What should I do this weekend in New Orleans?
October 22, 2010 6:58 AM   Subscribe

What should I do this weekend in New Orleans? I'm taking my girlfriend this weekend for her 30th birthday. We land tonight at about 6pm and depart on Sunday at about 6pm.

We've already got dinner reservations (NOLA and Commander's Palace), but beyond that I don't have anything specific planned. The weather this weekend looks fantastic, so outdoor/active things are welcome.

I've heard a recommendation for some kind of graveyard tour. Not quite sure what to make of that.

Some of my friends have mentioned Frenchman Street, but I imagine that sort of like saying "Check out west 4th street" to someone visiting NYC; its good advice, but not specific enough to be useful.

What does MeFi know about New Orleans that I should know this weekend?

(I know there are previous AskMe threads on this, but I figure New Orleans probably doesn't stay exactly the same year to year; I thought it would be okay to re-ask.)

posted by ben242 to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (18 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Previously, if that's any use. Also, as much as I hate to say it, Cafe Du Monde for beneighs isn't really optional. But it is delicious.
posted by DarlingBri at 7:14 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

During the day I like to ride the street car (do NOT call it a trolley) up St. Charles Avenue. You can get off at the Columns hotel and have a drink on their patio and watch the crow go by. Also fun is just chilling at the bars on Decatur Street in the Quarter. These aren't as touristy and you'll meet some interesting characters. Turtle Bay is one of my favorites.

It is touristy, but I don't care. Bourbon Street is a blast. Here's my advice as a former resident. Get to know The Chart Room on 300 Chartres Street. Its a few blocks off Bourbon Street, but mixed drinks are $1.00 and they have a free bathroom. Take your drink to go and walk all the way down Bourbon. When you get to Laffitte's Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St.), which claims to be the oldest bar in the states, get yourself a VooDoo Daiquiri. It tastes just like grape cool aid, but trust me, it will knock your socks off. Take it to go and begin your quest back up Bourbon to the Chart Room again.

Also, your friend is right, Frenchman St. is fun. It is on the edge of the French Quarter and anyone in your hotel can give you directions. Its a short little street with funky bars, live music and less tourists.
posted by dbrown7042 at 7:26 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

WWOZ's Music Calendar

Here's something different.

Watch Gambit's Blog of New Orleans for second line news and routes. I think the New Orleans East Steppers are parading on Sunday.
posted by timeistight at 8:17 AM on October 22, 2010

dbrown, thanks for the recommendations. A walk up and down Bourbon with a drink actually sounds like a perfect thing to do after dinner either tonight or tomorrow night.
posted by ben242 at 8:29 AM on October 22, 2010

Do not skip those beignets. Seriously. Have them every morning.

Oh, and go to Central Grocery and get a muffaletta (or split a muffaletta) for lunch. They are not open on Sunday. They do not take credit cards. You'd be surprised how many places in Quarter are cash-only. Be prepared.
posted by cyndigo at 9:05 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

My husband then boyfriend took me to NO for my 30th birthday. I definitely recommend brennans for dinner. We did the graveyard tour and a tour of the garden district and a swamp tour which was really cool. Nthing cafe du monde. We drank hurricanes and walked around and listened to Jazz and the BBQ was heaven. Best.birthday.ever
posted by bananafish at 10:11 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

Also, as much as I hate to say it, Cafe Du Monde for beneighs isn't really optional.

Actually, it is. I much prefer grabbing a bag of them from Cafe Beignet and eating them on the Riverwalk. Just be careful not to let the wind off the Mississippi River blow all the powdered sugar back on you.
posted by mostly vowels at 10:18 AM on October 22, 2010

Central Grocery happily took my credit card in July--they also do a vegetarian version of the mufaletta which pales in comparison but is a tasty lunch if you don't actually eat meat.
posted by crush-onastick at 10:19 AM on October 22, 2010

Oh also, since you don't leave until 6 on Sunday, may I suggest popping into a neighborhood bar (i.e. not on Bourbon) and catching the Saints game? I grew up in another city with an NFL team with a perpetually losing team that still had dedicated fans, but Saints fans are a whole 'nother species and it's pretty epic to see some of the most passionate fans get riled up in a bar.
posted by mostly vowels at 10:22 AM on October 22, 2010

Yeah, they loooove their Saints. Two dat!
posted by timeistight at 11:09 AM on October 22, 2010

One more thing I forgot: Do bike tour with Confederacy of Cruisers. Bikes are great way to see more of the city than you could on foot or in a car and the tour we took was fun and informative.
posted by timeistight at 11:39 AM on October 22, 2010 [1 favorite]

You're staying for a really short while, and you've already got two major restaurant reservations.

There's just so much you 'could' do. There are so many great neighborhoods, and pubs, and restaurants. To say 'you can't miss X', is almost comical, in that there are 100 other Xs that are just as great. I live a couple of hours outside of new orleans and visit often. I found out very quickly not to plan too much.

So take all these great suggestions, but leave time to just walk and explore. You'll run into things that no one mentioned but that you love and you can't believe no one mentioned THAT.

I don't know where you're staying, but you could do Bourbon st. friday night because it will be rockin' and you need to see it at least once. You could wake up sat morning and have an early breakfast at Cafe Du Monde, tour the french market late morning, do central grocery for lunch, walk royal street for all the amazing antiques in the afternoon and have coffee at CCs, attend your dinner reservation, and walk frenchman street that night for some great jazz. All that is within the french quarter and very doable.

Sunday you could spend outside and take a street car up st. charles and see all the beautiful mansions, or go shopping along magazine street, or go to Audubon zoo, or to city park which is huge and beautiful and has more live oaks than anywhere I've ever seen.

Lastly, it's the people that make new orleans great. Make sure you slow down enough to meet a few.

But don't try to do everything, you can come back, or never leave. New Orleans is an assault on the senses, both good, bad, and you're not quite sure. But everything takes longer in new orleans. No one is in a hurry, especially on the weekend (if they are, they're tourist). Take your time and relax. After all, there's a reason new orleans is known as the big easy.

*Frenchman street is on the edge of the quarter. If you're on the other end, and it's night time, being in unfamiliar surroundings, I'd take a cab.

Actually, it is. I much prefer grabbing a bag of them from Cafe Beignet and eating them on the Riverwalk.

You can easily grab some beignets from cafe du monde and be eating them on a bench by the mississippi in a minute.
posted by justgary at 11:57 AM on October 22, 2010

Saturday night is the 6t9 Halloween parade. Bourbon Street is there all year (and, really, you can see similarly drunk people in your own city); a parade is an only-in-New-Orleans kind of thing.
posted by luazinha at 12:43 PM on October 22, 2010

The interesting parts of Frenchmen Street are between Esplanade and Burgundy. I'd recommend you start at Esplanade and Frenchmen, and head toward the interesting stuff. When it gets residential, turn around.
posted by honeydew at 4:33 PM on October 22, 2010

Definitely check out Frenchman St. The Spotted Cat is one of my faves. If you've never been to NOLA, I would check out Preservation Hall for a lesson in music history. I concur with the beignet and muffaletta recs, as well. You can't avoid Bourbon St, but I say take a few minutes to check out Ye Olde Original Dungeon on Toulouse St around the corner, which is complete with skulls, cages, and crappy death metal.

Going to an old graveyard and wandering on your own on Sun morning is definitely recommended (I say Sun because some of the most interesting ones are located in what I've heard people describe as "sketchy" neighborhoods...on Sun am everyone will be asleep so you'll have the place to yourself).
posted by ch3ch2oh at 5:10 PM on October 22, 2010

Glad to know the Grocery is taking credit cards!

Also, you should try to have a drink at the Old Absinthe House, just like Jean Lafitte. Have absinthe.
posted by cyndigo at 5:16 PM on October 22, 2010

Frenchman Street isn't too huge so you should just head over there and wander around.

Personally I recommend brunch at Commander's instead of dinner - less stuffy. I went to a jazz brunch there a couple months ago with some other mefites and it was really fun. If you don't go to brunch there, find another Sunday jazz brunch place it's yummy and fun!

If you haven't had absinthe, cyndigo is right it's definitely something to try. But not if you don't like the taste of licorice. There's a cool place in Pirate's Alley and also I really enjoy Pravda (with or without absinthe, actually).

I'm not familiar with the 6t9 parade, but you really can't go wrong with a parade in New Orleans. We really know how to do parades, and Halloween parades especially!

Do you like haunted houses? We have a haunted house *in* a haunted house! The Mortuary is super cool - it is a fully-equipped state-of-the-art haunted house inside an old actual mortuary. Supposedly it's certifiably haunted. The lines get pretty long so I recommend going early. Oh and you can donate blood to get in free (full disclosure - I work at The Blood Center, but I've been through the haunted house a number of times, and it's fucking scary!).

Today I actually went on a swamp tour with my department as a "field trip" and it was really fun. There aren't as many alligators out this time of year, but the weather was sooo nice. It's a pretty unique thing. We went to Cajun Encounters in Honey Island - our guide, Capt. Nolan, was pretty awesome. If it's sunny, try getting one of the covered boats.

I've also done a swamp tour down in the bayou and that was really fun too. Don't go on the airboat though they're really noisy.
posted by radioamy at 9:46 PM on October 22, 2010

This is the last, I swear: four bands, Free Agents, TBC, Stooges and Soul Rebels, are competing in a Brass Band Blowout sunday under the Claiborne Avenue Bridge. Nothing is more New Orleans than a brass band, so this is like New Orleans quadrupled.

I wish I was there.
posted by timeistight at 9:59 PM on October 22, 2010

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