New Orleans in November
November 2, 2015 6:02 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading to New Orleans with my wife for the first time in a couple weeks. She'll be attending a conference for a few days, so I'll have about 2 days to explore by myself and then we'll hang out in the evenings. We/I have already got a few ideas of what to do, but I'm looking for some more suggestions.

We'll be staying at a major hotel on Canal Street. Here's what we have so far and what we're looking for:

- Walk down to the French Market together after we check in to the hotel. Explore the area and grab dinner, maybe some music. Three Muses looks interesting, but would love some other suggestions for laid back places. We're not really jazz fans, but I really want to experience some music that is hopefully on the more accessible side.
- I want to go to the WWII museum one day. Cochon Butcher looks like it might be a good place for lunch that's nearby.
- I want to get a good fried shrimp po boy. I've heard Parkway is good. I was thinking about taking the streetcar as close as I could and then walking. Does that make sense, or is there somewhere closer/better? I would like to go someplace that also has something to do/explore nearby, so is there anything else to explore up there?
- Dinner one night at Commanders Palace with one of her coworkers and his girlfriend. I think we'll take the streetcar to get there.
- Any dinner suggestions?
- Any other suggestions for after dinner cocktails and/or music?

As is probably obvious, I like to plan these things out, especially since this will be my first time to New Orleans (my wife has been a couple times for conferences mainly). I'm also not the type of person to just go exploring on my own, so I'm trying to reach a little outside of my comfort zone here, and at least having an initial game plan will help.

PS - Yes, I've seen previous questions. Restaurants on bars change so frequently I'm hoping to get some update information.
posted by noneuclidean to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (13 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Do one of the cemetery tours - it is a very distinctive part of the New Orleans culture. We did two - once as part of a general bus tour of the city and one lead by a docent from the historical society. To my surprise, the first one was better because the guide from the bus company had a lot of stories from her own family about who got buried where and why and all the family drama that went with it.
posted by metahawk at 6:34 PM on November 2, 2015 [2 favorites]

If you like seeing history from the view of people who lived it, the Backstreet Cultural Museum will give you a view of the real Mardi Gras from the perspective of the African American people of New Orleans.
posted by metahawk at 7:10 PM on November 2, 2015

Cochon is pretty amazing for lunch.
posted by slateyness at 7:24 PM on November 2, 2015

The French Market actually has good food, there's an oyster shucker there and the drinks are good. You'll be walking right by Cafe Du Monde, so at some point you need to stop there for beignets. All of your stops are worth the time, for sure. And Parkway is worth the trek but I don't think there's much more around there. Wait times can be really long on weekends. Royal is the best street in the Quarter to explore, in my opinion, and you could easily spend all afternoon there just walking around. The Ruby Slipper locations are great for breakfast/brunch but the lines are long. The sculpture garden by the art museum in City Park is worth a cab ride there, it's pretty amazing and in the middle of a huge park that usually has some kind of festival going on the weekend. I've never done a walking tour, but the groups always look interested and engaged. I've done a private cemetery tour with friends and it was very cool.

I don't live in New Orleans but visit three or four times a year. Two days will only make you thirsty for more!
posted by raisingsand at 7:27 PM on November 2, 2015

Definitely try the Carousel Bar at the Monteleone.

The Cabildo in Jackson Square has the Louisiana State museum is good - they have a Napoleon death mask!

The Historic New Orleans Collection has a free exhibit on the first floor of its location on Royal.

The street car is always a great way to see the city - the St. Charles line is somewhat operational, but I think the Canal line going into mid-City is open.

Sitting on the Moonwalk watching the ships go by is a real treat too.
posted by tafetta, darling! at 7:34 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Seconding the cemetery guided tour. as a teenager I often biked to several of the older cemeteries; a decade later we learned quite a lot by taking a guided tour. The Weeping Angel, in old Metairie Cemetery, is beautiful as the light breaks across her.
I also enjoyed several 4 hour cooking classes. Local hotel chefs offer speciality courses in regional cuisine...The most memorable for us covered flambéed desserts.
The French Quarter Visitor Center, 419 Decatur Street have walking tours. A favorite is the self guided tour, a street by street map is provided, of the Wrought Iron Balconies and architectural wrought iron throughout the Quarter.
posted by Twist at 7:41 PM on November 2, 2015

New Orleans moves a lot slower than most places. If you do all of what you have already thought about doing, your days will be packed.

Spend some time people watching. Walk as much as you can and follow your nose to find good restaurants. Sit at any bar, any time of the day, and talk to the person next to you. Everyone has a story to tell and southerners love to tell their stories.
posted by myselfasme at 7:45 PM on November 2, 2015

I would recommend taking a cab to and from Commander's restaurant. It is only two blocks, but the uptown area has been very hot for armed robberies.
posted by JujuB at 8:33 PM on November 2, 2015 [1 favorite]

Of all the fancy restaurants in Nola, I don't actually love Commander's for dinner (the jazz brunch on Sunday is really fun though). There are other restaurants owned by the same family that are a little less stuffy and a little more interesting. Palace Cafe is great on Canal St. (and walkable from where you are). You can also take a cab to Ralphs on the Park.

Parkway is the best for Poboys. All the flavors are good. It's fall so they probably have the Thanksgiving special -- you're making me hungry!

The WWII museum is really interesting if you like history. It's not really my thing but my husband (who lived in New Orleans with me) and my dad (who came to visit several times) love it. I also really like Mardi Gras World. I went twice when I lived there and found it so fun. You get to learn all about Mardi Gras, try on costumes, climb on floats.

When exactly are you going? There always seems to be a free festival or street fair going on. Great place to eat some food, maybe pick up some local artwork or souvenirs.
posted by radioamy at 8:47 PM on November 2, 2015

If you go to Parkway, you can get back on the street car and take it up to City Park. Morning Call is a nice place to get beignets and the park has the sculpture garden and frequently some other fun things going on- it's also huge and has lots of space to explore if you want to burn off some poboy calories (I think the website has paths and so forth).

My favorite night to do Frenchmen Street is Sunday- less crowded and no covers, compared to the weekend, and there's always some fun music.
posted by MadamM at 9:00 PM on November 2, 2015

The one time I went to New Orleans I went to Meyer the Hatter -- a terrific old shop. It's just off Canal, so maybe close to where you're staying. The hat I got there wasn't the souvenir I expected from that trip but it's one I'm really happy to have. (Second-best souvenir was the Central Grocery muffuletta I got to eat on the plane on the way home.)
posted by miles per flower at 5:19 AM on November 3, 2015

Response by poster: Thanks everyone for the suggestions. If anyone is still reading this, how safe is walking around outside of Canal Street and the french quarter (e.g., over to the WWII museum, from the streetcar stop a few blocks to Parkway)? JujuB mentioned the couple block walk to Commanders Palace being not so great, so I'm wondering about my other routes. Does Uber have pretty good service?
posted by noneuclidean at 7:21 AM on November 4, 2015

Walking anywhere you'd want to be is fine during daylight. Uber is fine as far as I know. I've never used it anyplace else but i use it several times a week here. They always arrive quickly and I've never paid surge pricing.
posted by CheeseLouise at 3:13 PM on November 5, 2015

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