New Orleans: Beyond Bourbon Street

Typically, when you think of New Orleans, Bourbon Street is the first thing that pops into mind. However, there is so much more to enjoy in New Orleans. Below are some of my favorite places.

Dining in New Orleans

There are many great places to dine in New Orleans.  I try and stay away from the tourists’ spots and chain restaurants like Bubba Gump Shrimp and Hard Rock Café.  I also stay away from the restaurants owned by “famous” chefs because they tend to have long waits and be very expensive.  Below are a few of my recommendations:

Adolfo’s – Creole & Italian Food, 611 Frenchmen Street, 504.948.3800

The restaurant is small and located upstairs from The Apple Barn.  It is really easy to walk right by and not even know it was there.  There is a single door on the street that goes straight upstairs.  If you love garlic this is the place for you.  Hang out at The Apple Barn and listen to the music before or after dinner.

Praline Connection – Cajun/Creole Soul Food, 542 Frenchmen Street, 504.943.3934

http://pralineconnection.com/

If you like trying new foods this is the place.  Don’t be fooled by the name.  Although they also sell candy this is a great place for lunch or dinner.  You will be stuffed by the time you get done eating so I recommend getting the pralines to go.

Marigny Brassiere – Creole Food, 640 Frenchmen Street, 504.945.4472

http://www.marignybrasserie.com/

I have never eaten inside this restaurant.  I always sit outside at the sidewalk tables.  You get a great view of Frenchman Street and Washington Square, a park located across the street.  This is an all-purpose restaurant that we eat lunch and dinner at more than once on our trips.

Muriel’s Jackson Square– Creole, 801Chartres Street, 504.568.1885

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http://muriels.com/

This is an upscale and expensive restaurant.  However, it is worth every dollar.  We usually go here to celebrate special occasions such as New Years.  There is a table set up under the staircase for the ghost that haunts the restaurant.  They have found if they set his own table and put food out for him he does not bother anyone.  Upstairs is a balcony and a bar that you have to see.  Do not be afraid to go up there and just have a drink.  You feel like you are going back in time when you sit in some of the upstairs rooms.

Italian Barrel – Northern Italian, 430 Barracks Street, 504.569.0198

http://www.italianbarrel.com/

This is a great Italian restaurant that is off the beaten track.  We always sit outside.

Louisiana Pizza Kitchen – 95 French Market Place, 504.522.9500

http://www.louisianapizzakitchen.com/

Another great place to eat outside but we have not dined inside as well.  Their gourmet pizzas are the best.

Fiorella’s Café – Italian, 1136 Decatur Street, 504.553.2155

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http://www.myspace.com/fiorellas

This is the place to go for fried chicken.  We usually eat lunch outside.  Go on Wednesdays for “Wino Wednesday” because bottles of wine are ½ off all day!

Orleans Grapevine Wine Bar & Bistro – 720 Orleans Avenue, 504.523.1930

http://www.orleansgrapevine.com/

This is one of our favorites but a little pricey.  We normally eat in the courtyard behind the restaurant and almost always order lamb.  They have a great wine list.  The owners also own the Tropical Isle bars that are located on Bourbon Street. If you want something stronger to drink they will give directions to one of their locations to get a world famous “Hand Grenade”.  I am not sure what is in the drink so drink at your own risk.

The Roosevelt Hotel, The Blue Room – 123 Baronne Street, 504.648.1200

http://therooseveltneworleans.com/dining/the-blue-room.html

Out of all the places to have Sunday Jazz Brunch, we have determined that The Blue Room in the Roosevelt Hotel is the best.  Both the music and the food are great.

Pirates Alley Café and Absinthe House – 622 Pirates Alley, 504.524.9332

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http://www.piratesalleycafe.com/

Hidden in an alley that runs to the left of St. Louis Cathedral off of Jackson Square sits a very small bar.  Their specialty is absinthe and you must have a least one glass.  They say they serve food but I have never had any or seen any.

Hansen’s Sno-Bliz – 4801 Tchoupitoulas Street, 504.891.978

http://snobliz.com/

New Orleans Snow Balls are similar to snow cones but made with shaved ice.  Hansen’s was the first to make them in 1939 and is still ran by the same family.  You will see snow balls all over New Orleans but you need to come here for the original.

Music in New Orleans

There are many tourist places to listen to New Orleans Jazz up and down Bourbon Street.  However, I find it more enjoyable at some of these of the beaten track locations.

Rock ‘N’ Bowl – 3000 South Carrollton Avenue, 504.861.1700

http://www.rocknbowl.com/

Yes, you can actually listen to great New Orleans music and bowl at the same time.  This place is great but eat before you go because they serve snack type food.  They have all types of music from Jazz to Swing to Zydeco. They keep their schedule up to date online.  I recommend going on a night when Kermit Ruffins is playing but be ready to hula-hoop.

 Tipitina’s Uptown – 501 Napoleon Avenue

http://www.tipitinas.com/

The music varies from Cajun to Funk to Jazz but they always have great quality acts.  There are to locations, Uptown and French Quarter.  I have given the address for the one uptown and recommend you go to that one because of the atmosphere.

Apple Barrel – 609 Frenchman Street, 504.949.9399

They have live Jazz and Blues every night of the week.  Have dinner at Aldolfo’s restaurant upstairs and then come down and enjoy the music.

Snug Harbor – 626 Frenchmen Street, 504.949.0696

http://snugjazz.com/

This place is a restaurant also but I have never eaten there before.  They have a music room where the jazz performances take place.  It makes you feel like you are stepping back in time.  It has a very authentic feel and always a great music line up.

The Spotted Cat Music Club – 623 Frenchmen Street

http://www.spottedcatmusicclub.com/

They have live jazz and blues bands that play from open to close.

Donna’s on Rampart – 800 North Rampart Street, 504.304.6340

The Blue Nile – 532 Frenchmen Street, 504.948.2583

http://www.bluenilelive.com/

 Interesting Places to Go

 New Orleans City Park – 1 Palm Drive, 504.482.4888

http://neworleanscitypark.com

The Park has an art museum, botanical gardens and an amusement park among the many activities.

Audubon Zoo – 6500 Magazine Street, 800-774-7394

http://www.auduboninstitute.org/visit/zoo

 Royal Street – French Quarter

The street is lined with antique shops and art galleries.  You can spend an entire day going from shop to shop looking at all the interesting items.  I cannot afford almost anything on the street but it is great to look at everything.  Make sure you take a break at the Carousel Bar inside the Hotel Monteleone at 214 Royal.

Steamboat Natchez

http://www.steamboatnatchez.com/

The jazz cruises are great and you get to see the city from a completely different perspective.

Garden District Trolley Ride

http://www.norta.com/

For $1.25 you can ride the St. Charles Trolley through the Garden District and see many of the beautiful historic houses.

FREE Things to Do

The following information is referenced from New Orleans Metropolitan Convention and Visitors Bureau. 2020 St. Charles Avenue, New Orleans, LA 70130 504-566-5019. http://www.neworleanscvb.com/. Revised 2009.

New Orleans is about the culture and the city itself. There are many things you can do all on your own. The city is all about parades and parades are all about being a free way to party! Below is all the fun things you can do for free (Yep For Free!).

Visitor Info
To find information out about the city I highly suggesting going to the New Orleans Convention and Visitors Bureau Visitors Center at 2020 St. Charles Avenue, or the French Quarter location at 529 St. Ann Street. Here you can learn all about what is going on in the city and the best way to get around, along with loads of brochures. If you can not stop in the Visitor Center, just give them a quick call at 1-800-503-NOLA, or check out their website http://www.neworleanscvb.com/.

Bargain Transportation
New Orleans offerers a cheap and easy way to get around town. Use this a lot because it will be worth the trip to see more of the Big Easy.

Airport Service
Yes, there is an Airport Shuttle that cost $20 but keep in mind there is also the Airport Bus that only cost $1.50. The Airport Bus will take you from the terminal to Downtown and is operated by Jefferson Transit (JeT).

City Transport
New Orleans also has trolleys running for only $1.25. This is a great way to get around if you are in no rush. There are multiple lines: St. Charles line takes you from downtown to uptown, along Audubon Park, Tulane, and Loyola Universities; The Canal Streetcar will take you to the historic cemeteries, or Carrollton Avenue will drop you off at City Park and the grand Museum of Art.

Fest Fever
Check out the website to see what upcoming events there are: http://www.neworleanscvb.com/. There are many different events always happening in New Orleans; that include concerts, cooking demonstrations, freebies, and tons of holiday events. You are sure to have fun at any event you go to.

French Quarter
This is one of the best parts of New Orleans. Just walk around and enjoy the historical building and everywhere you turn look will be breathtaking.

Free French Quarter Guided Tour:
A National Historic Landmark, the French Quarter falls under the aegis of The National Park Service. Really nice Park Rangers will lead a daily tour for exactly 25 people at 9:30 a.m. Get there at 9 a.m. to get a place. One ticket per person, no absentee pick-ups. The address is 419 Decatur.

Prowl the French Market’s seven buildings, from the Bazaar and the Red stores to the Flea Market for souvenir bargains in local productions, tee-shirts, jewelry, masks and assorted oddities.

Window shop along Royal, Chartres, Bourbon and the narrow French Quarter streets for lots to look at including exceptional antiques and a wide variety of art galleries in addition to eccentric wares, strange cards, posters, clothes, Voodoo potions, jewelry, and costumes.

Stroll around Jackson Square and look over the artists’ shoulders as they sketch and paint. Enjoy the street musicians and dancers, and mock the mimes. At the Café Du Monde, less than $5 will buy you a cup of great coffee and an order of beignets, along with a window onto the heart of the French Quarter.

See the Spanish-inspired architecture of historic St. Louis Cathedral. Many concerts in this great Basilica are also free. The former William Faulkner House at 624 Pirate’s Alley offers a stunning selection of books. The Pharmacy Museum at 514 Chartres is worth a visit and the admission is very low.

Learn how the French and Spanish got here and how the Creoles lived. The Louisiana State Museum at 751 Chartres (alongside the Cathedral) maintains five French Quarter sites – The Presbytere, The Cabildo, Madame John’s Legacy, The 1850’s House, and the U.S. Mint. Each is well worth a very reasonable admission price.

The changing exhibits at the Historic New Orleans Collection, 533 Royal, are free and it’s an unbelievable bargain. Other historic sites and museums, like Hermann Grima House, Beauregard-Keyes, Gallier House and the Old Ursuline Convent only charge in the $4.00 to $6.00 per person range.

River Walking Stroll
Walk the magnolia landscaped Woldenberg Park. See the vista in and from Spanish Plaza with its most refreshing fountain, pretty mosaics and a cinematic view of the great River. Window-shop upscale emporia at Riverwalk, the Jax Brewery, and Canal Place.

Board the free ferry to Algiers’ and the Vantage Point at Riverwalk landing. At twilight, this 45-minute round trip cruise is spectacular. The panoramic view of the Vieux Carre from across the river is worth the expedition any time of day.

Music, Music, Music

Beyond the street musicians, there are frequent festivals and free concerts you can always count on: an admit price of $5.00 will get you into a performance by a jazz legend at Preservation Hall, 726 St. PeterMargaritaville, at 1104 Decatur, which offers live music all day and into the night without a cover.

The Graveyard Shift
Check out the cemetery hours before heading to a cemetery, they typically open late and close early. Check out the “Cities of the Dead” for no charge. Make sure to find where Marie Laveau spends her afterlife. St. Louis cemetery is ranked #1 and is just outside of the French Quarter.

Central Business & Arts District

This is the area on the uptown side of Canal Street, from St. Charles Avenue to the river. Here you will find low-cost entertainment and a mass of the arts in New Orleans.

Audubon Park

This is a gorgeous park, that is you want some time to relax I highly suggest to go stroll and see the beauty of the park.

St.Charles Avenue & Garden District

This is another gem of the Big Easy. Take the 13 mile trip on the trolley to see the dazzling array of Creole, Greek Revival, and Victorian fantasies. The Garden District is a free National Histroic Landmark.

Mid-City

Not too far from City Park is the charming Bayou St. John and Esplanade Avenue, that includes the Museum of Art, golf, tennis, and gorgeous picnicking areas. Also, check out the historic Fair Grounds Race Course at 1751 Gentilly Boulevard.

Swamp Tour
Head over to the Barataria Preserve in the Jean Lafitte National Park to take a tour of the more wild side of New Orleans. There is no charge to get into the 20,000 acres of swamp land. This park includes 8 miles of boardwalk and 20 miles of waterway. There is a free tour every day at 1:30 p.m. where you will be able to see alligators, ibises, herons and lots of swamp flora and fauna. Along with check out the moonlight strolls, bird watching, and morning and moonlight canoe treks.

Check out there website to find out more information www.nps.gov/jela, or call 504-689-3690, for schedule and directions.

Happy Times
Keep an eye out for Happy Hours, this is the best time to drink cheap, and often times food free.

In the end, New Orleans isn’t about what you can buy or how much things cost. It’s about lingering over good times and good company. This is The City that Care Forgot. We always remember that the point of life is living it. And, living it up. That’s the real magic. It isn’t for sale.

It’s absolutely free.

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