Alabama to Louisiana Road Trip {New Orleans: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, Central Grocery, Cafe du Monde, Preservation Hall & The Grill Room}

Our first fill day in New Orleans started bright and early with room service breakfast – a perk of booking with me – and we were off to explore!

Alabama to Louisiana Road Trip

Part 1: Birmingham {Grand Bohemian Hotel & Habitat Feed and Social}
Part 2: Demopolis {Gaineswood Plantation}
Part 3: Point Clear & Fairhope {The Grand Hotel & Mardi Gras}
Part 4: New Orleans {Mother’s Restaurant, Airboat Tour, Mr. B’s Bistro, Voodoo Bonelady Tour}
Part 5: New Orleans {St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, Central Grocery, Cafe du Monde, Preservation Hall & The Grill Room}
Part 6: New Orleans {New Orleans School of Cooking, National WWII Museum, Commander’s Palace}
Part 7: New Orleans {Mardi Gras World, Superior Seafood, Uptown Acorn}
Part 8: New Orleans {Windsor Court Hotel}

St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 Walking Tour

Our walking tour started in the French Quarter, where our guide talked about the architectural diversity of the area – including French and Spanish‐inspired buildings, Creole townhouses, ‘Entresol’ houses and shotgun homes.

Our path through the French Quarter eventually brought us to St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, the oldest and most famous cemetery in New Orleans.  We were familiar with above‐ground burial from our Savannah connections, but loved hearing the stories of St. Louis No. 1 and its residents.

Established by Spanish royal decree on August 14th, 1789, St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is New Orleans’ oldest existing burial ground. This site is considered one of the United States’ most haunted cemeteries and remains active with funeral processions still occurring today. In one square block, these hallowed grounds house over 700 tombs and over 100,000 dearly departed souls within its walls.

I’ve loved cemeteries since I was quite young – even doing multiple projects on Savannah’s Colonial Cemetery starting from elementary school through high school. I *tried* to cull the camera roll of striking images I took today.

One of the most fascinating parts of our tour was learning about the Voodoo Queen of New Orlean, Marie Laveau. Her grave looking nothing like I remembered it from years ago – it is now pretty pristine without the XXX markings and tributes from visitors. There was another prominent figure in NOLA voodoo (I can’t recall his name) whose grave looks more like hers did back in the day.

Other fascinating details were the graves that have been swallowed up by the ground – either through sink holes or the fact that New Orleans is sinking – and the seemingly empty non-Catholic side of the cemetery compared to the crowded alleyways of the rest of St. Louis No. 1.

I mentioned above that the cemetery is still in use. The most recent burial was a couple of days ago in the Musicians Tomb (Lucien Barbarin of Preservation Hall).

The oldest tomb in the cemetery and Nicholas Cage’s pyramid tomb were both covered off on.

And I couldn’t help but feel chills at the site of the Hard Rock through the crypts of the cemetery.

Our tour ended in Louis Armstrong Park to visit Congo Square, a historical site from the 1800s. Here, slaves and free people met on Sunday to openly trade, socialize, play music, dance and practice voodoo rituals.

BOOK WITH ME << Use this link to book the tour with me! Entry into St. Louis No. 1 is only available with a guided tour.

Central Grocery

Starving from our two hour walk, we headed through the French Quarter to Central Grocery for lunch. I’d never been here so it was a fun, new experience for everyone. We were happy to see the line was relatively short!

Central Grocery
923 Decatur St New Orleans, LA 70116
No reservations

Located on Decatur Street in the middle of New Orleans’ French Quarter, we’re a third generation, old-fashioned grocery store founded in 1906 by Salvatore Lupo, a Sicilian immigrant who is famous for creating the muffuletta. We’ve always made our muffuletta’s with meats sliced in house, locally baked handmade bread and our family’s Italian Olive Salad.

I don’t eat olives so I had mine without. We all enjoyed the sandwiches, but Mother’s yesterday edged them out for top sandwich of the trip. :-)

Cafe du Monde

We shared two half sandwiches so we’d have room for the best… Cafe du Monde!! It was just a block or two away from Central Grocery and we walked right up to a table. The boys thought this was HEAVEN!!! It’s a good thing nowhere near me makes these because I don’t know how I’d resist. The sun had finally and fully come out so we enjoyed a walk through Jackson Square to get back to Windsor Court. With the exception of a couple of Ubers, we’ve primarily walked everywhere on this trip and have racked up more steps than when we do Disney.

Preservation Hall

After an afternoon break in the room, it was back to the French Quarter for the 6PM jazz concert at Preservation Hall. We arrived a few minutes early to find a line ALL the way down the block and were so thankful we purchased the advance tickets. They advised there was no bathroom inside, and to get drinks before hand so we took care of those two things while we waited to be let inside.

(Pat O’s is right next door so we got two to go. I don’t know why I thought it would be different this time, from the other four or five times I’ve tried one, but I just do not like Hurricanes!)

Anyhoo, back to the show… The Preservation Hall venue presents intimate, acoustic New Orleans Jazz concerts over 350 nights a year.

Preservation Hall
726 St. Peter Street New Orleans, LA 70116

The story of Preservation Hall dates back to the 1950s at Associated Artists, a small art gallery at 726 St. Peter Street in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Upon opening the gallery the proprietor Larry Borenstein found that it curtailed his ability to attend the few remaining local jazz concerts, and began inviting these musicians to perform “rehearsal sessions” in the gallery itself. Operating as a family business, Preservation Hall supported the unique culture of traditional jazz in New Orleans, which developed in the local melting pot of African, Caribbean, and European musical traditions at the turn of the 20th Century. Preservation Hall was a rare space in the South where racially-integrated bands and audiences shared music together during the Jim Crow era. At the center of that family business, the Jaffe’s became involved in the southern Civil Rights Movement (and were even persecuted) as heads of an integrated venue in a time of cruelly-policed racial segregation.

I couldn’t believe how tiny the room was inside. This is it! There are two rows of cushions on the floor, a few rows of benches and then standing room in the back. The musicians were phenomenal and the experience was like being invited into their living room. They had a great banter with each other and with the audience. When they started playing, the room was rapt. No electronics are allowed inside, and it was pleasant to spend 45 minutes simply listening and sharing music. I was completely in awe of their rendition of His Eye Is on the Sparrow, which is one of my all time favorite hymns. I’ve loved the hopefulness of it for as long as I can remember, but after Matthew I started seeing sparrows everywhere and it brought on a whole new meaning. You can listen to a snippet here!

Again, I was SO glad I had booked the “Big Shot” tickets in advance. We had the front row, which was a bench. There was space for 8 and one other family with two kids was on the other side of the pole.

General Admission tickets are available on a first come, first served basis, and are not available for advance purchase.  They recommend arriving 30-45 minutes before the show to stand in line in front of the Hall. Tickets are $25 each, and I think I heard them say cash only but don’t quote me on that. As mentioned, we opted to skip the General Admission line by purchasing Big Shot Reservations. Since reservations are limited, I periodically stalked their website for availability.

To this point in our trip, this was the #1 experience for the adults and #2 for the kids, after swamp gators. :-) I highly recommend it!

Bourbon Street

Since were were literally on the corner of Bourbon Street (AGAIN!), we took the kids down for a peek. It was early and the party was just getting started.

The Grill Room

Back at Windsor Court, we enjoyed a lovely dinner up over the main entrance courtyard. The service was excellent and our meal was good! We were exhausted, so it was the perfect evening to dine in.

The Grill Room
Located in Windsor Court Hotel
Reservations on Open Table

We have two more days in the Crescent City! Stay tuned…

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2 thoughts on “Alabama to Louisiana Road Trip {New Orleans: St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, Central Grocery, Cafe du Monde, Preservation Hall & The Grill Room}

  1. I’m so excited about this trip because we have literally talking for the past two weeks about taking Isaiah to New Orleans! So fun, great minds think alike!

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