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Glimpsing Gators and Eating All the Fried Food in New Orleans | Travel Diary

Our series about wanderlust-worthy, slightly off-the-grid vacation hotspots, with local picks (and gorgeous pics) from our intrepid Nordstrom crew.

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GLOBETROTTER: Amanda Garberich, Beauty Copywriter

WHY THERE? An old college friend and I wanted to meet up (he lives in New York, and I’m in Seattle). We wanted to explore someplace in the South, and neither of us had been to New Orleans as adults. Plus, the city’s mix of history, culture and cuisine (read: fried food) met all of our vacay requirements.

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WHERE DID YOU STAY? At an adorable, art-filled Airbnb in the Esplanade Ridge neighborhood, about a 10-minute walk from the French Quarter.

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DON’T-MISS ACTIVITIES: Swamp kayaking. The wildlife was quiet the morning we went—our only alligator sightings were of their eyes as they sank beneath the water. It sounds terrifying but was (surprisingly) only a little unsettling. The cypress trees and Spanish moss were stunning and well worth the trip.

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Another don’t-miss: the tours at Evergreen Plantation and Whitney Plantation (it’s easy to do both since it’s only about a 5-minute drive between the two). Evergreen Plantation offers a fairly general overview of its history, whereas Whitney Plantation focuses on the slave experience, and its tours speak to that perspective.

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And finally, if you’re lucky enough to be there when one is happening, don’t miss the Second Line parade (held at various times throughout the year). The best piece of advice I received was to check the local radio station’s website for Second Line schedules. So happy we were able to experience the Father’s Day Second Line parade; the brass band music, the dancing, the outfits, the energy—such a great time.

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IF I COULD LIVE THERE, I WOULD: Restore old homes—or something to do with the city’s gorgeous old buildings. (I have no actual experience with that kind of work, but I’d find a way!) The architecture is incredible; I spent most of the trip drooling over every house we passed, and marveling at the fact that people actually get to live in these historic gems.

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BEST FIND/FAVORITE SOUVENIR: A mug from Café Du Monde (world famous for its beignets), and beads from the New Orleans Pride Parade.

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FAVORITE MEAL/LOCAL DELICACIES: Crawfish from Cajun Seafood, po’boys at Erin Rose in the French Quarter, sno-balls—from anywhere!

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BEST BAR/NIGHTLIFE ADVENTURE: Bachannal is a beautiful outdoor space with great food, and live jazz every night. Grab cocktails at the bar or buy a bottle of wine in their well-stocked Old World wine shop.

PACKING TIPS: What I’m glad I packed: cotton shift dresses, sneaks and a water bottle. What I wish I’d packed: a parasol or hat for shade, and a paper fan (the heat was intense). What I wish I’d left at home: nothing—I travel pretty light!

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FAVORITE MEMORY: So difficult to pick just one! Our first night in the city, we sipped on “Hand Grenades” (eerie-looking, neon-colored mixed drinks) while looking out over the Mississippi River, ate delicious po’boys, and then went to Bullet’s Sports Bar to see jazz trumpeter Kermit Ruffins. We ended the evening with fried shrimp and french fries—a terrifically indulgent way to start our trip.

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