What to do and where to go in the Big Easy...
By Starrene Rhett Rocque
With only a few fleeting weeks left of summer a quick weekend getaway might be your best bet for some R&R. A surprising place to consider is the Big Easy. New Orleans has a little something for everyone but when time is short, enjoy the food, scenic French-inspired architecture and the lively people—natives and tourists alike are all about a good time. With all that NOLA has to offer, a weekend visit might seem like not enough time, but here’s how you can maximize a short stay in the Big Easy.
WHERE TO STAY
The Dauphine Orleans Hotel is a cozy French Quarter dig located a block away from the world famous Bourbon Street, the Mississippi riverfront and within easy reach of major attractions like the Central Business District, Mercedes Benz Superdome and Morial Convention Center. Rooms in the inn—split across three main areas of the hotel which include Main House, Carriage House and Hermann House Courtyard—reflect a rich history rooted in the Crescent City’s early days dating back to 1775.
In 1991, the Dauphine was renovated, revealing the original brick walls and wooden posts featured in its guest rooms. Visitors are encouraged to head straight to May Baily’s for food and a complimentary welcome drink. May Baily’s is the hotel event space that was once known as Storyville, a bordello in the city’s 19th-century red-light district. Victorian-style décor and portraits of madams festoon the walls as a reminder of the area’s past, but modern pizazz still lingers as host Blanche Debris keeps customers happy with drink specials, including the signature “Madame Martini.”
Amenities include a cushy Tempur-Pedic bed, flat-screen TV, cable channels, local calls, a pool and enough to keep everyone satisfied from the party animals to the more laid back traveler.
WHERE TO EAT
New Orleans and food are practically synonymous with flavorful gumbos, jambalaya, pralines and beignets readily available at an instant. Some of our favorites are Court of Two Sisters, which offers a daily “Jazz Brunch,” consisting of live music, made-to-order omelets, pancakes, hash browns, sausage, bacon, grits, Creole jambalaya, turtle soup, Shrimp Etouffee and more, along with a sweets table; Royal House Oyster Bar is a good place for Gulf seafood serving especially sublime shrimp and grits, and drinks with a kick; Bennachin is a nice BYOB deviation from Creole, Cajun and Soul Food overload, offering West African fare like whiting, greens, rice and beans and plantains, and there are also menu selections for vegetarians.
WHERE TO SHOP
It’s easy to miss United Apparel Liquidators [UAL] amidst the more tourist-centric stores in the Quarter selling hot sauce, spices, T-shirts and shot glasses, but it’s a bargain fashionista’s paradise. Brand new designer labels and samples from DVF to Chanel go for anywhere from 50- to 80-percent off. A must-see destination for the budget-conscious looking to fill his or her shopping jones.
WHAT TO SEE
Tremé’s Louis Armstrong Park has been rejuvenated since Katrina and beckons for a stroll. The historic park, with verdant landscape surrounding a pond, is the space where slaves were allowed to fellowship on Sundays. It also houses the New Orleans Municipal Auditorium, the Mahalia Jackson Theater of the Performing Arts, and several sculptures of legendary jazz musicians including, Buddy Bolden, Sidney Bechet, and Armstrong, of course, Mahalia Jackson and more. Find your way to any of these sights and soak in the culture.