July 4th Weekend in NOLA

Well I did something very, very unlike me.

I took a SPONTANEOUS vacation. When I say spontaneous, I mean we decided at 7AM we wanted to go to New Orleans, and we were in the car less than an hour later.

Obviously I love planning travel, but this time I did the planning during the 7 hour drive from Atlanta to NOLA.

We stopped in Montgomery for lunch at Pies and Pints (and watched the Nathan's hot dog eating contest during lunch - a great method for losing your appetite). We both love a good road trip and enjoyed the drive.

We arrived at our hotel, The Bourbon Orleans, around 4:30 PM - just in time to get settled and then find a place for dinner.

The lobby of the Bourbon Orleans

For dinner we wanted some Cajun classics, obviously! We got to the Gumbo Shop just before their dinner rush. The restaurant had a great atmosphere with an old-south feel dining room and a beautiful inner courtyard. We sat in the courtyard which was tight but enjoyable. It was HOT but the many fans kept things comfortable.

The Gumbo Shop does not take reservations. There is usually a line out the door, but even with the line we waited less than 10 minutes for a table. They have some great combo dishes so you can try all the classics - jambalaya, gumbo, red beans and rice, etc.

The line at Gumbo Shop is usually out of the door

After dinner we walked around Jackson Square and through the French Market. By this point it had cooled down a bit, and it was a beautiful afternoon to walk around.

Saint Louis Cathedral overlooking Jackson Square

We knew fireworks at the River started at 9 and had about an hour to kill, so we decided to stop by the famed Cafe Du Monde for beignets.

It was PACKED (I have heard it is always packed), but they did a great job of taking care of us quickly. You seat yourself, and we found a table that hadn't been cleaned yet. Immediately a waiter cleaned the table and took our order - these waiters are TROOPERS. They act as busboy/waiter/cashier and keep things moving.

This was my first time having a beignet, and it really was good! They only take cash at Cafe Du Monde, so make sure you come prepared.

Cafe du Monde only accepts cash, so come prepared!

The famous beignets were all they were cracked up to be

We slowly made our way to the river and found a spot to sit in the grass and wait for fireworks. The show was incredible.

It felt like we had front row seats, and it was a really picturesque setting on the Mississippi. This was one of those travel moments you want to bottle up and re-live. Everything felt right.

A really great memory - fireworks over the Mississippi River

After fireworks we were exhausted and sweaty, so we went straight back to the hotel. Since our room was right on Bourbon street, there was definitely some street noise. It wasn't anything too loud (I enjoyed having the white noise to fall asleep to), but I know my Dad would have not been able to take it. This is a VERY important consideration about where you choose to book in NOLA!

A beautiful sight for tired, sore feet

Our second day was practically heaven for John - banana's foster, Cohen & Sons, WWII Museum, a Po-Boy and some Stranger Things.

We went to Brennan's for breakfast - the birthplace of Banana's Foster dessert and a stop on practically every Food Network/Travel Channel show that visits New Orleans. Although we went for the dessert, the breakfast itself was INCREDIBLE and the service was wonderful.

We came for the dessert, but the breakfast was incredible!

Brennan's is the birthplace of Banana's Foster

The banana's foster is flambéed table-side, and the waiter explained the history of the dish while preparing it.

Our next stop was just a couple doors down - James H. Cohen & Son's. They have been in the antique coin, arms and jewelry business since 1898 and had some incredible things. I scored some serious wife points by spending over 1.5 hours there with only minimal complaining.

After Johnn did some treasure-hunting, we took an Uber to the National World War II Museum.

I had pretty high expectations for this museum thanks to its amazing Trip Advisor rankings, but it lived up to all the hype. There were sections on all segments of the war effort, and it was a perfect combination- educational, fun, heart-aching and inspirational.

Definitely give yourself a couple of hours here - there is a lot to see and learn!

I loved the immersive experience of the museum

World War II is one of John's favorite time periods to study, and it means a lot to me because my Granddaddy served in the Pacific Theater. We both felt like the museum did justice to the incredible men and women who served.

We were tired and hungry at this point and wanted to try Johnny's Po Boys, so we called an Uber for a short 15 minute drive. Over 1 hour later, we were still trapped in traffic with the craziest Uber driver I have ever had. She may or may not be a witch in her free time, and the traffic from the Essence Music Festival and a couple wrong turns from our driver got us to the restaurant 3 minutes after it closed!

We were close to a breakdown but stumbled into Pierre Maspero's across the street, so we still got our Po Boy fix.

John got the traditional shrimp, I opted for chicken

On our way back to the hotel, we walked down Bourbon Street. It was definitely not our scene, but it was fun to people-watch and I was impressed at the extreme police-presence.

Bourbon Street views

We turned in a little early to watch Stranger Things (which was awesome by the way) and get ready to head back home the next morning.

Overall, we loved our time in New Orleans. Of course there is SO MUCH MORE to do there, but we got a good taste of the city, did the things we were most interested in doing and kept a relaxed pace.

Yay for being spontaneous and for having parents that will take my dog for a couple of days without warning!

If you are interested in going to New Orleans, I have some incredible hotel rates that can put you right in the middle of the action or have you tucked away in a peaceful setting. Contact me at alli@adventuresbyalli.com or 404-583-7516 for a free quote and get your NOLA adventure on the books!

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