casey
I've lost count of how many Rarity bow bands I own, but it's safe to say I have enough to match almost any outfit! Casey started the hair accessory business on her own, but now employs several other women who all hand make these adorable bows. They go really fast though, so if you happen to catch the shop when it's open be sure to stock up on all your favorite colors!
I don't remember exactly how I discovered Studio DIY's "Can't Clutch This", but I am so so glad I did. I signed up for the subscription, and receiving these fun bags each month always puts a smile on my face! Kelly, who runs Studio DIY, is such an inspiration for me. She's a style icon of mine, and a total boss with a gorgeous family!
I'm obsessed with Ban.do in every possible way. They bring so much color and joy to all of their products, and they're even fun to follow on instagram for a little inspo! They started as a hair accessory company, but now they have everything a girl could want, from teeshirts to planners, to giant heart shaped pool floaties. My dream is to same day get to design a product with their team!
Lola is an awesome feminine hygiene company that makes period products as well as intimacy products. The tampons and pads are 100% organic cotton, and can be ordered as a reoccurring subscription that arrives when you need it each month. One of my favorite things about Lola is that they care about their community, and donate the necessary feminine hygiene products to women in shelters who would otherwise be without each month. These are some of the most needed items at shelters, but are rarely donated. Since 2015 they've donated over 1 million tampons!
When am I not talking about ice cream? Molly Moon's is a Seattle favorite and the owner Molly is so rad! Not only is the line always out the door, but Molly donates to several charities and created Scout Mint in order to buy Thin Mints to send girl scouts to camp.
Bird and Stone
I've highlighted Bird and Stone a few times, because I love how they combine philanthropy with fashion! All of their bracelets represent a different social cause, and they donate some of the proceeds to relevant charities. Two that are important to me are She Should Run which helps support women in politics, and Planned Parenthood
Brit and Co
Brit and Co is a media company so as far as I know they don't sell any actual products, but I adore their instagram and all of the motivational quotes that come along with it. Their website is full of listicles, which I end up reading wayyyyy longer than I mean to.
Confete Party Box
Confete is another great Seattle-based company, and I got to meet their founder at a networking event for local creatives. They give you everything you need to decorate an adorable themed party, and I'm super obsessed with their balloon displays.
There are not enough ways to describe how awesome Glossier is. I think the first product I tried from them was Boy Brow, and ever since I've been slowly trying everything they have to offer. So far I haven't disliked a single product! I especially love all of their skincare products which I use everyday as part of my routine.
True and Co
I posted about my True and Co bra on instagram a couple months ago, and since then I've tried two other styles. I love all three bras so much, and have found the undies to be super duper comfy as well! And like I said on insta, why should men make all the money from bras?? Buy them from a female owned company and ditch those horrible underwire at the same time.
Rifle Paper Co.
I've been in love with Rifle Paper Co. and their paintings by Anna Rifle Bond for years now! Everything is so perfect and sunny and girly and there's nothing in this world that can stop me from buying their florals on everything (including this awesome pair of Keds that I have). I've been using their planners for 4 years and 100% would recommend them to anyone who is obsessed with organization as much as I am.
Another great party supply company, Studio Pep makes the cutest confetti, balloons, and even better yet: balloons filled with confetti! I used their products at my 23rd birthday party and the colors were everything I dreamed they'd be. The company was started by an awesome mama who is totally sweet, and includes "our daughters deserve the same opportunities as our sons" as a company belief. AMEN!!
I've been subscribed to Rocksbox for about a year, and I absolutely love it! I'm an affiliate, but even if I wasn't I'd still be a loyal subscriber and spread the word to my fellow jewelry lovers. Each month I usually swap my box out at least once or twice, which gives me so many options for styling my looks! I end up buying a ton of the pieces too so I can wear them over and over. If you want to try Rocksbox, use code "alhblogxoxo" for a free month!
Oui Fresh is ran by some of my favorite women on instagram, the ladies behind A Beautiful Mess. They have some cute apparel, an all natural beauty subscription box, and my personal favorite the daisy sunglasses! Check out their blog and shop for tons of gorgeous color and fun DIYs.
If there are two things Tyler and I love, it's travel and food. We're constantly looking for the best restaurants and desserts everywhere we go, and our list of dream destinations never stops growing! When it came time to plan Tyler's birthday gift this year, I wanted to be a little more creative than usual, so combining those two things seemed like the natural choice.
The result was a donut tasting adventure in Portland! I set a challenge to rank our favorites, and did a little research about which we would try. The "rules" were simple: spend a weekend in Portland exploring the city and its popular spots together, but be sure to visit the 3 most talked about donut shops to determine a winner.
Pip's Original Donuts and Chai
Our first stop was Pip's, which had a long line but plenty of seats. I grabbed a table while Ty ordered us a variety dozen and a cup of their famous tea to share. Pip's makes mini donuts and our flavors included Nutella & Sea Salt, Cinnamon & Sugar, Honey & Sea Salt, "The Dirty Wu" (all of the above flavors combined), and Candied Bacon.
My favorite was definitely the Dirty Wu, followed by the more classic Cinnamon & Sugar. They were the perfect bite-sized samples, which made it easy to form a full opinion of what Pip's had to offer. Crispy and flavorful, I thoroughly enjoyed each bite - plus a dozen of mini donuts is the perfect dessert to share after window shopping!
Tyler's favorite was the Candied Bacon, which came as no surprise to me. He even says he would have swapped some of our Cinnamon & Sugar for more bacon, which safe to say would not have gone over well with me.
And while accompanying drinks aren't part of our overall evaluation, I still think it's fair to include our thoughts on the chai, seeing as how it's a part of their claim to fame! As a big fan of spiced chai lattes, I was super excited to try one at Pip's. Unfortunately I was disappointed with my choice, the "Smoky Robinson". Smokey was definitely the right name for it, and we both felt it tasted more like smoke water than a tea drink - however I totally blame myself for choosing something that wasn't a good fit for my taste. Since we didn't have the opportunity to try other chais I hope to go back again in the future and give them a second chance!
Blue Star Donuts & Coffee
The next day we swung by Blue Star, which is a popular local chain. Finding a location was super easy, and when our plans for the day changed a couple times it was still convenient to stop by for a taste. Out of our 3 destinations, Blue Star made the most "typical" donuts. While they did have some more gourmet/adventurous options, they also had many old favorites.
I decided to go for a more unique flavor, and chose the Cointreau Crème Brûlée. It was crunchy on the outside from the torch fired sugar, and filled with custard on the inside! Overall the flavor and texture was good, but I was surprised to find I wasn't a big fan of the citrus liqueur in the dropper. I probably would have enjoyed the donut more had I not squeezed the orangey flavoring all over it, but otherwise I can't complain.
Tyler on the other hand went the classic route with the Hard Apple Cider Fritter. He says it was "very tasty", soft and chewy but still had a crunchy outside like he likes. "A very high quality apple fritter".
And finally, our very last stop before getting on the freeway to head home was the Portland celebrity, Voodoo Doughnut. At this point in the trip we were starting to get sugared out (if you watch my instagram stories you saw that doughnuts were not the only desserts we ate during our 48 hours in the city), and we had tried Voodoo on a previous trip so we decided to just choose one flavor each.
While I love the craziness of Voodoo flavors like the "Old Dirty Bastard" (oreo with peanut butter) or "Oh Captain, My Captain" (Cap'n Crunch), I can't resist the cute little voodoo doll. Looking back I probably should have gone for one of their more loaded flavors, but like I said I was full from all the sweets and couldn't imagine eating something like that! Either way I enjoyed my last donut.
Tyler decided to continue his lucky streak with bacon after enjoying the Pip's so much, and went with the Bacon Maple Bar. He said it was good, but now that the crazier donut flavors have gained popularity you can find a bacon donut almost anywhere. Not a disappointment, but not a stand out either.
And the winner is..... Pip's!
We both really loved Pip's and it was a unanimous decision. The wait was worth it, and I usually prefer mini donuts anyway. Tyler usually opts for a standard sized donut whenever possible, but said Pip's were the best minis he had ever tried.
Overall we had a great time, and plan to keep trying more donut shops in future trips to Portland. They have so many to choose from beyond these 3, and since Portland is only a few hours away we will definitely be back!
24 | Seattle, Wa