Why New Orleans should be your next girls trip

I was pretty fortunate that I had the opportunity to go to university in Louisiana. I fell in love with the culture of the State, everything from the delicious spicy cajun food to the magical sounds of the jazz instruments in a second line. It truly stole my heart and so when I was thinking about places to go for my bachelorette party, I knew I wanted to share my love of New Orleans with my best girlfriends. The trip exceeded my expectations and was more special than any visit before because I had the chance to do it with my closest friends. Thinking about planning a trip to New Orleans with your gal pals or partner? Well  here are some of the must do’s around town.

Where to stay

It will be hard to find an airbnb in New Orleans because the city has strict bans on short term rentals. Having said that there are some amazing boutique hotels no matter what your price range near the French Quarter, Frenchman St. and  Bourbon St.

Hotel Peter and Paul ($): This hotel really captures the feel and atmosphere of the city. It was once a 19th century catholic church and now the deco is bright and welcoming. There are also plenty of local antiques from some of the oldest estates in town, which adds a special touch.  Don’t miss out on the adorable  downstairs bar, the perfect spot to grab a drink before hitting the nearby Frenchman St.

Ace Hotel New Orleans ($$): What I love about Ace Hotels is that each one of the hotels is unique to the town they are in, and this is no different for New Orleans. This is definitely a great spot for a group trip because of the stunning rooftop pool and live music at their 3 Keys venue on weekends.

Soniat House ($$): This is not your typical hotel, in fact from the outside it is hard to tell it is even a hotel but I love this spot because it really depicts what New Orleans is. From the adorable green shutters that scream French Quarter to the wood canopy beds, this place will make you feel like you stepped back in time in the best way possible.

What to do

 

Ok, when you think of New Orleans, you probably think of Mardi Gras. Yes Mardi Gras is energetic, extravagant, and down right fun. From the decorative floats, to the colourful beads ( and no you do not have to work for them) it transforms but can also be a little hectic especially for a large group. Don’t fret though, if you cannot make it out for Fat Tuesday, there is still so much to see and do any other time of the year.

Enjoy the music on every corner

Love jazz music? This is the spot for you! Not a jazz fan? You will be after a trip to New Orleans. The music is so reach and beautiful you won’t go a minute without tapping your feet and grooving to the sounds. There are so many different places and ways to enjoy the sounds of New Orleans and these are some of my favourites

Music Box Village: This is straight out of a movie, a wooden fortress located in the heart of Bywater. Here you will find small “houses” built from wood and plastic and each house has its own musical style by using different instruments. Walk around with your girls and make sure to dance and make plenty of noise when the bands come by.

Preservation Hall: It is right there in its name, preservation. This historic jazz spot’s goal is to preserve the music and traditions of New Orleans. You won’t find any booze and you can’t make a reservation but it is well worth it because you and your friends will dance the night away.

Pat O’Brien’s Duelling Piano Bar: This has been my favourite spot since I used to go to university so I was pretty excited to say the least to take the girls there. Long harvest tables with two pianos at the front of the bar. You can write on napkins songs that you want the pianists to play, and trust me, they can bring any of your favourite tunes to life. Also make sure to order a hurricane while you are there, Pat O’s is famous for them.

Take a walk down Frenchmen Street: Ok, it is a girls trip so I am sure you are going to want to hit the town. Well make your way down Frenchman St. and just listen to the live music coming from each and every bar. We walked into three different ones and kept dancing the night away.

Eat some traditional Cajun food

I put on probably 10 pounds in my first yer of university because of the delicious poboys, fried crawfish, and gumbo. You won’t find any chains here and trust me you don’t want to. Eating the local food will be a highlight of your trip with the girls.

Cafe Du Monde: No trip to New Orleans is complete without a stop to Cafe Du Monde. Located right in the heart of the French Quarter. Grab a famous beignet (yes you will get powdered sugar on yourself and it will be well worth it) and eat it while taking a stroll around St. Louis Cathedral.

Killer PoBoys: poyboys are the ultimate sandwich stuffed with meat or seafood ( I personally love the shrimp one) and while you can pretty much get delicious poboys all around New Orleans, you cannot top this spot. Killer PoBoys takes the poboy but adds high quality ingredients like caramelized onions and creole mustard.

Cafe Amelie: This could of been my favourite meal of the trip. I loved the outdoor garden patio and fountain. It was romantic but also the perfect spot for a girls night out. I loved the signature cocktails and the fresh seafood.

Dooky Chase’s Restaurant: If you want to experience New Orleans cuisine you need to make a stop here. It really celebrates the creole traditional food with everything from red beans and rice and you need to try the famous fried chicken.

Take in the sights 

While eating and dancing will probably take up most of your time there is still so much else to see and do in New Orleans with your girlfriends. Here are a few more of my favourite activities

Walk down Bourbon with a grenade in hand: Hand Grenades are famous in New Orleans. It is basically a rum slushy and it is delicious. You need to try one if you go to New Orleans, and the best thing is you can take it to go and explore Bourbon St.

Take in the art and architecture of the French Quarter: The French Quarter is such a quaint area of town and perfect for a relaxing day of sightseeing. St. Louis Cathedral is a must see but then make your way down some of the side streets and pop into some shops. There you will find some gorgeous art from the locals. A great place to pick up some souvenirs.

Talk to the spirits: New Orleans is said to be one of the most haunted cities in the world, making it the perfect place for a group ghost tour, if you are into that kind of stuff (which I sure am). There are some cemetery tours available  like the French Quarter Phantoms and you can also learn more about the voodoo traditions of Louisiana with a stop at Marie Laveau’s House Of Voodoo (think American Horror Story).

Shop until you drop at the night market: Palace Market Frenchman is one of the coolest spots in all of New Orleans. It is a night market that has a rotating display of 80 different local artists. You never know what hidden gems you will find.

Those are some of my top picks and spots for a fun girls trip to New Orleans. I would love to hear if you have some other favourites because I know I will be back to this magical city soon.

Happy travelling my friends,

xo

Mia

 

 

Mia Goes M.I.A: The Festival Survival Guide

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One of my favourite summer activities has to be attending music festivals. There is something so special about being out in the sunshine, listening to some incredible music and artists, the unique culture of people from all around the world coming together, the beautiful art, the delicious food, and of course the fun camping.

If you are new to the festival scene, it can seem intimidating and overwhelming. Don’t worry, I am here to help. Having attended several music festivals in the past (5 to be exact) I have learned a few tricks to ensure a successful festival weekend. Today I wanted to share with you my music festival survival handbook.

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Comfort is Key

I know that Coachella’s instagram feed makes one believe music festivals are really fashion shows, but this is just not the case. Reality check, music festivals are hot, sweaty, dirty places. You are sleeping in a tent for days, there is a serious lack of showers, there is dirt everywhere, and it is hot hot hot! This is not the time to crack out your favourite designer duds.

Do not wear white, do not wear expensive, do not wear uncomfortable. In fact everything you do wear you must be ok with ruining or else do not bring.

So what should you bring? From past experience I promise the more comfortable you are, the more you are going to enjoy the experience.

  • Loose shirts: I know, the adorable tight fitting crop top is totally in right? Leave it at home in this case because you are not going to be happy walking around in that for 10 hours straight. Oversized yet stylish shirts for the win
  • Jean Shorts: If any clothing is going to survive the apocalypse it is jeans, so they can survive a simple festival weekend. Bring on the mud, the food, the drinks. None of these are a match for jeans, they will survive the elements.
  • Running Shoes/think sandals: I remember the worst day of my music festival life. I had just bought an adorable pair of fringe heels that would complete my perfect festival outfit. I was wrong. Half way through Kendrick Lamar’s set I needed to quit the dance party because my feet were killing me. Make sure the shoes you rock are made for walking because there will be a lot of walking, and dancing, potential dirt and mud. A music festival is no place for heels or any shoe that is uncomfortable.
  • A blanket scarf: This multi purpose accessory is perfect to add some flare to your outfit and also to sit on if you don’t want to be on the ground.
  • A sweater: This may seem unnecessary since it is the middle of summer but if it rains, or the temps drop at night, you are going to be glad you brought one with you.

So in recap, dress for comfort, don’t bring anything you don’t want ruined, and for god’s sake leave all the heels at home!

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Suns out so protect the guns… and everything else 

Last year at Wayhome a dear friend of mine missed at least one full day because she was suffering form heat stroke. The second day she was still feeling sick. Don’t be that person who wastes your entire festival experience because you didn’t take care of yourself. Music festivals take place during summer, meaning hot temps. They take place all day, which means being outside in these hot temps for hours and hours. Make sure you are taking care of yourself.

  • SPF Yourself: Make sure that you are constantly applying SPF because the sun is not your friend when you are outside all day. Protect that skin!
  • Be the team’s waterboy: Wayhome was fantastic in the sense they had hydration stations laid out, but still so many people were experiencing dehydration. Sun and alcohol are not the best mix, so make sure to add some water to the combination. Even if you aren’t feeling thirsty drink up because when heat stroke sneaks up on you.
  • Bring a hat: Hat’s can be stylish and cool and they can also help keep you cool when you are outside all day.
  • Listen to your body: Despite looking forward to Third Eye Blind all day (yes I am dating myself here) I had to leave half way through their act at once festival because I wasn’t feeling great. Festival grounds do not offer a lot of shaded area, so if you need to, find a spot to take a break whether it be the camp site or a tented area.

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Create Your Own “Glamping” Experience 

This could be the most helpful tip I give you. I am not too keen on camping. Sleeping on the ground for three days straight surrounded by bugs  is not my idea of fun. This year at Wayhome we macgyvered a way to camp in style, and by camp I mean sleep in my car in comfort. I brought a blow up mattress, sheets, and bug nets so we could sleep with the windows down and it was as comfy as a 3.5 star hotel (as comfy as camping can get.)

If you like the idea of sleeping in a tent, I do highly recommend bringing a mattress of some sorts. It is not fun sleeping on the ground and I know this from personal experience.

Bring Snacks 

One of my favourite parts of festivals is the different and delicious food options. Food trucks upon food trucks line the festival grounds. The downside is long lines and expensive options. That is why I am always sure to pack breakfast options as well as snacks for during the day. You aren’t going to want to buy every meal because it is going to cost you and you definitely don’t want to leave your perfect spot right by the stage because your stomach is growling uncontrollably.

Splurge on the Showers 

I have experienced two different types of festivals. Festivals where I showered, and festivals where I didn’t and trust me the showering kind is far superior. Yes there will be hundreds of people on the grounds that haven’t seen a shower in three days, but you don’t want to be one of those people. Pay the extra $$ for a shower pass. It will help you feel more refreshed, energized, and ready for an exciting day of music.

Here are a list of some shower needs during a festival;

  • Dry Shampoo: Your hair will get dirty and greasy. Dry shampoo will be a lifesaver during the weekend
  • Less is more: Don’t go caking on makeup at a music festival. With the hot sun it will melt right off. This is the perfect time to give your skin a bit of a break and go for the natural look
  • Deodorant: Since showers are few and far between make sure you are going a little deodorant overboard to avoid the b/o

Pack a charger

Charing outlets are in high demand and difficult to come across at festivals and in a day and age where if it isn’t online it didn’t happen you want to make sure your phone is as ready as you are. A portable charger for the weekend is key!

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Buddy System

I haven’t really used the buddy system since grade 4, but in a festival environment it is key. When everyone is drinking and having fun it is also important to look out for one another because you never know what can happen. Cell service at festivals is pretty bad and you don’t want to get lost. Make sure you have a meeting point and a friend that you are with at all times because safety should be your number one priority. Safety and having a fun time that is.

And there you have it. My Music Festival Survival Handbook. Have you been to a music festival or are planning on going this summer? I would love to hear from you and for you to share some of your survival ideas.

That is all from now, until I go M.I.A again

xo

Mia

Mia Goes M.I.A: Top 6 Festivals in the Six (or close to Toronto)

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With the warmer weather,  that means summer is right around the corner. With summer comes my favourite time of the year, festival season. While the Coachella’s and Lollapalooza’s of the world sound like a blast, there are plenty of local festivals that are guaranteed great performers and great times. I decided to share with you my top six music festivals in Ontario, and I promise, you won’t be left with fake tickets and mugged like a certain Fyre Fest.

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Wayhome

Wayhome is the vision of Republic Live and will be rocking into its third year. This has become my favourite local festival. What makes it so good? Well it could be the incredible headliners. This year they will host Cage The Elephant, Frank Ocean, and Imagine Dragons as well as plenty of other talent. It could also be the art factor, interesting designs around the festival grounds. Or it could be the festival atmosphere. When the show is done for the day the fun doesn’t stop because you stay on site camping. Lastly it could be the fact that there is something for every music lover; indie, rock, electric, rap. The list goes on. It is truly a festival lovers dream.

Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds 

When: July 28-30

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Boots & Hearts

Grab your daisy dukes and cowboy hats because this is one of the best summer parties. Another Republic Live event this festival has become the holy grail of music festivals if you love country music of course. The festival, going into its 5th year is getting bigger and bigger every year. This year is no different. Luke Bryan, Keith Urban, and Brantley Gilbert will be headlining this year. Just like Wayhome you camp on site and dance all night long. The ambiance makes this festival truly special. Grab your cowgirls and boys and have an unforgettable weekend.

Where: Burl’s Creek Event Grounds 

When: August 10-13

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Field Trip 

An amazing music, arts, and food festival right in the heart of downtown Toronto, what could be better? This year the festival headlines Broken Social Scene, Phoenix, and Feist. What makes Field Trip a must not miss event is that it is so much more than just the music. The festival prides itself on local and creative food as well as interesting art installations. Grab a bite and see some incredible pieces in between acts.

Where: Fort York & Garrison Common

When: June 3-4 

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Bud Light Dreams Festival 

Formally known as Digital Dreams this is a must see for any electric music lover. The festival will yet again welcome some of the biggest names in electric music such as Steve Angello and DVBBS. Just like the name, the festival itself is getting a makeover this year. It will now have three stages including a waterfront stage. This festival is also unique in the sense that instead of having a variety of genres, it just sticks to electric music that will have you dancing all weekend long, and along with electric music comes insane sets so have that camera ready.

Where: Echo Beach 

When: July 7-8

NXNE

If a weekend isn’t enough for you then how about 10 days of an incredible music festival? That is what NXNE has to offer. Taking after its sister festival SXSW in Austin Texas, this festival showcases amazing talent as well as gaming, comedy, and other performances. According to the U.K Guardian, this is Toronto’s leading music festival, and I have to agree. While the headliners this year include Post Malone, Tyler the Creator, and Passion Pit, I fell in love with a bunch of the smaller acts and I know you will too.

Sound of Music 

The beautiful backdrop of Burlington’s Spencer Smith Park sets the stage for this fun and affordable music festival that brings in some big names. The Trews, The Road Hammers, and even Offspring will be performing this year to name a few. The festival also offers plenty of activities such as a parade, streetfest, market place, and carnival to keep you busy for the whole weekend. It is also kid friendly so the whole family can come and enjoy.

Where: Spencer Smith Park 

When: June 10-18 

Well there you have it, some of my favourite musical festivals this summer in and around Toronto. Do you have a favourite festival that didn’t make the list? Would love to hear about it!

Also coming this week my tips on how to survive a camping festival, and how to even glamp (when showers are a rare commodity). I will have that for you later this week.

In the meantime thank you for checking out the latest Mia goes M.I.A

xo

Mia