Want to find hidden gems in New Orleans? Do this.

New Orleans is one of my favorite cities in the world. I love the food, the weather, the people, the culture…everything. I’ve been to New Orleans many times over the last few years, and across all my trips, the one thing that has really stood out for me is the fact that – more than anywhere else I’ve been – there is really a city within the city. It’s smaller, more intimate. It’s filled with hidden gems and layered with unexpected connections, and each time I’ve visited, I’ve discovered more of both, which has only intensified my love.

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Kayaking on the bayou in New Orleans

However, it took a couple of visits for me to find the edges of this hidden city peeking out from beneath the usual tourist fare. The way I did it was the usual way – connecting with friends of friends – but even then, the city revealed itself slowly. I’m so glad that I kept going back, because each trip has been better than the last…but what if you’re only planning to go once?

One word: Cassandra.

Okay, maybe three words: Soul of NOLA .

I promise you will thank me later.

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Direct from the Soul of NOLA site – aren’t you curious?

Soul of NOLA is a way to see New Orleans from the inside – even if it’s your first trip. Officially, Soul of NOLA is a private tour service – but really, it’s like connecting with the friend who knows everyone. Like…seriously, everyoneCassandra, the woman behind Soul of NOLA, is like this friend. Hang out with her for a couple of hours, and it’s possible that you’ll experience more than you would in a week if you were by yourself. No joke.

I first met Cassandra on the best bike tour of my life (she was the tour guide). While on the tour, I learned that she was the producer for The Goodnight Show, which is New Orleans’ very own Late Night Talk Show. This fact alone explained so much: she really does know everyone, and she can make things happen.

If you are planning a trip to New Orleans, I HIGHLY recommend connecting with Cassandra. It might feel a little like a splurge, but for what you’re getting, it’s so worth it – you can tailor your experience to learn about, do, and see whatever you want.

As you may know, I’m planning to surprise my husband Josh with a trip to New Orleans this year so I reached out to Cassandra to see what excitement she could cook up for us while we’re there. (It turns out: a lot.) I’m going to keep our plan a surprise until after it happens, but in the meantime, I just had to share my excitement about what she can do.

She can also guide you to those “hole in the wall” spots for the best local food (hint: don’t go to Cafe Du Monde for beignets), tip you off to which bands are must-sees (hint: they’re not on Bourbon Street), and introduce you to authors, chefs, and tastemakers around the city.

Cost is $100/hour with a two-hour minimum. However, after your meeting, Cassandra will stay in contact with you during the rest of your time in New Orleans and act as a resource. She’s just cool like that.

If you’re headed to New Orleans, definitely check out Soul of NOLA. Like I said, you will thank me later. For now, enjoy – and please tell her that I sent you.


  1. Your love affair with New Orleans is contagious. It’s officially on my list!


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