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New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

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Alexandria, VA
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New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

It’s been a long time since I’ve been on the TA forums but since I decided to journal my recent three-day/three-night trip to New Orleans, I figured it would be good to share it here. It was a homecoming for my wife, a New Orleans native, and our third trip together, all since Katrina. First, a few notes to let you know whether this will be worth your time.

If you like the Garden District at least as much as the French Quarter, then this TR is for you.

If you enjoy good (but reasonable) eats more than Hurricanes and Hand Grenades, then this TR is for you.

Finally, if you enjoy long-winded stories of more detail than you ever needed or wanted, then this TR is for you.

Enjoy!

Alexandria, VA
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1. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

NIGHT ONE

Having stayed in the French Quarter on our previous trips, we decided to look at the city from another perspective and chose to stay in the Garden District at the Hotel Indigo. While we planned on spending time in the French Quarter, and were looking forward to taking the St. Charles Streetcar to do so, we were also looking at potential places to live in or near the Garden District. So our location served both purposes. My hotel review is already posted; suffice it to say, we appreciated the boutique-like atmosphere and the great service.

As we arrived at the Hotel Indigo, my wife started to realize symptoms of a recurring condition for which we would spend much of the next day at nearby Touro Hospital. While my wife ordered room service for a shrimp po-boy sandwich which she found surprisingly authentic, I decided to check out some of the various restaurants we had passed a few blocks away from the hotel and chose Voodoo BBQ. I enjoyed a Slow Smoked Brisket Sandwich on French bread with a side of a Macaroni and Cheese.

Alexandria, VA
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2. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

DAY TWO

If there was any sort of silver lining to my wife’s hospital visit, it was that I stumbled upon Milk Bar while taking a lunch break. As the name implies, it’s more of a family-friendly atmosphere that also welcome hospital staff. I chose the “Funky Chicken” sandwich (without the olives). When I needed to use the restroom, I found myself entering a genuine bar which, unlike in the French Quarter, was not particularly active in the early afternoon.

While my wife felt better by the evening, she wasn’t quite up for touring. So I stopped down the street at Slice Pizzeria for some tasty chicken and bacon ravioli before taking the streetcar down to the French Quarter.

As a teetotaler, I find Bourbon Street to be a different experience for me than perhaps many other visitors. Rather than visit the multitude of bars selling “Hurricanes” and “Hand Grenades”, my main reason for visiting was to experience the live music, particularly jazz. I specifically remembered Fritzel’s from a previous visit and was looking forward to another good time. On the way, I heard some appealing sounds emanating from Maison Bourbon and decided to check it out. While there was no cover charge, the bartender was apologetic in advance for the $7 charge for my ginger ale. While it was a little higher than I expected, it didn’t deter me from staying. I had a lot of seating choices on this Tuesday night so I decided to sit relatively close to the stage. Apparently I had come in on the last song of their set so I tried my best to nurse my drink during their ten-minute break. A few people filtered in and out by the time the next performance started. When I sensed that they might be close to another break, I decided to leave them a $5 tip in the jar provided. The bandleader thanked me publicly, calling me an “inspiration” to the guests there.

My next stop was the famed Fritzel’s . While the atmosphere at Maison Bourbon was relaxed if sparse, both the musicians and crowd at Fritzel’s were absolutely rocking! I lucked out in that there were open seats right next to the stage. There was a lot of energy coming from the jazz quartet, particularly from a very talented twenty-something pianist. At one point an international guest, who apparently made previous arrangements, sat in on the piano for one tune and held his own playing with the band. I was pleased that when the server asked me for a more standard $4 for my ginger ale. The tip jar was also passed around and people were pretty generous.

Besides the bars and live music venues, I noticed that a couple more gentlemen’s club had opened since we last visited, bringing the total to a half dozen. A lot of performers were hanging out by their establishment’s door to entice people in, another reminder that it was a slow summer Tuesday. While I had a “hall pass” to visit them as I did on our last trip, I suppose my wedding ring made me less enthusiastic about the idea. I might consider the idea for a Guys’ Weekend but otherwise I was good to go

.

Having received my fill of jazz, I decided to walk back down Bourbon Street to Canal Street where I caught the St. Charles streetcar back to my temporary home.

Alexandria, VA
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3. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

DAY THREE

This morning, I decided to eat outside of the hotel and walked down St. Charles to the Trolley Stop Café where I ordered a short stack of pancakes and some of the most amazing Canadian Bacon I’ve ever had. The service was relaxed but attentive as well. There seemed to be a mix of both tourists and locals here which I liked.

Later in the afternoon, I decided to tour Magazine Street. I had briefly visited it but wanted to more fully explore it as I saw it as a future Main Street for us were we to relocate here. I saw that while some areas were primarily residential – and perhaps in need of a little TLC – while others were thriving commercial districts featuring some unique restaurants and retail wrapped in a bohemian vibe. I could see myself spending a lot of quality time here as a tourist if not also an eventual resident.

In an effort to make up for lost time on Day Two, I decided to take the #11 Magazine Street bus down to the French Quarter for a daytime visit. In contrast to my nighttime visit, the French Quarter was still lively overall but more restrained. I spent some time perusing some of the art galleries on Royal Street while trying to locate one particular gallery I recalled that featured comic art. (I never did find it; it’s most likely gone. *sad face*) At least I accomplished my mission of picking up pralines for my wife.

My one error in judgment – at least in terms of my walking ability – was to seek out Frenchmen Street over in the Faubourg Marigny neighborhood which turned out to be not as close as I thought. They say that Frenchmen Street is said to be where locals go to party so I wanted to see what it was like before returning at night. While there were a few cafés doing business, the music venues that attracted me had yet to open. Next time, I will definitely plan on getting a cab.

Unfortunately, despite my flagging feet, I had no choice but to hoof it back to Canal Street via the French Quarter. On my way, I managed to pass such iconic sights as Jackson Square (where I saw a young jazz band perform), Central Grocery and Café du Monde. By this point, I had realized that I would be better off calling it a day and look forward to visiting Frenchmen Street on another visit.

Later in the evening, my feet had rested enough for me at to catch the St. Charles streetcar outside my hotel door and head out for dinner. I ended up at the St. Charles Tavern where I enjoyed a rather huge Italian Meatball sandwich with fries.

Interesting story about the St. Charles Tavern: I had originally meant to go to another restaurant but ended up having to pass the Tavern on the way. As I walked by, a guy who had appeared to have a few too many and was sitting on the ground under the Tavern window asked me to call a cab for him. I told him honestly that I was only visiting and did not have any cab company numbers on me. He proceeded to call me a liar, lacing his disapproval with enough expletives to motivate me to leave as soon as possible. Then I thought to myself, “If this guy keeps it up, he’ll probably deter a lot of customers away.” So I went into to let the bartenders know about the situation. Apparently he had left the bar a few hours beforehand and had flagged down a number of cabs only to be denied because he could not walk into them under his own power. The bartender then went out to talk to the guy to let him know that she would be calling the police if he did not make an effort to leave. Apparently he refused…but just as she came in with the intent to call the authorities, a friend of a friend of the guy came in and – long story short – called a cab and helped the man into the vehicle to send him home. Somewhere in the middle of that, I apparently became comfortable enough to order that humongous Italian Meatball sandwich.

Alexandria, VA
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4. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

DAY FOUR

I spent our last morning repeating my visit to the Trolley Stop Café for yet another breakfast of pancakes and Canadian bacon before my wife and I took a tour of some prospective neighborhoods where we might want to live before departing for the next leg of our journey.

While I regretted that my wife mostly convalesced, I was happy that she at least enjoyed stretching out at the hotel and I did cover a lot of ground for the two of us. I think for our next trip we will either return to the Garden District or perhaps consider the CBD/Warehouse District as a midpoint of sorts between the GD and French Quarter.

Thanks for reading!

Orlando, Florida
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5. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

You did real good on your food selections and hit the best jazz spots on Bourbon St. so all in all it looks like a pretty good trip....I usually end up using two pairs of sneakers per day...alternating to try to find a comfort zone with the heat of walking.

Cape May Point, New...
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6. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

I hope your wife is feeling better now. Might have been a blessing in disguise as your were able to check out the health care options for when you move there :-). You hit two of my favorite jazz clubs and I appreciate your detailing of the places where you ate. We don't get many reports on the Garden District so thanks for taking the time. I think you will like the CBD/WD. It's where I hope to land eventually.

Greenwood, Louisiana
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7. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

I enjoyed your trip report-except the part about your wife! How awful to come to NOLA, and not be able to enjoy the city. I'm sure you'll bring her back soon.

New Orleans...
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8. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

Too bad about your wife, hope she's all better. The Milk Bar has good stuff. My wife's bestie (and brunch companion) had a knee replacement at Touro last month. Since her friend was immobile post-op, we got sammiches from the Milk Bar and drinks from the bar on the other side and had brunch in her hospital room. The nurses had a good laugh when they walked in on that.

Chicago, Illinois
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9. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

I hope your wife is in good health and thank you for the completely different (i.e. non-drinking) perspective to New Orleans. I now feel I can tell others that you can have a great time in New Orleans without drinking; something I'll probably never experience! ;)

Bossier City, LA
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10. Re: New Orleans Trip Report July 2013 - (Mostly) A Garden Party

Thank you for posting your TR. We did some of the same things on our trip at the end of July. We ate brisket at Voodoo BBQ and went to Fritzels. Hope your wife is doing better now.