Foodies

48 Hours in New Orleans

The following post is from a sponsored trip with New Orleans & Company.

If you’re into beautiful architecture, world-renowned cuisine, vibrant nightlife, outdoor activities, and museums rich in history, then New Orleans is your city.

There’s something for every kind of traveler, and every New Orleans neighborhood has its own unique, charming, and surprisingly eclectic personality. All of the endless activities and sights to see can easily make a weekend getaway in New Orleans feel daunting. Where do you even start?!

Well friends, we’re here to help. We just got back from a trip to “The Big Easy” and have come up with a 48-hour itinerary that covers some of our favorite NOLA spots - and will undoubtedly leave you anxious to return! (Keep in mind that it’s jam-packed, so feel free to go at your own pace, and omit spots if needed.) Enjoy!

SATURDAY

MORNING

Start your weekend with brunch at the chic and trendy Willa Jean. Their coffee is strong, the biscuits are perfectly flakey, and you can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. We highly recommend you try the BBQ Shrimp Toast (their most popular dish) and the Grain Bowl (it’s as Instagrammable as it is tasty)!  

Fight the inevitable food coma with a 1.3 mile walk to the historic French Quarter. Wander around the colorful buildings and see the local artists in Jackson Square. While you’re there, spend an hour or two at The Louisiana State Museum, where you’ll find a moving exhibit on Hurricane Katrina, and a fascinating look inside the history of Mardi Gras.

Just down the street is the iconic Cafe du Monde, and it doesn’t matter if you’re still full from brunch, you ALWAYS have room for beignets! Order an iced cafe au lait and a round of beignets, and you’ll see why this place has been a New Orleans staple since 1862!

Amazing brunch at Willa Jean

Jackson Square!

Jamming in Jackson Square

So much to see in Jackson Square!

Colorful Louisiana State Museum exhibits

Mardi Gras Exhibit at Louisiana State Museum

AFTERNOON

One of the best ways to see and learn about the city (in our opinion), is on a bike tour. The friendly folks at Free Wheelin’ Bike Tours will not only give you a fascinating history lesson of the city, but they’ll also take you to some lesser-known sights, through some quaint neighborhoods, and you’ll even stop for a drink or two at a few local spots. In 3 hours, you’ll learn more about New Orleans than you would in a day on your own… and you’ll get some exercise in, too!

EVENING

Located on the lively Bourbon Street, in the heart of The French Quarter, is the vibrant and classy, Desire Oyster Bar. It’s exactly the type of place you want to be on a Saturday night in New Orleans, as you’ll be able to dine on classic NOLA dishes, with a side of prime people watching! Make sure you sample their famous chargrilled oysters!

After dinner, enjoy an intimate performance at The Jazz Playhouse, where they have nightly shows by some of the best jazz bands and musicians in New Orleans. Sip on a French 75, cozy up in a booth, and get ready for a jazz performance you’ll never forget!

Stay at the historic Le Pavillon Hotel, which is only blocks away from the French Quarter. It’s elegant and ornate without feeling pretentious, and their attention to detail is unparalleled. If you make it back in time, be sure to enjoy their signature peanut butter and jelly sandwich bar (genius, right?), which is free for hotel guests from 10-11pm!

Free Wheelin’ around NOLA

Quick stop for a beer on the bike tour

Oysters!

Amazing jazz at the Jazz Playhouse!

The bar at Le Pavillon serving up some tasty libations

SUNDAY

MORNING

Venture into the Bywater District, for a hearty and tasty breakfast at Elizabeth’s. This quintessential New Orleans breakfast/brunch spot is best known for their praline bacon, but you truly can’t go wrong with anything on the menu. And don’t forget to grab a photo by their quirky, art-covered walls!

While you’re in the area, be sure to wander around the Bywater, which is one of New Orleans most creative and ever-changing landscapes. You’ll find colorful neighborhoods, street murals, funky cafes, and even curbside boozy daiquiris (Gene’s Curbside Daiquiris - it’s a must)!

Elizabeth’s for breakfast

AFTERNOON

Make your way back to the French Quarter, (it’s about a 2-mile walk, which we enjoyed, but you could also catch an Uber), and take a stroll through the French Market. Vendors sell everything from “Gator on a Stick”, to Mardi Gras masks, to Louisiana hot sauces!

Right down the street from the French Market is Central Grocery & Deli, home of the original Muffuletta! Consisting of sliced meats, homemade bread, and their family’s Italian Olive Salad, all it takes is one bite of the famous sandwich to understand the hype. It’s been featured on USA Today, The Huffington Post, and The Today Show, among many other media outlets! We suggest sharing a half size (they’re huge), and taking it to enjoy along the Mississippi River!

By this time in the afternoon, a nap might be in order. But if you’re still raring to go, head to the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum! This 1823 apothecary turned museum has exhibits of early medicines, superstitious cures, and more… and it’s fascinating. You’ll be blown away by how far modern medicine has come!

EVENING

Experience a different side of the French Quarter, with a romantic and sophisticated dinner at Sylvain. This dark and trendy gastropub serves Southern bistro classics that are elevated and sophisticated, and their wine and cocktail menu is extremely impressive. Make sure you try their Skillet Cornbread and Shaved Brussel Sprouts!

We can’t think of a better way to end a weekend in NOLA than by “taking a spin” at the iconic Carousel Bar! Located at The Hotel Monteleone, this revolving bar has been a long-time New Orleans favorite, and their cocktails are expertly crafted. Speaking of which, The Vieux Carre cocktail was first concocted here!

Muffulettas are ALWAYS a good idea

So much history at the Pharmacy Museum

Tour of the 1823 pharmacy

Probably the best meal of our trip at Sylvain

Revolving Carousel Bar at Hotel Monteleone

The Vieux Carre was invented here! It was delicious!

Snow-cation's All I Ever Wanted - Exploring Madison Amidst the Polar Vortex

It’s February. It’s the time of year where many-a-people run from the cold and flock to somewhere warm. It’s the high season for tropical, beach-y destinations like Hawaii, Turks and Caicos, and Cabo.

Call us crazy (maybe it’s our rebellious side coming out), but we highly suggest doing the opposite.

Sure, mai tai’s on the beach sound great - but let’s be real. You’ll be fighting the crowds, and you’ll be paying a high premium to do so. We think tropical getaways are always better during the off-season, where prices are practically slashed in half, and your chances of having the beach all to yourself are significantly greater!

So this winter, we decided to head somewhere different. Somewhere snowy. Somewhere that’s up-and-coming, full of winter activities (both indoor and outdoor), culinary experiences, and that friendly, Midwest charm. We got two round-trip tickets to Madison, Wisconsin, packed our winter coats (and hand warmers), and prepared for some sub-freezing exploring.! Here’s what we did, and what YOU should do when you head that way!

Great photo opps in front of the Capitol building!

ICE SKATE AT TENNEY PARK

Have you ever ice skated on a frozen lagoon before? We hadn’t either! Tenney Park is something out of a storybook - with snow covered trees, picturesque bridges, and dozens of families skating across the lake. You can rent ice skates for only $6/hour, and you can warm up with a hot cup of cocoa at the warming center after you’re done. If you’re a seasoned skater or hockey player, bring your stick and slide into one of the pickup hockey games.

Tenney Park kisses

STATE STREET

One of the most iconic streets in Madison is State Street, that runs from The Capitol Square to the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. State Street has everything from fine dining to quirky boutiques, the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art, lively bars, and more. We found ourselves on State Street every day that we were in Madison - there was simply too much to see! Some of our favorite spots were Cask & Ale, Paul’s Book Store, August, The Soap Opera and Little Luxuries.

State Street views with the Madison Museum of Contemporary Art on the right

Having snow-much fun on State Street

Ready to warm up with a cocktail inside Cask & Ale

Our first Wisconsin-style Old Fashioned’s

University strolling in the snow

Exploring the University of Wisconsin

BREWERY HOP

There’s no doubt that the craft beer scene is thriving in Madison. It’s “microbrew country”, as they like to say, with several fantastic tasting rooms and award-winning breweries. And we can’t think of a better way to spend a snowy day, then “hop-ping” (Get it?) around a few! There are breweries for any kind of beer fanatic - we took a liking to Ale Asylum, Karben 4, and ALT Brew.

Ale Asylum goods

Karben4 IPA time

OLBRICH BOTANICAL GARDENS

Find yourself needing a warm escape from the cold air? Well, we’re happy to say that a tropical oasis DOES exist in the middle of the snow! While the Olbrich Botanical Gardens has over 16 acres of outdoor gardens, they also are home to the Bolz Conservatory - a warm and sunny escape from the oftentimes below freezing temperatures outside. There’s tropical plants, pretty birds, lakes with koi, and temperature in the conservatory is always kept between 65-95 degrees! And with admission at only $2/person, it’s an easy and affordable way to spend an afternoon! And don’t forget to brave the cold and walk around some of their gorgeous outdoor gardens… you’ll feel as though you’ve entered a different land!

Looking for pretty birds

Found one!

Thai temples in Wisconsin? You bet!

THE EDGEWATER SPA

We’ll take any excuse to have a spa day - and wintery weather is the perfect excuse! The Edgewater Madison is home to a luxurious, waterfront spa that’s cozy and welcoming and offers every kind of treatment one could want. If you’re heading there with your significant other, we highly recommend their signature Couples Massage. Complete your spa day with a glass of champagne, and a dip in the relaxation pool! Does it get anymore romantic than that?

Heading down to our massage

MADISON HOTEL WEEK

If we’ve convinced you to head to Madison, you’re in luck. February 8-18 is Madison Hotel Week, where you can find discounted room rates at some of the best hotels in the city! We stayed at The Edgewater Madison, and absolutely loved it. They’re offering a discounted rate of $125/night during Madison Hotel Week, which we think is a lovely time for a Valentine’s Day Getaway.

Views from our balcony. Can you see the “I Love U"?

Our balcony after the snowy evening :)

The staircase inside the Edgewater is beautiful!

Madison, Wisconsin blew us away. The friendly locals, the lively downtown, the stunning, snowy scenery… We loved every minute of it. And we can’t wait to return.

Beyond the Cheese: Eating Our Way Through Madison, Wisconsin

What’s the first thing you think of when you think of Wisconsin?

Cheese?

Us too. As self proclaimed cheese-lovers, a state known for its cheese curds sounds quite heavenly. We couldn’t wait to explore! There’s no denying that Madison, Wisconsin is home to some of the most delicious cheesy dishes in the US. Places like The Statehouse, The Old Fashioned, Fromagination, and The Tipsy Cow have the most mouth-watering cheese curds we’ve ever tried. But what really caught our attention is how varied and impressive the foodie scene in Madison is in general! Because after awhile, even cheese fanatics like us tend to say “Cut the cheese!” (get it?), and desire a change of flavor. Here are a few of our Must-Try spots the next time you’re in Madison!

Give us all the cheese!

We can never get enough cheese!

CAMP TRIPPALINDEE

Anyone else love summer camp as much as we did? The games, the bonfires, the quirky counselors and the Capri Suns… Can we go back?! Well, probably not. But you can go to Camp Trippalindee, where those stories and memories can be relived! Grab a seat at their outdoor bonfire, wrap yourself in a blanket, make s’mores and sing camp songs (optional). Or sit at the bar inside, chat with the friendly bartenders and dine on juicy burgers and hearty sweet potato fries. Wash it all down with a Boozy Capri (an adult version of a Capri Sun) and play a round (or three) of Jenga! Those nostalgic summer camp feelings coming back yet? We thought so.

GRAZE

We love a brunch spot with a good view. Located across the street from the Capitol Building, with floor to ceiling windows, Graze has just that! Pair the view with tantalizing brunch options like the sticky bun, chilaquiles, or the loaded breakfast sandwich, and you’ve got the recipe for a perfect Saturday morning! And if that cup of coffee at brunch wasn’t enough, walk across the road to Colectivo Coffee, where you can get a strong, smooth cup of joe!

ENO VINO

Speaking of good views, Eno Vino just might have the best one in town! This Spanish-inspired tapas and wine bar sits on the top floor of the AC Hotel in downtown Madison, and features jaw-dropping views of the Capitol Building. They have an extensive wine and craft cocktail menu, and their small bites are great for sharing. They even have a “Merienda Hour” with specials on wine, cocktails, and more - which we’re planning to hit up next time!

ALE ASYLUM

Madison is home to some of the best craft breweries in the US! Being there amidst the polar vortex, we weren’t able to get out to as many as we’d have liked. One of our favorites was Ale Asylum, which not only had amazing draft beers (Try their Hopalicious or Velveteen Habit), but also some solid pub grub too! We recommend their Honey Mustard Brisket, Hummus Plate, and Chips with their IPA Cheese Sauce. (OK, we know. More cheese. But it’s SO GOOD!) We also loved the beer at Karben4 Brewery - try their Fantasy Factory or Tokyo Sauna!

CANTEEN

Mexican food in Wisconsin? That’s a thing? We were just as surprised as you are! We were even more surprised that it’s actually really tasty and authentic. Canteen is a trendy, modern Mexican cantina that serves affordable street tacos with a twist. And they even make a mean margarita! Go at happy hour, when Pacifico Pints and Signature Margaritas are half off!

Ian’s

We always have to find a good pizza place. Thankfully, Madison did not disappoint in this department. Ian’s is a pizza-by-the-slice shop known for it’s creative pies. Seriously, have you ever had slices like these… Mac-N-Cheese, Portabello Pesto, Macho Nacho, Cheesy Potato with Ranch, or Smoked Brisket and Tots? They look, smell, and taste incredible! Unfortunately our stomachs didn’t have room to try them all!

Mac N Cheese pizza?!? Yes!

Are you hungry yet? Good - us too. Those are just a handful of dining options in Madison. Whether you’re cheese-crazed or lactose intolerant, there’s plenty of epic culinary adventures yet to be had in this up and coming town. Leave a comment and let us know what spots we should check out next time we’re there!

24 Hours in Kansas City

Blitzing through Kansas City for a weekend can be overwhelming. The options are unlimited when it comes to what to eat, see, and do… Narrowing it all down can be impossible!! But don’t fret - we’ve compiled a 24 hour itinerary of our favorite KC spots that will keep you buzzed, full, and entertained. Be warned… following this itinerary will have you longing to come right back to KC!

9:00AM: COFFEE & A BOWL OF CEREAL AT THOU MAYEST

What better way to start your day then at hip coffee shop with a full-blown cereal bar?! $5 at Thou Mayest will get you a hot cup of coffee and a hefty bowl of Kix (or Froot Loops, Captain Crunch, Honey Bunches of Oats… heck, they’ll even mix them all together for you if that’s your style)!

10:00AM: TOUR THE NELSON-ATKINS

Fine art, iconic architecture, and free admission… The Nelson-Atkins Museum is one of the best in the country. Not only do they feature a strong collection of Impressionist paintings (Van Gogh, Cézanne, Monet), they’re also famous for their extensive Japanese collection of art. It contains more than 2,000 pieces ranging from the 7th century C.E. to the early 20th century! And don’t miss the gigantic shuttlecocks outside the building!

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1:00PM LUNCH AT JOE’S KANSAS CITY BBQ

You can’t go to Kansas City without experiencing Joe’s Kansas City BBQ. This world-famous BBQ joint is known for its ribs, “Z-man” sandwich, brisket, and more. Oh, and did we mention that it’s in a gas station!? Get here early, as this place has a cult following - and the line can take awhile! (But trust us - it’s worth it.)

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2:00PM SHOPPING & BREWERIES IN THE CROSSROADS

The Crossroads is one of our favorite areas in Kansas City. It’s filled with craft breweries, eclectic shops, and tons of tasty spots to eat. We suggest spending your afternoon here, shopping, drinking, and maybe even striking a pose or two by one of the dozens of murals! Four spots you should check out are, Casual Animal, Brewery EmperialEast + West and Christopher Elbow Chocolates.

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6:30PM DINNER & DRINKS AT THE RIEGER

Since 1915, The Rieger has been a Kansas City institution. Once a hotel, it’s now one of the best restaurants in the city. The food is hearty and innovative and the cocktails are strong. Speaking of cocktails, make sure you book a table at Manifesto, the speakeasy in the basement of the Rieger (Sorry, no photos of the speakeasy. They ask you keep your phones away in this epic bar!).  

10:30PM JAZZ AT THE GREEN LADY LOUNGE

There’s no doubt that the jazz scene in Kansas City is alive, thriving, and growing. Everyone we asked would tell us that the best place to catch a jazz performance is at the historic Green Lady Lounge. They’re open seven days a week, and you’ll never have to pay a cover charge. Obsessed yet? Wait until you get there. The decor inside will make you feel as though you’ve stepped back in time, and the music will have you bee-bopping in your seat!

10:00AM BRUNCH AT THE CLASSIC CUP

End your 24 hour tour through Kansas City with brunch at The Classic Cup. They’re a local favorite, and for good reason - their food is good. Bobby’s still dreaming about their egg sandwich! Need to walk off your brunch? Check out Made In KCBaldwin, and Charlie Hustle!

There you have it. 24 hours in our new favorite city. We guarantee that by the end of your sprint through KC, you’ll love it just as much as we do!

Something is "Brewing" in Kansas City...

Attention beer drinkers! From casual sippers to aficionados, Kansas City needs to be on your radar. Many people are surprised to hear that their craft brewery scene is hopping (get it?) - and getting bigger! The creativity, attention to detail, and infectious pride in their city and in their craft, makes this a really special and unique hub for craft beer. So, next time you’re in Kansas City, take our advice and go on a “Tap Tour”! Here are the places that you shouldn’t miss:


BREWERY EMPERIAL

Colorful and eclectic, we liked Brewery Emperial as soon as we walked in. Their master brewer Keith has spent his career in great beer establishments, and this brewery has been his dream. Emperial is a place that attracts foodies, beer-ies (is that a thing?), hipsters, or anybody just seeking supreme quality food, beer, and atmosphere. You’ll feel right at home, and your tastebuds will thank you!

CASUAL ANIMAL

“Laid back beers that tap into your wild side” is Casual Animal’s motto… and we couldn’t love it more. Maybe it’s because their beer was incredible (Bobby got a pale ale or 2, and Alli got a yummy cider), or maybe it’s because they have animal masks that you can wear. Between the beers, the masks, and the free shuffle board, we had a great time at Casual Animal! Definitely a must-stop on a tap tour!


BOULEVARD BREWING COMPANY

The largest specialty craft beer brewer in the Midwest, Boulevard Brewing Company is definitely the most well-known brewery in Kansas City. Typically that would deter us from going, but this place is something special. 

It’s two levels of entertainment, the first being an “experience area” where you can learn about the history of boulevard and their approach to making beer. The second floor is a 10,000 square foot beer hall, complete with 24 beers on draft, a full menu, views of the city, and an interactive photo booth that we DEFINITELY took advantage of.

As with our first two spots, the beers were great. We definitely blitzed through on this trip, and plan on spending a lot more time at Boulevard on our next tour of KC. They have so many beers to try!

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Have time for more? We’ve yet to try Border Brewing CompanyDouble Shift Brewing Company, and Torn Label Brewing Company, but we’ve heard great things. All of these are located in the Crossroads area, making them a walkable distance from each other. 

Lastly, we can’t forget to mention one of our absolute favorite places to grab a beer in Kansas City, Bar K Dog Bar. Now, this isn't a brewery, but they DO serve beer, and the concept is absolutely incredible. It's a dog park, restaurant, bar, and coffeehouse - all in one! You can have a drink, hang with friends, and watch as your pups frolic through their MASSIVE dog park. There's even a groomer on-sight to clean up your dog before you leave! Is this not genius or WHAT?!

Try as many of these spots as you can “beer” (too much?). And let us know what you think! We’re “hopping” for an excuse to come back (we think we’re funny).