Recommendations for New Orleans?
December 4, 2013 12:00 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to New Orleans in a few days to cover a conference for a client. I will be going a half day early and staying an extra ~2 days more. I have limited time to do research, and do plan to go through the archives and NYT recommendation article. However, I was hoping to dig up any recommendations as to other things to see/check out when I'm there, and this seems to be an easy way to do so.

I've be staying on Canal st in a mile or 2 radius from the conference site. It should also be within walking distance to the French quarter.

The following things would be of interest, but please also advise if I need to be cautious for safety (i.e. I noticed that was a theme in a few of the old questions). I found this safety map in a previous question. In no particular order of things that I would like to find/do:

• Recommendations for any interesting cemeteries and/or tours.
• History (general). Medical history is of interest, I found the Pharmacy Museum in another archived post, but anything similar would be great. Science, too.
• Tours of old homes of former (insert whatever- scientist, author, artist) - but the main thing is not just a home per se but what someone gives you a tour and tells about the life of the person and/or family.
• Sometimes very rarely visited museums are fascinating.
• Interesting live music places.
• Any other recommendations of something that may be cool/interesting/whatever.

I plan to get around by walking and/or public transportation. IF it is VERY interesting and there are taxis, I can try to do that too, but if possible give me a heads up.

As always, thank you for your help in advance.
posted by Wolfster to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (9 answers total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: For a cemetery tour, I'd look at Save Our Cemeteries. While there are several organizations that run cemetery tours, SOC is a non-profit, all of their guides are volunteers, and the bulk of your ticket price goes towards cemetery preservation and restoration.

I took the tour of St. Louis Cemetery #1 when I was there; I enjoyed it, and our guide was very knowledgeable, although I haven't visited the other cemeteries so I can't say whether that's the best choice of the tours they offer. I am pleased to see that they've expanded from only offering the tour once a week to having daily tours, so it's not as hard to fit into your schedule as it used to be.
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 12:19 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Public transpo is very easy in New Orleans. This city is pretty small. Cabs are not plentiful and may take a long time to show up even if you call one in. Tourists will be everywhere downtown, no matter the season (apparently) and Canal Street sometimes feels like Las Vegas at night - not kidding. Stay away from Bourbon St. unless you are trying to meet up with your old frat brothers or something, although I'm not sure when the Tulane kids leave town so it might get less crazy down there mid-December.

Are you coming at a time when there are lots of other conferences? The last time I "noticed" a conference here, it was because there were literally thousands of tech people all walking around with their laptop bags and badges and blue-buttondowns - not saying that to be snarky, but be prepared for walkable restaurants to be jammed at dinnertime if there are 10,000 other conventioners while you are here.

Take the red streetcar all the way up Canal to MidCity (the streetcar will say "CEMETERIES" on the front, the other ones veer off toward other destinations) and there are like six cemeteries right there - this is pretty close to where I live and it's 'across town' but the ride is 30 minutes each way. Well worth it, lots of tourists do this and the streetcar drivers are pretty gentle toward allllll the tourists they see.

God, I should stop - but the City Park 'Celebration in the Oaks' is going on for the holidays, $8. City Park is beautiful and you could take the other red streetcar ("CITY PARK/MUSEUM") to the museum, walk around the park, see the lights, etc. There are often concerts in the Botanical Garden and the sculpture garden is free to walk around.

There is so much to see here!!! Been here about 8 months and I haven't even scratched the surface, so there is no way you will be bored. Magazine St is awesome for shopping local and FOOD! The #11 ("MAGAzINE BUS") goes straight up and down for miles, ending at the zoo and the other awesome park, Audubon Park. Horseback riding!

I swear I do not work for the chamber of commerce. This city is pretty wonderful (well-known) but sometimes the crime/corruption/socio-economic stuff drowns everything else out. My husband was born and raised here, you can memail me if there's anything specific that you can't find an answer for.

(Edit: Yikes I didn't even touch on live music oh man you are going to have so much fun! When you get here grab all the freepapers that you can find - Gambit is the best but there are others. Live music will not be hard to find, I promise.)
posted by polly_dactyl at 12:35 PM on December 4, 2013 [4 favorites]

If you can find a way to do it, you should see the lower Ninth Ward (I've been to New Orleans twice doing relief work). You can still see the effects of Katrina.
posted by DWRoelands at 1:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Walking tours - I went on their Garden District tour and French Quarter tour, and I recommend them both.
posted by cadge at 2:40 PM on December 4, 2013 [1 favorite]

Frenchman Street has good live music of many stripes.
posted by elizeh at 4:13 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Ride the St. Charles street car. I was there a few years ago and rode from downtown to near Tulane University. Magnificent houses to see on St. Charles. Serene neighborhoods surrounding to wander though on foot if you like catching the vibe of the non-touristy parts of a place.

It's the line in green that goes through the Garden District on this map.

The physical street cars, too, are themselves works of art on the St. Charles line.
posted by bertran at 4:26 PM on December 4, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Seconding the St. Charles streetcar for a cheap tour of the Garden district [three dollars for an all day pass] and the Canal Street streetcar for cemeteries. Both are on rails so you know where to catch the return. Though it pains me to divulge our little secret - Frenchman Street at night for music. [Frenchman is a bit of a hike from where you are likely staying so I'd take a cab, it should be about ten bucks.]

I live a block from the French Quarter and avoiding crime is only a matter of not being staggeringly drunk or absurdly obnoxious.

I really like the swamp. It's an extravagant biome saturated with life. I think the history and certainly the cuisine of Louisiana starts with the swamp. The swamp tours come in two types mostly; airboat and swamp boat. Air boat is fast, swamp boat is more serene.

I am memailing you a link that you might find useful.

Where you got your shoes is on your feet.

Welcome to New Orleans yo.
posted by vapidave at 6:42 PM on December 4, 2013 [3 favorites]

The Audubon Insectarium is cool.
posted by bile and syntax at 8:05 PM on December 4, 2013

Response by poster: I'd like to thank EVERYONE for their answers. I flagged a few as favorites because they spoke to me/piqued my interest, or something that I really enjoyed.

In the end, I had to WORK for much of the time there. However, I did get a day off and tried some of these things. I was disappointed because I could not get to all the things on this list, but I definitely plan to check out New Orleans again at some point. Thanks again, everyone.
posted by Wolfster at 10:00 PM on December 12, 2013

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