Food

18 things to eat, see & do in New Orleans

Can you believe it’s been five years since my first blog post about a road trip to New Orleans? Since then, I’ve been back twice. I wanted to update the blog with some of my favorite stops in one of my favorite cities in the world. 

St. Charles Street Car: ride the oldest continuously operated street car in the world and see views of historic New Orleans homes as you ride from St. Charles to Bourbon & Canal! 

Frozen Irish Coffee at Erin Rose: it’s as tasty as it sounds and I never miss this when visiting NOLA. If you get a large, it comes in a souvenir cup you can take home. 

Elizabeth’s: this is a cool spot in the Bywater neighborhood, and EVERYTHING on the brunch menu is delicious. Think Bloody Mary, chicken and waffles, French toast burrito, praline bacon and more!

Dr. Bob’s Art: after your stuff yourself at Elizabeth’s, walk down the street to find Dr. Bob’s for some cool local pieces large and small. I’ve taken one home and love it!

Cafe du Monde: seat yourself and enjoy iconic beignets and cafe au lait in the French Quarter. Cash only!

Walk along the Mississippi: after chowing down on French donuts, take a walk with views of North America’s second longest river.

Charbroiled Oysters at Drago’s: they taste like butter – yum! Great introduction to oysters for the newbies, too.

Pimm’s Cup at the Carousel Bar: head to the bar at Hotel Monteleone and wait to snag a spot at the carousel – it’s worth it! There are tons of fresh cocktail options, but I love the Pimm’s Cup because, when in NOLA…!

Hand grenade on Bourbon St: gotta try it at least once.

Hurricane at Pat O’Brien’s: it tastes like punch and you get a pretty glass to take home.

Pool day at Ace Hotel: go during happy hour to enjoy discounted cocktails from the rooftop pool.

Jazz Brunch at Court of Two Sisters: make a reservation, and try to go earlier in the day to beat the crowd and spend less time in the buffet line and more time drinking mimosas.

Johnny’s Po Boys: you won’t regret chowing down on seafood gumbo and a fried shrimp po boy! Cash only if I remember correctly.

Swamp Tour: get out of the city and up close and personal with some ‘gators!

Umbrella Girl: see if you can find this famous street art by the mysterious Banksy.

Italian on Frenchmen at Adolfo’s: class it up and stuff your face with delicious pasta. Plenty of jazz bars down the road for after-dinner entertainment.

Eat a Praline: seriously, do it. And remember that Louisianians pronounce it with a soft “a” like prah-leene.

Willie Mae’s: I’ve never been here but have heard from a trusted source that this is the best fried chicken you will ever eat. Plus, I wanted to make this list an even number.

The Coffee (and donuts) of Venice Beach/Santa Monica, California

My heart is in SoCal (I was born and raised there). I spent a quick two days in Santa Monica, California recently and wanted to share some great coffee spots I visited. And yes, I went to four coffee shops (and one donut place that technically had coffee) in two days. Disclaimer: I didn’t take great photos so these are pulled from my Instagram story. 

Espresso Cielo

3101 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Espresso Cielo in Venice Beach

This is the first place I went in Venice for a morning cappuccino and it was perfect. Just a few blocks away from the beach, I took it to go and strolled along the sand and waves. Cute atmosphere and a friendly barista. We even met a couple puppers inside. I love how dog friendly California is!

Dogtown Coffee

2003 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Dogtown Coffee in Santa Monica

My two go-to orders at a coffee shop is either cold brew (black) or a cappuccino. But I was so intrigued by Dogtown’s signature Salty Dog Caramel Ice Coffee (cold brew sweetened with caramel and topped with sea salt infused foam). It was pretty good – the foam was interesting. I don’t think I’d get the same drink again, but it was fun to try and great for someone who likes sweetener in their coffee. I loved this place and bought a bag of whole beans to take home.

Bulletproof Coffee

3110 Main St
Santa Monica, CA 90405

Bulletproof coffee is a brand known for creating coffee with added grass-fed butter and oil to boost energy. This is their first standalone shop. It was right next to our Airbnb, so I had to stop by for an afternoon pick me up. I ordered the cold brew because I wasn’t brave enough to try the butter coffee. I’m still not sold on this idea but I know people that love it.

Modern Times Brewery (actually in Los Angeles)

832 South Olive St
Los Angeles, CA 90014

Vegan Cortado at Modern Times Brewery in Los Angeles

Yes, in California they have breweries that also make amazing coffee. I didn’t try any of their beer, but the selection sounded amazing. I ordered a chile relleno burrito from their all-vegan brunch menu and a cortado with a delicious vegan milk (hemp or oat maybe? Can’t remember) in an adorable cup. Yum! This place was super cool, I’d love to come back and try some beer.

DK’s Donuts & Bakery

1614 Santa Monica Blvd
Santa Monica, CA 90404

This place is the best thing that ever happened to me. OK, not really. But after a night out, we ordered a Lyft to the one food place still open. Little did I know, it was this magical bakery of the most amazing donuts. They have fun flavors like ube, maple bacon and cookie dough; and even a giant donut you may have seen on Facebook. Honestly, you can skip all that and get the Original O-Nut. Seriously. Do it. It’s basically a croissant donut hybrid which I didn’t know is a thing. But it’s a great thing. DK’s O-Nut is covered in magical glaze. I could eat 100. Oh and they had coffee, too, but the donut shop kind.

I love visiting local coffee shops when I travel! What places did I miss in Santa Monica? Or what other cities have amazing coffee spots? Let me know in the comments below!

10 things you need to do in La Jolla, California: scuba, tacos, coffee and more

I just finished about three weeks of travel for work. In between there, I went to Phoenix for my dad’s 60th and then extended one of the work trips for a weekend in San Diego, California. I decided to stay in La Jolla so I could squeeze in some scuba diving off the coast. Ever since I became a certified diver, swimming with seals and/or sea lions was on my bucket list. Happy to say I checked that off…

Sea Lion on California Beach - La Jolla Cove

I fell in love with the La Jolla area and hope to be back soon. Everything I did was walking distance or a <$15 Uber ride (besides the airport). Here is how I recommend making the most of a weekend trip there.

Activities

  • Dive with San Diego Snorkel and Scuba This was the highlight (and the purpose) of my trip! I did the Kelp Forest and Sea Lion scuba dive. I was the only one who showed up, so the guide and I had a great time! We saw tons of lobster, yellowtail and Garibaldi. We also ran into two horn sharks and several sea lions. I would definitely dive with this company, and the Dive Master, Rich, again! They provide everything you need for a fun, safe dive!
  • Watch the Sea Lions at the Cove – because after swimming with these playful creatures, I couldn’t get enough of the sea lions. I walked down to the Cove to watch them bark, play and nap on the beach.
  • Hike at Torrey Pines – This is an enjoyable and easy hike! It was a Saturday so it was pretty crowded, but I didn’t mind while finding quiet spots to gaze at the views of the Pacific ocean, cliffs and the rare Torrey Pines. From Windansea beach, it was about an $11 Uber drive to the Torrey Pines natural reserve. I did all the hikes that were open at the time. They are very well marked and mostly flat. It was overcast the entire time which led to me experimenting with some moody photos.
  • Beach, duh! My Airbnb was just a couple blocks away from the lovely and quiet Windansea Beach. Next time I’m thinking of signing up for surf lessons.

Lodging

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Windansea Beach

Food

  • The Taco Stand – I ate my meal so fast that I didn’t get a picture. BUT, these were some of the best tacos I’ve had in a LONG time. I think that means a lot coming from someone in Texas. I finished my meal with the churros. Highly, highly, highly recommend!
  • Promiscuous Fork – cute little spot for a craft beer and gastropub food a couple blocks from the beach! I got the mac n cheese with short rib.
  • El Pescador Fish Market – I’m not sure if I ever had a fish “sandwich” before, but WOW! Go to the counter, ask them what’s the freshest and order it as a sandwich with avocado. I had the yellowtail and it was PERFECT. 10/10 would eat again and again again. Just look at this bread…

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Coffee

  • The Living Room delicious, smooth and flavorful nitro cold brew! I also had a chorizo croissant sandwich that was amazing!
  • La Clochette du Coin – this was right across from my Airbnb, but I only went on my way to the airport. I was disappointed I didn’t check it out sooner! Delicious espresso (served with a chocolate!) and oatmeal topped with fresh fruit and almond butter.