It's not so easy to plan a weekend in the Big Easy
January 16, 2010 11:31 PM   Subscribe

New Orleans for 3 days...where to stay, what to do and how to get to the starting line of a marathon.

I'm trying to plan a long weekend in New Orleans and it's not quite coming together. Mr. 26.2 and I will be there the last weekend of February.

First, where should we stay? I'm not sure about the locations relative to public transportation and touristy stuff. Here are the B&B options:
- Degas House or the O'Malley House in Mid-City,
- Several places in the Garden District right off the St. Charles line. (Is that safe to walk at night?) Magnolia Mansion, Avenue Inn, or McKendrick-Breaux all look good
- A bunch of places in the quarter or Marigny. This is where I get completely overwhelmed looking at places to stay.

Second, what should we do while we're there? We've both been to the city pre-Katrina. We like live music, art and people watching. We have some patience for touristy stuff. We'd rather do 1 or 2 awesome things than race around trying to see every tourist attraction and gift shop.

Last, on Sunday I need to figure out transportation to the race start at the convention center and from the finish line at City Park. This may impact where you suggest we stay. Here's the course map.

New Orleans natives and tourists, can you please help a couple plan a nice trip? Thanks!
posted by 26.2 to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (7 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Sometime while you're there, head over to Croissant D'or in the Quarter and get some delicious pastries.
posted by squorch at 7:09 AM on January 17, 2010

If memory serves, the Garden District should be fine for walking around at night. A year ago I stayed in a similar location, and had no qualms, especially if I walked along St. Charles (in fact, wandering down St. Charles is how I found this hole-in-the-wall bar that sold the best red beans and rice I had that whole trip).

I went to the New Orleans Museum of Art while I was there; it was fairly easy to get TO, but getting back to my hotel was a bit challenging; however, I think this was more due to the fact that I was there during Mardi Gras season, which threw the whole public transportation system into a bit of a state overall, and they'd rerouted and changed a lot of the bus routes. There were some fine things there indeed, and it's in a lovely park which is good for strolling.

A fun shop in the Quarter: Kitchen Witch Cookbooks. Issuing the disclaimer that the owners are friends of a friend of mine, so I did get a bit of red-carpet treatment when I showed up and said that I was "a friend of Richard's", but the owners are delightful to everyone. It's a funky shop that is predominantly a used-and-new cookbook store, with a huge collection (they started it after Katrina -- the owners were okay, but decided to start the shop to sell off their personal collection of over 2,000 cookbooks, and have been buying and selling others' collections since), but there's also a used CD/album shop in the back. They also have their own seasoning mix you can get at the counter (I got a bottle, and I use it so much that it's almost used up after only a year).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:27 AM on January 17, 2010

Ooh, further on the art museum -- it looks like your marathon route goes all through the same park where the Museum is located, and in fact I think it ends right out front.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:31 AM on January 17, 2010

I stayed at the Rathbone recently which is on the edge of the quarter and I believe, in Marigny on Esplanade and would stay there again. Cool old mansion converted into b&b with private entrances and seriously organized manager/owner. If you need super posh this probably isn't the spot for you but it was perfectly lovely and good quirky for me.

Also for food, I highly recommend Green Goddess which is unfortunately on the opposite end of the quarter from the Rathbone. But totally walkable. Brunch is divine and probably a 20 min walk from that particular b&b.

I also like the Coffeepot & brunch is better than dinner.

And streetcars are a painful way to get around if Nola is at all busy. Quite small and slow. Lovely way to get around at your leisure when the city isn't too crowded tho.

Also DBA for music in the evening -- or pretty much any venue on Frenchman street. Much less touristy than the main drag in the quarter.
posted by countrymod at 12:44 PM on January 17, 2010

My mom and I stayed at the Avenue Inn and it was really cute. The building is old and beautiful and right on St. Charles Ave., but they have renovated with some special window stuff so it's not noisy at all (unlike my current apartment a few blocks away!). The owners are super nice. They even have a little snack cupboard downstairs for the midnight munchies!

I always recommend Mardi Gras World to tourists. It used to be across the river but now's conveniently next to the Convention Center. It's actually right where your race starts. It's part of Blaine Kern Studios - they make the majority of the Mardi Gras floats. You go on this really cool tour where they show you tons of floats, completed and in-progress. You learn a lot about the history of Mardi Gras. Bring a camera.

As liketitanic mentioned, cabs are super cheap. Use United (504) 522-9771 - they are the most reliable. It will be about $10 if you stay at Avenue Inn or anywhere Uptown or Downtown. I would imagine that they have some kind of shuttle system after the race, or that there will be a bank of cabs. Might cost $20 to get back Uptown, less to get downtown.
posted by radioamy at 2:07 PM on January 17, 2010

O'Malley house is a lovely and friendly place to stay. I don't know about public transportation from there.
posted by lilbizou at 5:27 AM on January 18, 2010

Oh, a budget lodgings option: the India House Hostel. I stayed there about 10 years ago, and it looks better now than it did back then.

Don't let the "backpackers" and "hostel" part of the title put you off, nor the "best party hostel" boast they make on their site -- this was rather a nice little place. I stayed in one of the private rooms, and it was a pretty little room for only about $40 a night. (That's been raised to $45-55 in the past ten years.) The owner was also pretty accomodating with the fact that I arrived about 4 hours before check-in -- he let me hang out by their pool for a couple hours until they could clean the room for me. (Although, I'd called ahead and warned them that I'd be needing to do this.)

It IS like other hostels in that it has a kitchen on site, so you can also save some money by making a meal there if you like.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 4:57 PM on January 18, 2010

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