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Trip List by TxAggieGirl

In and Around New Orleans for Two

19 May 2009  Recent trip to New Orleans
4.5 of 5 stars based on 6 votes

Things to see and places to go around the Big Easy

  • Explore locations featured in this Trip List: New Orleans, Slidell
  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • 1. Country Inn & Suites New Orleans
    Country Inn & Suites New Orleans French Quarter, New Orleans, Louisiana
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    Avg price: $250

    We stayed two nights at the Country Inn & Suites in early April as a weekend getaway. It's located just 2.5 blocks off Canal street, which will get you anywhere in the French Quarter you want to go. We literally handed our keys to the valet when we arrived on Friday afternoon and walked everywhere until we checked out on Sunday morning.

    Check-in was easy and the lobby area is nice and bright. You pass the bar and little breakfast eating area on the way to the elevators, making it convenient. (Free breakfast in the mornings, which would be great if you were pinching pennies or with a family. We chose to eat out both mornings, so I can't speak to the quality of the food.) There's also a small courtyard just off this area with tables and chairs and a small plunge pool. From what they told us, the hotel is made up of several old warehouse buildings renovated to make one big CI&S -- which made it a tad confusing to find our room, but the cleaning lady pointed us in the right direction.

    The rooms, although not overly large, were perfect for our needs (and clean!) -- just a place to leave our suitcases, shower and sleep. We were on the back side of the hotel so our room looked out over the valet lot and some apartment buildings, but when you're in the middle of the city, you can't expect much more than that. The bathroom was just fine as well.

    We booked our room for $120 a night, which was a good deal for the quality of the overall hotel and the rooms, especially being so close to the Quarter. Everything in the Quarter that I saw was much more expensive. This hotel is a great choice if you're not dead-set on being in the Quarter and you need something affordable. We'd definitely stay here again on a trip back.

  • 2. Mr. B's Bistro
    Mr. B's Bistro, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Went to Mr. B's for dinner on a recent trip -- we made reservations for Saturday night, which seemed like a wise choice. Atmosphere was nice, if not a little crowded. People were variably dressed, everything from shorts to suits.

    The service was great. Our waitress was friendly and attentive, as were the other servers that helped us. They quickly whisked away dishes when we were done and refilled our drinks promptly as well.

    We ordered the crabcake and duck spring roll appetizers, which were both very good. Hubby got the BBQ shrimp and I had the bacon-wrapped shrimp with grits. The shrimp were a bit overpowered by the smokiness of the bacon, but the grits were to die for...so creamy and delicious. The BBQ shrimp, although a huge mess (they give you a plastic bib, but that sauce can fly), was sooooo good. The peppery butter sauce the shrimp are served in begs to be sopped up with loaves and loaves of bread...which we did, unashamedly.

    I'm sure it's not the best restaurant in town, but it is definitely worth a visit. If I could only make grits like that at home....

  • 3. Cafe Du Monde
    Cafe Du Monde, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Yes, the lines are out of control. We showed up fairly early on a Saturday and my husband absolutely refused to be one of those unlucky souls standing in a line wrapped around the building. We went elsewhere. But we returned early on Sunday morning and only stood in the to-go line for 10 minutes or so.

    Some people might say (my husband among them) ....what's the big deal? It's just donuts and coffee...

    But I tell you what, there's nothing nicer than sitting on a bench in Jackson Square on a quiet morning with hot, powdered sugar-doused beignets and an iced cafe au lait. (Hubby is now a believer -- he admitted it was one of the best moments of our trip.)

  • 4. Oceana Grill
    Oceana Grill, New Orleans, Louisiana

    We'd heard about Petunia's and wandered over around 10 am on a Saturday morning after a jaunt around Jackson Square. The line wasn't too long so we wondered why it took approx. 45 minutes to get in. Once we finally were seated we realized why...the place is TINY. And even though they pack the tables in there like sardines, it's just a small place.

    While we waited in line we chatted with the folks in line behind us, who were locals. They said Petunia's was one of their favorite places and recommended the crepes or the french toast.

    Once we sat down, our waiter was appropriately attentive, seeing how busy they were. My husband ordered Maw Maw's Cajun Breakfast (bacon, ham and shrimp with eggs and rice) because he's a sucker for homestyle cooking. In truth, he was a bit disappointed, as it was just a bowl of meats, scrambled eggs and rice all mixed together -- didn't taste bad, but was kind of weird. I got the St. Marie crepe wth fresh spinach, ham and Swiss -- it was HUGE and sooo good. My husband kept eyeing it and I had so much food I shared a lot with him and we still only managed to finish maybe two-thirds of it.

    I would recommend Petunia's, but try getting there earlier to avoid the painfully long lines. If you have to wait, try grabbing a Bloody Mary at the Round Up, the seedy bar next door. It wasn't great, but cost half as much as the one another person bought from Brennan's up the street ($12 each or something crazy like that)! A cocktail always makes time go faster.....

  • 5. Jackson Square
    Jackson Square, New Orleans, Louisiana

    Jackson Square is an icon in New Orleans and no visit would be complete without a walk around. I'd recommend arriving early in the morning at least once before all the vendors get set up and the place becomes crazy. The St. Louis Cathedral and all the buildings are really pretty in the morning and the city is just coming alive. Plus, it's the best way to get pictures without a million people in the background!

    Also, if you're going to buy art from one of the artists, make sure you price everything first. Some of the art that looks like junk is really expensive, but you can also get some really nice stuff affordably.

  • 6. St. Louis Cathedral
    St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, Louisiana

    The St. Louis Cathedral is the crown jewel of Jackson Square. It's definitely worth a visit inside (check to make sure no services or weddings are going on) to see the paintings and stained glass. Lots of history here.

  • 7. Cabildo
    Cabildo, New Orleans, Louisiana

    A great museum for history buffs (which my husband is). There's lots to read, but most of it we skimmed to check out the artifacts and paintings. The museum is architecturally beautiful on the inside and there are lots of neat exhibits, including Napoleon's death mask, information about Native Americans, settlers, slave/plantation life, battles and military, and the Louisiana Purchase, which was signed in the building. Perhaps not a good choice for children, but we found it very interesting and it's a nice, air-conditioned break from all the hustle and bustle outside.

  • 8. S.S. Natchez
    Natchez Steamboat Cruise, New Orleans, Louisiana

    A two-hour cruise on the Natchez up and down the Mississippi was just what the doctor ordered after a long day walking and sightseeing. You get to sit, relax and watch the world go by. Get in line early before the cruise departs to get a good seat. We sat near the rear of the boat and had great views. Make sure you sit on the left side of the boat (if you're at the back of the boat and facing the front), as the captain/narrator talks about buildings and landmarks on the left side on the way out and the right side on the way back.

    (Just a note: We did the dinner cruise several years back, but the thing is, there is much better food to be had in the city, and also, once it gets dark, you can't see the river or the banks anyway.)

  • 9. Musical Legends Park
    http://www.neworleansmusicallegends.com/

    Musical Legends Park is really more of a courtyard, located at 311 Bourbon Street. There's a Cafe Beignet at the back of the courtyard, and lots of little tables that are great for watching the live music on the stage. There is a bar and waitresses as well, but we brought drinks in and nobody said anything. What we like about it so much is that it's open air, the crowds are calmer and you don't have to worry about getting puked on like in lots of the bars on Bourbon. There's a great jazz band, Steamboat Willie, that plays weekend evenings. Worth a stop in.

  • 10. Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tour
    Honey Island Swamp Tours, Slidell, Louisiana

    We'd read about Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tour and decided to give it a shot on Sunday morning before we headed out of town. We had to check out of our hotel pretty early since they ask that you be there 30 minutes early and it's a 45-minute drive to Slidell from New Orleans. Tickets are $23 for adults and the tour is 2-2.5 hours.

    The boats are small, so there were only 20 people on the tour. Although it is called a swamp tour, a good part of the tour is spent going up and down the Pearl River, which the swamps are located off of. Even though it was early in the season and still too cold to see any big alligators, we did see two, along with several snakes, turtles, lizards, owls, cranes and lots of beautiful plants, especially wild purple irises. The tour guide was very knowledgeable and friendly, and seemed to enjoy his job.

    It was a beautiful day out on the water and we had a great time. I would highly recommend this tour to anyone wanting to get out of New Orleans and do something a little different.

  • 11. BONUS: Desoto's Dock Seafood & Po-Boys, Mandeville, Louisiana

    We stopped in here after a morning tour with Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tour on our way back west. The seafood was fresh and there was lots of it. They had boiled crawfish, fried plates, grilled plates and po-boys. It was all delicious and just off the beaten path in Mandeville. Worth a stop in!
    69142 Highway 59
    Mandeville, LA 70471
    Phone: (985) 875-7420

  • 12. DOUBLE BONUS: Olde Tyme Grocery, Lafayette, Louisiana

    On our drive over to New Orleans from Texas, we stopped in Lafayette for lunch. A good friend who used to live there told us about Olde Tyme Grocery, a dive just steps away from the ULaLa campus. It's a few miles off I-10, but was well worth the detour. Hubby and I shared a crawfish po-boy and shrimp po-boy and they were the best we've ever had...really amazing. If memory serves me right, they only take cash, but what's new? Seems like nobody in N.O. takes plastic either.

    Take my word for it. The po-boys are worth every penny and every mile. Located at:

    218 W Saint Mary Blvd
    Lafayette, LA 70506