My travels to New Orleans for under $450!
New Orleans is turning 300 in January 2018, and the best thing about NOLA (New Orleans, Louisiana) is that you never need an invitation to go, but cakes aren't free!
New Orleans is one of the most interesting American cities I have ever visited. Rarely you ever find a spot that boasts with culture, history, arts, nature, music and fantastic food, and it is HERE where I found all of these...and more.
Where else can you find spookiness and awesomeness right in one zip code?
NOLA is known to be the very first place where Voodoo was introduced to in the states, the very first place that gave birth to Poker, the birthplace of Jazz music, home to the very first Opera being held, and of course "America's Most Haunted City".
New Orleans is also home to celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres, Reese Whiterspoon, and artists like Louis Armstrong.
All these aside, no where else in the states can you find a city where its cemetery is actually an attraction! NOLA's tombs are above the ground, as opposed to in the ground...this is because New Orlean is below the sea level, and burial plots are shallow, since the water table is very high. Dig a few feet down, and the grave becomes soggy, filling with water. The casket will literally float. After a rainstorm, the rising water table will literally pop the airtight coffins out of the ground. Imagine if the dead bodies fill the cemetery...now do ya understand why the tombs are above the ground? Pretty cool, no?
Now being in graduate school (studying a dual degree program in Nutrition and Dietetics - MPH RD), I can not afford to travel luxuriously, but since I have a big travel bug, I always find a way to accommodate my curiosity and travel in ways in which neither my savings take a hit, nor my travel bug gets disappointed! I actually consider that a skill, and one in which, it took me quite a long time to master.
How? (Part 1)
Let me break it down for you:
Cost for 3 nights:
Roundtrip Flight: $202 via Delta (from LAX)
Accommodation: $30 a night for 3 nights in a female dormitory room called Madam Isabelle's House
Transportation: by foot and Uber (~$60)
Food: less than a $100 (Breakfast is provided with accommodation)
How? (Part 2)
Let me break it down for you:
Roundtrip Flight: I used a cheap flight generator called Sky Scanner - I love using Sky Scanner, because it is easy to use, and gives you the cheapest fares, as well as allowing you to create an alert, for when prices drop! I mean $202 from Los Angeles to New Orleans is a bargain, but if you ask me, I could have found even cheaper than that! LOL.
Accommodation: Don't wanna jinx this, but hostels are pretty safe and perfect for someone who wants convenience, affordability and the ability to mingle with other people his/her age (but in this trip I just didn't do that, I kept to myself and my friend, and followed our own plan, which I will provide below).
It is the only site I go to, and do not fret, it is actually quite safe!
Transportation: Now because we were walking distance (a mile away) from most important destinations, we just walked. We also took uber to far destinations like the airport and the swamp called Jean Lafitte.
Food: I tend to not get hungry when I am traveling. I know Creole/Cajun cuisine is very delicious, but I only had it in 1-2 occasions, and thankfully there are a lot of restaurants that offer vegan/vegetarian and gluten-free options. Below I will list ALL those places for you :-)
My own itinerary (I basically covered the best of NOLA!):
Sunday (reached to hostel around 4 pm):
1. Walked to the French Quarter's fun area known as Bourbon Street (Free Activity). Bourbon street is filled with restaurants, cafes, shops, and bars. Strolling through this street is so much fun on its own, and you'll never run out of people inviting you to come into their shop, or just random people starting a conversation with you. If you're "lucky", you'll even catch women flashing their breasts for free beads (which I thought was ludicrous).
2. Christmas Caroling at St. Louis Cathedral (Free Activity): Every December before Christmas, the famous St. Louis Cathedral holds a FREE event to the public. To my understanding it is held just outside the church, but this year, they moved it inside.
The Cathedral is absolutely breath taking - a must go to if you are ever in town!
3. Lobby Hopping (Free Activity): Some of the lobbies get transformed into a winter wonderland, and to my surprise, my friend and I were not the only people going from lobby to lobby taking pictures of all the lit trees and decorations!
The Roosevelt Hotel's decorations were astonishing, just magnificent. We spent 20 minutes just in this hotel, walking around and talking pictures.
We then walked into Royal Sonesta New Orleans, where it was decorated with Christmas trees at every corner with red bows, and faux snow. My phone battery died at this point, but I will post a picture from google below:
Dinner at Bennachin (1212 Royal Street): West African and Vegan/Vegetarian Friendly. I tried a yummy Jambalaya :)
4. Uber to City Park (FREE admission): Is there any place naturally as pretty and calm as the City Park? Filled with Live Oak Trees and moss, this place made me fall in love with Louisiana's vegetation. You can get lost in this park as it is 1300 acres of beauty, so make sure you have on your walking shoes and get ready to get wowed!
Walked to lunch - Lunch at Mopho (514 City Park ave): Thai food with vegan/vegetarian and gluten free options. I got the vegan PHO!
5. Uber back to French Quarter, Jackson Square (Free Activity): located in French Quarter, a charming and timeless attraction, Jackson Square pleases the eyes with its symmetrical architecture. Good luck getting a photo of you or your friend without anyone photobombing you somehow!
If you are interested in riding a carriage, it is here where they are lined up with tours. Although my friend and I opted not to do one, a historical horse carriage tour ride can cost $40 per person.
6. Frenchman street where the Jazz club comes to you! (Free Activity)
After walking around French Quarter, we decided to checkout Frenchman street. My recommendation: Do not go to Jazz clubs, or expensive diners with Jazz music playing (of course unless you want to), let the Jazz come to you!
It is here where the city that gave birth to Jazz brings out its talent, through immaculate displays right on the street corners! You don't even need to do anything, other than watch, enjoy, and tip the group if you really liked them.
7. Uber to Jean Lafitte National Park (Free admission):
This 30 minute ride to one of the most amazing national parks is filled with interesting sights. You will see everything from cute houses to of course, an empty road with swamps with both sides.
it is spooky, tranquil, sacred, and alluring all in the same time. If you listen well, you can hear birds calling, and if you watch closely you'll see snakes (in the water). Don't worry, nothing is poisonous. This picture does not do justice to how gorgeous this place was in between. Here you have nothing bothering you, no noise, and not a strong wifi. Just you and nature, just you and this path for you to walk on, and appreciate the beauty of nature.
You can opt to do a swamp tour, but we decided to just walk this path.
8. Uber back to French Quarter: Royal Street
I loved walking in Royal street. Literally you come out of one store, and you find another store more interesting. There are free museums, interesting decor, free soap samples, art galleries, clothing stores, and even stores with expensive special items you never thought you could find (like a store for just expensive derby and tea party hats) and more...
I even saw an elderly lady fashionably decked out in red 50's fashion with an expensive hat of course. "Just going to lunch" she responded when I asked what she was doing. Oh I love New Orleans!
This is one street, where taking it takes you to the most interesting locations. You can't go wrong whichever direction you take, you are bound to find amazing architecture, music and interesting decor all over the place.
Dinner at 13 (517 Frenchman St): Vegan and vegetarian friendly sandwiches
Check out and Uber back to LA!
How to eat vegan/vegetarian and gluten free in New Orleans:
Here are the list of places I recommend you check out, with vegan,vegetarian and gluten-free options:
1. Bennachin (1212 Royal Street) -$
- West African, vegan, vegetarian-frienldy
2. Dat Dog (601 Frenchman Street) -$
- Vegan and vegetarian options, endless toppings
3. Dreamy Weenies (740 N Rampart) -$$
- Halal, kosher and vegan options, and southern inspired toppings
4. 13 (517 Frenchman Street) -$$
- Vegetarian and vegan friendly sandwiches
- Open until 4 AM, and serves breakfast all day
5. Arabella Casa Di Pasta (2258 St. Claude) -$$
- Build-your-own pasta
- Gluten-free options available
6. Meals From The Heart Cafe (French Market #13) -$$
- Vegan and gluten-free southern cuisine
7. Green Goddess (307 Exchange Pl) -$$
- Vegan and Gluten-free options
8. Pizza Delicious (617 Piety Street) -$
- Pizza by-the-slice
- Vegan pizza available
9. Sneaky Pickle (4017 St. Claude) -$
- Small Cafe with Vegan/vegetarian food
10. Satsuma Cafe (3128 Dauphine) -$$
- Fresh squeezed juice
- Vegetarian options
New Orleans was hands down one of my favorite places I have ever been to! There is no doubt I will be back, and hopefully next time I will do other activities worth blogging about!
New Orleans is a fun live city, it is happening and so full of life...it really never sleeps. Here is a calendar of all the events happening in 2018! Will you be going to NOLA after reading this blog? :)