Wednesday, May 13, 2009

So, What Should We Do in New Orleans?

Last month I found a sweet airfare sale so my brothers and I decided to take a random three-day trip to New Orleans. We're leaving in about two weeks and so far our diligent planning sessions have produced nothing but the following notes scrawled on a piece of notebook paper in my purse:
  • Eat Po' Boys.
  • Jambalaya!!
  • Fan boat swamp tour like Rachael Ray?
  • Hotel waffle bar
  • Find the baby Dr. Oz rescued, who is like 3 now.
  • Repel vampire attacks.
  • Cool museums
  • War of 1812 history
  • Stephen Ambrose--go to his grave?

As you can see, planning isn't our strong suit. I mean, none of us even liked "K-Ville."

I already got some fabulous tips from Ashe Mischief (thanks again, my dear!), but I'd love to know if you guys have other recommendations for cool stuff to see/do/eat. New Orleans sounds like an amazing place, and with only a few days to explore, I want to get the most bang ("bang" here meaning "po' boys") for our buck! Thanks in advance for your help!


Michelle Schraudner said...

Psh good luck avoiding vampire attacks there.

No, really I have no clue what do to there.

Helpful, right?

Bring garlic though, just in case.

Whit said...

Oh my, where to start! old school New Orleans jazz at Donna's on Rampart St., muffaletta at Central Grocery, grilled oysters at Acme, beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe du Monde, breakfast at the Old Coffee Pot, Pim's Cup at Napoleon House, Sazerac at the Fairmont Hotel, Kermit Ruffins' horn at Vaughns, Ernie K-Doe's mother-in-law bar, Rock and Bowl, swamp boat tour, cemetery tour, go find Anne Rice's house, The Columns (where they filmed Pretty Baby) ... that should give you a start.

If you have time to head further afield, there's always the Abita brewery and Tobasco plant.

Anonymous said...

Eat snowballs and see some music.
Frenchmens St. is good to roam around with no real destination, since music is EVERYWHERE.
Also for music, there's always Tipitina's, The Maple Leaf, and the Rock n Bowl.

leah bell said...

you MUST go to magazine street. the best area of new orleans with amazing coffee shops, art galleries, unique boutiques & vintage shops. its wonderful!

meliasaurus said...

ask a local where to go.
find a jazz club.
cafe du monde was the worst!!! they tried to rip us off and you wait around for 3 hours for a Funnel cake. seriously.
when we went there were fireworks on the river that was cool.
and there was a big community picnic

i suggest checking the newspaper for local events. so you dont just do tourist things.

Ashe Mischief said...

It's my pleasure, dear!

As for snowballs--yum! My favorite were always Orchid Plum at Maple Street. I know many who swear by Hansen's, but whatever.

There are a couple of nice gelato shops now, too. The Gelateria on Magazine, and another on Prytania uptown.... they have a great red velvet cake.

Autumn said...

I second the swamp and cemetery tours! Even as a native they had my mother rolling with glee.

I also second that you need to eat beignets and have coffee at du monde, but they're open all night so do it in the wee hours for more magic.

Frenchman street (off the beaten path down...Decataur? It's on a map) Has the best music, walking distance and is less tourist-infused.

There is a FABULOUS millinary called Fleur de Paris (on Royal street, here's their website: ) Ladies on the Titanic would die for these hats.

I would recommend going into Marie Laveau's Voodoo Shop for some fantastic eccentricities.

Go to the Garden district and walk around in your prettiest dress:)

The food everywhere is magical, there's not really a "bad" place to eat so don't be suckered by the high prices in some tourist restaurants. Go to the dive places, that's the spirit of the city. On Decataur (? the map is mixed in my head) across from Jackson square on the bank of the river there's a GIANT gray "Fish Mart" building. Eat there, cheap and delicious.

Also, please avoid walking outside the French Quarter. N.O. is not the safest of cities and there's an immediate change in the air once you leave the well lit tourist area.

Same for the cemeteries: Do Not Go Alone. The tombs are all above ground and create a veritable maze. One which the kids in the projects right next to have memorized. It is a common scam for them to run in an mug confused tourists who can't find their way out.

Aside from those two cautions, don't fret, I walked around that place unleashed at 12 yrs old and was perfectly fine.

Have a brilliant time, hope that helps!!

Btw- I currently live/ teach in South Korea, is your friend still here too? Liking it okay?

Arlynn said...

Woah... I was looking forward to sending some great ideas your way, but you've got some great commenters - Whit knows her stuff (if I might say so, as a N.O. native myself).

However I have to disagree with Amelia - I don't know what Cafe Du Monde she went to, but they don't sell funnel cakes, no, something MUCH, MUCH more fantastic - beignets!!! You HAVE to go there, if not, you're missing out. They really only have two things on the menu: Cafe Au Lait & Beignets; so you know it's phenomeneal if it's all they do : - )

Sno Balls are a must as are those Pimms cups - just a few & you're good to go - don't forget the traditional Hurricane at Pat's.

Well, that's enough to get you going. So enjoy the planning, and don't forget to take pics!

Katy said...

I've never been there but I do know that there is a Britney Spears Museum.

Anonymous said...

Hang out with Gambit, obviously!

...but my priorities may be different than yours.

Have fun with the vampire hunting, though.

Anonymous said...

it's not in the french quarter, but pretty nearby (walking distance) is the art gallery district. There are several, they're all really close to each other, and often they're open to tourists. I saw some pretty amazing stuff when I went, and it's great for when you're incredibly hungover for complete days (s, like, as in plural, as in more than one day)...........
Anyway, I'm sure you can ask at your hotel and they can point you in the right direction.

Enjoy! I'm stationed at Ft Polk which is about 4 hrs north of NoLa, and my only saving grace down here is that I can lose weekends there.

Ally said...

Hop a street car and ride through the Garden District.

Buy a hurricane from a guy in an alley off Bourbon St.

Eat a grilled cheese at the Clover.

Jessica said...

Go to Cafe Du Monde, drink a Hurricane, and go to Magazine Street!

WendyB said...

Buy a voodoo doll from the minibar like I did!

Kaume'alani said...

Beignets and cafe au lait are a must! They'll make you obsessively search online for suitable replications in Oregon (none so far). If you get a chance to see the lower ninth ward - eye opening. Hurricane Katrina fucked everything up so bad.

meliasaurus said...

Arlynn a beignet is a funnel cake. it's just a piece of fried dough with sugar on top by a french name. they are in no stretch of the imagination "fantastic".

i'm not one to generally rain on parades, especially not dessert and pastry parades. but cafe du monde was all around the most disappointing part of my trip to new orleans. i would have rather saved my time and gone else where.

Apocalypstick said...

You must visit this store:
829 Chartres St. in the French Quarter

All those cute bias-cut silk skirts I have come from there. I can never remember what the boutique's name is and end up calling it something like Slutty Whore but it's TRASHY DIVA.

echidna girl said...

As part of your preparations you could shamelessly watch Live & Let Die for the 100th time.

Kim said...

Pat O'Brien's is very touristy, but you definitely get the bang for your buck with the hurricanes - just don't drink more than one if you plan on staying coherent the rest of the day.
Also, yes the French Quarter is a little dicey, but we took a pretty cheap horse and buggy ride through there which was a fun (and safe) way to see a lot of stuff.
Have fun!

Ari said...

I'm originally from New Orleans, so I rarely do tourist-y things, but when I do, I:

-eat beignets
-go to the Aquarium of the Americas
-go to Audubon Zoo
-ride a streetcar (don't think the one named Desire exists anymore)
-drive down Canal St. and through the Garden District
-go to the French Market
-find somewhere to eat hot sausage and/or boiled seafood

You should also go look at the houses Brad Pitt's organization is building in the Lower Ninth Ward (just off Claiborne). It does give you another perspective of the city, outside of the tourist parts. They've also put up some nice Katrina memorials in that area.

Marielizabeth said...

Absolutely definitely eat a muffuletta at Cafe Beignet. Cured my Mardi Gras hangover in a second & was the most delicious ENORMOUS sandwich I've ever eaten in my life.

Pursuit of Matching Accessories said...

My home! Just eat... a lot. ;) A personal fave of the less than pricy venue is Acme Oyster House... located all over New Orleans. There's even on in the airport. They're all fantastic if you like oysters. (My personal preference is fried.) My mouth is watering now!

Molly said...


Anonymous said...

Also, if you head to Magazine St. and want some oysters, head to Casamentos. :] I don't even like oysters and I think they're good.

Anonymous said...

go here and I'll be super ellus:


do dah said...

how has no one mentioned pralines? find pralines; yummy and portable, so you don't even have to experience them until your plane trip home, which allows you to multitask while still in the city. i also second the aquarium of the americas, and i loved touring some of the old plantations. especially the haunted ones, which is most of them.

Sarah said...

I agree with the Magazine Street recs -- the only thing I have to warn is this is not a morning-shopping area. I got up and took a taxi over around 10 AM and found out that many of the places didn't open until afternoon.

You must go to Frenchmen -- after 11 or so I'd say. Just walk bar to bar and hear all the amazing music -- it is the best part!

The Fearless Fowler said...

New Orleans is an amazing city, and you've got some amazing suggestions already. One of the highlights of my time there was the Preservation Hall Jazz Band, located right on Bourbon Street (I think). It's fun to watch these rickety old men who seem half dead when they sit there, but come alive when they play. If you like jazz, I recommend some time with them. Also, one thing we did to make our time in the French Quarter seem less touristy was to spend time there during the day rather than at night. Yes, there are some things one can only experience there at night, but it was nice to stroll through the Quarter in the morning, too. Have fun!

Dee said...

I have no useful New Orleans information to give you. I will say that all of my lists, for every aspect of my life, are pretty much like this one. I´m sure I could benefit from one of those organizational skill classes I keep hearing about...

Ashley Samantha said...

Oooh fun! I am from Hattiesburg, MS which is like 1.5 hours away from New Orleans and my friends and I go there ALL the time! Bourbon Street, of course is AMAHZING as is the House of Blues. Harrah's Casino, which sits practically @ the opening of Harrah's is fun. Directly across the street from Harrah's is Brooks Brothers whose window fronts are always drool worthy for fashion followers.

The Riverwalk mall is like a 5 minute walk away from all of that, you can't miss it it is the GINORMOUS cruise ship looming in the not-so-distance. The plaza alone is fun, on the corner of the plaza (leading up to Riverwalk) you'll find Banana Republic (I think.

On Bourbon you MUST go to a peep show! Seriously. And also get a gigantic daquiri from the little open air daquiri spot. Waaaay on the other end of Bourbon is where things get interesting. This is tranny prostitute territory (no lie) but they are all soooo nice, especially to well dressed cute girls! This is where Oz is (seriously worth ALL of its hype) which is a crazy fun gay club (but you gotta' pay to get in) and across from Oz is the (free) Pub which houses the most fun balcony on Bourbon.

If you can get to Covington (which is right outside of New Orleans) look up UAL (United Apparel Liquidators of 2033 N Highway 190 Ste 1 <--- that's the address) which is omg the best kept secret in the South. They basically rotate their merchandise (there's 3 of them and 1 is in Hattiesburg) but I know for a fact the Covington store gets all the best pieces. They have a stock of Hollywould shoes last time I checked marked down to $15-$50! It's also where ALL the cheap couture is, I'm talking Lanvin and Dior frocks marked down to like $600 (which is still expensive but. well. you get it) They ALWAYS have Marc Jacobs and Miu Miu shoes in and i bet they have some Stella McCartney Adidas too, and the prices are out of this world. They also have alot of cool street fashion brands too like Black Halo. This place is a goldmine.

Hope that helped! Have fun, try to get a hotel downtown either on St. Charles or Canal - FUN!

hannah said...

When I went to New Orlenas, the first thing on my list was also to eat po' boys! But, the thing I recommend most is breakfast at Mother's (
It's filled with locals (get there early) and has the best grits and biscuits I have ever tasted. Get the grits with debris (pork gravy) and a fluffy buttermilk biscuit--heaven! And cheeeeaaaap too.

Have a great trip!!

brie said...

well last time i went to New Orleans, we foundthis creepy little voodoo museum, ( which is free if you have an isic card! and 5$ if you don't) which was pretty groovy , and there's a few voodoo stores that sent chills up my spine, then of course there's bourbon street at night. there's a western themed karaoke bar (?) and another one further down the street with an awesome 80s cover band. Beware of gross sleazy men and puke in the gutters. enjoy!

jason said...

as a native, I'd advise:

Buy an umbrella.
Have a snowball....or three
Get out of the French quarter whenever you can.
Eat, eat, then eat some more.
Have fun!

Danielle said...

the most delicious alcoholic beverage you will ever have- EVER. there are tons of places to get them, all along Bourbon Street. Have 3 and then try to find your way home- impossible!

Poochie said...

Well, of course biegnets (spelled right?) are a must. NO is where I met my husband so see if an outdoor Jazz bar called Rhythms is still there on Bourbon Street.


Ally said...

I forgot about Abita brewery! It's all-you-can-drink free beer after the brief factory tour. Their brew pub is just around the corner and the food is terrific. It was the highlight of my last trip.

Anonymous said...

everything suggested so far has been mad touristy. i know you have some younger bros, but if they are not too young
*go to one eyed jacks, it's a renovated theater and now it's a bar/venue, totally gorgeous and bitchin and be sure to go to the 80s dance night if you're there on a thurs.
*go to the hookah cafe and lounge around on the plush seating, eat delicious food, and enjoy some flavored tobacco.
*definitely get a hand grenade on burbon street, but first stake out the taxi stands.
*juan's flying burrito on magazine street is close to a lot of shops and in the magazine district.
*visit a cemetery. b/c all the graves must be above ground in new orleans, it is an interesting, unique site to see.

alli said...

Go to magazine street it's full of cute boutiques but they can cost a pretty penny. Go for the sales rack!
The Funky Monkey is on magazine I think you would enjoy that store it's really fun.
Royal street has really nice antique shops. If you go down there and y'all love music go to 429 vintage. It's obviously located at 429 royal. Guitars from bob Dylan to the stones to carrie underwood so it has a pretty nice range. Nice store but really expensive haha!
Voodoo store for sure I'll have to come back and leave you with the name of a nontourist one.
City park is really nice with the trees being so mature. I'm really bad with tree types and can't think of the name. It might be oaks but I think I'm thinking of oak alley plantation.
Metairie cemetery is beautiful. Weird to describe it as that but it seriously is. I haven't heard of getting attacked in cemeteries.
Go for a carriage ride! Yay horses.
If you go to bourbon just go to red fish grill. Really good food at a relaxed setting. Then run from bourbon because I think that street is useless.
Go to Luke to eat also. Really good food by chef john besh.
I think that's all I'll come back with the voodoo store name! Sorry it was so long. Have fun here!

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