New Orleans
February 10, 2004 8:13 AM   Subscribe

I will be making my first trip to the US in late April and it will involve a two night stop in New Orleans. So - what is there to do in the 'Big Easy'? I understand there is the heritage of the French Quarter and the jazz of Bourbon Street. But, beyond the blues and the mardi gras, what should I go see?
posted by metaxa to Travel & Transportation around New Orleans, LA (19 answers total)
 
The cemetaries.
posted by stupidsexyFlanders at 8:17 AM on February 10, 2004


New Orleans also has a lot of nifty coffee shops where you can drink extra strong coffee and wash it down with some beignets [pastry things piping hot with confectioner's sugar]. Cafe Du Monde is touristy but also fun. The Country Flame is my favorite dive, a good place to get a taco or a steak, have a beer and watch a soccer match. Mother's Restaurant is a well-known cafeteria style eatery featuring a lot of local good food. Slow service and crowded but delicious grub. New Orleans is also known for its Garden District, lots of old Southern Architecture with really impressive greenery. Fun place to go for a walk after one of those huge meals. If you're into the outdoors and the weather is nice, you can walk or take a trolley down to Lake Pontchartrain which is truly massive and an altogether different kind of experience to being in the city. New Orleans is a very walkable city if you are situated well.
posted by jessamyn at 8:38 AM on February 10, 2004


Just two nights? I would spend every minute exploring the French Quarter! I could spend two days just at the French Market. Next time visit the cemetaries and the voodoo houses and of course Magazine Street .
posted by oh posey at 8:39 AM on February 10, 2004 [1 favorite]


If you're here when it's happening (April 21-25), you've GOT to go to Festival International in Lafayette. It makes Jazz Fest look like FarmAid.
posted by pomegranate at 8:40 AM on February 10, 2004


I'll be in town April 29-May 1st, if that helps. I'll be there en-route to my honeymoon cruise around the Caribbean. :)

Looks like i'll just miss the Festival International, which is unfortunate.
posted by metaxa at 8:46 AM on February 10, 2004


Hit the Garden District. Beautiful mansions, lots of gardens, just a nice area to take a walk in. (And you can take the streetcar named Desire to get there.)
posted by me3dia at 8:53 AM on February 10, 2004


You'll be hitting it when Jazzfest is at it's climax, so you'll want to book a room very soon.
posted by pomegranate at 9:04 AM on February 10, 2004


If you like books, all of the used bookstores in the French Quarter are worth browsing. So's Magazine Street. I took a swamp tour, which was also fun. Drinking yourself silly is another option.
posted by drobot at 9:25 AM on February 10, 2004


Check out the record stores. Even the Tower Records in New Orleans is pretty amazing--there's a large section consisting entirely of recordings on local New Orleans labels. I found a number of excellent and unusual jazz albums there.
posted by Prospero at 10:01 AM on February 10, 2004


Audubon Aquarium is very nice.

Since you mention the "heritage of the French Quarter and the jazz of Bourbon Street," do be aware that the reality might not meet... romantic... expectations. It's basically Disney World for frat boys. Great fun, really, and wonderful in its exuberance, but still.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 10:10 AM on February 10, 2004


During a hectic visit, I walked along the river, and took a ride on the car ferry across the river and back - it's free for pedestrians, and you can watch the big ships go by.
posted by carter at 10:14 AM on February 10, 2004


THE FOOD.
posted by rushmc at 10:33 AM on February 10, 2004


PLEASE visit Napoleon House in the Quarter for a wonderful meal, in the courtyard if you can. My favorite place in the world. The Old Coffee Pot will give you a wonderful breakfast.

If you really only have two days, pack comfortable shoes and walk the Quarter, shop, laugh at people, eat and drink and soak in this part of the city. You'll be back.
posted by tr33hggr at 11:11 AM on February 10, 2004


Previous New Orleans thread.

Only because, right now, I'm too tired to repeat myself, and will, instead, sigh wistfully.
posted by Katemonkey at 11:25 AM on February 10, 2004


southern candymakers--the very best pralines in the world. and not too far from the italian american monument thing--which i have far too vague a recollection of.
posted by crush-onastick at 12:07 PM on February 10, 2004


My wife and I got married in New Orleans. We flew down from Nova Scotia without telling anyone but one or two friends (trying to entice them along). What an incredible city.

The first thing that hits you is the smell. The city is basically a swamp, after all. And it's the first city I've been to that felt as if it had its own soundtrack. If you're only there two days, just soak up the music and incredible food. There is so much of each that you won't have time for anything else. Just strolling along the French Quarter is fascinating. The cemetery tours are interesting, but we found the Garden District somewhat lacking. Oh, another big old house? Wow. And look - another big old house.

The good restaurants abound. I'd add in the Court of the Two Sisters to the list. Great atmosphere and delicious food. Oh, and be prepared for a little racism. In a few of the restaurants we tried, the folks taking your orders were white, while the people bringing the food and refilling the water were black.

(oh, and the panhandlers with their "Bet I can guess where you got them shoes" lines. I read about that in a guidebook but didn't believe it, but someone actually tried it on me.)

Sheeee. Now I want to go back.
posted by GhostintheMachine at 1:02 PM on February 10, 2004


The schedule for Jazz Fest was released yesterday.
posted by ajr at 5:50 PM on February 16, 2004


Two nights isn't long, but you can still have a great time. I'd probably take my time and just soak everything in. I'd stay around the french quarter, with a trip on the street car (don't call it a trolley! ;) into the garden district as a quick get-a-way.

The visitor's center in jackson square is great. They live to help you, or so it seems. I could write a book, but you'd probably be better off checking out a guide book at your local bookstore. They usually warn you of tourist traps, or you could check out an 'off the beaten path' style guide.

Just a warning, everytime I see this question I read quite a few suggestions that are off the mark from people who visited 'once a few years ago'. Everyone means well, but that's why I'd check out a couple of sources before you go.

Really though, just relax and follow your nose and eyes and you'll have a great time. Check out the St. Louis Cathedral if just because I was married there ;)

Oh, and be prepared for a little racism. In a few of the restaurants we tried, the folks taking your orders were white, while the people bringing the food and refilling the water were black.

That shows racism how? That's quite a leap. New Orleans has problems like any other big city (some would same more), but spending two days in the french quarter will bring you in contact with tons of characters and situations. Racism won't be one of them.

Since you mention the "heritage of the French Quarter and the jazz of Bourbon Street," do be aware that the reality might not meet... romantic... expectations. It's basically Disney World for frat boys. Great fun, really, and wonderful in its exuberance, but still.

Bourbon Street yes, the rest of the French Quarter not so much. Its actually a working neighborhood where people still live and work. Disney world it is not. Go in the wee morning hours and you'll find a neighborhood waking up like any other neighborhood where people live.

If you want to get outside the french quarter check out the Mid-City Bowling Lanes Rock 'n' Bowl or tipitinas. You don't get more authentic that those.

And jazzfest is wonderful.
posted by justgary at 8:07 PM on February 16, 2004


Check out mefite Chuq's Gumbopages for loads of Nawlins advice on food and fun. He's from there - very from there - and is The Guru for music and food info.
posted by zaelic at 1:58 AM on February 17, 2004


« Older Tourist photography: should I pay locals who pose...   |   Sole Proprietorship vs. LLC? Starting a smal... Newer »
This thread is closed to new comments.