Prior to my trip in February I had visited New Orleans three times before and had experienced many sides of the city. From helping reopen a park, clearing lots in the Lower Ninth Ward and listening to the stories of first responders after Katrina to eating beignets at Cafe du Monde, taking an airboat ride through the swamp and parading through the French Quarter behind a jazz band with a police escort, I had previously experienced the city, its culture, and the resilient people that call it home. But on this trip, I was able to take part in one thing that I had yet to experience and that was Mardi Gras!
I landed in New Orleans Thursday night and got picked up by my friend whom I was visiting. It’s worth noting that the new terminal at MSY had opened up only three months earlier when I arrived the airport’s passenger pickup and Uber/taxi system was complete chaos with no one really knowing where they were supposed to be. Once we escaped the chaos of the airport, we drove to my friend’s house, dropped off my stuff and then walked to dinner at Rum House where we had delicious tacos and margaritas before calling it an early night. After having a chill morning around the house, we walked to Turkey & the Wolf at the end of the block for brunch. Turkey & the Wolf was actually named America’s best new restaurant by Bon Appétit in 2017 and I would definitely agree with their description of the restaurant’s vibe being “basement hangout”. I ended up ordering the cauliflower sandwich with had roasted cauliflower, tomato goat cheese and basil on it among other things, which was delicious and would 100% get again. We then decided to take a streetcar over to the Tulane campus so that my friend could take a photo to celebrate getting into grad school there. Overall, the streetcar was super easy to ride, you simply use an app to purchase a ticket and then you are good to go. While riding the streetcar we learned that as of 2014, the St. Charles streetcar line was a designated national historic landmark. Once we got the photos taken at Tulane, we headed across the street and walked through Audubon Park in order to get to the Audubon Zoo. We got to the zoo kind of late not knowing that it closed at 4 p.m. But with just over 2.5 hours in the zoo we were still able to see pretty much everything we wanted.
After the zoo, we were able to catch a bus to Urban South Brewery before the bus routes were altered due to the night’s parades. After both getting a flight and po-boy for dinner at Urban South, we headed back home to break out the fanny packs, pack them with roadies for the night and headed up to St. Charles Ave for the night’s parades. I think there were three krewes having their parades that night, but once we found a spot it was one continuous party until the end. Our first night of parades ended with both of us complaining of back pain because we had so many beads around our necks and both having acquired backpacks that we had completely stuffed with throwaways we had caught, like light wands and stuffed animals. To put the cherry on top for the night we found a completely unopened case of Truly on our way home, which made the night even more ridiculous than it had already been.
The next morning, we got up and walked to Molly’s Rise and Shine for breakfast where I got the classic Grand Slam McMuffin, which is an english muffin with sage pork patty, hash brown, griddle onions and American cheese. I also got a homemade pop tart, I mean who can resist homemade pastries, and a side order of hash browns to spilt. We ended up spending the majority of our Saturday at a friend of a friend’s house super close to the parade route, where we just hung out, drank and played with their dog while in between walking up to watch some of the parades go by. At some point we were all hungry so we went and got dinner at The Avenue Pub while there was a break in the parades. I ended up getting the classic Pub Burger with Swiss cheese which was exactly what I needed at the time and after even more parades our night ended with some pizza and an episode of Love is Blind, because it had just come out at the time and we were obsessed.
Sunday morning, we woke up and eventually headed to Stein’s Market & Deli for some amazing breakfast sandwiches and a coffee from the Whatever Coffee pop-up inside. After which we met up with my friend’s boyfriend and his friends and took an Uber down to the French Quarter for the dog parade. I think the dog parade might be one of the most adorable things I will ever see in my life. After the cuteness overload of the dog parade, we headed to All Relation Brewing, which I would describe as a brewery with a local wine bar vibe. Before I knew it, it was time to head back to my friend’s house to grab my stuff, head to the airport and fly home but not before getting Shake Shack for dinner at the airport which had been on my mind the whole weekend.
Head on over to my Instagram @YourBackyardTourist for more photos from my trip and stay tuned for more blogs about my travels.