I turned 24 on July 1. As I stated in my last post, I usually host a birthday dinner with my friends to celebrate me turning a year older. But this year I wanted to switch things up. Not only did I have afternoon tea with my girls to celebrate my big day, but I also took a trip to New Orleans for the Essence Festival with one of my besties, Bailey.

I had always wanted to travel to NOLA. It seemed like such a colorful and cultural city from what I'd see in pictures and films, and I really wanted to experience all that the city had to offer for myself. Last year, I said (aloud) that I was going to attend the Essence Festival before I turned 25. Do you see what happens when you speak positive things into the universe? They happen!

Of course, planning trips isn't always a simple thing to do. Bailey and I had the hardest time trying to find lodging for five days that wasn't going to cost us our first unborn children. We were able to find the cutest Airbnb located in the Uptown district of the city. Our hosts were so accommodating and even gave us wine, chips and a New Orleans guidebook when we arrived. Talk about southern hospitality.

Now that New Orleans heat is something else, y'all. I have NEVER been that hot before in my life! The humidity was insane. So if you're traveling there soon, don't even bother putting on makeup; it'll melt off. And for my sisters that have bouncy wraps or weaves with leave-out? Chile...just get braids.

We had so many things that we wanted to do and see while we were there, and we got through a pretty good amount that were on our list. Bailey convinced me to do an airboat swamp tour. I was beyond nervous because from the pictures I saw, the boat looked so small and the alligators looked like they were climbing right on it to come and take a ride with you! There were about 10 of us that went on the tour. The boat went up to about 30 mph, which is pretty fast! We saw tons of alligators. Even some that were over 10 feet long! They definitely got close to the boat. I think they're so used to the tour guide coming out to feed them every day so they know no one is trying to harm them or anything. Near the end of the tour, our guide made everyone on the boat hold a baby alligator. I was scared that it was gonna try to snap at me, but the guide instructed us on how to hold him so that he couldn't. In case you're wondering, alligators feel very smooth. Kinda like butter, lol.

The touristy things didn't stop there. We went to Louis Armstrong Park, listened to a few live bands and shopped at an art market on Frenchman Street, visited the New Orleans Museum of Art, walked down Bourbon Street (which is gross, btw), drank hand grenades and daiquiris and frozen Irish coffees, enjoyed chargrilled oysters two days in a row, indulged in beignets at Cafe du Monde, and so much more.

And finally, the details you've all been waiting for: the Essence Fest. It was a lot of fun! We actually didn't go to any of the concerts on Friday night because there wasn't anyone we particularly wanted to see, so we went to the shows on Saturday and Sunday instead. I saw Jazmine Sullivan, Mary J. Blige (this was not intentional for me, but I was VERY entertained), Jill Scott, Chance the Rapper, Master P (who was not good at all, but again, entertaining), and last but certainly not least: Solange. I was so elated to see her live. I honestly could have cried! She puts on an amazing show. If you have the opportunity to see her in a city near you, please do. My girl doesn't disappoint!

Bringing in my 24th in a different city was different for me, but I loved every minute of it. NOLA is such a cool place to visit, and I'm looking forward to going again in the near future. If any of my friends are reading this, I hope you're taking this as a hint to get ready to go to Essence in 2018! I've said before that 23 was such a pivotal year for me, and I know 24 is gonna be even better. Thanks to everyone that wished me a happy one! 

If you want to see more pics from my trip, click on the Instagram icon below and follow me! 

Outfit Details:

T-shirt dress: Forever 21 // Sneakers: Sam Edelman // Purse: Lucky Brand (link is to an alternative)

Crop top: Forever 21 (link is to an alternative) // Pants: BCBG (link is to an alternative)

Sandals: Target // Clutch: Unknown (link is to an alternative) // Co-ord set: ASOS

Heels: Target // Jumpsuit: ASOS // Heels: ALDO // Choker: Gypsy Junk New Orleans