Williams ’68: Hotel information and activities in New Orleans
Herewith is the insider’s tip sheet to New Orleans, courtesy of David Marcello.
NOTE: If you’re thinking of bringing the grandkids, you need to know that the Big Easy’s decadent reputation unfairly overshadows its many family-friendly opportunities, some of which are identified hereafter with an asterisk (*).
Hotels: Central Business District
Fairfield Inn & Suites is offering us a special rate of $149 (plus taxes) per night for March 25-30: We use this hotel to house speakers and participants each year during our two-week International Legislative Drafting Institute in June. It gets good reviews from everyone and offers a free breakfast daily. Use this link to book a room.
NOPSI: Half a block from the Fairfield; rooftop bar with views; the building was formerly a large-scale maintenance facility for streetcars and other public utility operations, now repurposed as a high-end hotel. Their rooms for our group are $159 (plus taxes) weeknights and $259 (plus taxes) weekends. Go to the hotel’s website, click on “BOOK NOW” in the upper right-hand corner, and use Promo Code William68 for booking. (Note that it’s William, not Willams; they did not get the name “Williams” quite right.) These rates apply until January 31, 2020.
The Fairfield and NOPSI are “ground zero,” but most other hotels listed are not far away (ranked roughly nearest to farthest from “ground zero”).
Roosevelt: Two blocks from the Fairfield with a “legendary past and modern-day luxury”; part of the Hilton’s Waldorf Astoria brand
Hilton on St. Charles Avenue: Two blocks from the Fairfield
Intercontinental: Just across the street from the Hilton on St. Charles
Ritz-Carlton and its less expensive alternative, Marriott Courtyard Suites: The suites arrangement offers a separate living room and bedroom.
Windsor Court: Top of the line hotel, locally owned and operated
Hilton Riverside: Atop the Riverside Outlet Mall; one block to Canal Place
Higgins: Newly opened in early December, this Art Deco style hotel is on the WW II Museum site, offering “a high-end taste of 1940s life.”
Indoor Things to do
WW II Museum*: You could get lost in here for days.
Contemporary Arts Center: An old warehouse building stripped back to its bones and given a contemporary treatment inside, complementing the art.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art: Right across the street from the CAC.
Historic New Orleans Collection: 300 years of history in a Third Millennium interactive state-of-the-art facility located in the French Quarter.
Aquarium/IMAX*: Both very entertaining, on a rainy day or otherwise.
Insectarium*: Located in the Old US Customhouse, not far from the Aquarium. Chocolate covered insects, anyone?
Outdoor Things to do
In City Park: New Orleans Museum of Art and Sculpture Garden Putt Putt Golf* Café du Monde* Children’s Museum* Storyland* and a beautifully restored Carousel* Championship Golf Course
In Audubon Park: Zoo* Executive Golf Course Audubon Clubhouse
Woldenburg Park and the Moon Walk: A terrific riverfront walk.
Crescent Park in Bywater: Repurposed waterfront rail lines and docks, a la NYC’s Highline but without the tall buildings.
Blue Bikes: If you like bikes, rent one and ride around NO.
Touring Opportunities (Out of Town)
Gray Line Tours: Offers trips to plantation homes, swamp tours, and in-town options as well.
Jean Lafitte National Park (Barataria Unit)*: Take a (board)walk into the swamps, and you’ll likely see alligators.
Laura Plantation & Oak Alley: Two scenic ante-bellum plantations on the river road. Anthropological research at Laura contributed much to African American heritage.
Whitney Plantation: A NYT article celebrated this unique museum and plantation, depicting the experience of slavery from the slaves’ viewpoint rather than the plantation owner’s perspective.
City Sightseeing New Orleans*: Has a hop-on hop-off bus tour of the city.
Cemeteries: Some call them “Cities of the Dead.” Others say, “You know you’re in New Orleans when you’re six feet over rather than six feet under.”
Longue Vue Gardens
Botanical Gardens in City Park
Snug Harbor: Jazz
Preservation Hall*: Trad Jazz
Palm Court: Trad Jazz
Chickie Wah Wah: Various musicians
Frenchmen Street Music District: Lots of choices in Marigny
St. Charles Avenue: These are the original Perley Thomas cars listed on the National Register of Historic Places
Canal Street: Ride it out Canal; take the turn onto Carrollton to City Park
Riverfront: Take it downriver to Bywater and walk the Crescent Park
Napoleon House: The Emperor never made it, but generations of New Orleanians delight in its charms.
Pat O’Brien’s: Sure, it’s de trop, but what the heck! And Preservation Hall is right adjacent.
Sazerac Bar at the Roosevelt: Mexico City wraps a sound and light show around the Diego Rivera murals in one of its hotel bars. So could the Roosevelt’s Sazerac Bar, but it hasn’t happened yet. Enjoy it while you can.
Too many good choices, too little time, so these places are grouped mostly by location (exception: Oysters). Being left off this list is not a commentary on any restaurant; there are just too many to contemplate.
French Quarter is its own thing: Antoine’s, Arnaud’s, Bayona, Galatoire’s, Mr. B’s, and many more in all price ranges (but these listed are high end).
Central Business District and Warehouse District: Cochon, Compere Lapin, Domenica, Emeril’s, Gianna, Herbsaint, Luke, Meril’s
Good Eats on Magazine Street (running from downtown to uptown):
La Petite Grocery
Audubon Clubhouse: Pretty park views while dining on the porch
Superior Seafood and Oyster Bar: Let’s face it. How much variety can there be when it’s a raw oyster? You might as well let the price point draw your business. These folks have a 4:00-6:30 Happy Hour with 50-cent Oysters and $3 Draft Beer. And you can ride the streetcar there and back.
Drago’s at the Hilton Riverside: On the other hand, if you want ‘em dressed with garlic, butter, and cheese, then char-grilled over an open flame, you won’t do better than this place.
Uptown & Garden District
Commander’s Palace: We’re going to their Jazz Brunch on Sunday.
The Upperline: We’ll have dinner here on Friday night.
Off the Beaten Path
Boucherie: Despite its name, offers varied meat and seafood dishes
Brocato’s: Italian cookies, ices, and gelato, and they’ve been there for quite a while.
Café Amelie: Enjoy the Princess of Monaco Courtyard; eat well, too.
Café Minh: High-end Asian fusion, located a block away from where the Canal Streetcar turns onto North Carrollton. You could walk to Brocato’s for dessert, if the desserts on this menu weren’t all so good.
Central Grocery: Muffuletta—Take the sandwich and a drink to the Moon Walk and watch the Big Muddy roll by. Bring somebody with you if you order a whole rather than the half sandwich. It’s too much just for you!
Dooky Chase: The African American Civil Rights era restaurant
Hanson’s Sno-Bliz*: An iconic New Orleans snowball venue
High Hat: New Orleans comfort food and craft cocktails
Marjie’s Grill: Good food, moderately priced, Asian/Cajun choices
N-7: A slice of France hidden away behind a blank wooden wall
Out of Town
Mosca’s: Calvin Trillin’s glowing review is hung on the wall.
Middendorf’s (Slidell or Manchac): Thin-fried catfish is their specialty.
Hotel restaurants are not generally regarded as optimal fine dining venues in New Orleans. Two exceptions to the rule are found at opposite ends of Poydras Street: Borgne in the Hyatt (next to the Superdome); and the Windsor Court’s restaurant (near the river). In the middle of the French Quarter, the Rib Room at the Royal Orleans does a good job of grilling meats and roasting seafood.
Mignon Faget: A thousand years from now, when archaeologists dig the remnants of New Orleans out of the muck and the mud, they will deem her creations the adornments of a high priestess. You can own them today!
Magazine Street: Think of it as a linear shopping mall, interspersed with bars and restaurants. Walk portions of it or rent a Blue Bike and fill your basket with purchases. Check out this link for a local’s song of praise.
Canal Place: Saks Fifth Avenue and lots more stores.
Lakeside Shopping Center in Metairie: Macy’s and probably 70 more.
Riverwalk Outlet Stores: Neiman Marcus (nee Needless Markups—this is their discount store).
National Park Service
Jazz Museum in the Old U.S. Mint on Esplanade
Tour du Jour in the Vieux Carre
Questions? Send David Marcello an email (email@example.com) or call/text him at (504) 289-5345, and he’ll be happy to help.