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EternalTourist Jun 27th, 2007 09:42 AM

N.O. last minute weekend trip
Hello all! My fiance and I are going to NO this weekend for our first time. It's kind of a last minute trip, so all we have booked as of now is our hotel.

I'm looking for recommendations on where to eat and what to do. We're open to just about anything!

We talked about doing a "ghost" tour and a Plantation tour. Any suggestions?

Is Mard Gras World worth the trip?

Any insight or suggestions would be appreciated!

ccolor Jun 27th, 2007 10:10 AM

Whoo hooo! Good for you both to head to NOLA! Here are some suggestions:

Petunia's for breakfast - you can split their breakfast menu and be more than satisfied (817 St. Louis St). Also Cafe DuMonde is a must for any time of the day - watch for everybody with powdered sugar on their faces and you know you're in the vicinity. Maspero's (601 Decatur St) for lunch is wonderful but they don't take credit cards. Be brave and try a Lucky Dog - they're great for hangovers. Deja Vu is open 24 hours a day and has very good food (400 Dauphine St.). Yo Mama's (727 Saint Peter St) has the best baked potatoes - you have to see one to understand why it's a plus. Their hamburgers are also wonderful.

We took a plantation tour with Grey Lines and it was very informative (it included a 10 minute cemetery tour which was plenty), but that was before Katrina and there may be some others you would be more interested in.

Walk around Jackson Square and the French Market. Take some beads home for souvenirs, easy to pack and they scream Bourbon Street.
Which leads to an evening wandering Bourbon. Check out Cat's Meow (701 Bourbon St) and Lafitte's (1003 Bourbon St).

Mardi Gras World is in the schedule for our next trip, so I can't comment on that.

Enjoy the city - let us know if you have any questions!

J_Correa Jun 27th, 2007 11:15 AM

We went on a plantation tour a few years ago with Spinato Tours. I don't know if they are still operating, but what we liked about it was that the tour was small - we were picked up in a van rather than a bus, so everybody had plenty of opportunities to ask the guide questions and things like that. We visited Laura and Oak Alley plantations, which were both really great. I definitely recommend them. This was a 1/2 day tour, which I thought was just the right length of time.

This last trip we visited San Francisco and Houma House plantations. We really enjoyed those too - didn't go with a tour, we had a rental car and visited as part of a 4 night side trip out of New Orleans. I think there are tours to both though.

The architecture of SF plantation is really great - very unique, called Steamboat Gothic. SF also has a slave cabin you can go into and an old school house you can see.

At Houma, we really enjoyed the collection of furnishings and the gardens. The house was actually built in 3 stages, which was interesting to see as well.

For walking tours, we did a couple with the Historic New Orleans Walking Tour Co, although we didn't do any ghost tours. We saw several tours around though - just about every one stopped in front of our hotel. They seemed pretty cool.

Mardi Gras World was very neat. It wasn't top on my list of places to go, but my husband wanted to and we got a coupon off the Convention and Visitors web site :) The ride across the river on the ferry is neat (and free). You get some nice views of the river and the city. Mardi Gras World itself is very interesting - it was cool to see some of the floats, tons of figures that have been used in previous things, and even go in the work shop to see what they are doing for next year.

As for places to eat, here are my recomendations:

Napoleon House on St. louis and Chartres - this is a restaurant/bar in a decrepit looking building. The place is a casual and friendly and you can sit inside or in the courtyard. The food is great - we enjoyed the roast beef po-boy, boudin sausage, shrimp remolaude and avocado salad, and the red bean and rice - all were delicious.

Cafe du Monde - of course. We went there for beignets and iced cafe au lait almost everyday :)

Remoulade - Bourbon street and I think Bienville, but I am not sure. We didn't actually go to this restaurant on our last trip, but I have been there on 2 previous trips and enjoyed it very much. It is a casual restaurant that shares the kitchen with Araud's - the food is quite good.

Johnny's Po-Boys on St Louis is very good - huge po-boys, big enough for two people. It is counter service and kind of crowded, but even right at lunch time, we didn't have to wait long for a table.

Mother's on Poydras is another good one for po-boys. I hear their breakfast is excellent too. This place is also counter service and I would recommend not going right at lunch time because it is so popular the wait is long.

Tujaques - one of the oldest restaurants around and very good. We had their beef brisket po-boy in the bar and it was really really good. They also have a 5 course fixed price lunch and dinner - I haven't tired it, but I have heard people rave.

On our last trip, we really liked Red Fish Grill on Bourbon and the Marigny Brassiere on Frenchman. I have heard that Red Fish isn't as good since Katrina, and we didn't try it this time, so I don't know.

Dan Jun 27th, 2007 11:24 AM

My best suggestion here is to dress comfortably as it's quite hot already! Expect high 80s to mid 90s and lots of sun and humidity. Take advantage of the many air conditoned shops, bars and restaurants and relax while you're seeing the sights!

dfrostnh Jun 27th, 2007 12:10 PM

We enjoyed the New Orleans School of Cooking. It's really a cooking show plus lunch and you get the recipes. Both of you would enjoy it because the chef tells about growing up in the area and how his mother cooked.
We very much enjoyed a ghost tour. sorry forget the name but the guy does paranormal research. It was fascinating and people got some photos with some weird lights.
Oak Alley was beautiful but I didn't think our bus tour stayed there long enough. I would look into renting a car or taking a longer trip. It's a long ride out to the plantation so it would have been nice to do something else, too.

dfr4848 Jun 27th, 2007 12:22 PM

Since we think NO is really about eating (!) here are some suggestions:

Mother's, mentioned above, has great breakfasts
Pascal Manale's - great seafood, especially the BBQ shrimp (LA BBQ, not SW version)- in the Garden District
Commander's Palace
Mr. B's Bistro (informal)
Arnaud's (more upscale)
August (also upscale)
Acme Oyster House

bkluvsNola Jun 27th, 2007 12:31 PM

Alright, I love to give advice to first time visitors to New Orleans!

First, for the musts:
1. Eat beignets at Cafe du Monde.

2. Take a streetcar from one end to the other. I would recommend taking the Canal Streetcar (since the St. Charles Streetcar line is being repaired from Katrina). Take the line out to City Park/Museum. Then walk to NOMA and City Park and visit there for a while. Then return on the Streetcar back to the French Quarter. A streetcar ride is a quintessential New Orleans experience.

3. Take a walking tour of the French Quarter. The National Park Service will probably be your best bet from a historical reliability standpoint.

4. Make sure you visit Jackson Square and see all the street artists/performers/artists there.

5. Stroll along Royal Street and look at antiques.

6. Do Bourbon Street at night. Start at Pat O'briens for a hurricane, and then head on down Bourbon Street for some fun.

7. Visit Preservation Hall if it happens to be open when you are visiting.

8. Tour the Garden District. This will give you a good understanding of the lifestyles of the old time rich New Orleanians.

9. Take a Katrina Tour. Do it so you really can understand what happened during the hurricane. It was a terrible tragedy and only by seeing firsthand what happened can you really understand what New Orleans is going through right now.

10. Plan to tour either (a) the swamps via boat/airboat or (b) one or two plantations.

11. Make sure you eat at one of the old line Creole restaurants like Antoine's, Galatoire's, Commander's Palace, or Brennan's.

12. Make sure you eat at one of the true Cajun restaurants like K-Pauls.

I think this will about do it.

If you are there for the 4th, there are fireworks, and Essence Fest starts on the 5th.

EternalTourist Jun 27th, 2007 12:48 PM

Wow! Thanks for the great suggestions! I will be checking until around 2 tomorrow afternoon, so keep them comin'!

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