IN NOLA . . .

Get ready for some photos of gumbo!

The tourism board of New Orleans sent me an email earlier this year asking if they could bring us to NOLA to visit their city. This is one of those instances where I read an email and then laugh at it, like, what the hell is my life these days, and then immediately write back and say "OMG YES PLEASE."

It was the perfect break in the middle of moving and it felt so nice to have something to look forward to when I was stressing over packing + planning + ripping up roots. So, a huge triple thank you to the tourism board of NOLA and to the entire city of New Orleans from the Holbrook Trio for giving us such a neat experience.

There is no way I could ever do this city justice, but after the break, a few thoughts + photos from our time in New Orleans.

Oh man! I don't even know where to start! There is so much history + culture packed into that city, it is pure eye candy + brain candy + ear candy. NOT TO MENTION BEIGNETS. It was a dream come true to finally see the city in person. 

(Next time we're taking bikes!)

Of course we weren't able to do everything we wanted to be able to do. I think of all the little corners of the city off the beaten path I could have explored + the little hole in the wall restaurants that could have served me some really intense crawfish + it makes me want to go back immediately + stay for a month. But we were a trio of first timers, and we wanted to see all the big classic sights, while hopefully preserving a little chunk of time for wandering. There is probably no better city in the world for wandering around in than New Orleans. 

Ah shoot I think I easily took 500 pictures in the French Quarter alone. 

I loved how the street names were listed on street corners in the French Quarter three times each--tiles on the sides of the buildings memorializing the names of the street during the Spanish rule, traditional street signs memorializing the names of the street during the French rule, and the actual street names as recognized by the United States Postal Service on tiles on the sidewalk. 

It was sobering to see so much of the devastation from Hurricane Katrina still around, even ten years later. It's such a big job to put a city back together again, we watched it happen from our comfy roost in NYC--that Freedom Tower is only barely up + finished just this year. From the highway around town we were given a super generalized tour of the destruction and subsequent rebuilding efforts, and it was amazing to see the love + dedication we have as a human race to picking ourselves up when things knock us down, and how much work there is left to be done. There is so much culture down there that needs to be preserved. It's a real big job.

HERE! Ok ok. Here in front of Marie Laveau's apartment houses you can see the Louis Armstrong arch at Congo Square. All of my favorites in one shot! The weekend following our week in NOLA was the Satchmo Summerfest and we weren't able to catch it, and I could have been devastated BUT! Brandon reminded me of the Lionel Hampton International Jazz Festival here in Moscow, and anyway, xylophones.

New Orleans is just flippin charming. The general pace of life, it wasn't even a day and a half in and I was fully prepared to stay there the rest of my life. 

However. Humidity bloat is real. Let's be honest.

Those palm leaves! 

There is a little needlepointing joint right there called The Quarter Stitch that is SO WORTH THE VISIT. I walked in and fireworks burst outta my face. 

Um, hells bells it was hot.


I know this is dorky but us Holbrooks like to walk through every damn souvenir shop in existence when we're traveling somewhere. Buy me some flipping alligator jerky already.


HEY this part I could get used to for sure! All those brass instruments! And those sweet young boys playing them!

Drop a dolla in the bucket

The boy is just becoming interested in music lately. He loves to mime different instruments when we're driving around in the car listening to the radio (CAR DANCE PARTIES), so every time we'd see a musician on the street we'd make a big long stop of it and answer all sorts of questions about all sorts of things. He's pretty cute. What will I do when he discovers sports I will be so useless to him. 


We stayed at the Windsor Court Hotel in a perfectly enormous suite that had two enormous vanities flanking the restroom and two separate entrances to get there. Most mornings Huck would get his preliminary calisthenics in by racing laps around it like a lunatic. We watched a lot of cartoons. Cartoons these days are pretty funny. The Windsor was fantastic. Recommended.

Including fried oysters at Cochon! I am so the bravest ever!

You can stop in cute spots for beignets all over the city. But you really do have to go with Cafe Du Monde, there's just no way around it. They aren't even the same species, the Du Mondes and the non Du Monde beignets.

Ahh there we go.

The best seafood gumbo of my life I had at The Gazebo CafĂ©. It's right between Du Monde and the French Market. Live music, heat so swampy it steamed all the wrinkles out of my clothes.  

Speaking of The French Market! BUY ME ALL OF THOSE HATS, BRANDON. (That's not sweat on that boy -- it's a cup of water dumped on the head. Staying cool the old fashioned way! Haha.)

Second gumbo runner up: Gumbo Shop! Get the bread pudding! 

Christmas card worthy.

We tried to walk home from Mandina's, but not even a few blocks down and an enormous thunderstorm broke out and we got fully drenched in seconds. We lucked out and found just the right bus line to take us home. It was raining so hard that the water pooled down the bus windows like Venetian curtains, and with the air conditioner on full blast the hairs on our arms stood up on end. Huck + I shivered and cuddled together in our wet clothes, and Brandon had a friendly conversation with an old toothless lady who had very strong opinions on where to get the best gumbo, it was kind of a beautiful moment.  


Who-do? Voo-doo! 


Let's get this out of the way right now. Nic Cage bought this tomb for himself. 

Nic, thank you for being ridiculous. I love you. 

The voodoo / priest-y priestess-y history in New Orleans is SO COOL. I've been known to take way too much stock in astrology and crystals and talismans and junk, but I am only a spectator here. I still got a little buzz every time I got to stop + peek through a voodoo shop. Best one: Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo. I really do think those early priestesses were onto something down there. All religion aside, they really owned that city, man. 

Hi, I'm in an episode of The Originals! These photos are from St Louis Cemetery #1. Lafayette Cemetery #1 in the Garden District was my favorite by far. This whole baking in a tombstone like a pizza and then turning into dust thing is creepy and fantastic.


Preservation Hall!!!!!!! This was such a fun night.

The way that boy's face lit up when the band started playing! It was one of those mom moments that I'll always remember. And then he was out cold by the middle of the second song. This child can sleep literally anywhere and through anything. #thankyourstrollernaps

Brandon told me later this was practically a spiritual experience for him, we highly think it can't be missed. It was easily 100 degrees in there with all the people packed in so close.

Also quite spiritual were the gyros next door!!! YUM.


On possibly the hottest and swampiest day of them all, we wandered through City Park. We stopped and played at  Storyland and we rode a couple rides at Carousel Gardens. We tried really hard not to melt.

Um, hells bells it was hot. 


Can I just tell you though. The best part, I think for all of us, was the swamp tour. Holy mother of pearl. We had a pontoon all to ourselves (it's not really called a pontoon), which meant we got to ask the most ridiculous questions of the tour guide, and pet a wild pig (!!!!) and even feed a marshmallow to a gator. (Me and those gators have mucho in common). It was GRAND. 





Now we're talking! Perfect amount of seedy, really great music, real good hot dogs.

Down near the entrance to Frenchman street there's a great thrift store, full of what I assumed might be costume + movie set supplies by the looks of it. I spent an entire hour in there poking about through the dust while the city got a smattering of afternoon rain and I think it's one of my favorite memories of the trip.


You know what, I think it's really more a matter of if your kid is New Orleans-friendly. There were maybe five minutes total of the trip where I thought to myself, "eesh," but pretty much you're going to find that anywhere and the vast majority of the fun things to do in NOLA are fully family-friendly. So if your kid likes live music, is happy with walking around, enjoys playing at playgrounds + visiting hotel pools, seeing zoos + aquariums + eating lots of doughnuts, well. You might have yourself a New Orleans-friendly kid. 

Fireworks our last night from the balcony of our room. In my undies. And compression socks. lol. #secksy

Thank you, NOLA! We had a hell of a time!


  1. The good news is that it isn't crawfish season so you didn't miss out! Next time!

  2. Did I see you sneak in an "I'm in an episode of The Originals"? As I need to keep my peepers open this season or you were just feeling some Originals vibes while cemetery touring?….BECAUSE…Joseph Morgan….le sigh!

  3. Where do your tank tops come from?

  4. Overalls! Where can I buy them? Also, are you planning to do anymore posts in your tattoed ladies series, because that was my absolute favorite and I'd love to read more.

  5. I love this pictures! NOLA looks amazing.
    I really like your outfits, especially the overall and the white dress.

    Records of my Troubles

  6. So fun to see my city through my favorite bloggers eyes, for the most part I totally agree with your idea of what to do and see, too. I actually used to work at several of the places you included in this post so that's funny.
    I like your idea that it's not about whether New Orleans is kid friendly but whether your kid is New Orleans friendly and it applies to all ages, I think. So glad you had fun, come back anytime and I would be happy to give some recommendations <3

  7. Love the outfits, especially those white overalls!

    XX Anna

  8. okay, please tell me they're actually compression socks. because if they are, you totally made them sexy for me to wear and feel like a total rockstar--and not like a 90 year old lady with ankle swelling--in. #babiesruincirculation

  9. The beignets, oh my goodness, the beignets. Cafe du Monde is my favorite thing about NOLA!

  10. I don't know what "the originals" is but you were totally in an episode of AMERICAN HORROR STORY COVEN <3 which makes me your most jealous reader ......

  11. Where did you get that cute white dress? Looks exactly like what I've been searching for for two summers.

  12. Ahh New Orleans looks so cute!
    Gold Dust

  13. Ahh, if you love New Orleans, come to Charleston, SC!

  14. Natalie, just to be 100% clear, it is not random that these people and companies keep inviting you and your family on these adventures! Your audience loves you realness, honesty, sense of humor, and your family. I will keep reading for a very long time. Thank you for keeping us all so entertained. And keep being you, and being real!
    -A long time fan

  15. Such fun photos! Sad that when I lived in Texas we'd always drive through Louisiana while on vacation to Florida, but never stopped to visit NOLA ! Really need to plan a family trip soon when it's not so HOT, cause can literally melt down there. Especially if you're not used to the humidity! Glad you tolerated it, and that y'all had a grand time!

  16. My husband (also Brandon. How funny is that!?) and I will be visiting NOLA in October!
    Loved this post, and can't wait for our trip now!
    ps. Your tattoos totally suit you.

  17. You had the perfect trip to NOLA and I loved looking at your pictures! Brought back such great memories of our own time there, which, incidentally, started out back in the late 1990s with a History of Jazz course in college. Hearing those horns while sitting in our dark music lab, my head encased in giant headphones, and I was transported. I knew I'd have to go someday. Since then I've been three times, including for Mardi Gras. Such a trip! Next time we go, I definitely want to time it around Jazz Fest.


Comments are moderated because mama ain't no fool.