September 28, 2010

Tuesday’s Travel Tips – New Orleans

This week’s Tuesday’s Travel Tips takes us to New Orleans, Louisiana. This southern gem is known for its beautiful, old architecture, delicious food, and — let’s be honest here — decadence. Where else can you find bars that are open 24/7, 3-for-1 happy hour specials, and legal to-go cups for your cocktails?

New Orleans is a unique city in its ability to be both simultaneously classy and debaucherous. You can partake in fine dining and live blues or jazz or take a leisurely stroll along the scenic Mississippi River, soaking up the hot sun and the friendliness of southern hospitality. Or you can buy some beads and hang out of fire escapes along Bourbon Street (with your cheap beer) and embarrass yourself with some not-so-innocent fun. That’s the beauty of New Orleans; there is something for every walk of life.

If you’re the partying type (or concert goer) be sure to visit New Orleans during the peak of its insanity, either for Mardi Gras or Jazzfest, annual events that fill the streets (and bars and restaurants) with tens, if not hundreds, of thousands of enthusiastic visitors. You don’t need to visit during these two periods to catch some good music or fun, though. You can find a slice of whatever it is you like at any time during the year.

Sitting at an average of 4.5 feet above sea level, Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) is the second lowest-lying international airport in the world, behind only Amsterdam’s Schipol International Airport, which lies eleven feet below sea level, relays Airport Operations Crewmember Letitia.

Frenchman Street, on the edge of the French Quarter, has lots of Jazz clubs (including the recommended Snug Harbor), cafes and locals!

Letitia recommends the Uptown/Magazine Street area of New Orleans for some great neighborhood restaurants and bars, including La Crepe Nanou Joey K’s (where you might run into one or two of the Manning brothers), or Dick and Jenny’s. One of her favorite restaurants is Muriel’s Jackson Square. If you go there be sure to have a drink in the Seance Room, or on the balcony over looking Jackson Square.

In the Warehouse District, Tommy’s is great and Cochon’s.  Other great eateries where the locals hang are Parkway Bakery and Tavern, for PoBoys, Cafe du Monde (for beignets and cafe au lait), Lebanon’s Cafe, and Plum Street Snoballs for some sweet street treats. There are too many to list, Letitia says!

Technical Records Coordinator Summer relays that when she travels she loves to eat, and one of the best places is New Orleans (pronounced New Or-lins) is Dookie Chase on New Orleans Ave. They have the best fried chicken, the best smothered pork chops – overall, the best food in New Orleans, according to Summer.

Airport Operations Crewmember Kim’s favorite restaurant is Commander’s Palace and her favorite nightclub is LePhare in the downtown area.

Also for the music and taste of the town you have to go to the Jazz & Heritage site and the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival page for some of the best music events in Orleans.

And for the biggest parade/party of them all, I suggest the Tremé area for Endymion 2011 also called Mardi Gras! If you are planning to visit for Mardi Gras, the best days to be in New Orleans are the Saturday, Sunday and Monday before Fat Tuesday. Don’t drink more than one hurricane or hand granade a night! People tell us all the time this tip should be in a New Orleans travel brochure.  Of course you will only make this mistake once.

One of the BEST events to visit New Orleans for is The French Quarter Festival, offering three days of free music and entertainment held during the second weekend in April and set up all through the French Quarter streets and along the riverfront.  All the best restaurants have food tents set up in Jackson Square where you can sample New Orleans best food and drink for $3.00 – $5.00 a plate. It’s Letitia’s favorite fest!

Everyone goes straight to Bourbon Street, she says, but one block over is Royal Street where there are blocks of wonderful antique shops, boutiques, cafe’s, restaurants, and Rodrigue Studio, where you catch some of famed artist George Rodrigue’s blue dog paintings. Also make sure to take the streetcar ride through the Garden District.

Do you have some good New Orleans travel tips? Leave them in the comments below, or Tweet them using the hashtag #TTMSY.

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