laissez les bon temps roulez
February 1, 2009 8:43 PM   Subscribe

New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Fest logistics questions for a first timer:

I'm finally gonna do it, after years of talking about it: I'm gonna go to Jazz Fest. I'm looking for any recommendations in terms of how to make the trip more enjoyable: where to stay? (both in terms of neighborhood and specific accomodations). First weekend or second? (Looks to me like the first weekend has cooler national acts, the second has cooler New Orleans based acts). Rent a car or no? How soon do I need to buy tickets? Any other random tidbits of information that you wish you had known in order to laissez les bon temps roulez?
posted by fingers_of_fire to Media & Arts (4 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Price a limo from the airport. Last I did this, cost was the same as a cab ($20). Buy bicycle(s) and lock(s) off Craigslist when you get there. Could be smart to rent a car but bicycling is the way to go.

Stay in the Marigny, the Bywater or MidCity so you can ride to the show. Although don't expect the bike(s) to still be there when you leave.

By plane tickets now. Bed and breakfast too if there are any still available.

Eat crawfish monica. Eat softshell crab poboy. Eat at Verdi Mart on Royal. Keep an eye out for Nutria gumbo. Practice your hard drinking before-hand and take lots of water and sunscreen.

Take me with you.
posted by metajc at 3:12 AM on February 2, 2009

Don't rent a car. Parking around JazzFest is AWFUL. You want to walk, bike, take public transportation, or spend tons of money on cab fare.

Buy tickets as soon as you can.

Pack rain boots and a rain jacket. If it rained the night before, or if there's even the tiniest bit of chance for rain, wear the boots and bring the jacket.

It will be HOT.

Bring as much cash as you think you will need for the day, and then a little bit more. Keep your wallet in a place that it's not likely to fall out.

Drink cafe au lait. Eat. Try lots of things. You won't be disappointed.

Bring unopened bottles of water in a small (6-pack sized) soft cooler. Substitute one of those bottles of water with your clear spirit of choice in a water bottle for extra happy good fun times. Drinks of both non alcoholic and alcoholic types are expensive.

Try to check out at least one big national act and at least one big New Orleans act.
posted by Night_owl at 10:22 AM on February 2, 2009

I live in NOLA but have never been to Jazz Fest. I can tell you that the weather around that time is hot, rainy and disgusting so pack appropriate clothing.

Just to respond to metajc's comment, cabs are now $30 from the Airport to the city, but it's only $15 to take the Airport Shuttle which will take you to any hotel in the city.
posted by radioamy at 2:30 PM on February 2, 2009

I actually just got back from New Orleans last night. We stayed at the Place d'Armes hotel on Saint Ann in the French Quarter. It was lovely and a great deal. Get a room with a window if you stay there (there are some cheaper, windowless options). Despite the fact that the Quarter is the home of Bourbon Street and, thus, party central, the areas even right around Bourbon are surprisingly quiet and sweet at night. Just don't stay on Bourbon.

Eat seafood (oysters, crawfish, soft-shell crab, etc.); try a muffaletta (toasted) at Johnny's Po-Boys (my favorite place to get one -- Central Grocery Co. was okay); go to Willie Mae's Scotch House for fried chicken (we took a cab); check out the Spotted Cat on Frenchmen Street, but everything in that area is fun (Apple Barrel, d.b.a., etc.).

It's probably not worth it to rent a car, both in terms of finding parking and then paying for it (especially during the festivals)--a friend who lives there says you pretty much shouldn't move your car during any of the festivals lest you never find a spot until it ends, so I'm sure it would be worse/way expensive with a rental and if you don't know the city. Cabs to/from the airport are as aforementioned, $30; limos listed as more, but I can't remember how much more, and the cost of the shuttle for 2 people was the same as one cab for 2 people, but without the potential wait. Cabs elsewhere around town were a little expensive (moreso than, say, in Chicago), but mostly we just walked everywhere or took the streetcar. That having been said, get the cell phone number/card of each cab you take and carry them with you -- might get you a cab when you can't find one and need it. The bike thing is a really good idea.

Good advice in any crowded situation: put your wallet in your front pocket and don't leave your bags unattended/hanging on the back of your chair/whatever. Valuables sprout feet where crowds of naive tourists tend to congregate.

Be nice to people and they'll be really nice to you.
posted by penchant at 10:14 AM on February 3, 2009

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