Just wanted to recommend the India House as a place to stay in New Orleans. The staff is really nice & it is even air conditioned. Also you can smoke & drink & it's really laid back. This guy Tom will cook you breakfast & makes coffee every morning. I did get eaten up by mosquitos, but oh well.
I also enjoyed the City Park & the Botanical Garden. Being a "yankee" I had never seen such glorious oak trees.
Also the people in New Orleans really have southern charm & manners.
I'm actually going to be travelling to New Orleans for Mardi Gras 2004 (can't wait!)). Thing is, we're on a SUPER TIGHT BUDGET and we had to book in Slidell, Louisiana (roughly 30 miles away from New Orleans). I would like some info on Slidell: I'm coming from a relatively big city (Montreal is definitely bigger than Slidell -- I think!) and although I am not opposed to small city accomodations, I don't want to sleep with a baseball bat in my hands! Also, if anyone knows of any good places to stay at LESS than 70$/night that would be cool. Impossible it seems, but I'd really appreciate it!
Montreal is definitely larger than Slidell. There would be nothing scary about staying in Slidell, but it is too far to enjoy the festivities properly. That would be a long drive every day - at least 30 minutes each way across a long bridge over a lake. Pretty, but very time-consuming, and just forget about doing that drive if you'd had any alcohol. The fines and whathaveyou could cost you more than the price of your vacation!
You might want to do a web search for hotels in Metairie, Louisiana, a suburb just west of New Orleans. That would be much so closer. There are a bunch of hotels including a Marriott Residence Inn. The suburb just west of Metairie is Kenner, where the airport is located and there are tons of hotels out there. A longer drive than Metairie, but still better than Slidell.
Keep in mind that all these suburbs have Mardi Gras parades of their own and you must remember that if you're trying to get back and forth between a suburban hotel and the parades in New Orleans (the very best ones, in my opinion, but many people with young kids prefer the more sedate suburbs). Best thing to do when you get to town is stop at any drug store/news stand and pick up a copy of Arthur Hardy's Mardi Gras Guide. It is a magazine format (about $5 USD) has comprehensive information about the dates, times and route maps of all parades, both city and suburbs. Alternately, there is a website called MardiGras.com that has most of the same info, plus insider information and history that will help you be informed about the celebration if this is your first visit.
Hope all this helps. Since I've lived in New Orleans for a long while, I've been to Mardi Gras more times than I care to count. Let me know if you have any other questions.
Thanks a lot for your reply ToAfrica! Really appreciate the insider info on the New Orleans area. Alas, I am too late I believe to be looking for anything in New Orleans, or Metairie, or Kenner, or anywhere else closer than Slidell! They are all astronomical for my SUPER TIGHT BUDGET -- 120$/night on average! Ouchies! That hurts with the exchange rate! So, Slidell is the unfortunate but necessary decision.
The 30 min drive doesn't bother me as I commute to school everyday for about 50 mins! I'm used to it. Drinking-wise it will suck for one of us each night but we'll have to deal!
If anyone has any suggestions regarding MUST SEE places in New Orleans, I would love the info! I've decided that the Voodoo Museum will be a definite place to visit, but we are looking for other things like beaches (are there any nearby?), malls (my main purchase will be something that has to do with the Voodoo Festival -- any suggestions other than the internet?) and other fun things to do. So all info is appreciated!
Thanks a bunch!
If you're into voodoo and spooky stuff, I have a few suggestions.
-Haunted tour of the French Quarter
-Cemetery tour. NO has these amazing old cemeteries with ornate raised vaults and tombs, statues and ironwork. Most cemeteries you can visit on your own but I would not recommend doing this in the downtown area - pay for a guided tour. Criminals have been known to use the cover of the tombs as easy places to hide and snatch purses or cameras from unsuspecting tourists.
-The vampire writer Anne Rice has a couple of houses here which her fans love to visit and photograph. I think her sort-of-eerie doll collection is on display at the one called St. Elizabeth's on Napeoleon Avenue in uptown New Orleans, reachable easily by streetcar. (P.S. San Francisco has trolleys, but we have streetcars! The streetcar is a must-do tourist activity in and of itself and it's cheap.)
-There is a pretty good wax museum in the French Quarter that covers lots of the history of the city, including some of the more notorious characters like Jean Lafitte the pirate, Napoleon Bonaparte and voodoo queen Marie Laveau.
As far as shopping, there are downtown malls - the Riverwalk on the river and New Orleans Center by the Superdome might be your best bets. (If you have any sports fanatics in your party, you can take a tour of the Dome.)
Beaches - none! All the maps make it look like New Orleans is sitting right on the Gulf of Mexico, but we are in fact hours from beaches. However, from Slidell you probably won't be far from some of the swamp tours, which can be pretty interesting.
You said you're in school, so I'm guessing you are college students coming down for the big party. Fat Harry's on St. Charles and Napoleon Avenues is on the main parade route and a very popular college hangout.
Of course you can't miss the French Quarter...a very interesting historic district with lots of music clubs, shops, restaurants and people-watching. Have fun!
Hmmm some good things to see in New Orleans.
I would have to say...
Ye Ole Original Dungeon...def. an gothic atmosphere. They have a dance floor and three bars. It opens at Midnight and im not sure what time it exactally closes... so you have plenty enough time to check out other places and then vist there. Awesome place...oh! they do check ID tho. Just to let you know!
New Orleans is a culturally diverse and interesting city. There are all sorts of food, music, and architecture that make this city unlike any other. There is an amazing selection of food there. Here are a few of my suggestions:
Food - Acme Oyster House, Commander's Palace($$$$), Cafe du Monde, Drive down St. Charles Street or Magazine Street and stop by a random po-boy shop. Often, the worst looking restaurants have the best food down there.
Music - Try the House Of Blues or Tipitinas
Tours - Take a walking tour of the Mosoleums. drive down St Charles and look at the beautiful homes.
If at all possible, try to get out of the city. South Louisiana has beautifal natural landscape and many old plantation homes.
Mardi Gras - It is hard to get a real feel for the city during this time. There are way more tourists than locals. There are some dangerous places during New Orleans at this time. There are countless drunks so be wary of the French Quarter. My suggestion is to read the paper and look for the parades for that run on St Charles Avenue or Magazine Street. They are safer and you can get just as many throws. If you are in the French Quarter only stay in lit streets. There are many cops down there but you can never be too safe. Bourbon Street is ridiculous. Many drunk people are down there. Foot traffic is often shoulder to shoulder, so it is easy to lose people. Nudity is very common on this street during mardi gras. ALL kinds of people are trying to take pictures of topless women, so be wary about travelling there because odds are you will get harassed. Avoid Bourbon street and stay uptown and Mardi Gras is enjoyable.
Metarie is a suburb of New Orleans about 20 minutes away. However during Mardi Gras that trip will take longer. You are looking at 30 minutes and up depending on the amount of traffic. Metarie has their own mardi gras parades but it is not like New Orleans.
though it is getting late to book rooms for Mardi Gras, there are two Bed and Breakfast guest houses in the garden district that still have rooms available and GREAT rates. Both locations are a block from the uptown parade routes and only a ten minute taxi or streetcar ride to the french quarter.
The Castle Inn is one of the most haunted sites inthe city, and the Creole Gardens, though undergoing renovations, offers fun anf unky rooms with great charm.
there is a toll free number for booking rooms: