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Beyond Bourbon St., hopefully.
January 22, 2011 5:17 PM   Subscribe

I have some very specific questions about very specific things to do in New Orleans.

Ms. Dean Yeager and I are vacationing in New Orleans in February (before Mardi Gras) and the rest of the internet is not really answering some questions I have. I'm hoping those of you who live there or nearby can help me out.

Could you recommend some thrift stores to go to? How are the Salvation Armys down there? ARE there Salvation Armys down there? Which stores are worth hunting though? Which ones are in neighborhoods we should avoid? Would you mind divulging the locations of your favorite secret spots to two out-of-towners? If it sweetens the deal I'll trade you for my favorite thrifting gold mines in Southeast Michigan.

Could you also recommend some vintage stores, antique stores or flea markets to visit? We're looking for places that are more on the cheap/reasonable side than super-fancy tourist trap places I assume litter the high volume areas. We're not looking for an antebellum lap desk or anything Tiffany, more like old political buttons or a box of CDVs to rummage through.

Could you recommend nearby sites and attractions related to the Civil War, World War I and World War II? We already have the WWII Museum and possibly a short road-trip up to Vicksburg on the itinerary. The internet has been reasonably helpful here, but I'm looking for any personal recommendations you might have. Any historical things in general that we may have overlooked would be helpful, too.

We'd also like to see the ocean. What beaches are nearby that are good for strolling? Maybe with some cool rocks to climb on?

And finally, could you recommend the best places to experience some honest-to-goodness culture shock? This may sound like an odd request, but I've been in the Midwest my entire life (like, seriously my entire life: I'm nearly 30 and I can count on my hands the number of days I've been outside of the Iowa/Illinois/Indiana/Michigan area) and I'm hoping to feel like I'm not in Kansas anymore. Maybe this will happen naturally, but I thought it couldn't hurt to inquire.

We are staying in the Garden District and will have a car, if that helps.

Thank you!
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (34 answers total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
 
There are St. Vincent de Paul stores, one in particular is on Airline Highway just past the Orleans/Metairie line. I never went in there, so I don't know what kind of stuff they have.

For vintage stores, one of our favorite places was an architectural salvage place called Ricca's. Architectural salvage is a wonderful treasure trove of grand old New Orleans stuff. We bought multiple items there and always had a great time just wandering.

For the Civil War, try Jackson Barracks. Or try this site.

As for oceans, most of the beaches that are close are in Mississippi and are frankly not particularly interesting or clean. The best beaches are in Alabama and Northern Florida. It's a long drive down to the beach in Louisiana - almost all the way to Grande Isle which is a lovely drive, but long.

Culture shock: New Orleans will not be like anything you have experienced before, so I think you will have plenty of good shock. But, just in case, check out Oz, a gay bar on Bourbon. Bring plenty of ones. It is FABULOUS. It's in the part of Bourbon past where most of the tourists go. For fun culture, go to Lafitte's Blacksmith shop, even further up Bourbon. For architecture culture, try to get to Algiers, across the river. Take the ferry - I think it's $1 for cars and free for pedestrians - leaving from the end of Canal. While you are there, you can go to Mardi Gras World!
posted by Leezie at 6:03 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Leezie - they moved Mardi Gras World, apparently. It's on the East Bank now. (I don't know when this happened either.)

Agree about the beaches only being in other states...also, we don't have any cool rocks to climb on, hence the washing away into the Gulf.

For culture shock - here it is...we have no open container laws as long as you're not in a car. (Meaning at the drive through Daiquiri places, you have to wait until you get home to put the straw in. When you leave a bar, they give you a plastic cup to stick the rest of your drink in to drink as you wander around. I was SHOCKED by the lack of this in other cities. ("What? I have to hurry up and finish my drink?")
posted by artychoke at 6:14 PM on January 22, 2011


artychoke - It's no fun on the East Bank!! Still, Algiers is awesome.

Following up on the open container law, it is true no open containers in the car, but that doesn't prevent you from doing Drive Thru Daquiris!!
posted by Leezie at 6:18 PM on January 22, 2011


The best, best, best second hand shops around the city are on the uptown part of magazine street. Definitely go to The Magazine Street Antique Mall and Neophobia (don't let the website scare you off, there's reasonable prices in the store). While you're there you *will* come across about a dozen others that are worth going to. It's worth stopping in any of them, but those two are where I seem to find my biggest scores.

As far as Civil war history, I can't vouch for it personally but pretty much around the block from the WWII museum is the Louisiana Civil War museum . I can't imagine it won't be worth checking out for you.

I'll write more when I think of it
posted by bookwo3107 at 6:25 PM on January 22, 2011


There's a used bookstore and record store in the French Quarter -- with a specific genre of stock. Kitchen Witch Cookbooks is on Toulouse Street, and the "books" part is only cookbooks. They actually are used-and-new now, but when they first opened, it was all used -- because their initial stock consisted of the owners' 2000-volume collection.

The owners are also active writers on the indy publishing scene in New Orleans (I think they wrote for a free paper called "Where Y'at?"), and one of them (Debbie Lindsey) was also a waitress around the corner for several years.

Kitchen Witch was one of the first new business licenses granted post-Katrina, and they opened up using their joint huge collection of cookbooks and records. And this proved to be a brainstorm -- they soon got swamped with customers who were trying to replace their own damaged stock of cookbooks. They continue to offer used New Orleans cooking classics, as well as new stock; and in addition to the music they also offer, they've started offering bottles of their own signature spice blend for sale as well.

A dear friend of mine has visited New Orleans a lot over the past 15 years, while on assignments for his magazine -- he first befriended Debbie on his very first visit, whe she was waitressing. Every time he visited he'd stop in, and soon got to be friends with both her and her SO. I made my own visit when I went last year, after years of hearing about them; it's a great little store and both of them are tremendously neat people.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:30 PM on January 22, 2011


Get out of the Bourbon St. area and head to where real people live. My favorite NOLA bar is Le Bon Temps Roule (has fantastic music). For a unique experience, check out Snake & Jake's, especially very late at night.
posted by axiom at 6:39 PM on January 22, 2011


I'm going to take this paragraph by paragraph. Sorry if it gets wordy.

Could you recommend some thrift stores to go to?

The legendary bestest thrift store in New Orleans back "in my day" was Thrift City, which was right next door to the highly recommended Rock 'n' Bowl. However, I have a feeling it's long since closed, since Yelp searches produce nothing. But if you go to Rock 'n' Bowl and there's a huge thrift shop next door, definitely check it out.

Yelp throws up Red White & Blue as a good alternative - I have vague memories of it being a thing, though I haven't personally been.

You will need a car do to much if any of this sort of thing.

How are the Salvation Armys down there? ARE there Salvation Armys down there? Which stores are worth hunting though? Which ones are in neighborhoods we should avoid?

Yelp lists several Salvation Army locations. If you read the reviews, I'm sure they'll set you straight about quality of merchandise and neighborhood safety issues. Google street view can be a great asset here, too - bad areas tend to look bad.

Would you mind divulging the locations of your favorite secret spots to two out-of-towners? If it sweetens the deal I'll trade you for my favorite thrifting gold mines in Southeast Michigan.

Honestly, New Orleans is a pretty small city. What you see is generally what you get. There aren't a million places to do most things, especially in terms of shopping and stuff that caters mainly to locals. Outside of a few neighborhoods, people are generally not exceedingly cosmopolitan in their outlook - most locals are happy to shop at the mall, drink coffee from Starbucks, and eat fast food. Which means that New Orleans isn't as chockablock with quirky shopping as other similarly culture-soaked cities.

Could you also recommend some vintage stores, antique stores or flea markets to visit?

My favorites are Le Garage and Greg's Antiques. Both are within a few blocks of each other on Decatur near Esplanade, in the Quarter. There's also lots of similar interesting vintagey shops right in that neck of the woods. Be advised that the French Market's "flea market" section is mostly mass-produced crap.

Magazine Street, in the Garden District, is lousy with antique shops, but most of them are overpriced in my opinion. I'm no antiques expert, though.

Also, Royal Street in the Quarter - also very expensive, though my eye tells me that the stuff in the Royal Street shops is potentially worth what they're asking. It's more in line with the "antebellum lap desk" stuff you say you're not looking for, though.

Could you recommend nearby sites and attractions related to the Civil War, World War I and World War II?

As for the Civil War, you might try the Civil War Museum, AKA the Confederate Museum. There may also be Civil War and Reconstruction era historical walking tours - maybe ask a concierge at a hotel, or refer to a guidebook? Alas, not much of the Civil War actually happened in New Orleans. All the famous battle sites are mainly in Virginia, Pennsylvania, etc.

There are no WWI related sites in New Orleans, as far as I know. For WW2, aside from the World War II Museum you already know about, there honestly isn't much. As I'm sure you know, both World Wars were fought almost entirely outside the US. New Orleans was not a significant place in either of those wars.

The history of New Orleans is much more significant with regard to the War of 1812 and the decades immediately before and after. The Civil War (and the growth of Chicago) began the city's slow sink into irrelevancy which is still grinding on even now.

If you're a serious history buff, Chalmette Battlefield (where the Battle of New Orleans happened) is worth a drive. I also love the Pharmacy Museum, for a slice of 19th century everyday life. This isn't a historic attraction, per se, but the upstairs room at Maspero's restaurant once housed a slave market.

Other historical food/beverage establishments include Antoine's (oldest restaurant in New Orleans), Tujague's, Commander's Palace, Napoleon House (center of a failed plot to rescue Napoleon from exile), Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop (just what it says on the tin, but it's a bar. Of course.), and the Old Absinthe House (one of the supposed birthplaces of the cocktail).

We'd also like to see the ocean.

Have you looked at a map lately? There is no ocean within 500 miles of New Orleans.

What beaches are nearby that are good for strolling?

There are no beaches "nearby". The nearest beach I can think of is Grand Isle, which is a few hours' drive down to a barrier island in the Gulf. There's also Biloxi, Mississippi, and associated beaches (Gulfport, Bay St. Louis, etc.). But again, those are a ways from New Orleans proper. That's, like, where people in New Orleans go for holiday weekends and rich people buy summer homes. It's not like Lake Michigan is to Chicago or Coney Island is to New York.

Maybe with some cool rocks to climb on?

Rocks? Ha. The highest "mountain" in Louisiana is a hill in the northern part of the state which is 500 feet above sea level. The highest natural point in New Orleans is a pile of dirt in the Audobon Zoo called Monkey Hill. We do not have naturally occurring rocks.

And finally, could you recommend the best places to experience some honest-to-goodness culture shock?

When I was seventeen years old, I was driving home to Terrebonne Parish from a friend's house near Lafayette. I got my directions mixed up and took the wrong exit - Amelia instead of Morgan City. After a mile or so driving through the swamp, I came to a small settlement in a swampy clearing. Every building in the village was on stilts, in an architectural style more like something out of Apocalypse Now than anything you would expect to find in the USA. There was a pagoda in the distance (a Catholic church, I later found out). Vietnamese-Americans walked the streets; there wasn't a white person in sight. This, my friend, is the immigrant fishing village known as Amelia, Louisiana. I can't promise that it's still there, or that it still looks like that, or even that you'll be able to find it on purpose. But if you do - well, let's just say I grew up less than fifty miles from that spot and it's the closest thing to culture shock I've ever experienced on the North American continent.

If that sounds a bit much for you, I definitely recommend checking out a little of Cajun country - there are lots of swamp tours out there, and all of them are generally good. When I was a kid Annie Munson's was the preferred tour, but she was ancient even then.

The Chauvin Sculpture Garden is also pretty interesting, especially if the neighbors are on hand. They love to chat with visitors, and someone from Michigan would be really exotic to them.
posted by Sara C. at 6:39 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Sadly, Sara C., Thrift City is no more. Also, Rock and Bowl has moved towards the river to the other side of Earhart by the new Olde College Inn. (Still on Carrollton. Still fun, but it's all brand new now.) There's a thrift store on Carrollton on the other side of Tulane Ave. called Pelican Thrift, but I've never been there. Red White & Blue is mainly clothes. There's Bloomin' Deals thrift Store on Freret, I've always liked that one.
posted by artychoke at 6:52 PM on January 22, 2011


Chiming in...

Could you recommend some thrift stores to go to?

There are several good ones. On Decatur St you've got Decatur Street Clothing Exchange and Le Garage, the latter of which specializes in military surplus. You've got Funky Monkey and Buffalo Exchange on Magazine St, which are pretty trendy, and on Oak St you've got Glue and On The Other Hand. On The Other Hand is one of my favorites, mainly because it seems to be an exceedingly cluttered extension of its owner's rather eccentric psyche -- and she's always in there and happy to talk and make recommendations. Also I'm a huge fan of Thrift City USA over in Gretna, since it's one of the only places large enough that it has a sizable selection of men's clothing, and it's much cheaper than the trendy "clothing exchanges" in the city. Oh and I've heard great things about Blooming Deals over on Freret St, but haven't managed to check it out personally. The Bywater Junk Shop is pretty insane in terms of its eclecticness, but personally I find it a little unpleasant and the service is crap even by the standards of such places. Many of the places listed above have a bit of the vintage/eclectic store feel about them, by the way.

Decatur, Magazine, and Oak St are all places that you really ought to check out while you're here in any case, if you want to catch a more local scene than the usual Bourbon St tourist traps. If you're already in the Garden District then it should be no big deal to scoot over to Magazine or Oak. People who are staying in the Quarter often don't bother to get over to that side of town, but you'll already be halfway there.

If I get the chance I'll post a bit more about the other parts of the question. I will say this, though: The Country Club is one of the best-kept secrets in the city, and if you want some culture shock you can do no better. It's in the Bywater (perhaps my favorite neighborhood) and it's an excellent restaraunt and bar with a clothing-optional pool in the back, complete with jacuzzi and sauna. The aforementioned clothing-optional nature helps keep the crowd rather self-selecting (as does the fact that it caters primarily to a gay clientele) but if you're brave enough you'll find it a very relaxed and welcoming place, not to mention their kitchen is superb. It's not even expensive. Do check it out if you want something different.
posted by Scientist at 7:10 PM on January 22, 2011 [4 favorites]


Have you looked at a map lately? There is no ocean within 500 miles of New Orleans.

Ha! Yes, true. When I said "ocean" I meant the Gulf, which is technically part of the ocean, right?
posted by Hey Dean Yeager! at 7:50 PM on January 22, 2011


I'm not sure if it counts as "culture shock," but one of my most memorable experiences in New Orleans is getting a true "Gentleman's Shave" at Aidan Gill's on Magazine.

http://www.aidangillformen.com/

This is NOT "Gentlemen's" as in "Gentlemen's clubs" -- this is truly a world-class shave, performed by experts. That may not sound very exciting, but I can guarantee you that you will LOVE it, and you will talk about it afterwards. I've never felt so pampered and comfortable, and I've certainly never had a better shave.

Maybe quirky, but isn't that what vacations are all about? It's not too far from some of the vintage shops on Magazine, either, so it may make for a great relaxation break in the middle of a busy shopping day!
posted by peripatetic007 at 8:06 PM on January 22, 2011


And finally, could you recommend the best places to experience some honest-to-goodness culture shock? This may sound like an odd request, but I've been in the Midwest my entire life (like, seriously my entire life: I'm nearly 30 and I can count on my hands the number of days I've been outside of the Iowa/Illinois/Indiana/Michigan area) and I'm hoping to feel like I'm not in Kansas anymore. Maybe this will happen naturally, but I thought it couldn't hurt to inquire.

As long as you make sure to visit different neighborhoods you're going to find plenty of culture (not sure if it's shock worthy, depends on the individual I would think). It's great to have certain places marked to visit, but save time to explore the different neighborhoods. The french quarter (yes, real people live there), the garden district, magazine street, the 9th ward... eat at commanders palace, parkway bakery, august, and willie mae's scotch house, all wonderful, all different neighborhoods, different price ranges, yet all very new orleans.

Honestly, New Orleans is a pretty small city. What you see is generally what you get. There aren't a million places to do most things, especially in terms of shopping and stuff that caters mainly to locals. Outside of a few neighborhoods, people are generally not exceedingly cosmopolitan in their outlook - most locals are happy to shop at the mall, drink coffee from Starbucks, and eat fast food. Which means that New Orleans isn't as chockablock with quirky shopping as other similarly culture-soaked cities.

Other than being a small city, I couldn't disagree more with most of this. No, new orleans isn't a huge city, but for it's size it has an amazing amount of restaurants and music venues. There's bars/pubs for every taste. Like super touristy? Pat o'briens. Old and soaked in history? Napolean house or lafittes blacksmith shop. Neighborhood irish pub? Try finn mccools.

Shop at the mall? I've always lived on the outskirts of new orleans, but of my friends in the city very few ever go to the mall. They don't eat fast food (new orleans has not only some of the best food in the states but also the most affordable). They'd be nuts to.

Starbucks? I can't think of a city where starbucks matters less. Starbucks is certainly there, but locals can be found at CCs and PJs Coffee, both louisiana companies.

New Orleans is a city that hates change and loves tradition. It is not a mall/starbucks city. Explore and you'll find out the same thing.
posted by justgary at 8:10 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Yes, there are only three full Starbucks locations in New Orleans/Orleans Parish proper, and one of those, in the tiny Canal Place mall, is almost certainly more frequented by tourists and guests of the Westin, which is attached to the mall and the Canal Place office complex. The others are located in Uptown (on Magazine), the other in Lakeview, which is more post-World War II suburban in character than Uptown, the French Quarter, or Mid-City. Even in Lakeview, however, there are myriad other options, even close to the Starbucks. You can find Starbucks coffee for sale in the big hotels, but those are not frequented by locals.
posted by raysmj at 8:50 PM on January 22, 2011


Be sure to visit Frenchmen Street, which I'm amazed that no one has mentioned. It is THE most favored entertainment district among locals, will give you a taste of life in the artier (and more gay and lesbian populated, more bohemian, etc.) Marigny and Bywater areas. This is a required stop for culture shock! For cryin' out loud.

Places to avoid, and I'm awfully sorry to say this in the case of the middle two here (since so much of the real, cultural heart of the city is there, or came from there): Central City, much of the Treme, Lafitte and 7th Ward areas (although I would suggest going to the New Orleans African-American Museum. It'll be fine during the day. Just be careful.).

Esplanade Avenue is worth a drive, however, and the City Park and Bayou St. John areas are some of the most beautiful and architecturally diverse in town, Bayou Metairie at City Park is especially lovely, etc. The New Orleans Museum of Art is there, the Edgar Degas House is nearby, etc. And some of the city's most interesting cemeteries are located nearby, including the crazy haunted-looking, triangular Odd Fellows Rest, and Metairie Cemetery feature the grave sites of both Gen. P.G.T. Beauregard and Andrew Higgins, the inventor of the "Higgins Boats" used in the D-Day invasion. Nearby, at the edge of NOLA, is a home built during the Great Depression and finished around the beginning of World War II, Longue View. Eleanor Roosevelt stayed there as a guest, so there's a vague World War II connection as well.

Statues of Confederate generals are, of course, still all over town, if you're into that. General Lee at Lee Circle at the border of the CBD and the Lower Garden District, General Beauregard at Esplanade and City Park Ave., then Jefferson David on Jeff Davis Parkway--a street the Confederate president's statue shares with José Martí. Seriously.
posted by raysmj at 9:20 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Link for New Orleans African-American Museum. Also, if you're into Civil War history, you must find time to visit the Louisiana State Museum (the Cabildo), next door to St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square.
posted by raysmj at 9:27 PM on January 22, 2011


For a cultural experience, watch for Big Red Cotton's second line announcements on Gambit's Best of New Orleans. I think the Treme Sidewalk Steppers will be parading while you're there. I doubt if there's anything like that in Iowa.
posted by timeistight at 9:33 PM on January 22, 2011


Mardi GRAS isn't until March 8th this year so you need to see a parade. Check Nola.com for schedules.
posted by govtdrone at 9:46 PM on January 22, 2011


Bloomin' deals on Freret.
posted by umbú at 11:25 PM on January 22, 2011 [1 favorite]


Also, check out this antique store that has been around for over 100 years.
posted by umbú at 11:27 PM on January 22, 2011


I couldn't disagree more with most of this. No, new orleans isn't a huge city, but for it's size it has an amazing amount of restaurants and music venues.

I grew up in/around New Orleans. Trust me when I say that, once you get away from the most central parts of the city, you very quickly get into suburbia. And aside from a few hundred diehard bohemians*, most people just don't care about that wannabe subversive My Jacket Was Hand-Sewn By Blind Orphans In Nepal Out Of Recycled Yak Hair thing. Yes, there are lots of restaurants, bars, clubs, and music venues. But it's not like New York (for example) where the ethos is to absolutely hate chain anything and swear up and down that you never eat fast food, never shop in mall stores, hate anything to do with mass culture. People just aren't like that in New Orleans. Most people are happy for their clothes to come from the Gap or TJ Maxx or whatever. The self-described coffee snobs love Starbucks. It's not Portland. There are like 10 vintage clothing stores, five indy cafes, a couple places to buy records. There aren't really any "secret" places - it's just not big enough for that.

*Most of whom I went to high school with. Seriously, the town is that small.
posted by Sara C. at 1:55 AM on January 23, 2011


locals can be found at CCs and PJs Coffee, both louisiana companies.

This is a perfect microcosm of what I mean. CC's and PJ's are S-bux clones, which serve coffee that isn't anything special and don't offer anything that Starbucks doesn't. Sure, they're locally owned companies, but they're still mega-chains with no particular character. They're the kind of places that most people in other self-described "cosmopolitan" cities would swear up and down that they HATED and never went to.

This is exactly what I mean when I say that New Orleans isn't a terribly cosmopolitan place, and for the most part what you see is what you get. Sure, we have Commander's and August, but 90% of locals would say that their favorite restaurant is Raising Cane's or Zia or something totally corporate like that.

There's nothing really wrong with the above - it's just the way New Orleans is. It's not Portland, or San Francisco, or Brooklyn, or Austin. It's its own weird little thing.
posted by Sara C. at 2:01 AM on January 23, 2011


I'm so glad you're coming here! As soon as you get to town, pick up a Gambit (free weekly published on Tuesday) to see what's going on in entertainment and to check out the many recommendations for shopping and eating out and where there might be parades or events on the weekend. Get a city map and notice which way the river flows. Uptown is a neighborhood but also, when giving directions, people say "uptown" to mean the direction upriver.

Be sure to ride the streetcar up St. Charles Avenue. Downtown take the ferry from the foot of Canal Street to Algiers in order to get the best view of Jackson Square and the cathedral. Go to the French Market and eat beignets with cafe au lait. The Mississippi at New Orleans is impressive in its own right; watch the river traffic from the Moon Walk while music floats out from the Quarter. See the Cabildo and Pirate's Alley. Give a little notice to the artists and buskers in the square. This is a very romantic place, slow down and enjoy it.

Walk sections of Magazine and wander the shops. There are plenty of small, funky, specialty shops. Get a cup of hot chocolate and a macaron at Sucre'. Pass up Starbucks for the local coffeehouses, PJ's, CC's, Rue de la Course. Go to Oak Street for the thrift stores and for the Maple Leaf Bar and whatever band is playing the night you go; stop in Jacques Imo's for the butter beans and the special of the day.

Eat some raw oysters in the Quarter; get some gumbo at the Gumbo Shop, try the po boys at Parkway Bakery. Talk to people wherever you go; we love to show off our city. See the swamp exhibit at the zoo or take a swamp tour. Go look at the live oaks in City Park, Audubon Park and in the Newcomb quad on Tulane's campus. Notice how much of spring has already arrived.

Go up River Road for a plantation house tour. Gawk at the houses in the Garden District and on St. Charles -- we do. Those houses were built in the American sector, as the locals called it back then. But don't overlook the shotguns painted in all those colors. For shotguns, creole cottages and fancy houses built by the French and creoles, it's the Quarter, Esplanade Avenue and Faubourgs Treme and Marigny. Look at both the large houses and shotguns for floor to ceiling windows used as doors onto balcony or porch. Notice the shutters that closed against hurricanes. Nearly everything here is old and much of it looks strange to people who are accustomed to brick houses, new construction and expansive lawns. (Those are all in the suburbs and across the lake.)

Do your sightseeing and strolling around in the daytime; you'll find almost any generally advertised entertainment venue will be safe enough at night. (Just don't forget this is a city and can be dangerous.)
posted by Anitanola at 3:36 AM on January 23, 2011


Seconding raysmg on Frenchmen St! It's culture shock in the sense of being prrrretty different from anywhere you've been before, but it's also...comfortable. Homey.

In particular, stop by Adolfo's for dinner (tiny tiny and dark, Italian-Cajun, really good). Before and after dinner, hang out downstairs at the Apple Barrel, a little bar and music joint owned by local musician Coco Robicheaux. It's small enough that you can't be more than about fifteen feet from the performer, nor more than five feet from the bar.

Last time I was in NOLA I spent four nights in a row at the Apple Barrel and wasn't close to tired of it.
posted by hippugeek at 7:46 AM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


Our favorite historical tour last year was Laura Plantation.
posted by Jorus at 8:12 AM on January 23, 2011


and don't offer anything that Starbucks doesn't.

Except for real iced coffee (cold brewed does NOT come from Portland, and I like Portland; it's such a staple here that competing local brands are sold in all grocery stores, including all the major supermarket chains and even Whole Foods and Wally World, which carry competing brands respectively), and dark roast with chicory.
posted by raysmj at 9:35 AM on January 23, 2011


One brief correction: One of the generals' statues is at Esplanade and North Carrollton, not City Park Ave. (it's right across from City Park, however).

Meanwhile, since record stores were mentioned. Here's a relatively newer one that far too many people around here don't know about (there are secrets, for people live in different worlds here, racially and/or socioeconomically and as far as location goes, and all that's kinda tied hand-in-hand): Domino Sound Record Shack at the edge of the 7th Ward, a block off the intersection of Esplanade and Broad. If you're into American music much, you will at least muffle a scream of joy.
posted by raysmj at 10:15 AM on January 23, 2011 [2 favorites]


Maybe with some cool rocks to climb on?

Rocks? Ha. The highest "mountain" in Louisiana is a hill in the northern part of the state which is 500 feet above sea level. The highest natural point in New Orleans is a pile of dirt in the Audobon Zoo called Monkey Hill. We do not have naturally occurring rocks.


Correction: the highest point in new orleans, according to Rich Campanella's analysis of the LIDAR maps, is the 1-610 spoil mound in city park off harrison ave. but the landfills also get pretty high.

I recommended climbing the new Rigolets bridge (hwy 90 into the slidell area). but really, you should BIKE new orleans.

As for Beaches, Pontchartrain Beach is in the city limits (as well as Lincoln Beach). but, you know. it's "historic." but too cold until March!


The most exciting thing in New Orleans this year is that it's the 200 year anniversary of the largest slave revolt in United States history. Here for details, tours. Here for White-washed tours. Louisiana was a model for Reconstruction, and the site of dramatic successes and failures of Reconstruction.


Other events scheduled for 2011 include:

Feb. 10, 7 p.m: Mass at St. Charles Borromeo Church in Destrehan to remember those who gave their lives fighting for the freedom of enslaved African-Americans in 1811.

March 16: A tour guide workshop on "Interpreting Black History at Historic Sites" at the Mule Barn at Destrehan Plantation. Advance registration is required.

April 16: A concert at Mount Zion Church in St. Rose. Willis Patterson, Jacqueline Page Green, Richard Hudson and Charles Lloyd will present a program of slave songs and spirituals.

May 4: The Destrehan Plantation Heritage Festival for fourth- through eighth-graders with several events in commemoration of the 1811 revolt.

June: The New Orleans African American Museum will feature Juneteenth exhibits and special programs pertaining to the 1811 Slave Revolt.

Oct. 14-15: "Black Resistance in an Age of Revolution, a symposium commemorating the Louisiana Slave Uprising of 1811" will be hosted by Tulane University.

The events are sponsored by St. Charles Parish Economic Development and Tourism and Shell Chemicals/Motiva.

For more information, contact Destrehan Plantation at 985.764.9315 or e-mail DestPlan@aol.com.

posted by eustatic at 12:45 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


oh hey: history tour link, fixed.

http://historyhidden.net/
posted by eustatic at 12:47 PM on January 23, 2011 [1 favorite]


One brief correction: One of the generals' statues is at Esplanade and North Carrollton, not City Park Ave. (it's right across from City Park, however).


Gen Beauregard. But there are many confederate memorials still standing in the city, including a monument to the battle of Liberty Place.

posted by eustatic at 12:52 PM on January 23, 2011


rats. that "United States History" link again. i'm not html-capable today.
posted by eustatic at 1:28 PM on January 23, 2011


If you can drive out to Jefferson Parish, my favorite thrift store is Bridge House on Airline Highway. There is also the Red, White and Blue on Jefferson Highway, which is close to the Jefferson Flea Market, also on Jefferson Highway (its only open on weekends) - I haven't been in there lately, but I know some of the vendors moved to another Jefferson Flea Market on Airline Highway in Kenner. Goodwill Industries also has several thrift stores around town - the one I go to is on Jefferson Highway. I think the St Vincent Depaul stores have closed, and Thrift City is no more, alas. Decatur Street in the Quarter has several interesting junk/antique/thrift type stores. Bloomin' Deals on Freret is small, but I've gotten some good stuff there.
If you are looking for good antiquing/junking, consider a drive up to Pontchatoula. I've gotten some great stuff in the shops there. If you go, be sure to stop at Middendorf's in Manchac for the world's best fried catfish. You'll get to see some swamps on the drive up.

We did a stop in Vicksburg a few years back as a side trip from riding the Natchez Trace, and really enjoyed it. I think it's kind of far for a day trip, but worth the drive if you are a history buff.

Seconding the PJ's and CC"s coffee - far better than the Starbucks swill - and get some beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe Du Monde (or Morning Call, which arguably has better beignets).

Enjoy your stay!
posted by lawhound at 2:01 PM on January 23, 2011


Honestly, the Quarter *is* full of cool little shops and bars. Don't dismiss it entirely out of hand just because it's The Tourist Section (TM). My husband and I are convinced that every bar in New Orleans, even the crappiest one, is better than any bar anywhere else in the country, even the coolest one. NOLA isn't the best place to go for a booze-free vacation-- trust me on that, as I tried once. But you don't have to get Bourbon-Street-fratboy-drunk to enjoy yourself.

If either of you has the slightest interest in fancy women's underthings, hit the Trashy Diva lingerie shop, also in the Quarter. It's more my husband's thing than mine, and he makes me try on a staggering number of things every time we go, but even I have been very impressed by the awesome customer service and variety there. And, while one is very unlikely to buy such a thing, it's pretty fascinating to see a hundred-some-dollar bra. I mean wow. (There are much cheaper things. I'm a 32-B, which is hard to find in most places, so this may not be of any interest if your lady friend is a more "normal" size. But it's great for us weird-shaped types.)

Ooh, go to a cemetery, too. They're neat. The above-ground vault thing is FASCINATING.
posted by Because at 5:28 PM on January 23, 2011


There is also a Bridge House location on Camp street at the Highway, not far from the Garden District. Also in the Lower Garden District is the Reservoir, and our very own Buffalo Exchange, both on Magazine Street. I'm originally from southeast Michigan too, and I always had more luck with the thrift stores up there, but that could just be me.

If you're staying in the Garden District then be sure to check out the local restaurants and bars. Slim Goodies and Surrey's Cafe & Juice Bar both make great breakfast and lunches. The first time we went to Surrey's the couple at the table next to our's leaned over and asked if my girlfriend's dish was the banana foster's french toast. She said yes, and they said, "We saw that on TV. That's why we're here." Also check out Stein's Deli for a sandwich and go to Mahony's when you need a po-boy.

The Avenue Pub is my favorite bar in the city, and the only place you can go for good beer. Truth be told every bar in New Orleans is great for one reason or another, so you'll just have to visit them all.
posted by Hoenikker at 5:35 PM on January 23, 2011


Here is Gambit's Winter Restaurant Guide just out today.
posted by Anitanola at 1:15 PM on January 25, 2011


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