We are sipping bottomless mimosas watching a burlesque dancer tastefully strut through a New Orleans restaurant. Not your average Sunday morning, but then again nothing is ordinary about this city as we are discovering on our girl’s trip to New Orleans.
I recently took a 12-day girl’s getaway Gulf Coast media fam trip. We started in New Orleans.
Today started with Legs and Eggs, burlesque breakfast at Sobue, a restaurant named for its location, south of Bourbon Street (Sobue). This decadent brunch features a burlesque performer called Bella Blue, and today, it will end with us driving to North Shore Louisiana and then Coastal Mississippi to stop for two days in Ocean Springs. My first ever visit to New Orleans has been eventful, as well as satisfying. New Orleans is a full sensory feast you won’t soon forget.
Our Girl’s Trip to New Orleans
I am here with three friends and travel writers and together we are doing a 12-day trip up the Gulf Coast starting in New Orleans and ending in Gulf Shores Alabama. From our base in the Dauphine Orleans Hotel, in the French Quarter, we’ve been able to cover a huge amount of territory, walking for hours, hitting Bourbon Street, Canal Street, Conti Street, Decatur Street and the Warehouse District too. Together, we hunted down multiple versions of beignets, devouring muffuletta sandwiches and some of the richest, freshest, seafood I’ve ever had in the United States.
Where Should You Go on Your First Night in NOLA?
On the night we arrive, our driver gives us the low down on all the best places to eat. The Ritz Carlton lounge, for beignets, she says. It’s simply the best because of the dips. So, we tuck that information away deciding to visit later that weekend. Of course no trip to New Orleans could ever be complete without that mandatory stop at Café du Monde. These two restaurants are high on our list of spots we have to stop on our girl’s trip to New Orleans.
Bar Marilou Speak Easy
Bar Marilou is not an overly taxing walk from the French Quarter to the Warehouse District. Located in the former library of the City Hall Annex, Bar Marilou, is the perfect spot to celebrate the launch of our 12-day girl’s getaway. Our first three days will be spent here in New Orleans.
The plush red velvet and rich brocade fabrics create a speak easy atmosphere inside the lounge, which is tucked away from the street. Enter through the side door. Look for the neon sign. It’s impossible not to feel mysterious and cool here. Order appetizers and drinks and admire the decor as well as the stunning speak easy attire on all of the bespoke employees.
Traveler Tip: I recommend the liverwurst paté appetizer, which was delicious!
Bourbon Street in New Orleans is iconic.
Day 1 in New Orleans – Segways, Food and Jazz
Court of Two Sisters Jazz Brunch
In the morning on our first full day in NOLA, we walk to Court of Two Sisters for their daily jazz brunch. Eggs, bacon, smoked salmon, King Cake and Andouille sausage capped off with a made to order omelette bar, bread pudding and so much more. A Jazz trio sits in the corner of an ornate open courtyard behind the restaurant and they periodically move inside the restaurant to play for the patrons and tourists indoors.
After a hearty leisurely breakfast and ample amounts of caffeine, we walk over to New Orleans Segway Experience Tour with City Segway Tours for a quick lesson before taking to the streets of the French Quarter.
The New Orleans City Segway Tours
This is the third time I have done a Segway tour when traveling and I highly recommend it as a great way to see any city you visit. It’s not too hard and is basically all about moving the pressure of your feet and back and forth on the sensors. Once you figure out how to start and stop and whether the instructor/guide is helping you or not, it’s smooth sailing and a fun part of any girl’s trip to New Orleans.
The Perfect Way to See More of a City
After dodging cars, delivery trucks and a staged parade that was part of a Netflix series filming in town that day, we weaved through the streets, noting the locations of spots like Cafe du Monde and Jackson Square for later. This is the perfect way to get your bearings learning all about New Orleans history and architecture early on your trip. After exploring on our Segways, we were ready for lunch at the famed Napoleon House.
Traveler Tip: Do the Segway Tour early on in your visit to get your bearings in the city.
What to Order Here
Napoleon House is iconic and an essential part of any girl’s trip to New Orleans. Head to Napoleon House for a Pimms Cup, a cocktail made with Pimms, a British gin-based liqueur with lemon-lime soda, and a slice of cucumber, which is über refreshing, then add a Muffuletta sandwich. A Muffuletta sandwich is a made with cured meats, cheeses and olive spread served on a warm seeded bun. Insanely delicious when done well, and Napoleon House does these extremely well. I dream about this sandwich even still, a month after returning from this adventure. Also loved the shrimp po’ boy sandwich.
Traveler Tip: if you take a New Orleans food tour make sure Napoleon House is included on the itinerary. I found two foodie tours on Viator that include this historic restaurant. One is a NOLA cocktail tour.
Famous TV Shows and Movies Here
Napoleon House has been featured in many movies and TV series. The cupola at the top of the buildings was part of the first season of NCIS New Orleans in an episode called Red Dress Run. Several other episodes of the show have been filmed inside the building. A room upstairs is also available for weddings. The house itself is a National Historic Landmark. In fact, part of Oliver Stone’s JFK was filmed downstairs and so was a Super Bowl commercial.
Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture
Fuelled by all of the outrageous food, we raced over to see if we could still take a quick tour of the Mardi Gras Museum of Costumes and Culture. The staff were extremely gracious and walked us through the museum giving a detailed history of who wore the costumes, and how the museum came to be. All of the costumes were donated.
Desire Oyster Bar
After exploring the French Quarter, and freshening up back at Dauphine Orleans hotel, we walked to dinner at Desire Oyster Bar. These oysters were the best of the entire 12-day road trip through NOLA and the Gulf Coast. Get the grilled oysters if you are an oyster fan. The raw fresh oysters schucked nearby at the oyster bar are fantastic. The menu is HUGE and there’s a lot to choose from, but nothing beats their oysters.
View this post on Instagram
Oh my! Of course everyone has heard of how legendary the food is in New Orleans with French, Spanish, Italian and Irish influences as well as Vietnamese, the range of flavours and tastes is unlike anything else you’ll find anywhere in the world. Last night, we went to desire oyster bar in the French quarter of New Orleans. The oysters were unbelievable. They shuck them fresh right there at the oyster bar. The grilled oysters were seasoned to perfection. I will dream about that appetizer. #yum #onetimeinnola #travel #travels #wanderlust #neworleans #nola #hosted #canadalovesgulfshores #canadiangirlsgetaway #food #foodie #seafood #travelwriter #appetizers #frenchquarter
Take in a show at the Jazz Playhouse while here because it’s literally less than two minutes away from Desire Oyster Bar. The Jelly Roll cocktail, had bourbon in it and hit all the right notes for this gal.
If you are in New Orleans doing a girl’s getaway build in time to explore Frenchmen Street. It’s a compact musical district where the locals hang out.
Day 2 – The Perfect Itinerary in NOLA
Breakfast Beignets and Lattes
On Day 2, we start at the Ritz Carlton for beignets because we’ve heard they have sauces and are spectacular. TRUE story. These beignets are affordable, scrumptious and they come with caramel, chocolate and also vanilla sauce. Byron, our server was exceptional. They also have fantastic lattes and you don’t have to be staying there in order to dine at the restaurant. Don’t forget to look for Byron! He has a huge amount of knowledge on all the best places to dine in New Orleans.
St. Louis Cemetery #1 Tour
One of the most entertaining things we did while doing our girl’s trip to New Orleans was the St. Louis Cemetery #1 Tour. This was our first excursion of the day, after a short walk to a nearby café where we met Loretta of Two Chicks Walking Tours. Loretta, from the start, was a kick, dramatizing some of the famous NOLA history and characters buried in the cemetery, and providing several educational tidbits.
Look for Nick Cage’s oddball pyramid tomb which has been struck by lightning three times!
Why Two Chicks?
Be warned! This cemetery is extremely busy and there’s a lot to know about the tombs within. Also be respectful. Going with a guide from Two Chicks is highly beneficial. The one-hour tour is fast paced, but you also get enough of the meat and potatoes. Loretta Adkins launched our tour with a whole lot of humour and immediately advised: “Let’s not sully our vibration by talking politics.”
What to Expect on This Tour
Learn why New Orleans bury their dead above ground. The space where the cemetery is was once a trading post and the land was swampland. You can’t bury bodies underground in a swamp. Did you know that Yellow Fever in the 1700s killed a lot of people in Louisiana? Or that multiple people are buried in one tomb? In Louisiana, the heat creates a sort of sped up organic decomposition process.
One year and a day after the burial, a worker goes into the tomb and uses a tool to push the remains into a section called the caveau. That makes room for more bodies. Roughly 50,000 people are buried in St. Louis Cemetery #1!
Treme Creole Gumbo Festival
Every weekend there are numerous festivals in New Orleans and many revolve around food. We started at the Treme Creole Gumbo festival for lunch, listened to some music in Louis Armstrong Park, browsed the artisan wares and sampled a couple of different beignets then headed over to Fêtes des Fromage and ate every variety of cheese we could find.
Cheese Wheel at Fêtes des Fromages
Seven different types of cheeses spin around on a pretend ferris wheel, while people reach for one of each to sample with crostini and small cranberry breads. Inside the Vermont tent a man uses a small butane torch to melt sugar onto local Vermont goat cheese. The sweet layer of sugar dusting the top of the melted cheese is the perfect compliment to the creamy taste beneath.
Find the Festivals
Fêtes des Fromages takes place each November featuring world-renowned and local cheeses. The French American Chamber of Commerce transforms the grounds of the New Orleans Jazz Museum and people wait in line to pair wines with hundreds of cheeses from around the world. The fall festival features international, domestic and Louisiana cheese samples. Red, white, and rosé wine imports from Europe are on offer for pairing with craft beers, ciders and water.
Traveler Tip: Check the Visit New Orleans web site and find a festival worth exploring.
Stay for the cracking of the wheel competition or wander consuming one of everything before starting all over again. The Fêtes des Fromages is a must do for any cheese lover visiting the city in November.
Café du Monde
We made it our goal that day to sample many different beignets and no NOLA experience would be complete without a stop at Café du Monde. Expect lineups and don’t skip the coffee. It has a hint of chicory which makes it rich and full bodied, sort of grounding the sweet powdery taste of the beignets. The outdoor market atmosphere adds to the experience.
Whiskey and spirit lovers will love the brand new Sazerac House, which just opened in October 2019. There are free tours daily and samples of cocktails, bitters and whiskey too. Ideally, here you learn a bit about the history of whiskey in New Orleans, taste a few samples of the spirits and cocktails and then stop by the distillery.
New Orleans School of Cooking
After a busy day of walking and chewing up all the steps goals on our apps and Fitbits, we headed back to the New Orleans School of Cooking in the French Quarter for what would be one of the highlights of our New Orleans girl’s getaway.
Our hands on cooking class started with a little bit of information about the cooking school, the chef and the range of dishes we were going to make. Much Cajun food derives from Acadia and relies on flavours layered in one pot. We started with a Shrimp and Tasso Maque Choux, a Duck and Andouille Gumbo and then finally moved on to Bread pudding.
In fact, it was my first time making a roux ever, even though I have heard a lot about it. So being able to learn here and build gumbo from start to finish was a dream scenario for me. Frankly, I had no idea I liked bread pudding until I made one of my own in New Orleans!
Roughly ten of us took part in the New Orleans Cooking class. We paired up with partners to execute all three of our dishes following the chef’s instructions. There were many couples taking part in the class. Sharon Mendelaoui of Daily Dream 360 and Merry Spooner-Kuchle or Merry About Town worked together. Margarita Ibbott of DownshiftingPro and I cooked at our station.
It was incredibly satisfying watching that roux turn from light beige to peanut butter to a chocolate brown shade. Thankfully, this city is very walkable, because wine and beer were part of the New Orleans School of Cooking experience.
NOLA Ghost and Haunts Nighttime Bus Tour
As if that were not enough, after eating all the amazing food that we made, we hopped onto a bus for a ghost tour. This tour started at Washington Artillery Park and led us to another cemetery. Hear stories of murder, betrayal and the haunted hotels and landmarks in the city! But, be warned you may not sleep after hearing some of the creepiest stories.
Our final day in NOLA ends with the burlesque brunch at Sobue and then off we go for a short drive across the causeway to North Shore Louisiana.
Take a New Orleans Girl’s Trip
With international influences, British, Italian, Irish, Scottish, Spanish, French of course, and even Vietnamese, the city’s food and flavours are unmatched. New Orleans food is a celebration and some of the best cuisine I’ve ever had, anywhere. The food, plus the culture, and history here make the perfect recipe for a memorable girl’s trip.