Let’s be honest: I’m not super easy to surprise.
I’ve been with Sean for almost 7 years, and known him for almost 10. So it’s not going to be easy for him to completely leave me in the dark…period.
However, he proposed using our previously scheduled vacation this year (we were going to go to NYC but canceled due to various factors), and asked to plan something out by himself. Terms? I answered a few questions to help him narrow down a destination, and he had to tell me about the weather so I could pack accordingly. Outside of that, it was pretty much “You won’t know where until we get to the airport.”
Historically, our winter trips involve somewhere with snow, because that’s the only thing we don’t get in San Diego.
So, he tells me it’ll be cool temps, like the mid-50’s and that we won’t need to worry about snow, and helps me decide what to pack.
We arrive at the San Diego airport on Saturday 12/15 and the agent says “Enjoy your trip to New Orleans!” as she bids us farewell!
I haven’t been since I was there with my dad around the age of 4 or 5, and Sean and I had talked about going! Even more recently, my friend Candace and I had been wanting to plan a trip there.
I didn’t know what to expect in terms of New Orleans weather, but Sean and I both love food and history, so I knew we were in for a great time!
We arrive in NOLA and ride to our hotel, the Hotel Monteleone right in the heart of the French Quarter on Royal Street!
It’s beautifully decorated for the holidays and the staff are kind and friendly.
There was some issue with our check-in, but while they resolved it, they offered us free cocktails in the famous Carousel Bar and Lounge there in the hotel!
As soon as we got checked in, we started perusing our options for our first meal (dinner) in this amazing city!
We headed down Royal Street to Saint Peter and went to The Gumbo Shop, where I enjoyed a daiquiri and Gumbo, and Sean opted for a Sazerac and a sampler with Red Beans and Rice, Shrimp Creole, and Jambalaya. Between the two of us, we got a taste of everything and enjoyed a lovely meal with great service! I’ll be doing another post based solely on food-or we will be here allllll day.
The next day, we met up with our amazing friends Nanette and Sean, and got brunch at The Country Club, and then headed to Friendly’s Bar for football, and what turned out to be my introduction to Pudding Shots, which are my new FAVE way to imbibe. Also, BEST FRIED GREEN TOMATOES EVER IN LIFE. Also, mermaid in the bathroom. That’s all I have to say about that for now.
That evening, we took a steamboat dinner cruise on The Natchez to see more of the Mississippi River! The gumbo there was terrible, but the views and music were perfection.
Monday, we headed out on a Swamp Tour, and then to tour two plantations, Oak Alley, and Laura Plantation! The whole day was via a tour from Tours by Isabelle, a local New Orleans company. That evening, Nanette had us over for gumbo and the Saints Game! We met Celeste, who graciously hosted us in her beautiful home and we watched the Saints win on a huge projector in her backyard over a fire pit, and it was a highlight of our trip! Also, there were more pudding shots……so, yeah!
Tuesday, Nanette and Sean (yes, two Seans made life confusing, lol) took us to a delicious brunch before we headed to our third plantation, and it turned out to be the most moving. Whitney Plantation is an amazing place with several original structures from before the Civil War, and this tour focuses on the stories of the enslaved people at this plantation, as well as honoring the history of enslaved people of Louisiana and their stories.
We capped off the night at The Cat’s Meow, a World Famous karaoke bar where coincidentally, my dad first sang karaoke and arguably changed the course of our lives as a result! Don’t worry, I sang a song in homage, and brought him a t-shirt too!
Wednesday we spent the day exploring and went on a French Quarter Cocktail Tour in the evening! We saw some incredible places and learned some more of the amazing story of New Orleans, including seeing some of the private dining rooms at the oldest restaurant in the city, Antoine’s!
Thursday, we ran around doing some exploring and shopping before doing a New Orleans Food Tour with Dr. Gumbo’s! It was hard to even eat dinner that night….but we managed. Lol.
Friday, we bid New Orleans adieu after one more excellent breakfast at Cafe Fleur de Lis (ahem, Creme Brûlée Oatmeal, y’all!), and headed home just in time for Christmas!
I can’t wait to down the food and plantations for you in separate Travel Guides, but in the meantime, I wanted to at least sum up just a sample of the amazing treasures this eccentric little city had in store for us.
This surprise trip was quite the Christmas gift, and I am so grateful to have someone so thoughtful and fun to have these wonderful adventures with!
Have you been to New Orleans? What were your favorite places to see and eat? Sound off in the comments! I still have a list to try on my next trip…because I will be back!!