New Orleans: Help prioritize sightseeing edition
February 21, 2017 9:56 AM   Subscribe

I am taking my partner on a surprise trip to New Orleans for his birthday March 5-7. Neither of us have been, and he doesn't yet know our final destination, and I am super bad at finding places and deciding where to go. Need hive mind's input into what we should do!

Trip dates: March 5 (arriving at 8am) to March 7th (leaving at 6pm)

Staying at: The Saint Hotel around Jackson Square/French Quarter

What we like: jazz, art, museums and do not mind long walks anywhere we need to be, flexible on food (we eat everything and do not drink)

Our itinerary is wide open so looking for (and deeply appreciate) your recommendations!
posted by mooselini to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (9 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
I'm not from New Orleans, but I went last year and fell in love with the city. I had a few days of wandering the city while my wife was at a conference. A few of the things that I really enjoyed while I was there: City Park (sculpture garden, botanical garden, NOMA), WWII museum, Frenchman Street (jazz), riding the St Charles street car line, walking down Magazine Street in the Garden District. You're going to have a great time!
posted by noneuclidean at 10:12 AM on February 21, 2017 [2 favorites]

Most of my New Orleans tips revolve around alcohol, but I do have one that doesn't:

You should totally go to the Cafe Du Monde for begniets and coffee. When you get there, you will see a very long line of people waiting to be seated. This line is for suckers. There are signs all over the place telling you to seat yourself at any available table, so you should go ahead and do that. That should save you a good hour.
posted by Ragged Richard at 10:20 AM on February 21, 2017

In addition to Cafe Du Monde and the WWII museum, the aquarium is really good as well
posted by Jacen at 10:40 AM on February 21, 2017

Definitely spend an evening on Frenchman Street if you are into jazz. Lots of little jazz clubs, most of them will let you just pop in and out checking out the music. It's the sort of thing that I don't think could exist anywhere else. Nthing the WWII Museum, it might sound like some cheesy History Channel idea but it's surprisingly good. The Garden District is great for wandering around, it's very pretty, has some good cafes and vintage shops, and is much less overrun with tourists than the French Quarter.

Eat all of the food. I'm partial to mufalletas, and pretty much anything involving seafood (except oysters; I love oysters but I've had better in other places). One heretical opinion, however: beignets, while very good, aren't really all that different from other "fried dough + powdered sugar" products elsewhere. If you don't know what I'm talking about, they might be worth waiting in line for. But if you do, I think you can skip it.
posted by breakin' the law at 11:08 AM on February 21, 2017

noneuclidean laid out the standard, iconic itinerary. I live here and would echo it for an in-and-out set of visitors with your preferences.

Yes, get beignets. On the way there, or the way back, walk along Royal St. it has all of the local art galleries.

Food is part of the adventure. Unless you guys see it as some kind of afterthought, I would put some attention in to where you want to do your eating! Lots of good food to try.

Look in to what is playing at the Saenger Theater during your stay. Grab tickets if it is up your alley.

MeFi me if I can help further.
posted by milqman at 11:12 AM on February 21, 2017

The National Park Service has a couple sites in New Orleans. The Jean Lafitte National Park and Preserve does a very nice walking tour. The New Orleans Jazz National Historic Park has daily free concerts, mostly in its temporary location at the Old U.S. Mint. They also have a walking tour, but we didn't enjoy it as much as the Jean Lafitte tour.

Food and drink are a huge part of New Orleans. We just ate and drank our way through a four night visit and some of our favorite non-drink-focused meals were at Central Grocery (half muffuletta to go), Cochon Butcher (buckboard bacon melt, le Pig Mac), and Elizabeth's in the Bywater (everybody talks about the praline bacon, but the boudin balls were better). We really liked the lumpia and loco moco at Latitude 29, but that's definitely more of a bar experience than the others I listed. We also had an amazing Friday lunch at Galatoire's but that won't fit in your schedule.

Since you don't drink, it's worth mentioning that the non-alcoholic drinks we had at several bars were really good (one of my wife's favorite drinks was the Angostura Phosphate at Bar Tonique). I wouldn't send you to any bars just to drink non-alcoholic drinks but wherever you are you should ask what they have. New Orleans bars do seem to respect non-alcoholic drinks in a way few cities' bar cultures do.
posted by fedward at 1:33 PM on February 21, 2017

Live in NO. The Columns on St. Charles Avenue is on the street car line and has a lovely porch. I've spent many afternoons there. If you go to Elizabeth's, walk across the street to Crescent Park for a great view of the river with less traffic than the Moonwalk across from Jackson Square. If you have time, a cruise on the Steamboat Natchez or the Creole Queen is really a wonderful way to see the city and the river from a different viewpoint. I've taken several cruises the last few years and enjoyed it each time.

Please get in touch if you need more info. Have a great trip!
posted by narancia at 3:22 PM on February 21, 2017

Nola resident here. Here's my list of favorite restaurants (from a prior question).

I also highly recommend checking out the music box village. It's an incredible art installation based on the idea of musical architecture, where musical instruments are embedded into the floor, walls and ceilings of a collection of small shacks made from salvaged materials. During the daytime, it's an interactive exhibit, and on certain nights, it becomes one of the city's most unique music venues.
posted by umbĂș at 6:43 PM on February 21, 2017

Some specific food recommendations:

Breakfast/Brunch at Brennan's. I have nostalgic reasons for liking it so much, and the current decor is pretty different from when I first went a dozen years ago, but the food is really good, in a classic brunch sort of way.

Dinner at Angeline. They have a great wine list and cocktail program but the food stands alone, and the ambiance is very nice. Make sure to book ahead.

Dinner at Compere Lapin. The head bartender there is a friend. The food was fantastic and I know she's happy to whip up non-alcoholic cocktails.

And in terms of attractions, I wouldn't miss taking in a show at Preservation Hall.
posted by lousywiththespirit at 8:29 AM on February 22, 2017 [1 favorite]

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