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I'm a photographer and educator based in Scottsdale, Arizona! Giving joyful people laughter filled and stress free photos and helping photographers turn their dream to grow their business into a plan that actually works!
Last month I took a trip to explore the fascinating city of New Orleans with my sister and her little family! When we left for the trip, the worldwide pandemic wasn’t a thing. Everyone was aware of all that was going on with coronavirus, but in America, we weren’t yet taking drastic measures. About halfway into our trip, it was announced that we were officially in a pandemic. We left three days later and came back home to what felt like a different world! School closed, events cancelled, restaurants and stores shut down. Not long after that, the “Stay at Home” order was issued for Arizona.
I’ve been safely practicing social distancing and quarantining since then! With that said, I’m SO grateful that this trip happened when it did! If we had it scheduled for the following week, we would have had to (and wanted to) cancel! Thankfully, we fit it in before the chaos, without realizing we were fitting it in! Haha.
This wasn’t my first time to New Orleans. My first time was in 2005, my junior year of high school. I went there on a missions trip with my school to help with relief after Hurricane Katrina. The things I saw were heartbreaking. Most of the trip was spent on relief efforts, but we spent one day exploring! So, I had been the French Quarter briefly! Truthfully, at that time I was easily distracted (cough by boys cough) and didn’t take the time to really soak in the uniqueness of this city!
There’s no other way to see it! It is such a unique and charming city in a million ways! And I’m obsessed with their balconies! They’re everywhere! And the colors! I didn’t get professional photos of all the colorful houses and buildings, but there were so many! And as a color lover, this city filled me with so much joy! And the architecture is absolutely captivating! Also, we happened to be there about 2 weeks after Mardi Gras, which means we got to see some of the decorations that were still up!
We also explored outside of the city a little bit! One day we went on a swamp tour and we did a plantation tour another! We fit in as much as we could to really get a feel for the culture in this state! I don’t really think of states having their own culture. However, if there’s one state that does, it’s probably Louisiana! Mostly, because of New Orleans!
Most of the photos I’ll be sharing below are with my camera phone! I’ll throw in a couple that I took on my professional camera as well! You can see more of the professional photos I took in New Orleans by looking at this Disney Bounding French Quarter photo shoot! And soon, I’ll be sharing more from my visit Oak Alley Plantation!
This was my nephew, Lincoln’s, first plane ride! I loved experiencing it with him!
Obviously, this is the number one place most people recommend! And I agree! I should let you know, that photos make it look much more charming than it is. Well, it IS charming. And if there wasn’t trash everywhere, drunk people at all hours and large crowds… it would be even more charming. That is the reality of New Orleans though! To me, it’s worth suffering through some of the unpleasantness to experience the beauty of the French Quarter’s architecture!
One of my favorite spots was Pirate’s Alley! I love the colors! It’s right near Jackson Square and you can find it by heading towards Faulkner House Books.
Muriel’s was another favorite! The restaurant itself is beautiful! There are vines hanging from ceilings and some really beautiful elements! I got there before the restaurant opened, so I grabbed a coffee from the bar and headed upstairs to the balcony! You get a view of Jackson Square and honestly, I just felt like I was on top of the world. Probably because I had the place to myself before my family arrived. ;)
There are quaint alley ways that you can see all around and many of the places have outdoor courtyards that are as charming as can be! One of the courtyards that I enjoyed was at The Court of Two Sisters! We had brunch here and I’m so glad we did! The food was mediocre, but there was live jazz music and a gorgeous courtyard! So, if you’re like me and atmosphere makes an experience for you, then you’ll love it!
Another place worth a visit is the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum. This is the country’s first ever pharmacy! It’s adorable and so interesting to see! And because so many places have courtyards, they have a cute one of those too!
Alright, let’s get to the most important thing in New Orleans! Beignets! Obviously, Cafe Du Monde is the most popular and well known spot to find them. I went to the original location when I visited in 2005, so I didn’t feel the need to wait in the insane line this time since I already checked that off my list. I did go to Cafe Beignet though! It’s a cute little cafe, there’s actually a few. I went to the one on Royal Street, which seems to be the most “touristy” one! We got there early, so we didn’t have to wait in a long line. And the beignets taste JUST as good as Cafe Du Monde’s!
However, I still went to Cafe Du Monde as well. Just not to the one at the quarter! I went to the one in City Park! City Park was on my list for one reason… Langles Bridge. We don’t have bridges like that or parks with greenery even. And since I knew there was a Cafe Du Monde here as well, it was extra worth the visit! City Park, which is bigger than Central Park in NYC, was beautiful! But, it didn’t give me all the good feels that a beautiful park should. Probably because it was busy and wasn’t as well kept as it could be.
Audubon Park, however, felt magical! I went there to read one afternoon, because I don’t just like to do touristy things, I like to pretend I’m a local. And locals read at the park, right? I absolutely loved reading while surrounded by gorgeous greenery! Overall, this park had a quaint and calm atmosphere! I would have gotten more photos, but then people would know I wasn’t a local. ;)
I haven’t forgot about the Garden District! It’s another popular tourist definition and it is worth it! If you take the time to walk around a few blocks, you’ll see so many beautiful and unique homes! It gave me a lot of inspiration for my future home, if I someday have millions of dollars to build it myself. ;)
The streetcar is also fun to experience as well and super convenient!
I’d definitely recommend visiting a cemetery during your visit! If you don’t know about New Orleans cemeteries, I’m sure that sounds strange. They’re so unique because they don’t bury the dead, they’re in above ground tombs. I’ve heard this is because it floods there, and you don’t want bodies coming out of the ground. That’s understandable. Haha. We went to Lafayette Cemetery #2 because it happened to be open for visitors. There are many other options too!
Lincoln loved exploring this place! Okay, fine. He loved exploring everywhere! You may not think of New Orleans as the most kid friendly city… and it’s not. Haha. But you can definitely make it work! ;)
There’s a lot of territory to cover, so it was helpful to have a car! We drove around all these areas to check out the area and look for charming and colorful houses! We also found some cute houses taking Royal Street northeast outside of the quarter!
That sums up the things I had a chance to do and would recommend in New Orleans! And now there’s just two things outside of the city that made my trip even better! One is a swamp tour! We used Cajun Encounters Tour Company. It’s about 45-60 minutes outside of New Orleans in Slidell and they have a shuttle if need be! We went on a boat with about 10-15 other people and went around the swamp for two hours. We saw an alligator, wild pigs, raccoons, snakes and more! I also just love being on the water! And the boat occasionally went at full speed, which was so much fun! Our guide was also entertaining and playful, which made the experience even more enjoyable! I would 10/10 recommend this swamp tour!
We also did a tour of Oak Alley Plantation. This was also about a 45-60 minute drive out of the city in Vacherie. I love exploring all over, so even the drive was fun for me! I wanted it to have it’s own blog post because of the beauty of this location and also because of the heartbreaking history of plantations in the south. You can see it here! We only did a tour of Oak Alley, but there are quite a few more plantations in this area! We drove by some of them, just to see what others looked like!
And that wraps it up! Hopefully after reading this and seeing the photos, you think New Orleans is worth visiting if you haven’t already! It really is unlike any other city in this country! It’s beautiful and crazy and captivating and humid and charming! So it all evens out! ;)