Instead of our usual Valentine's trip to NYC, we headed south to New Orleans for a nice change of pace. New Orleans has been one of those places that I've always wanted to visit, but never thought I would ever get around to it. We talked about how we wanted to explore the South more, as we've only been there a total of five times (two of which were just Disney World) so we could experience the culture down there.

We got in to New Orleans at around 9 PM, dropped off our bags, and headed straight to Café du Monde. As expected, it was packed -- it was Mardi Gras, after all, so we picked up a pack of beignets to go and went off to see some of the city. They were as fluffy and doughy as I expected.

We walked over to Bourbon Street, which was the craziest thing I've ever seen. There were hundreds and hundreds of people crowding the streets and balconies. It looked just like everything I'd seen on the news. Despite constantly slipping on beads and having beer spilled on us, the energy was so contagious and we had such a blast!

Day 1:

We woke up bright and early to grab breakfast at Ruby Slipper Café. They didn't take reservations and we had an hour long wait, so we walked over to Café du Monde to get some beignets and coffee to start us off.

We didn't plan to do much on this trip, as we wanted it to be a more leisurely weekend. We spent most of our time strolling through the French Quarter and taking in the sights. All the historic pastel buildings with the cute balconies were a nice change of pace.

St. Louis Cathedral is right in the center, and since it was Ash Wednesday and I was so glad that we were able to slip into a mass. I'd never seen a mass as packed as this one.

Samuel found a handful of bakeries that were close by, one of them being Sucré. We picked up a few macarons to munch on while we explored. I didn't know what a popular spot it was until I received some messages from readers that it was their favorite bakery in New Orleans.

All too often, I bring brand new shoes on a trip, resulting in us going back to the hotel to rest throughout the day. On our way back to our hotel, we passed by Red Fish Grill. We popped in to rest a bit and we each got cajun shrimp po' boys to munch on. Po' boys were one of the foods that I really wanted to try while down in New Orleans, but to be honest, they weren't that special.

After a little nap, we had some time to kill before our dinner at Antoine's Restaurant. Samuel wanted to go check out the French Market, and on our way there, we passed by a little candy shop, Southern Candymakers, that made the best melt-in-your-mouth pralines. I'm not a fan of pecans and I never eat them outside of pralines. These were definitely the best pralines we've had -- the only other time we binged on them was in Nashville a few years ago. I picked up a giant box to bring home and even my parents couldn't stop reaching for them.

Day 2:

Since the weather was absolutely perfect, we were able to walk around freely, even in the morning. On our way to get breakfast at Le Croissant d'Or, we passed by a cute little coffee shop, French Truck Coffee. I went in to pick up some coffee beans and a cup of coffee for myself. I'm not a huge coffee drinker and I could probably count all the coffees I drink in a year on one hand. I was thoroughly impressed with the bold flavor of my coffee.

I'm such a creature of habit, even when I'm in a new place, so of course, we had to stop by Café du Monde again so I could get some beignets. I wish I were better at trying new spots, but once I find someplace that I like, I just keep going back.

We spent the previous day walking around town, but didn't get a chance to do much shopping, so we dedicated our afternoon to picking up some fun souvenirs. A few stores that we really liked were Nola Couture and New Orleans School of Cooking. Nola Couture was basically a Southern version of Vineyard Vines. On some level, I think I like Nola Couture more, since everything is designed in-house and made in New Orleans. I love shopping local and it's a huge plus if the item was made locally. Samuel has a serious tie and bow tie collection, so we picked up a few more for him. Cooking is a fairly recent hobby of mine (I started in June), so I thought it'd be fun to bring home some Cajun spices from New Orleans School of Cooking. I found out later that they have cooking classes, which I'd love to try out next time we're down there.

By day two, we had exhausted the French Quarter, so we wandered out to see more of New Orleans. Our first stop was Bittersweet Confections, which looked unassuming, but their cupcakes were amazing. We even brought back a few more of their strawberry shortcake and chocolate peanut butter cupcakes!

Samuel wanted to see Tulane University, so we headed over to walk around campus. I can't stress how gorgeous the weather was -- it was in the high 70s with a cool breeze, my ideal weather. Tulane is right off of St. Charles Avenue, which is lined with historic Southern mansions that were just so charming.

One of the most popular spots for po' boys is Domilise's Restaurant, and we weren't sure how authentic the po' boy we had yesterday was, so we went to try out their renowned subs. Again, I don't understand the hype and definitely expected it to taste better.

I loved our macarons from Sucré so much that we went back to pick up a box of them along with some of their award-winning eclairs. The one restaurant that I was really excited about trying was Brennan's Restaurant. The aesthetic and the food was right down my alley. It reminded me so much of Palm Beach. The best part of dinner was dessert, their famous Bananas Foster, which was delectable.

Before heading back to our hotel to pack up, I wanted to stop for beignets at Café Beignet. I didn't like them as much -- they were flatter and harder than the ones from Café du Monde.

New Orleans was the perfect destination for a short trip. I really loved the sights and the people in New Orleans, even though the food wasn't as spectacular as I thought it would be. I'd like to go back in the future and maybe go see the swamps and alligators while we're at it!