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First trip to New Orleans...

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Toronto
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First trip to New Orleans...

My boyfriend and I will be visiting New Orleans at the end of May... It's my first visit, but his second (1st trip in late 90s). We're arriving on a Saturday, around dinnertime, and leaving on Tuesday around lunch. Not a long trip at all.

I'm the type of traveller who treats every visit to a new place like it may be the only one, and try to see as much as I can in case I don't make it back to see the rest. My question is how much can I reasonably expect to fit in in that essentially 2 day visit? I really want to see stuff outside the city and fit in a plantation tour, etc... but I have the feeling there's so much to see and do in the city itself that it would be too rushed to try to fit in any 'organized' 1/2 day swamp or plantation tours, etc.

Is it better to accept the fact now, before even arriving, that I'm not going to have the time to see it all (basically forget stuff outside the city exists for the time being) and just concentrate on seeing as much as I can around the FQ, Garden District, etc...?

Mississippi
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1. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

You should stay in the FQ. Le Marais, Provincial, Place D Armes, St. Marie and Dauphine Orleans are fine hotels. You may wish to stay in a B&B in the Marigny which is next to the FQ and home to good clubs and restaurants. You only have 3 nights. I would spend all my time in the FQ. There's a lot to see there. You could take the St. Charles streetcar to the GD or Uptown and visit the neat shops and stores on Magazine Street which is a few blocks S of SC. Have lunch at Coquette or Lilette, Go to Galatolire's for fine NOLA cuisine. Coop's is a fun place to dine also. Good luck.

Stow, Ohio
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2. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

Okay 2 days is VERY and I mean VERY little time to see the big easy. I would stick to the French Quarter and the Garden District. Forget any tours outside the city.

los angeles
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3. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

you can't even "see and do" all of the french quarter in 2 days. take your time ,let new orleans capture you. you will be back.

Kansas City
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4. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

Your options for live music are going to be best Sat night and Sunday, I would do the FQ Sat-Sun and save the Garden District for Monday.

My best suggestion would be definitely hotel in the FQ. You have gotten some good suggestions already, add Royal Sonesta to the list.

First night after checking in you will be drawn to just meander the FQ and maybe Frenchmen Street. for live music. Once you decide on a hotel and the location is clear we can help you better with dinner suggestions.

First, and most dear to my heart: The Live Music scene in New Orleans is nothing short of amazing!

Clearly, it is a Jazz town and you will find good jazz many places. The Irvin Mayfield lounge in the Royal Sonesta Hotel, Preservation Hall, Clubs on Frenchmen Street, (DBA & Spotted Cat just to name a couple), and other venues too numerous to mention. You may even want to venue out to either Uptown or Bywater to hear Kermit Ruffins or The Rebirth Brass Band.

I am a rabid Blues fan, and there are some good Blues Bands on Bourbon Street too. My personal favorite is Mark Penton & The Pentones, they play Blues and also some awesome Classic Rock. Funky Pirate, 727 Bourbon Street, they play from 4-8 on Friday, Saturday & Sunday.

Another, more traditional Blues Band that I love is Willie "The Hambone" Lockett and the All Purpose Blues Band. You can hear them at Chris Owens Club, 500 Bourbon on Thursdays 9:00-1:00AM and Fridays 7-9. You can also hear them on Sunday & Monday nights at the Funky Pirate from 8:30 to 12. Big Al Carson is a favorite of many, (although not mine personally), he plays at Funky Pirate Tues-Sat every week from 8:30 to 12 or so. I read another poster say he was more Funk than Blues and I think that is true, but he is very well known.

Cajun and Zydeco are pretty popular in New Orleans, (again, not my personal favorite, except in small doses). The Olde Opry House, 601 Bourbon has The Bonoffs, (whom a lot of posters really like), from 2PM on Fri and Sat and from 5 PM during the week. Right across the street at 602 is the Bayou Club and they have a Cajun/Zydeco band about every night. Krazy Korner at 640 Bourbon Street also has Cajun and Zydeco

Later in the evening you will find Rock cover bands at Old Opry House, some are great and others only average, depends on when you go.

So, you see, there is a lot to choose from, and I just suggested a sampling.

Just a walk down Bourbon Street will help you decide. It is also good for you to know that like many others in New Orleans, musicians are not paid very well and rely on tips to survive. If you are in a bar or club and enjoy the music, please put some money in the jar. They don't charge a cover charge and it is well worth it.

Sunday morning have breakfast at either Old Coffee Pot on St Peter between Bourbon and Royal or at Oceana, on Conti between Bourbon and Royal. If you go to Oceana, get the Pain Perdu, (French Toast), it is legendary. After breakfast wander toward Jackson Square. There will be carriages lined up along Decatur, it is fun and only costs $15 per person for a tour/ride. Look for Colin, (best driver/guide). He wears all black except for a tan hat and tan boots, has long curly hair. He will give you a terrific overview of the FQ, architecture and history. It will also give you a great idea of where you want to explore on foot. Following the ride, you will want to meander around the shops and check out the artists in Jackson Sq.

Royal is a great street to walk as it has cool shops and galleries. Along the way you will see lots of Street Performers. They range from the Human Statue variety, (Uncle Louie is a favorite, typically dressed in white with a red/white/blue top hat and little dog, and he is stretched out as if taking long strides and can go without moving for an unbelievable amount of time). There are also bands, (some little rag tag groups that look like they just rolled in from the Bayou), but playing really lovely music. Also various solo performers doing everything from singing to playing to a wide variety of performance artistry. Street performers survive on the money they make on tips, so if you enjoy them, please tip.

There are literally dozens of places I could suggest for lunch, others will make suggestions. When you get hungry there will be places everywhere and most of them have really good food.

Now, this is very important, by about 4:30 you will want to be at The Funky Pirate, 727 Bourbon. My favorite performer in New Orleans is Mark Penton, he plays awesome Blues and Classic Rock, rollicking good time! After he finishes at 8, either head to Frenchmen Street for some Jazz, or stay put and hear Willie Lockett and the All Purpose Blues Band.

On Monday, I suggest you ride the St Charles Streetcar to The Garden District. I would ride all the way to the end and then back. Get off at Washington and walk to Commander's Palace for lunch. It is a famous Brennan restaurant and not to be missed, esp if you only plan one trip to New Orleans, (we all think you will change your mind). They have great lunch specials and 25cent martinis at lunch on weekdays. Monday will also be a good time to do any museums, etc that you want to do as there is less live music on Mondays.

Since we are on my preferences, : ) I am decidedly partial to lower Bourbon. Closer to Canal Street, there are more "Gentlemen's Clubs," and can be a bit too seedy for some. My favorite part of Bourbon is 400-800 block, and that is where most of the bars I like are located.

Sydney, Australia
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5. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

Hi,

I also agree stay in the LQ & experience this part of NOLA. Plus do the garden tour = forget the river cruise as its just ordinary IMO.

Lewes, Delaware
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6. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

Yes, accept the fact now that you won't be able to see it all in 2 days. After your two days there, accept the fact that you will be back.

Some destinations are of the type that two days is enough, even if you don't see it all. But New Orleans is different, you can come back many times, not see it all, but you don't really care, as what you do see, is always satisfying.

Toronto
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7. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

Thanks for all the advice! We've already booked at Le Pavillion, but those other hotels sound great too. Originally I was looking for the first weekend of April, but even though the flights from Toronto were super cheap, hotel/B&B availability was hard to come by, and what I found was really expensive. Le Pavillion was about $500/night that weekend, but we got it for less than 1/4 of that at the end of May. What will the temperatures be like then... I'm expecting pretty warm?

Houston, Texas
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8. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

This is very simple. Limit your sleep time to 2-3 hours per night. That will leave 22 hours per day times two, for a total of 44 waking hours. Divide that by the normal 16 waking hours per day and you now have enough waking hours for almost three complete days. In addition to all the time you've gained for sightseeing, you've also gained enough time for four additional meals. Meals are always a serious consideration when you're in New Orleans. :-)

The temperatures at the end of may should be very nice. All the chill will be gone from the air, but the fierce heat of summer won't yet have arrived. Warm? Yes. Unbearably hot? No..

Edited: 27 March 2011, 22:17
Toronto, Ontario...
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9. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

I absolutely second kjosker's exact words. You WILL go back, so enjoy the Quarter this time around!

Mississippi
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10. Re: First trip to New Orleans...

The weather in May will be perfect. Good luck.