Flashback: New Orleans and JazzFest

Since we still have a little while until our next trip, I thought I would do a flashback post to a very memorable vacation with some great friends of ours to New Orleans, Louisiana for JazzFest! As you may have guessed from my previous post about Bonnaroo, I love live music. Other things I really love are: traveling with friends, making new friends, celebrating holidays, and New Orleans. When our good friends Shannon and DC invited us to visit some of their family in New Orleans to celebrate Cinco de Mayo and the Kentucky Derby and to go to JazzFest for the day, we eagerly agreed! My previous experiences in New Orleans had included a college spring break at Mardi Gras and a weekend in New Orleans/Baton Rouge to see the Gators take on LSU. On both trips, most of my time was spent in the French Quarter and little of my time was remembered. I was so excited to visit New Orleans with friends who had spent a lot of time there and to explore some other areas of the city!

We had a wonderful weekend and it was great to explore a city with people who knew it so well and loved it so much. Here are some of my favorite places that we visited.

Food

Vincent’s is an Italian restaurant in the uptown area of New Orleans and is easily accessible by cab or historic streetcar. The food was delicious and authentic Italian and not surprisingly, Vincent’s has won several awards over the years! It was a great place for our group, but would also be nice if you are looking for a romantic date night.

Outside of Vincent's with our wonderful New Orleans hosts!
Outside of Vincent’s with our wonderful New Orleans hosts, Lindsay and James, and two of our closest friends, Shannon and DC!

Juan’s Flying Burritos has fantastic Mexican and is a favorite of locals, so you know it’s a winner. I thoroughly enjoyed the freshly made guacamole and exceptional margaritas.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
Happy Cinco de Mayo!

For something sweet, you must visit Cafe Du Monde, famous for their light and fluffy beignets. The original location in the French market is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week. If you aren’t familiar, a beignet is a square French-style doughnut, covered with powdered sugar, and is out of this world. Cafe Du Monde also sells mixes for the beignets so you can try your hand making them at home.

Drinks

Tracey’s is a very fun, casual, Irish bar on the famous Magazine Street. It is a great place to stop for cold beers and po’ boys, sandwiches, or fried seafood. We stopped at Tracey’s as soon as we arrived in New Orleans before heading to JazzFest and it was the perfect place to begin our New Orleans adventure with lunch.

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Shannon and I outside Tracey’s before heading to JazzFest
Inside of Tracey's
Inside of Tracey’s

Since we were celebrating Cinco de Mayo, we stopped at El Gato Negro for a second margarita after starting at Juan’s Flying Burritos. El Gato Negro has quite a large drink menu, including several flavored margaritas, mojitos, and sangria in addition to an extensive tequila menu. We didn’t have food, but it looked delicious!

Outside of El Gato Negro
Outside of El Gato Negro with Shannon and Lindsay

Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop is another must-see. It is a famous New Orleans establishment, reputed to be the oldest bar in the United States. When you enter, it almost feels as if you stepped back in time, partly due to the fact that the bar uses minimal electricity. There are also many claims of paranormal activity, if you’re into that sort of thing!

Inside Lafitte's
Inside Lafitte’s with Alex

The Columns Hotel was easily my favorite destination of the weekend. Inside the hotel is the Victorian bar where you can get fancy and order drinks in the elegant surroundings, and outside is an absolutely breathtaking porch. The Columns also hosts many events. There was actually a wedding happening when we visited, which we may or may not have crashed! Whether you are a fan of architecture or history or if you just enjoy drinking in pretty places, it is definitely worth a visit.

Inside the Columns
Inside the Columns celebrating the Derby!
Celebrating Derby evening!
Shannon and DC celebrating Derby evening!
A real New Orleans wedding at The Columns
A real New Orleans wedding at The Columns

Delachaise is a pretty venue that holds a cozy wine bar and serves French inspired bites to eat. It would be another great place for a date night!

Do 

We went to JazzFest in 2012 and saw Zac Brown Band and Mystikal, among many other bands, including a local favorite of mine, Trombone Shorty. The JazzFest website lists the headliners for this year, which include Eric Clapton, Bruce Springsteen, Phish, and Robin Thicke over the two weekends. I WISH I could go again this year with such an amazing lineup! JazzFest has a very large selection of Southern cuisine and also features a very unique feature: the Gospel Tent, where you can hear gospel choirs from around the country.

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The Gospel Tent at JazzFest
The Gospel Tent at JazzFest

One of the best activities to do in New Orleans is to walk around the beautiful neighborhoods. There is gorgeous architecture to be seen in the homes of New Orleans and there is a great deal of history to be found all over the city. I especially love the old cemeteries. The cemeteries are so interesting because the city is built on a swamp so instead of digging graves, the deceased are buried above ground in stone crypts and mausoleums, known by the nickname “Cities of the Dead.” If you’re interested, there are several tours available for more in-depth learning!

One of the many beautiful cemeteries in New Orleans
One of the many beautiful cemeteries in New Orleans
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Gorgeous architecture in the Garden District

And before we recap, I’ll leave you with a picture of one of my favorite memories of the weekend. After celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the morning and the Kentucky Derby in the afternoon, it’s not a birthday party without tiny horses!

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RECAP:
Eat:
Vincent’s, 7839 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70118
Juan’s Flying Burritos, 2018 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 and 4724 S Carrollton Ave, New Orleans, LA
Cafe Du Monde, locations across New Orleans, visit http://www.cafedumonde.com/
Drink:
Tracey’s, 2604 Magazine St, New Orleans, LA 70130 
El Gato Negro, 81 French Market Pl, New Orleans, LA 70116 and 300 Harrison Ave, New Orleans, LA
Lafitte’s, 941 Bourbon St, New Orleans, LA 70116 
The Columns Hotel, 3811 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115
Delachaise, 3442 St Charles Ave, New Orleans, LA 70115
Do:
JazzFest, visit http://www.nojazzfest.com/

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