Pralines, Beignets, and Jazz: All In the Big Easy

When it comes to food, music, and lots of fun, you just can't beat New Orleans.


Pralines, Beignets, and Jazz: All In the Big Easy

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

There is so much to see and do in this legendary city, it is hard to know where to begin. The French Quarter is the oldest part of the city and probably the most fun to explore. The architecture alone in this area is an attraction. Although Bourbon Street is better-known, I prefer the French Market area around Decatur Street. It's more family-friendly and seems to be a lot safer. There is a wonderful variety of dining and shopping here. It's also the closest area to the Mississippi River. While in this area, don't miss the French Market, Cafe du Monde, Aunt Sally's Pralines, and Jackson Square. Jackson Square is the site of St. Louis Cathedral and is also where you can see a wide variety of street entertainers and vendors. This is my favorite place to hear some jazz because it's free! The Garden District, where many old antebellum homes are located, is also very nice.${QuickSuggestions} Stay only in well-lit, well-populated areas. Some areas of New Orleans are not safe for tourists, so do not wander off the beaten path. We found a nice variety of coupons at the Louisiana Welcome Center (on the Mississippi side) off I-10.${BestWay} Just outside Jackson Square on Decatur Street, you will find numerous carriage tours. These cost about $15 a person and are a good way to get acquainted with the French Quarter. Our driver pointed out many of the most interesting attractions and best restaurants. Another good way to get around is the streetcar. These go to most all areas of the city and make regular stops. You can ride to your heart's content for less than $1. We stayed in the Garden District and rode the streetcar to the French Quarter. It was nice because we never had to worry about parking.

Maison St. Charles

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

This hotel is a Quality Inn property located in the Garden District. It is just across the street from Emeril's and is located right along the St. Charles streetcar line. The hotel is made up of several renovated townhouses. The rooms are very reasonably priced for the location and are nicely decorated and comfortable. A beautiful courtyard with a large fountain is the centerpiece. Because of limited parking space in the area, a valet will take your vehicle to a private parking area after you check in. This is no big deal, because you can ride the streetcar from here to just about any location in the city and really don't need a car.
Quality Inn and Suites St Charles
1319 ST CHARLES AVE
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
504-522-0187

The Gumbo Shop

Member Rating 5 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

No trip to New Orleans is complete without some good Cajun food. The Gumbo Shop is the best value I've found in the French Quarter. The food is wonderful, and the prices are very reasonable. It is set in a small, unassuming building, but the inside is well-decorated. The walls are covered with some nice frescoes. We didn't have to wait in line to get in and were seated right away. I ordered a sampler platter, which featured jambalaya, red beans and rice, and gumbo. It was outstanding.
Gumbo Shop
630 St. Peter St
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116
+1 504 525 1486; +1

Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

I had heard a lot about the Margaritaville in Key West, but this was my first experience with one (I never realized there was one in New Orleans). It is a really fun atmosphere. I had a Cheeseburger in Paradise with a margarita, just so I could say I did. Not only was the food good, but the service was also exceptional. The waitress, despite being kind of busy, took our picture in front of the big airplane, which appeared to have crashed into the wall.
Jimmy Buffett's Margaritaville
1104 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116
(504) 592-2565

Cafe du Monde

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

This is New Orleans' world-famous coffee stand at the French Market. You will have to wait in line, but there are many tables, and the line moves pretty fast. Besides, it's fun to watch the street entertainers while you wait. The specialty here is cafe au lait and beignets: New Orleans' version of coffee and doughnuts. It is quite delicious. We enjoyed ours while watching a clown out on the sidewalk make cartoon characters out of balloons.
Cafe Du Monde
800 Decatur Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70116
(504) 525-4544

D-Day Museum

Member Rating 3 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

This World War II Museum is located in the Warehouse District and was put together by historian Stephen Ambrose. Please give yourself a full day to see it. It is huge! We planned to spend 2 hours here and ended up having to rush through. The museum not only focuses on the events that took place on June 6 and 7, 1944, in Europe, but it also tells the story of D-Day in the Pacific theatre by exhibiting a large array of memorabilia from the battles, as well as multi-sensory displays. I really enjoyed the showroom, which displayed some tanks, planes, German officers' cars, etc., and the recreation of hedgerow in the French countryside, with a crashed British glider in the background. If you look closely enough, you will see German machine guns pointing at you through the hedges! If you are not a serious fan of WWII history, this may be information overload and you will be bored. Otherwise, it's a very well-done and thorough museum.
The National World War II Museum
945 Magazine Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
(504) 528-1944

French Market

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

The French Market is the oldest city market in the United States. We were there in the wintertime, so I didn't see very much produce. However, there were bunches of souvenirs and gift items. Some vendors have tables out in the open-air area. Others are located in more permanent shop buildings. You can bargain with the vendors in the outside area. There are also several restaurants located at the market. Aunt Sally's Creole Pralines is my favorite shop at the French Market. Their pralines and candied pecans are delicious. They sell a wide variety of other unique products and souvenir items there, as well. Cafe du Monde is located next door to Aunt Sally's.
French Market
1008 North Peters Street
New Orleans, Louisiana, 70130
(504) 522-2621

Jackson Square

Member Rating 4 out of 5 by chadk78 on February 19, 2005

Jackson Square is the center of the "vieux carre", or old city. This parklike area is centered by a statue of Andrew Jackson, which reads "The Union must be preserved." In the background sits St. Louis Cathedral, the oldest church in New Orleans. It may be toured for free. Next door is the Cabildo, which was once the French capital of the Louisiana territory. It is now a property of the Louisiana State Museum, and an admission fee is charged. Many musicians, artists, and various other entertainers and vendors surround Jackson Square. All carriage rides and many of the nightly ghost tours also begin here.
Jackson Square/Place d'Armes
French Quarter
New Orleans, Louisiana

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