New Orleans: The Big Easy

No one is completely sure when or by whom the city of New Orleans, Louisiana was dubbed “The Big Easy”, but after our trip 6-day trip there, it is certainly easy for us to see why. New Orleans, or “NOLA” as most refer to it, is a mecca for foodies and adventurers alike. Let us explain…

First thing’s first: the location.

Often referred to as the “most unique” city in the United States, NOLA is located in southeastern Louisiana, straddling the Mississippi River. Well known for its cross-cultural and diverse heritage, music, Creole cuisine, and multilingual languages, the city is surrounded by centuries-old French and Spanish Creole architecture.

This now brings us to NOLA’s second most important attribute: the food.

Can we first just say YUM? Shrimp and grits, chicken and sausage gumbo, and last but not least beignets (we will explain more about these later in the post), are just a few of the signature dishes NOLA frequently offers.

For dinner on the first night, we visited Hotel Monteleone, a long-time luxury hotel located one block from Bourbon Street and a 9-minute walk from the French Quarter. The hotel is home to the Carousel Bar – the city’s only 25-seat revolving bar. (Hint: it really IS a carousel!) After cocktails, we walked across the lobby to Criolla, a high-end restaurant that offers fresh, home-grown products from local farms and the Gulf of Mexico.

Criolla also gives guests the opportunity to dine privately in one of two luxurious rooms named after William Faulkner and Tennessee Williams. A four course meal is served to diners while they are surrounded by original works and pieces of NOLA history.

Now, to offset this delicious and spicy food, you of course have to wash it down with some good ole fashioned alcohol (that you can carry around on the street as you walk around (HOLLA no Open Container laws!)

We would highly recommend the the wonderfully fruity and fresh Hurricane – a NOLA staple. The best and most inexpensive place to find one of these bad boys is on Bourbon Street at the legendary Pat O’Briens bar.

A good second choice is “The Fishbowl”from Fais Deaux Deaux (pronounced “Fay dough dough”) also on Bourbon Street if you are feeling adventurous – and have a decent amount of food in your stomach – before attempting to take on this endeavor.

“The Fishbowl” is the equivalent of 10 cocktails lumped together and mixed in a giant “goldfish bowl” connected to a lanyard you wear around your neck. The perks of this colossal cocktail? It is only 10 dollars! Pro Tip: This sucker is heavy, so wear it around your neck AND make sure to hold it with both hands at the bottom!

If you find yourself able to get out of bed the morning after consuming one or both of these, you are already one step ahead of the game. Hydrate with some coffee and get back out there and explore!

We decided to check out the French Quarter more in-depth with a stroll through the nooks and crannies surrounding Jackson Square. Every corner is something different with row houses beautifully painted and neatly stacked together like the colors of a rainbow.

We stumbled upon a peacefully quaint bookstore in Pirate’s Alley that just so happened to be the house previously owned by writer and poet William Faulkner. The space, although small, is magical. Filled with books to the brim, the house boasts the history of Faulkner, a NOLA native, and offers an array of books from the classics to political theory. We of course picked up this book below (we couldn’t resist the beautiful cover!)


After roaming through the bookstore, we stopped in Cafe Du Monde, a traditional coffee shop that was built in 1862 in the New Orleans French Market. Its menu consists of dark roasted coffee and Chicory (we will explain this later), Beignets, White and Chocolate milk, and fresh squeezed orange juice. While all of the items on the menu are tempting, it is the chicory and beignets that draw the massive crowds (it was no different for us).
Chicory is the root of the endive plant, which is a type of lettuce. The root is roasted and ground and mixed in with the ground coffee to soften the bitter taste of the dark roast. Beignets are square French-style doughnuts, deep-fried and lavishly covered with snow peaks of sweet powered sugar.

We decided to walk to Saint Louis Cemetery No. 1 at the north end of Canal Street after consuming the delicious – and high calorie – treats to visit the grave of Marie Laveau, the famous New Orleans VooDoo Queen. Laveau, who helped the practice of voodoo become a thriving and well known cultural staple and business throughout NOLA during the nineteenth century, passed away in 1881.

Many claim that if visitors draw three “X’s”on the tomb, spin around three times and yell out a wish, Laveau will grant it. (Come to find out those people are dumb and the myth was only a rumor. Now you will get slapped with a serious fine for even touching the tomb.) Because of this myth, the tomb was recently vandalized by a maniac and was closed for renovations for a few months, so we were lucky to have had the chance to witness it.

The cemetery is also home to the remains of Homer Plessy, the plaintiff in the notorious Plessy v. Ferguson Supreme Court Case, and the future remains of actor Nicholas Cage (no, he has not died yet. He is just obnoxious and built a ridiculous looking “tomb” that resembles the Egyptian pyramids.)

After exploring, we worked up an appetite and decided to head back to the French Quarter to grab a bite to eat before heading to the airport. We stumbled upon the Huck Finn Cafe, which offered an array of New Orleans fare in a cozy space that featured interior brick walls.

What made this particular spot special were the different forms of alligator meat the restaurant provided. The grilled alligator sausage po’boy and the fried alligator nuggets were our feast-of-choice. We opted for a side of chicken and creamy crawfish etoufee (a thick stew seasoned to perfection and filled with delicious, plump crawfish.) Made with a blonde roux, it is poured generously over white rice before devouring. Trust us – you will devour.

So if you have gained any knowledge from this post (and we hope you have!) it is to: drink on Bourbon Street (a lot), eat (a lot), walk around and explore (a lot), and keep an open mind! Oh, and make sure you support local tourism and businesses by purchasing plenty of souvenirs before you leave! We recommend a box of fresh chocolate pralines, a container of Cafe Du Monde beignet mix, assorted beads (the one thing you *don’t* want to get for free), and post cards for your friends.


Laissez les bons temps rouler!


23 replies to “New Orleans: The Big Easy”

  1. My husband is looking at job in the New Orleans area for next summer, and I have been a little nervous about going down to the South, but this post made me excited for the possible opportunity!

  2. I love love love New Orleans! I’ve never been though. I’m thinking a trip next year is in play, I’ll have to start planning now. Your photos are gorgeous!

  3. Your pictures make the city look so beautiful… which is not how I felt when I last visited. I do think the buildings are wonderful and the food and people were very nice. But through your eyes, the city looks a lot better. Thank you for sharing!

  4. As a native of New Orleans, I just wanted to say that your post and pictures have captured the true essence of New Orleans. I’m so glad you enjoyed your time there.

    Kind Regards,
    #growyourblog member 🙂

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1. @lodgecastiron Museum + @sopitt_bigbadbreakfast. Located in the heart of cast iron’s hometown of South Pittsburg, Tennessee, this museum is a must for those who love cooking, history, food culture, and very large skillets! After the museum, grab brunch at Big Bad Breakfast (the chicken + waffles and cornbread omelet are 😍)
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3. @huntermuseum of American Art. Built in 1905, it became an art museum in 1952. It’s collection spans the history of American art from the colonial period to the present day and includes paintings, sculptures, contemporary studio glass, and crafts. The views of the Tennessee River from here aren’t shabby either!
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If I learned anything during my recent trip to @visitchatt, it’s that there’s so much more to the city than meets the eye. It’s home to some of the most popular attractions in the US, sure, but it also boasts plenty of hidden gems and unique local experiences. Add these 5 locations to your Chattanooga itinerary (you won’t regret it!):

- Tennessee Aquarium @tennesseeaquarium. Home to more than 12,000 animals representing close to 800 species, it features two sections (Ocean and River) and is one of the largest aquariums in the U.S.
- 1885 Grill @1885grillstelmo. This southern coastal restaurant specializes in fresh seafood, high quality steaks, and comforting soul food. Order their wings with Carolina Gold BBQ!
- Rock City Gardens @seerockcity. Located on Lookout Mountain, Rock City Gardens features a 4,100-foot Enchanted Trail with incredible rock formations, magical caves, native plant species, waterfalls, and a panoramic view of Seven States!
- Massey’s Kitchen @masseyskitchenlookout. This Mediterranean inspired restaurant just opened in June and is Chattanooga’s new hot spot. The food is incredible and their outdoor patio is perfect for dining al fresco. Order the baked feta 🤤
- The Read House Hotel @readhousehotel. This historic jazz era hotel from the 1870’s has hosted famous people including Oprah, Winston Churchill, Walt Disney, and Elvis Presley. It’s even rumored to have a permanent guest — a ghost in room 311!

Keep an eye out for Part 3 and let me know which location you would visit first! 🇺🇸 {ad} #hosted
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If you’re looking for the perfect end of summer U.S. vacation destination, Chattanooga, Tennessee is it. @visitchatt 🇺🇸 

I recently spent a few days exploring this lively town for the first time, and unsurprisingly found so much to love about it. If you’re planning a trip to the U.S. soon — or you live here and want to explore more of your own backyard — you won’t regret putting it on your travel bucket list. 

To help you plan, below are 5 things not to miss when in The Scenic City: 

📍Ruby Falls (@rubyfallscave) Millions of years old but discovered in 1928, it’s the largest underground waterfall in the U.S., and is located more than 1,120 feet under the surface. 
📍Wildflower Tea Shop & Apothecary (@wildflowerteashop) This whimsical vegan-friendly coffee and tea shop stocks a wide variety of loose leaf teas and herbs and other locally made products. I recommend getting the Iced Chocolate Chai with oat milk for a cold treat!
📍Lookout Mountain Incline Railway (@ridetheincline) With a 72.7% grade, it’s one of the steepest passenger railways in the world. The ride is well worth it with stunning views of Lookout Mountain from the top!
📍Frazier Five and Dime (@frazierfiveanddime) Anything you order at this North Shore eatery will be 10/10, but I especially loved the street corn with hot Funyuns and the cheesy cauliflower au gratin 🤤
📍Walnut Street Bridge. With a 1/2-mile span, it’s one of the longest pedestrian bridges in the world and provides amazing view of the riverfront. 

Which location would you visit first? Let me know in the comments below, and stay tuned for parts 2 + 3! 
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Welcome to one of the most underrated southern cities in the U.S.: @visitchatt! 

While most travelers flock to Music City year after year, just a couple hours drive southeast you’ll find a true gem hidden in the lively city of Chattanooga, Tennessee. 

Here’s some fun facts about the “The Scenic City”:

✧ MoonPies were invented here! These graham cracker marshmallow sandwiches are covered entirely in melted chocolate and are so delicious.

✧ It’s home to the Incline Railway, one of the steepest passenger railway lines in the world!

✧ Chattanooga boasts one of the largest collections of American art in the country at the Hunter Museum. 

✧ One of the world's longest pedestrian bridges can also be found in Chattanooga.

I’ll be sharing more from my time in @visitchatt, and you can also see what I experienced there by clicking on my Chattanooga highlight badge above.

Have you visited Chattanooga yet? 
📍: Chattanooga Choo Choo 
#VisitChatt #VisitChattanooga #Chattanooga #chattanoogatennessee | southern cities | summer travel | summer road trips | visit the USA |
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Cartagena is home to some of the best restaurants in Colombia from high-end eateries and charming cafes, to the finest seafood and unfussy local markets.

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Cartagena boasts vibrant, laid-back neighborhoods with stunning street-art, hip cocktail bars, street performers, food stalls, and rooftop restaurants.

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Food and travel are intertwined. Almost any memorable journey starts (and ends) with a great meal, and my trip to Cartagena was no exception 🇨🇴 

Cartagena has just about any type of cuisine a traveler could want or imagine. From local delicacies to unique international fare, during our stay at @dreamsresorts Karibana Cartagena, we were able to taste foods from all over the world at each of their five on-site restaurants. From the freshest local seafood to freshly baked pastries, it was an amazing experience!

Everything we ate was absolutely delicious, but my favorites are below:

• Fried fish (pescado frito)
• Caramelized banana pancakes
• Torta de Tres leches
• Coconut rice
• Coconut fish soup (sancocho de pescado con coco)
• Colombian style arepas (with quesito Colombiano)
• Guava and cheese pastries (Pastel Gloria)
• Oyster au Gratin
• Seafood risotto with truffle smoke
• Pasta alla Ruota (pasta in a cheese wheel)
• Copoazú ice cream (white chocolate)
• Chicken pasteles
• Colombian empanadas 

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