According to current travel guides and statistics, New Orleans is one of the top ten most visited cities in the United States. According to the “Rae on the Road” travel guide, New Orleans is THE top city to visit in the United States. Granted, Rae on the Road hasn’t been everywhere (yet), so you can take that polling for what it’s worth to you.
Staying with college friends who recently relocated, I received a warm welcome and wonderful taste of New Orleans life. They made sure to get me to some of the top places in the city, both well-known and only sought out by locals. Since New Orleans is such a desired travel destination, and hundreds of travel guides already exist, I don’t necessarily feel I will give it the justice it deserves. Instead, I will briefly tell you about my time there, and then provide a list of top places I visited that you ought to check out if you find yourself in Nola someday, too.
As a self-proclaimed foodie, New Orleans was a fattening paradise. Red beans and rice, grits, barbecue pork and beef, fried chicken, fish, gumbo, jambalaya… the list could continue for 3 more lines. No matter where I was or what I chose to ate, it was guaranteed to be tasty. As a lover of beer, the selection was also plentiful. As an IPA fan my favorite was LA 31 Biere Pale Ale. I also enjoyed Abita’s Jockamo Ale. Finally, the NOLA brown ale was a great beer to sip on at home while making dinner, watching youtube videos, and laughing at old memories with friends.
One of the most intriguing aspects of the city was New Orleans architecture. From shotgun houses to creole townhouses, double-gallery houses, and giant antebellum homes, the surroundings were fresh nuances for me. Had someone blindfolded and dropped me in the center of it all, I’m not sure I would have known I was in the United States. Instead I saw it as a combination of Cuba, Greece, France, and something all together unique. I was fortunate to be able to stay in a beautiful estate located in the Garden District, and therefore could see Nola architecture at its finest. Once used as a boarding house, Scott Fitzgerald had stayed in a room within the house. Additionally, because of it’s grandeur and beauty Abita brewing company recorded a commercial at the house a few weeks prior to me arriving.
Everywhere I go, I fall in love. New places and cities seem to have an infectious allure, and the more I see the more I want to be there. New Orleans though offered a promising future for me. Not only was the city wonderful, but the people were fantastic. The “we don’t give a damn what you do” attitude mixed with the southern hospitality, and the fact that winter only exists for about 6 weeks, buried a seed in my “places to move to” soil. Don’t be surprised if in 2013 I join the troves making New Orleans the fastest growing city in the United States.
List of “Rae on the Road” Top 8 Places in New Orleans (in order of visiting the sites, not of their ranking):
1) Fiorella’s Cafe: The first night I was in town my friends took me to Frenchmen Street, which is near the French Quarter and is more widely known as the locals’ spot in New Orleans. After waiting to get into Coop’s Place and only receiving bad reviews from those around us, we decided to check out Fiorella’s. Although Italian, you can still get delicious New Orleans treats here, too. Famous for it’s fried chicken, my personal favorite was actually the red beans and rice. (Helpful hint: If you use Foursquare here, you receive a free drink with your first check-in!)
3) Fair Grinds Coffee House: Located in my favorite New Orleans area called Mid-City, Fair Grinds was an aesthetically pleasing coffee shop. Although I only popped in for my daily dose of caffeine intake, I was immediately impressed by their interesting bakery selection, like goat cheese and apple scones, and would love to do some writing there any day.
4) Parkway Bakery and Tavern: If you’re in New Orleans you gotta eat a Po Boy, right? The answer is yes, and here’s one of the best places in town to do so. I got the Surf ‘n Turf, with slow cooked roast beef topped with golden friend shrimp and roast beef gravy. It was juicy and delicious. I had it with a Southern Star Bombshell Blonde Ale, which is a Texan beer, but tasty with a Po Boy anyway.
5) New Orleans City Park: A lovely park to spend an afternoon in. Be sure to check out the free sculpture garden connected to the art museum, in addition to having a picnic under the magical wind chime tree.
7) Coulis: I’m a breakfast fanatic and this may be the best breakfast I’ve ever had. I split the eggs Benedict (can’t remember what they call it) with pulled pork on top of a jalapeño corn cake and the huevos rancheros. Both were amazing.
8) Audubon Park: The Tree of Life may be the most impressive tree I’ve ever seen. The whole park was lovely though, and you can see giraffes peaking their heads over the zoo wall, which is pretty neat!
*Bonus* The word “Lagniappe” used in the title means: A little something extra (pronounced LAN-yap). This could be an extra few slices of meat at the deli, a free dessert at the restaurant, or a treat on the pillow at your hotel. Click here for more information about other New Orleans slang.