Meet the SPSP New Orleans Ambassadors and get an insider's perspective on the best parts of their city.
Feel free to reach out to them with questions as you plan your convention travel!
1. Go to Landry's Seafood House for a seafood meal coupled with a view of Lake Pontchartrain and the 24 mile causeway bridge. After the meal, walk along the lake front, the suburban houses close to the lake front and perhaps the yacht club visible from the restaurant.
2. You could also go to the lower 9th ward (during daylight hours) and look at the homes build by Brad Pitt's Make it Right Foundation. For context read this article on how make it right went wrong.
3. Lastly, Preservation Hall is the place for the Louis Armstrong variety of Jazz. There are plenty of other places to hear live jazz. For those willing to read to get some perspective on Preservation Hall: Tom Sancton: Songs for my Fathers. The book is a story of young white boy, Tom Sancton, joining in with the group at Preservation Hall.
In my free time I like to go to Audubon Park that is located behind the Audubon Zoo. The park is right next to the river and is shaded by numerous trees. A great place to have a picnic with friends and family.
First, a person really needs to spend an extra day or two here to really enjoy the city. The hotel is adjacent to the CBD (Central Business District) and not far from the French Quarter but in a commercial area with government and office buildings nearby.
1. Walk to Canal Street and catch the red Canal streetcar going out of downtown. Be sure to catch the one going to Carrollton Avenue (the other goes to end of Canal St.). At the end of the line you will find City Park, one of the largest city-owned parks in the country, with great art museum, lagoons with swan and other boats for rental, great Botanical Garden.
2. At City Park, the New Orleans Museum of Art (NOMA) welcomes you. It's closed on Mondays but open other days 10-5. It is a first-class regional art museum with especially nice 20th-century art but much more! Docent guided tours are offered every day at 1 pm. Also NOMA has THE best sculpture garden in the US. A new 6-acre expansion has just opened to rave reviews. It's free, open every day from 10-5.
3. World War II museum is World-class. It would take a couple of days to see the whole thing. Its downtown near Camp Street not far from Lee Circle, a short (cab or other) ride from your hotel. It's actually part of the Smithsonian and has great and well-curated exhibits on D-Day, War in the Pacific, Getting Ready for War, etc.
4. Walk a few blocks down Poydras St. to catch the green St. Charles streetcar as it goes out of downtown. (Don't catch on Carondelet because everyone must exit at Canal.) It goes out St. Charles Ave around Lee Circle and through the Lower Garden District and Upper Garden District, with increasingly magnificent houses/mansions. It passes Audubon Park (smaller than City Park but lovely, and with great Zoo) and Tulane/Loyola. One can ride to the end of St. Charles and around the corner onto Carrollton Avenue to the end of the line, or get off at the end of St. Charles and have a coffee and pastry at La Madeleine, then hop the car back to downtown. This would take more than an hour but probably less than two hours.
5. Spend as little time as possible on Bourbon St. It's mostly tourists, loud, and not historically interesting. Instead, walk up and down in the Quarter on Chartres and Royal Sts, see Jackson Square, have beignets (square donuts with powdered sugar) and cafe au lait (coffee with hot milk, obligatory) at the French Market, and maybe visit the Historic New Orleans Collection (serious history) or the Cabildo, a small historic museum next to St. Louis Cathedral. The Cathedral is impressive inside and is usually open, even during services.
6. For good music, try clubs in "The Marigny," a neighborhood next to the French Quarter. The hotel concierge can probably suggest places. The music in the French Quarter is mostly oriented toward tourists, and not what it once was.
7. World-class Aquarium, very interesting Insectarium, both at the River end of Canal St.. Really worth a visit if one has time and enjoys these things.
8. For music: Tipitina's (uptown at 501 Napoleon Avenue). Check website for times and acts.
9. Rock'n'Bowl at 3000 S. Carrollton Ave. This is a bowling alley that has good local danceable music (and lessons). Food is available but limited and there is a bar. Call for information on schedule.
10. The Whitney Plantation: A few years ago, the Whitney Plantation opened on the west bank of the Mississippi about 75 minutes upriver from New Orleans. It is unlike any of the other restored plantations around here in that it is designed to present the experience of plantation life as it affected those who were enslaved there. A small museum also fills part of the entrance building. One would need a car to get there (although some tour busses go there) and it would take the better part of a day, leaving from New Orleans. But it is a stunning experience.
1. Take a streetcar down to the Garden District, check out the houses, the cemetery, the amazing shops and boutiques, bars, and restaurants. (A couple noteworthy restaurants are Commanders Palace & Coquette but there are many others, my favorite bar is the Tasting Room on Magazine).
2. At night, go to Frenchman Street for great music, you can find line ups from the Gambit, but you can also just wander along and you're guaranteed to hear some great New Orleans brass and jazz. You can also catch shows at many hotels and bars in the quarter.
3. There are great museums: WWII, the Audubons (zoo, aquarium, insectarium), NOMA, Ogden, Mardi Gras World (touristy but fun and Mardi Gras will just have ended but MG World is a fun place to see how floats are made)
4. One of the coolest places is the Music Box Village, in the Bywater. It's a hands on, art and music installation / garden. You have to check their schedule to see what's going on but it's really a unique and fun place, especially if you can catch a show or happy hour event.
5. If you want to get out of the downtown and head to the park, there is Audubon & City Park (The latter is home to NOMA and has a beautiful sculpture garden!)
6. And at minimum walk off Bourbon: walk along the river, walk down Royal (great galleries there!)