Beyond the French Quarter- New Orleans, LA
When an old friend sent me an invite to their New Orleans wedding earlier this year, I wholeheartedly RSVPed yes 🤗 (not that you need a reason to visit NOLA) Though my boyfriend and I were on a limited schedule, we embraced the chance to check out the vibrant city. All in all, we spent about a full day and a morning exploring before booking it back to Memphis, TN to break up the 9 hour drive.
Not being huge party monsters, we stayed in an Airbnb* in the Treme neighborhood which isn't far from the French Quarter but a little easier to navigate if you're driving. We absolutely loved our Airbnb which was one side of a traditional shotgun style house tucked in the neighborhood. Besides how huge the apartment was, our favorite part was definitely the velvet devil painting in the bathroom.
The morning after the wedding we stopped by a small gathering the bride and groom were having at Morning Call in the park. The truth is, we never made it to Cafe Du Monde on this trip. We did enjoy our fair share of beignets though, Morning Call provided the beignets at the wedding and we ordered them again the next morning.
Morning Call is nestled into City Park, is open 24 hours, and has been around since 1870. If lines aren't your thing, this is a great alternative to Cafe Du Monde outside of the French Quarter. It is cash only so come prepared. I also got a truly delicious and refreshing frozen chicory coffee drink to wake me up.
While we were in the park, we checked out the Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden across the street from Morning Call. This was a really cool area filled with contemporary sculptures and native trees.
The rest of the day was a blur of bookstores and record shops, mostly on Magazine Street. I didn't take many photos but here are the ones we njoyed the most.
-Maple Street Book Shop: This shop was a little out of the way but had a cozy, community vibe. It also had a decent local section if you're looking to take home some local books.
-The White Roach: I really enjoyed this small shop packed with records, some curated vintage clothes, and a super cute dog!
-Sisters in Christ: This was my favorite record shop with a variety of more obscure punk, metal, etc. and a great zine collection. I picked up some random punk records here and a few zines.
-Miette: I mostly went in here because my friend's daughter is named Miette and I was hoping to score something with her name on it. (I succeeded 🙌) Offering an eclectic mix of indie jewelry, prints, enamel pins, and more I was in here for awhile trying to choose enamel pins. Miette is also owned by the same people as Mojo Coffee House if you want to stop in both.
-Disko Obscura: Like the other shops we went to, Disko Obscura was a small but carefully curated shop focusing on electronic artists. You could tell they are really catered to the local scene and promoting those artists which is something I always want to support.
-NOLA Mix: NOLA Mix offers community programs to youth through music lessons which makes it easy to support this shop. Though a little further down on Magazine from where we started, it was worth checking out and carries some DJ equipment as well if you're looking for that.
About halfway through the day, we stopped at District Donuts- a dazzling combination of donut, coffee, and burger shop. I didn't try the coffee here but did I have a donut Monte Cristo and a lemon icebox donut. I have a deep love for donuts. It was a truly life-changing and a perfect lunch experience.
After taking a good nap at the Airbnb, we went out for some beers at a local brewery. You may wonder why we didn't go to the French Quarter for drinks. Essentially, we're not huge fans of crowds, super touristy areas, or getting smashed on vacation. (unless there's a beach involved)
With all that in mind, we headed over to NOLA Brewing Company to try some local beer. I have been to a lot of tap rooms but this was one was the epitome of chill. It was spacious, had a large selection, and a rooftop deck where we watched the sunset. I mean, it doesn't get much better than that. Besides that, they have a great back story which you can read here.
I recommend their brown ale, as well as the 004. I only drank IPAs at the tap room but took a 6-pack of the brown to go. Pairs well with the rooftop deck and the BBQ poutine available from McClure's BBQ located inside the tap room. I didn't try some of the more adventurous brews but they are definitely available if you're looking to get your hands on a Farmhouse IPA or a barrel-aged Sour Ale.
The next day we were spending about half a day before driving back to Memphis to crash another night. We started out the day getting breakfast at Cafe Rose Nicaud in the Marginy neighborhood. After donuts, beignets, beers, and other delicacies from the past 24 hours I welcomed the chance to eat a healthy breakfast.
I got an iced latte and their homemade granola with yogurt and fruit. This is my go-to breakfast at my own local coffee shop so I was pretty stoked for the light option. My boyfriend got a typical Southern breakfast of eggs, grits, and biscuit but with a side of alligator so we could try it. He wasn't that into it but I really enjoyed the spices used and the similarity to venison.
After breakfast, we did a little more exploring. New Orleans has many unique cemeteries as well as tours to accompany them. We didn't choose to take a tour but instead stopped by the free alternative of the St. Roch Cemetery.
Filled with stunning shrines and mausoleums, the cemetery wasn't like any I had seen growing up in the midwest. I had mostly chosen this one after reading about the room near the St. Roch alter filled with prosthetic limbs in homage to the healing powers of the saint. The chapel was unfortunately closed during our visit but it was still really cool to see this type of history integral to the area.
Right before we left town was when we decided to walk around the French Quarter and Jackson Square. I mostly wanted to stop by Faulkner House Books which as you can imagine is housed in the former home of Faulkner. Despite the shop's incredibly small size, this beautiful shop has a robust collection of literature and poetry as well as Faulkner's own publications. I ended up with a Lawrence Ferlinghetti book I didn't have.
We walked around the square a little and made two more stops: Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo and Skully'z Records. The voodoo shop is probably the most touristy place I went but I thought it was pretty fun. I picked up an alligator foot, a black crystal necklace, and a poster here. Skully'z was a super tiny record shop but the guy running it was really friendly.
We really packed in as much as we could during this super short trip but now we have a better idea of where to go when we come back. The tropical weather was a great way to get a taste of summer before coming back to the midwest and I can't wait to go back when we have a little more time to explore and take it all in.
*When renting an Airbnb in New Orleans, be aware that it's considered a controversial practice in the city often cited for it's negative affects on the housing market still in perpetual recovery since Hurricane Katrina. It's better to look for an Airbnb ran by locals which directly helps the local economy vs someone who has multiple listings that doesn't actually reside in the city.