Earlier this month, I had the opportunity to travel to New Orleans to represent my organization at a trade show. Most of the week I was, of course, working – but I did manage to fit in a fair bit of sight seeing the day and a half I was free.

I arrived late at night and was subjected to a very long shuttle drive since the van was full with passengers headed to 15(!) different hotels. Although I was more than ready to relax after a long day of traveling it was a great way to see many beautiful hotels.

I always use Tripadvisor to plan my trips and the website led me to a wonderful hotel, The French Market Inn. It is located at the end of the French Quarter, right in front of the Natchez Steam Boat. The location was perfect – I could walk to anywhere in the French Quarter, and the downtown sites weren’t much further. I chose a balcony room, knowing it might be a little loud. It wasn’t as bad as I anticipated but the rest of hotel, including the gorgeous courtyard was very peaceful.

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Nola5Because it is New Orleans, the trade show didn’t open until 10 am (and people starting drinking at noon!) so I had the mornings to walk around and explore. My first morning I came upon a really beautiful park, not realizing at first that it was the historic Jackson Square. One of the best restaurants I visited, Stanley is right next to the Square, and I had breakfast here twice!

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It was really cool to see so many beautiful Antebellum style buildings in person, and I loved all of the hidden courtyards and nods to New Orleans history you stumble upon just by walking around.

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My mom joined me for part of the trip and one day we did a walking tour of the garden district, then took in the Victory Belles Swingin’ Christmas show – it was a highlight of the trip for sure! The performers were fantastic, and the whole World War II Museum complex looked incredible – I can’t wait to go back and see it all.

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Before I left a friend told me I’d love New Orleans saying, “the vibe is so special” and she was right!  There was a lot of homelessness and some pretty downtrodden areas, but for the most part I only noticed how warm and unique all of the people, businesses, and cultural attractions were. I loved that the local tourism focused so heavily on the city’s special history and sense of place. I hope to be back for several more trips in the future!

I hope you and your families all have a wonderful and restorative Holiday season!