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5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

New York City, New...
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5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

SO and I are looking forward to a looong weekend (starting Thursday, the 28th to December 3) in New Orleans. It's our first visit to the city.

What would be a good itinerary for this visit? Our interests include architecture and museums, blues music, nature (I've heard good things about the swamp tours, but is late Nov/early Dec a good time to be out in a swamp?) and food, of course.

Are there any things we should do, see, try that are NOT listed in guidebooks and popular websites? Also, will restaurants and music venues even be open on Thanksgiving Day?

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1. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

Hi tkmaway - if you like architecture, you have come to the right place! The French Quarter is wonderful to just walk around and enjoy looking at the buildings, some going back as far as the 1700s and almost all having an interesting history. Some are supposedly haunted, of course. There are several museums in New Orleans. The Presbytere and Cabildo are interesting - be sure to see the Katrina exhibit. While not technically museums, there are several buildings that are open to the public - the 1850s House and Hermann-Grima House will give you an idea of how people lived in New Orleans in the 1800s. For more current history, the World War II Museum gets rave reviews. Be sure to see the Tom Hanks movie Beyond All Boundaries. You can grab some food there at the American Sector.

There are hundreds of great restaurants in New Orleans. For casual food, we like Napoleon House, Clover Grill Johnny's Po-Boy, Port Of Call, Praline Connection, Red Gravy and many others. For nicer dining, our favorite is Muriel's. If you go to Muriel's, be sure to get a drink and enjoy it on the balcony. Ask if you can see the Seance Room. As long as there is not a private event planned, you will be allowed to wander around the upper rooms as much as you want. Be sure to see the table that is always prepared for their resident ghost!

New Orleans is more of a jazz town than blues, but you will be able to hear some good blues at the Funky Pirate. Be sure to go there when Mark and the Pentones play, and Big Al.

If you are interested in any tours, we have done the Treme Tour and True Crime Tour through French Quarter Phantoms, and enjoyed both of them a lot. Look for a Groupon to get a great deal on the tickets. When we were in New Orleans last month, we used a groupon for the True Crime Tour and it only cost us $9 each. It was a very interesting tour focusing on crime in NO in the 1800s and Prohibition Era. There are many city tours available if you want to get an overview of the city.

Usually the weather in late November/early December is mild and if so, a swamp tour would be nice. We have been on three swamp tours - two in mild weather which was very enjoyable, and one on a very cold day which was very miserable. Just keep an eye on the weather and pick out the warmest day possible.

New Orleans is so popular that it would be hard to find something that isn't listed in guide books or websites. You will find that many of us here go to New Orleans with a plan of everything that we want to do, and come back without having made a dent in that plan. Part of the joy of New Orleans is in just wandering and going wherever the sights, sounds and smells of the city take you.

The weekend after Thanksgiving is Bayou Classic. The French Quarter will be very crowded and although I have not been during that weekend, I have heard that it can be rowdy. I would imagine that most restaurants will be open on Thanksgiving Day, but you may want to make reservations for the nicer restaurants. I believe you can do that on Open Table but I have never used that website as we usually eat at the more casual restaurants.

Just a hint - you will get more responses to your questions by posting them individually rather than asking all of your questions in one posting. If you post a question asking for restaurant recommendations, you will get plenty of suggestions - same with asking about music, etc.

Have a great trip!

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2. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

Thanks for such a detailed response! Much appreciated.

Your point about the Bayou Classic is noted. A casual research on this very forum shows mixed feelings about visiting NO during the Th'giving weekend. That's still weighing heavily on my mind. I'm not a fan of streets filled with inebriated crowds, but then again, I could just avoid those neighborhoods, couldn't I?

Tyler, Texas
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3. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

NPS Visitor Center on Decatur:

•Tuesday through Saturday at 9:30 a.m., rangers lead riverfront history walks to the Mississippi River, just over the levee from the visitor center, to share the story of how the city began and grew. 25 free tickets per tour are given out beginning at 9:00 a.m. Walks last about an hour. First-come, first-served; each person wanting a ticket must pick up their own ticket

Mystic, Connecticut
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4. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

Restaurants open on Thanksgiving just posted for 2013 by TF...


New York City, New...
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5. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

That is a great resource. Thanks for sharing!

Houston, Texas
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6. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

Also Celebration in the Oaks will be open, a Christmas light spectacular by the Museum of Art.

Aside from the usual suggestions, I suggest taking a cab ride to the Bywater area which can often be overlooked. Bacchanal Wine, Elizabeth's, Booty's, The Joint are all there.

I would suggest VIP tickets to a Preservation Hall performance. By them in advance.

Moncton, Canada
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7. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

A must while in NO: going to the dueling piano bar at Pat O'Brien. It is the best 2-3hrs you'll ever spend! If you can make it on a Saturday afternoon, even better. Any day of the week is a great time, but I find there's a special feeling/ambiance on Saturday afternoons that I don't feel on other days.

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8. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

The French Quarter is 6 blocks by 13 blocks; that's 78 blocks total. You can always find quiet streets in the Quarter. Decatur and Bourbon get the crowds, but even the higher numbered blocks of Bourbon are usually quiet, with the exception of Lafitte's (941 Bourbon).

Los Angeles...
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9. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

We have been to NOLA twice at Thanksgiving time. My advice about the Bayou Classic may depend on where you are staying, but generally, if you don't want to be caught up in that crowd, avoid the FQ and Harrah's on Saturday after the game. There is a strong police presence but the crowds can get really crazy. Also, many streets are closed and it may be difficult to get a taxi. So, depending on where you are staying, you might make Saturday night a "stay close to home" night. In 2011, we tried to get a cab from the Roosevelt (across the street from the FQ to make our dinner reservations at Delmonico and could not get a cab, despite valiant efforts from the doorman. He strongly suggested we not walk, even a couple of blocks for a better chance for a cab. So, we heeded his advice, ate at Domenica and had a movie night.

All other days and nights had no problems with crowds, etc. Note that Friday may be a State holiday (I believe the governor makes the decision every year) so the museums may be closed, along with some other non-State businesses. Also, some restaurants and other attractions may close for the entire weekend. For example, Mr. B's took the opportunity to renovate when we were there. And, our favorite swamp tour guide (family-run) went out of town to visit family for the weekend. So, there is a little planning ahead you can do to avoid inconvenience to make sure the places you want to visit are open on the day you plan to visit.

Having said all that, Thanksgiving is a really great time to visit. Be sure to visit the Roosevelt lobby for the holiday decorations. Also, next to Harrah's, on Fulton St., there are holiday decorations that are quite pretty.

Strongly recommend the WWII Museum, and the Beyond All Boundaries movie. See if you can time it to enjoy Happy Hour at John Besh's American Sector, which is on-site.


Atlanta, Georgia
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10. Re: 5 days in N.O around Th'giving - looking for trip ideas

I am visiting NOLA during the Thanksgiving weekend. Is it safe to leave my car parked in one of the discount overnight parking facilities near my hotel (Ritz Carleton) for the entire 3 night stay?