Over half way through our trip across America and we were on the road by 7am and on our way to New Orleans, the city of Jazz! It’s roughly a 7 hour drive from Chattanooga to New Orleans. We would technically be passing through five states in one day which is the most for our entire trip.

Birmingham, Alabama

Though we had a fair journey, we still made time to stop off in Birmingham, Alabama. We found Railroad Park not far from downtown.

Birmingham's Railroad Park
Birmingham’s Railroad Park

This park looks as though it had been a rail yard repurposed into beautiful gardens. The area was perfect for runners, walkers and outdoor activities. The perfect place to be on a beautiful, Sunny Saturday morning. We took time to walk around and explore then grabbed a coffee at the Mile End before getting on the road again.

A lake in Birminham's Railroad Park.
A lake in Birminham’s Railroad Park.

After a long drive through the afternoon we made it into New Orleans. The traffic was pretty crazy (little did we know there was a football game on that night). We eventually made it to our hotel.

The New Orleans Marriott

We were staying at the New Orleans Marriott. We had been able to get a good deal considering it was the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Danielle had used her American Airlines frequent flyer points to bring the price down to under $100 for the night. We had a great view.

The only downside was that their parking was full. I had to drive about a block to park at Canal Place. It ended up being just shy of $50 for parking for the night. I thought it was pretty steep but I’m told it was slightly cheaper than parking at the Marriott.

The good news is that the Marriott was super close to everything. The French Quarter was just around the corner so we were able to easily walk around and explore.

We had hoped to catch the Ferry while in town but it hadn’t been running for the last few months. 

Beignet, Done That

We quickly stumbled across Cafe Beignet (which had been on our shortlist). We went inside to try one of the famous Beignets. If you have been to a fair in the US, a Beignet is a bit like an elephant ear. For those outside the US it is a kind of deep fried dough with lats of icing sugar sprinkled over the top. Yum to eat but very messy!

Cafe Beignet in New Orleans
Cafe Beignet in New Orleans.

New Orlean’s French Quarter

We continued to walk around the French Quarter in search of somewhere to eat. On our way we came across the jazz marching band on the street. It looked like they were helping a couple celebrate a wedding as a big procession was marching along behind them handing out necklaces.

Our difficulty for dining in New Orleans was choosing from so many different options.

Dining At Royal House

After a couple of hours and some very sore feet we ended up at Royal House. We asked to be seated upstairs on the balcony. It was a perfect spot because there was a young lady busking downstairs playing the violin. She was an excellent performer, drawing a crowd and we had a perfect birds eye view. 

Dining at Royal House in New Orleans.
Dining at Royal House in New Orleans.

Being in New Orleans, we had to start our meal with some Gumbo. Gumbo is a kind of soup with chicken and sausage. The food was delicious. Once we had eaten our full, it was time to quickly go back to the hotel and change shoes before we headed out in search of a Jazz bar. 

The New Orleans streets were packed with people after the football game. It was crazy. The other thing we noticed was the smell of the streets. A mixture of horse poo, marijuana smoke alcohol, and body odor.

New Orleans allows people to carry their alcohol through the streets. We saw a couple of people passed out from drinking too much, and tons of people smoking. I don’t think I would want to bring kids here, at least not at night. It is a shame because there is so much culture and history in this city.

As the streets got busier, they began to feel more like a club than the street. They surged with people, just standing around, smoking and drinking. It was a relief to be able to retreat into the hotel for a reprieve from all the activity. After a long day it was tempting to just go straight to sleep, but we pushed ourselves to get back out again.

The Jazz Playhouse

We squeezed our way through the crowd to find our way to the Jazz Playhouse in the Royal Sonesta Hotel. Walking into the hotel was a massive contrast to the busy streets – it was like two different worlds. The inside of the hotel was beautifully adorned in Christmas fanfare. We made it to the Playhouse with just enough time to catch the last song. This is what we imaged New Orleans to be like. It was a lot of fun, and no cover charge, so it was free.

The Jazz Playhouse in New Orlean's Royal Sonesta Hotel.
The Jazz Playhouse in New Orlean’s Royal Sonesta Hotel.

On our way back to the hotel we avoided the crowd. We managed to find a place for some late night dessert. Pinkberry has a bunch of different frozen yoghurt options. It was the perfect stop just over the road from our hotel. We were exhausted, and were ready to get off the streets so it was time to retire to our comfortable bed. Tomorrow was going to be another day of driving.

What is your favorite thing to do in New Orleans?