Short week in New Orleans

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lazydavid
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Short week in New Orleans

Post by lazydavid » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:48 am

For spring break in March, we're heading to New Orleans. We've wanted to go for a long time, but this will be the first trip for any of us. Trying to keep the trip relatively inexpensive, as we have a much bigger vacation over the summer, but are doing quite well so far. We're staying in a timeshare in the garden district, so will not need a rental car. Total out-of-pocket transportation and lodging costs should be well under $150--$45 (plus 64k miles) for 4 roundtrip tickets from O'Hare, plus cab/uber to and from the condo, and trolley tickets. Off to a good start!

That said, since we got the tickets on a "web special", the flight times are not ideal, so we won't get a full week there. We'll get in very late Sunday and leave very early Friday, so essentially we have Monday-Thursday. Primary goals of the trip are food, culture, and Jazz. I'd like to do one dinner at an upscale/fancy restaurant, perhaps one midpriced somewhere in there, and the rest casual--poboys, muffaletta, etouffee, fried oysters, crawfish, gumbo, jambalaya, bring it on! Have heard Cafe Du Monde is not worth the wait, so would be interested in other options for beignets.

I know (or at least think) that live Jazz is pretty much everywhere, but the wrinkle is we have a 12-year-old, and I suspect a lot of the venues are bars that won't let him in. We recently discovered a Jazz club in downtown Chicago that is 12+ in the listening room, and have gone several times. He's had a blast. So some similar options would be awesome.

We're open to anything else, provided it's somewhere within the downtown area. As I mentioned, we're staying in the garden district, right on St. Charles street, so should be able to take the streetcar to the French Quarter.

What would you recommend for our 4 days there?
Last edited by lazydavid on Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

psteinx
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by psteinx » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:11 pm

Trolley from Garden District to French Quarter should be fairly solid - you're correct there.

There *IS* a lot of walking though - from where you're staying to the trolley stop, from the trolley stop to the Quarter/etc, and then walking all around.

Bourbon Street will likely be particularly drunken over spring break. But things calm down fairly quickly a block or two off Bourbon. And most of the madness is at night.

Jackson Square is a neat place to just hang out. Watch the street performers. Stop off in the shops, etc.

Cafe DuMond can have a long wait, but it's part of the New Orleans experience. Give it a try at least once. It's right by Jackson Square, so you'll be there anyways - maybe time it for when the lines look a little shorter. If you really don't want lines, or want a second helping of beignets with less waiting, there should be several beignet shops, easily findable with a couple blocks. You'll likely see them as you walk around. (IIRC, they're mostly on the same street as Cafe Dumond but 1-4 blocks west of it.)

Take a horse drawn carriage tour.

Watch some street performers. Tip them.

I thought WW2 museum OK. Not mind blowing, but not bad - maybe a little overhyped. If you do this, and it's a busy day, consider running the normal sequence backwards, or skipping the first one or two parts. IIRC, there were roughly 6 parts, and the first 1-2 were mobbed, but crowds were lighter for the later sections.

The antiques shops on/around Royal Street were interesting to me.

I didn't really do the jazz.

There are a lot of interesting restaurants, with picturesque settings. Not necessarily fine dining per se, but appealing location and vibe. You might want to bump up your restaurant budget.

I didn't do the Mardi Gras museum, but IIRC, the females in our family did, and enjoyed it.

IIRC, there's a zoo at the OTHER end of the streetcar line (going West instead of East). If the weather is nice and you like that kind of thing... But we didn't go.

Overall, there's just a lot of atmosphere in N.O., and if you're like me, you should enjoy it. Keep plans kind of loose.

If you had a rental car, going to one of the Alligator farms would be fun. But not a tragic loss if the transportation is inconvenient.

There is (or was) some kind of butterfly room/garden thing that's pretty cool, if you've never done one of those.
Last edited by psteinx on Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:26 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Prokofiev
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Prokofiev » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:16 pm

Duplicate. See below
Last edited by Prokofiev on Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Prokofiev
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Prokofiev » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:18 pm

Prokofiev wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:16 pm
First off, I have never heard of St James st, so I know this can't be in the Garden District. You are staying in what was once called St Thomas - a well-known housing project. They have relabeled it "Lower" Garden District after removing the projects and building subsidized condo and housing units. Not the nicest part of the city to stay in. But I have heard things are not that dangerous anymore due to renovation and gentrification. Still, I would be careful in this area after dark.

The streetcar (we don't have trolleys) runs along St Charles Ave which is 6-9 blocks away from where you are staying. You would need to take the Magazine or Tchoupitoulas bus lines. Go to RTA website and see bus schedules. You can take the streetcar Uptown to see the nicer parts of the city, but it is not useful to go to the CBD or French Quarter. You are short walk from the WWII museum, which you should visit.

Good Luck
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lazydavid
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by lazydavid » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:22 pm

Prokofiev wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:16 pm
First off, I have never heard of St James st, so I know this can't be in the Garden District. You are staying what was once called St Thomas - a well-known housing project. They have relabeled it "Lower" Garden District after removing the projects and building subsidized condo and housing units. Not the nicest part of the city to stay in. But I have heard things are not that dangerous anymore due to renovation and gentrification. Still, I would be careful in this area after dark.

The streetcar (we don't have trolleys) runs along St Charles Ave which is 6-9 blocks away from where you are staying. You would need to take the Magazine or Tchoupitoulas bus lines. Go to RTA website and see bus schedules. You are short walk from the WWII museum, which you should visit.
Sorry I mistyped. We're at St. Charles and Josephine. I've corrected my first post.

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Prokofiev
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Prokofiev » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:32 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:22 pm
Prokofiev wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:16 pm
First off, I have never heard of St James st, so I know this can't be in the Garden District. You are staying what was once called St Thomas - a well-known housing project. They have relabeled it "Lower" Garden District after removing the projects and building subsidized condo and housing units. Not the nicest part of the city to stay in. But I have heard things are not that dangerous anymore due to renovation and gentrification. Still, I would be careful in this area after dark.

The streetcar (we don't have trolleys) runs along St Charles Ave which is 6-9 blocks away from where you are staying. You would need to take the Magazine or Tchoupitoulas bus lines. Go to RTA website and see bus schedules. You are short walk from the WWII museum, which you should visit.
Sorry I mistyped. We're at St. Charles and Josephine. I've corrected my first post.
OK, that changes what I wrote - even though it is only 7 blocks away. You can clearly take the ST Charles streetcar from there in either direction
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scotthew
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by scotthew » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:35 pm

Preservation Hall would probably be perfect for tweeners in terms of age restriction and family friendly performances. Tipitina's is a world class venue, but pretty much all the shows will be 18+, as it will be with most the other popular bars (Maple Leaf, Howling Wolf, and everything on Frenchman).

It sounds like you are staying in the Warehouse District, which is a good spot. My favorite hole in the wall po-boy shop is The Corporation. Plenty of world class restaurants live nearby you in the WHD. Cochon Butcher is especially good for sandwiches and charcuterie. Bakery Bar has some nice treats for younger kids. Where you are staying, the Uber is probably going to be your best option for getting the French Quarter (unless you want to walk it). Streetcar can get you uptown, but it is extremely slow. If you want to skip the wait for beignets, go to the location in the Riverwalk instead of the Decatur Street location.


If your child is into it, maybe one of the Ghost or Vampire tours at night could be fun.

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lthenderson
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by lthenderson » Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:47 pm

Don't have any advice on where to go since I've only spent one overnight there. We pretty much just walked around and had a good time. BUT, we went a couple weeks after Mardi Gras ended and I see you are going around the same time frame. The entire French Quarter area reeked of urine, especially when you neared any place that had a planter on the sidewalk. If I had it to do over again, I would wait for a month or so (and a few good rains) to pass after Mardi Gras before going.

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lazydavid
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by lazydavid » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:03 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:47 pm
Don't have any advice on where to go since I've only spent one overnight there. We pretty much just walked around and had a good time. BUT, we went a couple weeks after Mardi Gras ended and I see you are going around the same time frame. The entire French Quarter area reeked of urine, especially when you neared any place that had a planter on the sidewalk. If I had it to do over again, I would wait for a month or so (and a few good rains) to pass after Mardi Gras before going.
Yeah we will be there 4 weeks after Mardi Gras, and don't have the option of delaying further. Hopefully it will have subsided by then.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:04 pm

Agree with the advice above to hit Cafe du Monde even if there is a short wait for the experience as well as the beignets. If you happen to be near Jackson Square at lunch time but don't want to go to Cafe du Monde, you can walk a couple of blocks farther down Decatur St to Central Grocery for a muffaletta.

My favorite restaurant in New Orleans is Antoine's in the French Quarter. It would certainly qualify for your upscale dinner, but they have been running lunch specials which are more casual (and reasonably priced) for the past few years, so check their website to see if the current one (if any) meets your needs. If so, you could get to traipse around inside Antoine's (which is fabulous and you should take the opportunity to walk around inside if you do go) at a reasonable price for lunch and enjoy your upscale meal elsewhere.

I recently had dinner at Oceana Grille in the French Quarter and liked it a lot. Lots of variety on the menu.

There are many great restaurants in New Orleans and you would really have to try to find a bad meal. Enjoy your trip!

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Prokofiev
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Prokofiev » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:06 pm

lthenderson wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:47 pm
BUT, we went a couple weeks after Mardi Gras ended and I see you are going around the same time frame. The entire French Quarter area reeked of urine, especially when you neared any place that had a planter on the sidewalk. If I had it to do over again, I would wait for a month or so (and a few good rains) to pass after Mardi Gras before going.
We pretty much reek of urine year round. It is part of the old-world charm.
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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Doom&Gloom » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:07 pm

lazydavid wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:03 pm
lthenderson wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 12:47 pm
Don't have any advice on where to go since I've only spent one overnight there. We pretty much just walked around and had a good time. BUT, we went a couple weeks after Mardi Gras ended and I see you are going around the same time frame. The entire French Quarter area reeked of urine, especially when you neared any place that had a planter on the sidewalk. If I had it to do over again, I would wait for a month or so (and a few good rains) to pass after Mardi Gras before going.
Yeah we will be there 4 weeks after Mardi Gras, and don't have the option of delaying further. Hopefully it will have subsided by then.
You should definitely walk down Bourbon Street once just to see it, but it is much more pleasant to walk Royal St which runs parallel one block toward the river.

oldfatguy
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by oldfatguy » Thu Feb 13, 2020 1:10 pm

Go to Mother's for breakfast .. get there early for the "black ham" biscuits.

psteinx
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by psteinx » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:09 pm

There's an amphitheater (simple concrete bench half bowl) across the street from Jackson Square, facing it. Next to Cafe DuMond. Various performers use it.

We were near there and saw a group of performers getting ready for a show. But it was kinda early for the free (tips solicited) show - there were only a handful of spectators sitting.

Nonetheless, we sat down to watch - maybe we were tired and looking to be off our feet anyways.

It took surprisingly long for the performers to start the show - maybe 20-25 minutes from when we sat down. BUT, watching the pre-show bits were almost as entertaining as the show itself. The performers obviously wanted to fill the bowl for their show, and worked the heavy crowd of passerbys on the sidewalk (many presumably going to/from Dumond) and some of those across the street (by the square). They were funny. They were obviously skilled at engaging the crowd and random passers-by. And whadda ya know, by the time they started, the bowl was pretty packed - maybe 200 spectators.

Their show was mostly sort of street acrobatics. These guys weren't kids - average performer age maybe 40. But they put their bodies into the show.

Of course we tipped afterwards.

Great pre-show, great show. Maybe the most entertaining thing we saw in N.O., and it was nominally "free" (except tips). And we basically stumbled into it by accident.

We also saw at least one street magic show, on the other side of Jackson Square (in front of the church). Also good. And there are street musicians, oddly dressed folks who want you to take a picture with them, artists selling stuff from street booths, etc.

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by bglhdism » Thu Feb 13, 2020 2:27 pm

Here's a few. I didn't omit some of the less child-friendly options so you could at least see them.

Bacchanal Great place to go with a group. It's a wine shop turned restaurant in a beautifully decaying old building with a lovely courtyard. Go around 5 or 6pm to stake out a table, and stay for the outdoor live music, wine and delicious food.

The Columns Hotel I love going here for a cocktail on the front porch over looking St. Charles Ave. If it's cold, the inside is also nice by the fireplace. The movie Pretty Baby was filmed here. The food is not great, so stick to drinks.

Cafe Du Monde If you don't want the crazy wait, go to the one in City Park--a lot less hectic than the quarter location.

Vaughn's Lounge Great dive bar for late night local music.

Le Bons Temps Roulé If you want to hear good music, check their calendar. Soul Rebels is a great local brass band and they usually play on Thursdays, but call and double check.

The Upperline Restaurant The best fried green tomatoes. This is a great place to go for a nice dinner. The owner JoAnn Clevenger is an old New Orleans character and the walls are covered with her art collection.

Domilise's Po' Boys Very casual corner deli with some of the best po' boys in town. When the weather is nice, it's great to grab a po' boy and sit in Audubon Park, particularly under "The Tree of Life" an epic and beautiful oak in Audobon (fun for the kids to climb on the branches that reach down to the ground).

Garden District Be sure to take a long walk around. I'd maybe start around the intersection of Prytania and 2nd St. and weave your way in and out. The best area is probably between St. Charles and Magazine and Washington and Jackson.

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by jpelder » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:19 pm

A few thoughts.

Preservation Hall is about the only place I know of to see jazz with a 12-year old, sadly. Don't take out your phone there (they'll give you the spiel before they play). It's also a short show, which you may not like. All of the other venues I know of (Howling Wolf, Fritzell's, Snug Harbor, Maple Leaf, etc) are either 18+ or 21+, as far as I know. New Orleans isn't super-strict on ID, but they won't let a 12-year-old in.

While you should still go to Cafe du Monde for the experience, the best place for beignets I know of is Cafe Beignet on Royal Street near the LA Supreme Court Building. Coffee is better than the watery stuff at Cafe du Monde, too.

Commander's Palace is my suggestion for a fancy meal. They're justified in their legendary status, and they present more of a "standard" fine dining experience. Antoine's and Galatoire's are the two French Quarter staples. Antoine's isn't as good as it used to be, if the hype is to be believed (I've never eaten there). Galatoire's doesn't take reservations and requires men to wear a jacket, so keep that in mind if you want to go there. I've eaten at Galatoire's and Commander's Palace, and both are among the 10 best meals I've eaten.

The zoo and aquarium are both good, if you like the genre. The antique shops on Royal Street are incredible (walk around with your hands behind your back, though). World War 2 museum is a powerful experience.

Atilla
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Atilla » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:32 pm

Royal Street walk is enjoyable, preferable to Bourbon Street by a lot. Finding a bad meal is almost impossible.

I was surprised to discover that midtown Manhattan stinks WAY worse than the French Quarter.
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by neilpilot » Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:38 pm

jpelder wrote:
Thu Feb 13, 2020 3:19 pm

Commander's Palace is my suggestion for a fancy meal. They're justified in their legendary status, and they present more of a "standard" fine dining experience.
Commander's has a fixed price lunch during the week. Still not cheap, but a decent value. Suggest you reserve a table in their garden room.

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Osprey » Thu Feb 13, 2020 4:44 pm

Lunch at the New Orleans Cooking School. The chef demonstrates cooking and talks about the history of New Orleans and its food, the presentation was funny and informative and the food was very good. The website lists what they are cooking so you can attend a meal that appeals to you.

The Gumbo Shopis also a neat place for lunch as it has a hidden courtyard.

The World War 2 museum was very good.

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WoodSpinner
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by WoodSpinner » Thu Feb 13, 2020 11:33 pm

OP,

Best to check if the trolley is now running on normal schedule— we had issues in October due to the Hard Rock Hotel collapse.

Second vote for Commander’s Palace — service was amazing and the food was excellent.

Great Breakfast places:
Wakin’ Bakin’ (casual, amazing food)
Ruby Slipper

Great Food
Neyow’s. Creole Cafe
Acme Oyster House

Adults:
Bourbon Milkshake at the Bourbon House (on Bourbon Street)

Loved the WW II museum, very well done, Garden district walking tour as well, Creole Usenet Paddlewheel cruise to the Chalmette Battlefield.

Enjoy!

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Grasshopper » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:17 pm

+1 on Central Grocery muffaletta.
+1 Acme Oyster House
+ 1 Zoo
+ 1 Commanders, no shorts allowed
Anyplace that serves mudbugs(crawdads)

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Watty
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Watty » Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:39 pm

It has been a while but when we were there we enjoyed the tour of Mardi Gras World which is a huge warehouse where they make and store many of the Mardi Gras floats.

https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_ ... siana.html

It was part of a one of the citi pass cards(I forget which one) that allowed you to see a lot of the attractions. We found that to be worthwhile.

Do be careful, crime can be a problem there. It is just anecdotal but the day before we got there a tourist had been murdered in the French Quarter. We were driving and our GPS took us through some real dicy neighborhoods just a short distance from the French Quarter.

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Doom&Gloom
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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by Doom&Gloom » Fri Feb 14, 2020 6:56 pm

Grasshopper wrote:
Fri Feb 14, 2020 5:17 pm
+1 on Central Grocery muffaletta.
+1 Acme Oyster House
+ 1 Zoo
+ 1 Commanders, no shorts allowed
Anyplace that serves mudbugs(crawdads)
I had forgotten about Acme, but only the one in the French Quarter imo.
Commander's Palace has always been solid. Sunday Brunch used to the the preferred time to go, but I haven't been there lately.

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by redrocker » Sat Feb 15, 2020 1:02 am

Live music of multiple varieties can be experienced in the street on Frenchmen St. While I believe all of the bars are at least 18+, the music spills into the street and you might actually have a better experience just sampling from outside. Several stages are visible from the street with comparable views to what you'd get inside. Three Muses and Marigny Brasserie are both solid restaurants providing live music and they may not be 18+ (sorry I don't know for sure, been awhile since I hosted someone under age).

Dat Dog is a gourmet hotdog/sausage dog joint on the corner there that is very popular.

Someone upthread said that finding a bad a meal is difficult here but I would suggest being selective with eating in the Quarter, especially on Bourbon St (as in, don't patronize pretty much any restaurant on Bourbon).

Late March should be an excellent time to explore City Park and its Museum of Art, botanical garden, and sculpture gardens.

I would also recommend the Louisiana based museum inside of the Cabildo in the FQ.

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Re: Short week in New Orleans

Post by MJS » Sat Feb 15, 2020 12:23 pm

The Audubon Zoo has the Highest Point in the City, and a wonderful swamp venue.

For early morning people, go to Cafe du Monde at 6am and watch the sunrise over the Mississippi: beautiful, no lines, very hot coffee & beignets.

For unusual venues, take a look at Atlas Obscura
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