How to have a great time in New Orleans?
December 6, 2013 2:58 PM   Subscribe

I’m travelling with my significant other to New Orleans between December 29th and January 3rd, so we are looking for recommendations (food, bars, entertainment, etc.) Specific details and questions below the fold!

I booked a room through Airbnb in the Mid-City neighborhood (located about 2 blocks from Canal Street). We will be driving from Illinois, but would prefer to walk or use public transit when in the city proper. This will be my second time in New Orleans, but my partner’s first. I have to admit, though, that I am not super familiar with the area.

Some questions:
- Not all that interested in Bourbon Street. What exciting things can we do on New Year’s Eve? Where can we find live music? Do we need reservations?
- What is the best way to get around? I remember using the canal street trolley to get to the French Quarter, but how can we get to the Garden District?
- We were thinking about visiting the Garden District on New Year’s Day. What is open/worth looking at? Do you have a better recommendation?
- What’s the weather like this time of year?

Things we like/are looking for:
- New Year’s Eve suggestions
- Vegetarian food – What restaurants would you recommend? Where can we find great (veg) red beans and/or gumbo z'herbes? I've had good experiences at Green Goddess and Carmo in the past. Added layer of difficulty: I’m allergic to cow’s milk.
- Live music venues
- Non-touristy bars
- Burlesque!
- Interesting places, museums, landmarks, cemeteries, etc.
- Walking tours – which are worth it?
- Favorite parts of the city? Other really cool things?
posted by turniphead to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (6 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
was going to say green goddess for vegetarian food, but I see you've been there. looks like you'll have to survive on beignets the rest of your trip?

we found Frenchman street to be great for live music and less touristy than bourbon st. especially liked dba.
posted by sabh at 3:21 PM on December 6, 2013

Best answer: Mid City is not really within walking distance of much of tourist interest. That said, you could drive from there to places like the French Quarter, park, and walk/take transit from there to most places of interest to tourists. I do not recommend the bus system, especially considering that driving and parking are perfectly doable -- it's not Boston or anything.

The car will be very useful for some things that just aren't public transit friendly at all, for instance if you wanted to take a swamp tour.

Live music: Frenchman Street in the Marigny.

New Years Eve is actually a pretty fun night to just wander around the Quarter. You say you're not interested in Bourbon Street, but Bourbon is the least fun place for this on that particular night, so whatever. There's a "baby" that drops a la NYC's ball in Jackson Square at midnight, as well as fireworks on the river. Every bar and most restaurants are open.

Non-Touristy Bars: any bar that is not on Bourbon Street. New Orleans isn't a big enough city to have dedicated Touristy vs Not Touristy places, really, aside from maybe Pat O'Brien's and The Old Absinthe House. And even then, locals totally go to those places all the time. A step off Bourbon street and you might as well be miles away in terms of tourism.

Weather: Cold, but nowhere near as cold as it is in parts of the US with actual seasons. Bring a jacket, close toed shoes, etc. but don't expect snow or anything. Check the weather before you go, because this could manifest as 40 degrees and rainy/overcast, 65 and sunny, or anything in between.

I get the sense that you've been to New Orleans before but don't mention anything you've seen or done before. So it's hard to recommend things like museums. St. Louis Cemetery No. 1 is popular. The WW2 Museum is popular with locals but I have no idea how interesting it is to tourists. There's a world class aquarium if that sort of thing interests you. The Cabildo often has interesting exhibitions. Deep in the Quarter is a tiny little Pharmacy Museum in a building that was an apothecary during the 19th century.

There are some art galleries in the Warehouse District but I don't know that they're on par with the sort of thing you'd see in New York. There is also a Contemporary Arts Center (ditto re level of work compared to any larger city). NOMA (near City Park, both of which are potentially walkable from where you're staying) is pretty cool, though IMO their collection doesn't really compare to that of museums in larger cities. There's also the Ogden Museum, which I have not been to, but could be cool?
posted by Sara C. at 4:14 PM on December 6, 2013 [1 favorite]

Correction/Addendum: Apparently the Canal streetcars are running again so you can potentially take public transit from Mid City to some places of tourist interest. Note that this is really only going to cover the French Quarter, maybe the Marigny and the Warehouse District/CBD if you are serious walkers.

You can take the St. Charles streetcar line down from the Quarter to the Garden District and Uptown.
posted by Sara C. at 4:35 PM on December 6, 2013

someone asked this two days ago, did you search?
posted by polly_dactyl at 5:35 PM on December 6, 2013

Response by poster: Another MeFite directed me to the other question about what to do in New Orleans. There are great recommendations there.

To differentiate, I would like to know if there is anything special going on NYE in particular (good to know about the baby drop), and if the holiday will affect whether or not businesses will be open or operating during normal hours. I figured there'd be action in the Quarter, but its nice to know where to look.

posted by turniphead at 9:53 PM on December 6, 2013

"...and if the holiday will affect whether or not businesses will be open or operating during normal hours."

Everything will be open.

From a vapidave to a turniphead; they launch the fireworks from two barges. One of the barges is exactly at the end of Frenchmen street.

Welcome to New Orleans. Let us know if you need anything.
posted by vapidave at 9:08 PM on December 7, 2013

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