Things To Do In New Orleans
Visiting New Orleans for the first time. Going during the French Quarter Festival……anything we have to do or see besides Bourbon Street? Anything out of the norm we should check out within an hours travel distance from New Orleans?
Things to do in New Orleans:
Mardi Gras and the Jazz Festival are world famous events, but New Orleans hosts many festivals and celebrations throughout the year: www.nola.com/festivals
The Saint Charles Streetcar is the oldest continuously operating street railway in the world and is a “tourist attraction” in its own right. It is part of the public transit system, as are the Canal Street and Riverfront streetcar lines: www.norta.com
There is always music, but the bands change: Go to www.bestofneworleans.com and click on Music then Listings or to www.offbeat.com and click on Listings, then Music.
Note that music clubs often advertise “No Cover”, meaning there is no charge for entering. However, clubs with “No Cover” often require that customers buy a beverage each for every “set ” of music (which can be every 20 minutes) so KNOW THE PRICE before you sit down. Clubs do that because some people will sit in the club all evening drinking nothing (clubs only make money from the drinks they sell – not from the music). It is also a good idea to pay for each round of drinks (in clubs on Bourbon Street) as it is delivered so there can’t be any confusion at the end of the evening.
An incomplete guide to bars & clubs: www.neworleanscheapdrinks.com
About certain alcoholic beverages: Realize that some famous drinks are VERY potent compared with regular cocktails that have only 1 to 1 ½ ounces of alcohol. For example, a Hurricane is basically 3 or 4 ounces of rum in something like red Kool-Aid, and a Hand Grenade has at least 4 ½ ounces of Everclear + rum + vodka mixed with melon liquor. They don’t necessarily taste like an alcoholic beverage and it is easy to over-indulge.
Wander around the French Quarter, enjoy the architecture, watch the street entertainers (do tip), and visit some of the historic buildings that have been turned into museums (go to www.frenchquarter.com and click on Historic Attractions).
Assuming the weather is good, you can collect a sandwich lunch and eat in the riverfront park (watch the shipping) or in Jackson Square (a very nice park).
The Riverwalk shopping center has an air-conditioned food court with dining overlooking the river (www.riverwalkmarketplace.com). The Canal Place shopping center is in the French Quarter and has a cinema and higher-end shopping (Saks 5th Avenue, Brooks Brothers, etc.). Magazine Street is a miles-long shopping district: www.magazinestreet.com
Louisiana is the only US state that offers tax-free shopping for international visitors: http://www.louisianataxfree.com/
The lobby for the Westin Canal Place Hotel is on the 11th floor and overlooks the French Quarter. It is a great place for an afternoon drink/snack:(www.westin.com).
Cafe du Monde is in the French Quarter and you shouldn’t miss having cafe au lait & beignets (www.cafedumonde.com). Another great coffee shop is the Croissant d’Or (at 615 Ursulines Street), which is open from 7:00am to 2:00pm and has food in addition to pastry.
The Palm Court restaurant is very nice, has moderate prices, and offers traditional live jazz starting at 8:00pm: 1204 Decatur Street, tel 504-525-0200 (reservations are important and they are not open every day). The Palm Court is closed from about July 25th to about September 25th each year.
Maximo’s Italian Grill has great food and atmosphere: 1117 Decatur Street in the French Quarter, (504) 586-8883.
All of the famous restaurants (Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, Commander’s Palace, etc.) have reopened. The Pelican Club (on Exchange Alley in the FQ) is not as well known but is the same type experience. Reservations are a good idea, and probably essential on weekends. Tujaques Restaurant (823 Decatur Street) is very traditional and has moderate prices: www.tujaguesrestaurant.com
Cafe Degas is a very French restaurant near City Park at 3127 Esplanade – which is not within walking distance of downtown (5 to 10 minutes by taxi). They are closed on Mondays & Tuesdays (504-945-5635).
The Napoleon House restaurant is at 500 Chartres Street in the FQ, and has a menu of great local dishes: www.napoleonhouse.com
Preservation Hall has traditional live Jazz, and doesn’t serve alcohol so all ages are welcome: www.preservationhall.com
New Orleans has ballet, opera, a symphony orchestra, and theatre:
There is a free ferry across the Mississippi at the “foot” of Canal Street. It is a short trip but like a harbor cruise w/o a guide: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/canal_street_ferry
The Aquarium, Audubon Zoo, and the new Insectarium are world-class attractions (www.auduboninstitute.org) and you should see them if you can. The Zoo is several miles from downtown. You can drive to the Zoo (which has free parking) or take public transit from the French Quarter.
The Louisiana State Museum is in the French Quarter: http://lsm.crt.state.la.us/ New Orleans is also home to a number of other museums, such as the National World War II Museum (www.ddaymuseum.org) and the New Orleans Museum of Art (www.noma.org). Both can be reached by public transit: The WWII museum is in the central business district but a long walk from the French Quarter. NOMA is not within walking distance of downtown but has free parking. Go to www.neworleansmuseums.com for info on more museums.
Harrah’s Casino is in the Central Business District: www.harrahs.com (age 21 required for entry)
New Orleans City Park has a variety of attractions + free parking. (www.neworleanscitypark.com).
Check www.frenchquarter.com and http://www.nola.com/visitor/ for ideas about other things to do.
Hope you have a great time in the city of New Orleans!