Famous cemeteries, voodoo, and ghosts? Yep, I can get down with that!
I visited New Orleans the first weekend of October. It was the perfect way to kick off my favorite (haunted) season, but the spirits of NOLA live year-round.
My friend Kara was down for the trip, and we fit in a ton of stuff over a long weekend.
Day 1: French Quarter
We ditched our suitcases at the hotel, Hilton Homewood Suites – Rampart St. and immediately started walking around the French Quarter. We meandered through the streets, admiring the architecture and wandering in and out of shops.
Our first official stop was (seemingly appropriate) Pat O’Brien’s for a notoriously boozy hurricane. Be sure to check out the dueling piano bar inside. Feeling tipsy and confident, Bourbon Street was next.
To be honest, I don’t even know the name of this karaoke bar on Bourbon Street. I just know we went inside, and made a beeline for the stairs to the balcony to look out to the people below.
It was the middle of the afternoon, so Bourbon Street was still pretty tame. However, the general public’s sobriety visibly started to disappear with the setting sun. Take this twerking old man, for example.
That’s when we strolled down to Jackson Square. It was filled with fortune tellers and local artists. Before I purchased a print, I was able to talk to the artist about the piece — her inspiration and my interpretation — which made the #supportlocal buy feel more special.
Another staple: Cafe du Monde. Beignets and iced coffee. Sooooo good. As we were eating, the street in front of us shut down for a random parade, complete with colorful floats, jazz bands, and beads. It felt very quintessential NOLA.
Dinner was at Napoleon House. The atmosphere inside the historic building (read more about it here!) is dark and feels quite European. It’s also pretty affordable. We kept it signature with Muffuletta sandwiches and Pimm’s cup cocktails.
How could you not stop and pay tribute to the infamous voodoo priestess? Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo is a requirement, out of principle. However, my favorite and seemingly most authentic shop was The Voodoo Bone Lady’s Voodoo Shop on Royal Street.
As far as psychic readings go, you can get one inside any mystic shop or on the street. We made a reservation at Earth Odyssey because of their variety of options.
Day 2: Garden District (& more!)
You could say Lafayette Cemetery #1 was my own strange and unusual version of heaven. Call me creepy, but I am totally fascinated by cemeteries, and there was something rather spellbinding about this famous, above-ground “City of the Dead.” Our walking tour of the Garden District included a stop here, along with a rundown of burial practices — and why going “six feet under” isn’t much of an option.
A two-hour tour of the Garden District, put on by Two Chicks Walking Tours, might have been my favorite part of the trip. On top of the cemetery, we weaved through neighborhood streets, admired historic homes (Anne Rice’s former home pictured above!) and learned about the famous people who lived, currently live, and supposedly still haunt the neighborhood.
Our tour guide, Loki, grew up in the Garden District. He was a compelling storyteller who incorporated the perfect balance of real history and folklore.
Does this sidewalk mosaic look familiar?!
It’s outside Miss Robichaux’s Academy for Exceptional Young Ladies! …Well, technically, it’s the beautiful and historic Buckner Mansion, but I also refer to it the AHS: Coven house. It was the final stop on our tour.
Just around the corner was District Donuts, which our Lyft driver suggested. It’s worth mentioning because of a Monte Cristo donut sandwich, topped with raspberry preserves and powdered sugar, that kind of changed my life. I didn’t take a picture, but trust me on this one.
A photo can’t quite capture the vibes at Bacchanal’s, but it’s basically a big backyard party in the Ninth Ward. You pick out your own bottle of wine, meat, and cheese. The staff then creates a charcuterie board with complementary pairings, so you can snack and drink while watching live music in an outdoor courtyard.
We capped off the night on Frenchmen Street, several blocks dedicated to live music. (Again, I didn’t take pictures here. I was doing this weird thing called “trying to live in the moment.” ) We only went into bars that didn’t charge cover.
Near the end of Frenchmen Street was a small, open-air art market with local vendors, including a “poet for hire.” We told him what we were in town for; he asked a few questions and started typing away. For a $10 donation, it was a perfect, one-of-a-kind keepsake to commemorate the trip.
Day 3: Last Day
We wanted to scope out the options before going crazy on impulse buys, so shopping was saved for the final day.
Souvenir shops in the city are literally everywhere, but I liked Voodoo Mart on Canal Street. It’s nothing special, but it did seem to have the widest selection of gifts priced a little cheaper than the same items in the French Quarter.
Finally, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our last meal in New Orleans. Mother’s Restaurant is an old-school, no-frills diner in the Central Business district. And holy shit. I’m still thinking about the jambalaya.
How I saved money: As far as getaways go, this mini vaca was very affordable. I used my Hilton Honors discount to book a hotel with free breakfast. We walked pretty much everywhere, and only took Lyfts when needed. I also packed snacks in my suitcase to keep in my purse while out exploring. Taking in the culture of New Orleans costs nothing, but the next time I go, I’ll mostly budget for more food!