By: Rebecca Szkutak
Three nights in New Orleans, Louisiana made for one of the best weekends I’ve ever had. The weather was beautiful and the action was non-stop as we made our way to all of the important sites, both touristy and not. I was traveling with my good friend, Andrew, and my boyfriend, Kyle, to see our other family friend, Britta.
After two planes rides, a two hour layover in New Jersey and seven hours of traveling, we arrived at Loyola University, located in the uptown New Orleans neighborhood, where we would be staying for the rest of the weekend. Our lovely host, Britta, and her suite mates made us feel right at home immediately.
After some unpacking and getting ready we headed to the Boot, a local bar and grill within walking distance from both Loyola and Tulane’s campuses. The weather that night was so refreshing compared to the harsh winds and cold temperatures we had left just a few hours earlier; it was in the mid 50s, perfect weather for walking outside. Starting the evening at 1 a.m. seemed late to a Bostonian like me, but I quickly learned that Louisiana nightlife works a little differently. After an hour of people watching, loud music and dancing, we headed back to Loyola to rest up for our first full day.
We had a late start due to some much needed sleeping in. We got up around 11 a.m. to head to a local diner, Slim Goodies, also located in Uptown, New Orleans. The diner offered cute, vintage decor with walls covered in old polaroid pictures and brightly-colored booths littered around the establishment. My breakfast was simple but delicious and full of southern flare with the taste of Louisiana baked right in.
Once we had finished a truly charming breakfast we headed back to the car for a day of sightseeing. Our first stop was in the French Quarter to walk around and take in all that it had to offer. We started out on Bourbon Street, a tourist classic. Then, we visited an open air market to browse before heading to a local thrift store.
The French Quarter really summed up everything I had imagined and expected about New Orleans; that it would be completely different from Boston. The weather was warm and a perfect change from the frigid winter we left behind in Massachusetts. The jazz music filled the quarter with life and gave the streets the soulful energy.
Once we got tired of walking, we headed back uptown to another college student destination, the Fly. The Fly is a park that includes a long stretch of grass at the cusp of the Mississippi river. We arrived with just enough time to soak up the remaining sunshine and watch the sunset over the river, an ideal ending to the afternoon.
We grabbed a quick pizza at a Loyola pizzeria and then started to get ready for our second night in New Orleans. First up on the schedule was a local band from Loyola made up of friends of Britta’s. The concert was only five minutes away from campus at the local Kava Bar. Kava is a root grown in the Pacific Island that is ground into a liquid similar in texture to wheatgrass that has intoxicating effects. After hearing a friend describe drinking the liquid as a feeling similar to an allergic reaction, I passed on the drink to just enjoy the live music. Three bands later, we headed back to campus to grab a cab downtown.
When we arrived in downtown New Orleans, it was clear that the city was even more alive than it was in the afternoon. The streets were packed with street performers, people dancing and–due to the open container laws–people drinking openly in the street with each other. Everyone including us was just having a great time absorbing it all in.
Our downtown destination was a Jazz club called Vaso. We stayed at Vaso for about an hour hanging out and enjoying the fantastic live jazz band that was playing. Once the band’s set was over we headed out to the famous Cafe Du Monde for some delicious beignets. These are a square pastry that are a mix between a doughnut and fried dough served covered in powdered sugar. They were as heavenly as you can imagine! Then, we headed home for the night.
We woke up to sunny skies and a warm temperature of around 70 degrees the following morning. We headed to yet another local diner, Coulis, which was another uptown breakfast location. The food was both cheap and delicious and offered a great way to start off our day.
We then headed over to Oak Street to explore the little shops and cafes. We were immediately drawn to a coffee shop right on the corner called Rue De la Course. It had a stunning atmosphere and the homemade lemonade I got exceeded my expectations. We then walked around checking out local thrift shops and a used book store.
Next, we headed over to City Park in Midcity, New Orleans. City Park was the most tremendous park I have ever seen, located right in the middle of the city! We set up a picnic blanket to absorb the sunshine (so much so that I got sunburnt!) We also visited the park’s sculpture garden which had sculptures made up of different materials and originating from different art periods. It offered a truly unique art exhibit experience.
Naturally, we visited the park’s cafe to grab some quick beignets–trust me, you really can’t have too many–to take a short break from walking and to listen to the live jazz. Then, we took a walk through the beautiful New Orleans Botanical Garden. And of course, there was a jazz concert going on inside! Another lovely afternoon cam to an end and we topped off the night by grabbing more pizza at a local restaurant and playing board games.
Having never been to the south before, New Orleans really opened my eyes up to a different part of the country and a new social culture. There was never a dull moment and I am already planning my trip back!
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