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06 January 2014 @ 10:33 am
New Orleans  

Considering a trip to New Orleans this year. Any recommendations for when to go, hotels, things to do?

Amy Sissonamysisson on January 6th, 2014 08:31 pm (UTC)
I'm ashamed to admit I've never been there ... and I live only a few hours away!
billeylerbilleyler on January 6th, 2014 09:23 pm (UTC)
Not June through September (heat and humidity)
Not Mardi Gras (unless you're into debauchery)
We stayed in a hotel in Metarie a year ago, since it's cheaper than New Orleans proper. Getting around in a rental car is pretty easy, unless you're based in the French Quarter.
As for things to do, you can find all that online! :-) I'd include the surrounding areas (Natchez, Mississippi is fascinating) in your search. You might also consider http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rocket_Propulsion_Test_Complex#Rocket_propulsion_test_complexa ways east of New Orleans; we enjoyed that a lot this last trip--the brand new 'exploratorium' is worth the price of admission, but it also includes a bus tour of the testing grounds. There are plenty of places along the coast where the Katrina (and other hurricane) scars are still plenty visible.

Note: My first visit was right out of high school in June 1972, and made several visits after that through my college years. Next time back was with Danny over Christmas 2003, then 2007 and again Christmas 2011. The French Quarter never changes.

Edited at 2014-01-06 09:33 pm (UTC)
Kate: Singaporekateyule on January 8th, 2014 05:57 am (UTC)
Well, as I mention in a comment below, plans went "voom" and we booked rooms and flights this morning. Will be there in February.

As far as Mardi Gras goes, it sounds like we will have the best of all worlds: yes Mardi Gras season, so king cakes and other food specials and decorations and whatnot. But Easter is very late this year, making the season long and spread out, and they won't be in Full Crazy Mode yet. The parades really get rolling the day we check out.
janeehawkinsjaneehawkins on January 6th, 2014 10:35 pm (UTC)
I put double underlines under what billeyler said about June through September!
Kalimac: puzzlekalimac on January 7th, 2014 10:10 am (UTC)
To my mind, the best thing to do in New Orleans is to eat. Get some good restaurant recommendations. If anyone convenient to you has a handy copy of the fabulous restaurant guide that Geo Alec Effinger wrote for the 1988 Worldcon, I fancy there are suggestions there that are still valid despite its now immense age, intervening hurricanes, etc.

A side trip by car to Baton Rouge, Natchez, and Vicksburg would be worth your while.
Kate: Singaporekateyule on January 8th, 2014 05:40 am (UTC)
Food, oh yes. I want to keep this semi-spontaneous by our standards, but certainly foresee making at least one dinner reservation pre-trip.

Planning has gone from 0-60 in under 36 hours (!); we booked flights and hotel this morning for Monday-Friday of the week leading into Potlatch. Will fly from New Orleans to San Jose.
Kalimackalimac on January 8th, 2014 06:07 am (UTC)
Wow. Sounds excellent. Let me know what you found when you get here.
(Deleted comment)
Kate: Singaporekateyule on January 8th, 2014 05:46 am (UTC)
We're going to be at the "Inn on Ursulines", smack in the French Quarter. They had a "3 nights for the price of 2" weekday special, and David successfully diagnosed why neither we nor the desk clerk could get the system to cough up the right rates. Result just over $100/night for a place very well reviewed on TripAdvisor. Yay!

I'm looking forward to a goodly amount of unstructured walking around in both FQ and Garden District.
deborahjross on January 7th, 2014 04:33 pm (UTC)
Food, certainly, including many varieties of fish I'd never tasted before. And live music. And antique stores.

Take a self-guided tour of the French Quarter (I found a reprint of one from the 1930s) so you can go at your own pace and soak up the history and architecture. And pause to enjoy the street music.

Beignettes and coffee at Cafe du Monde.

Take the ferry across the river at night.

Explore the cemetery district (trolley ride from French Quarter), especially the very moving Katrina Memorial in the old charity cemetery. Cemetery means mausoleum as they're all above ground due to the water level, truly "cities of the dead."

If you have a local friend, ask them to drive you through the Ninth Ward. So many houses still unoccupied, but bright spots of hope in the very modern ones put up by Brad Pitt.

I never got to the Garden District or upriver, but if you have the time, consider them. Maybe guided tours for the latter.
et in Arcadia egobooapostle_of_eris on January 8th, 2014 09:14 pm (UTC)
lots of food,
lots of walking,
lots of music

but you already knew that
Intelligentrix: Mardi gras maskintelligentrix on January 9th, 2014 08:19 pm (UTC)
I am so bummed that I won't be there to take you around to my favorite places and give you the guided tour(s). So, in lieu of that, some personal recommendations:

Food: Coop's on Decatur Street. Dive bar atmosphere, glorious (and inexpensive) food. Smoked duck quesadillas, rabbit and sausage jambalaya, and the best red beans and rice in the city. If the weather's nice, Cafe Amelie on Royal St. has a wonderful courtyard. Croissant D'Or on Ursulines is good for breakfast and has excellent baguettes. Coffee at either CC's on the corner of Royal and St. Phillip or a bit further down on Royal at Royal Blend, which is tucked into a little courtyard. All of these are an easy walk from your hotel. Frenchmen St. isn't too far away, and the Praline Connection there has decent classic New Orleans cuisine. At the French Market, there are a number of little food stalls, my favorite of which is Meals from the Heart Cafe, which does an excellent salmon po'boy (not really a po'boy, but I give them leeway as it's so good), fabulous fish tacos, and good, warm black bean soup if it's chilly. Near the French Market on the corner of Barracks and French Market Place, is the Louisiana Pizza Kitchen, which does a fabulous salmon sandwich for lunch and excellent pizza and pasta, etc. Worth going to, for sure. Stay far, far away from Margaritaville and the seafood restaurant on Decatur and St. Philip. Also good, but pricier, are Irene's on St. Philip and Chartres, and NOLA on St. Louis between Decatur and Chartres. Coffee and Beignets at Cafe du Monde are absolutely worth it and the best time is late at night when there are fewer people. Of course, if you go in the morning the people watching is better. I have more suggestions of places outside the Quarter if you want them. The best Po'boys, for instance, can be found at Parkway Bakery and Tavern at the end of Bayou St. John.

Touring: There are some good guide-led tours of some of the cemeteries, as well as walking tours of the Garden District, which I recommend. The mule-drawn carriages can be a fun ride and depending on your driver you can learn a lot of history. Some are good bull-shitters, though. Sorry I can't tell you who to get or avoid there. The St. Louis Cathedral is gorgeous, and the Cabildo and Presbytere that flank it are set up as museums. There's also a good museum in the old US Mint, which is right next to the French Market between Barracks and Esplanade. On Jackson Square, there is a little store-front for the local historical society where you can get lots of information and maps. It's on the St. Ann St. side near Chartres. There are three streetcar lines running at the moment (plus a little stub to the bus/train station): St. Charles, (which is the oldest line and still runs on antique rolling stock) goes Uptown on St. Charles and then turns on S. Carrollton Ave. (and runs past my old house). They were doing construction on the line when I left, so it may not go all the way out to the end. You could check on how far it goes when you get there. It runs past Loyola and Tulane campuses and Audubon park across from them. At the other end of the park, there is the Audubon Zoo, and there is a shuttle which takes people there from St. Charles. Lots of great places to eat in the Riverbend where St. Charles and S. Carrollton meet. There's also the Canal streetcar, which has two destinations. You can ride one out to the Metairie cemeteries, and the other turns up N. Carrollton and goes to City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art. There is a wonderful sculpture garden there, as well as botanical garden and a children's park. If you take that line, there's a fun little Italian gelato and cookie shop on N. Carrollton called Angelo Brocato's, which is worth going to. The Riverfront line goes from the foot of Poydras to Frenchmen St. along the river.

Edited at 2014-01-09 08:23 pm (UTC)
Intelligentrix: Flood Stintelligentrix on January 9th, 2014 08:20 pm (UTC)
The shops around Jackson Square are fun, and there's a nice little used bookstore on Chartres and Madison called The Old Library Bookshop which has some wonderful local books. I also recommend my former place of employment, Papier Plume, on the corner of Royal and Dumaine. It's lovely little pen shop that also carries stationary, Italian leather bags, journals, etc. The owner, Patrick, is a delightful Frenchman.

Oh, I could go on and on. Just a few more recommendations: The New Orleans Historic Voodoo Museum on Dumaine which is better than you would think and a tiny little museum, The Louisiana Museum Foundation, that I never got to on Dumaine just behind my shop. I walked past it every day and always meant to go look at it on a day off. When I left they were advertising an exhibit of Newcombe pottery.

If you'd like more recommendations, just ask. Have fun!
billeylerbilleyler on January 10th, 2014 02:03 am (UTC)
We should have been with you when we were there for 3 days over New Year 2013! :-)