Savoring the Crescent City: Things to See and Do in New Orleans During the Inside Self-Storage World Expo
Copyright 2014 by Virgo Publishing.
By: Teri L. Lanza
Posted on: 06/26/2010



 

If you’ve never before traveled to New Orleans, I envy you the thrill of experiencing the city for the first time. It’s unlike any other place you’ve visited, and I’ll tell you now: It’s a love or hate kind of encounter.

The town, with its rich history, culture and sensory stimuli, can’t help but inspire strong reactions in its guests. It’s hard to imagine anyone resisting its charms, but if you’re not yet an admirer, this article will point you toward some of the most enchanting sights, sounds and tastes of N’awlins.

Join us in the Crescent City for the Inside Self-Storage World Expo, Sept. 29-Oct. 1, and you’ll not only partake in the best education and exhibits the industry has to offer, you’ll enjoy one of the nation’s most culturally lush and alluring locales. Whether you’re interested in history, music, cuisine, nightlife, architecture, art or the supernatural, you will not be disappointed!

French Quarter

When people think about “The City That Care Forgot,” it’s generally the French Quarter that comes to mind. While the city has much more to offer than Vieux Carré (pronounced voo cah-RAY or voh care-eh, depending on who you ask), let’s begin with this traditional New Orleans temptation.

The Quarter comprises 78 square blocks, stretching from the Mississippi River over to Rampart Street, from Canal Street to Esplanade Avenue. Immediate surrounding neighborhoods include Faubourg Marigny, the Central Business District, Iberville and Treme (now the theme of a popular HBO television show). You can easily walk from one end of the Quarter to the other―providing you have comfortable shoes―but be careful of uneven cobblestone in the streets. “Main drags” include Decatur and, of course, Bourbon Street. Here are a few key places, landmarks and tourist traps to check out: 

  • Jackson Square―Originally called the Place d’Armes and renamed after General Andrew Jackson after the Battle of New Orleans in 1814. Here you can view the equestrian statue of Jackson and walk the lovely garden. Immediately outside the square, you can hop on a horse-drawn carriage tour, buy local art, or have your fortune told.
  • Pirate Alley—The focus of much historical speculation and the current home of the Pirates Alley Café (a personal favorite). The lamppost at the intersection with Cabildo Alley is one of the most photographed in the city.
  • Café du Monde―Home of the best darn coffee you ever tasted as well as sugar-coated, steaming-hot beignets (pronounced ben-yays), which are similar to a donut, but much, much better.
  • Bourbon Street―Party central. ‘Nuff said. Tends to carry a pungent aroma from the beer and lord knows what else that has spilled in the street. Don’t let this deter you, however; you’ll be so distracted by the sights and sounds, you won’t notice the tang after the first 20 or so paces.
  • French Market―This six-block, outdoor, riverside bazaar features goods of all types as well as great food and live music. The perfect place to pick up souvenirs.
  • Carousel Bar―Nestled on the ground floor of the Hotel Monteleone, this is possibly one of the loveliest bars in the city, with a wild circus motif. Just don’t be thrown off guard―the bar does revolve.
  • Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop―Now a tavern at the corner of Bourbon and Philip Street, this building was constructed before 1772 and is one of the oldest standing structures in the city. According to legend, it was once owned by the pirate Jean Lafitte.

Creole and Cajun Cuisine

Attempting to sum up the best of New Orleans cuisine is a ludicrous enterprise. The city is renowned for its cookery, and for good reason. If you’re a foodie, the local restaurants will do nothing short of blow your mind (and your taste buds). That said, below are a handful of gastronomical suggestions based on popular reviews and personal experience.

  • Commander’s Palace―Don’t miss this Garden District delight if you can help it; it’s simply superb. Make a reservation and request a table the Garden Room. The trip won’t be light on the wallet (boys, wear a jacket), but the turtle soup will make it all worthwhile.
  • Bayona―My husband and I discovered this gem during our honeymoon. Chef Susan Spicer is nothing short of a magician. If you go, order the “Goat Cheese Crouton With Mushrooms in Madeira Cream,” and whatever you do, do not attempt to share it.
  • Central Grocery―Home of the popular Muffuletta sandwich. (If you don’t know what this is, and you like Italian food, prepare for a piece of heaven.) Warning: These sandwiches are massive, so order a quarter to start.
  • Po’ Boy Sandwiches―New Orleans is famous for these, and you can get them just about anywhere, made with shrimp, crawfish, oysters, etc. Positively dreamy. A few places I’ve had excellent versions include Café Maspero, Chartres House Café and Napoleon House Bar & Cafe.
Following are a few other establishments of which you may have heard and should certainly investigate. (Again, this is nothing close to a comprehensive list. Please don’t fret if your personal favorite is excluded here―tell your fellow expo attendees about it!) 

Seriously ... If you’re looking for something fantastic to eat, go out in the street and toss a pebble in any direction. There’ll be something delectable waiting for you where it lands nine times out of 10. Eateries are abundant in this city, and sometimes the best meal of your life is waiting at some obscure joint.

Garden District

The gorgeous Garden District, a distinguished New Orleans neighborhood, is only a short streetcar ride from the French Quarter and represents one of the most opulent collections of historic southern mansions in the United States. Developed in the mid-1800s by the “nouveau riche,” the area has been home to modern-day celebrities such as Nicholas Cage, John Goodman, Archie Manning, Anne Rice and Sandra Bullock.

If you make your way to this area―a feast for the eyes that will have you fantasizing about relocation faster than you can say “bayou”―wear comfortable walking shoes and bring a camera. You’ll see indescribably beautiful architecture; it will take photos to convince folks back home. A few stops you don’t want to miss: 

  • Grab a coffee or tea at the Garden District Book Shop in The Rink, at the corner of Washington and Prytania Streets.
  • Walk by the former home of author Anne Rice, at the corner of First and Chestnut Streets. This residence inspired the setting for six of her novels.
  • Tour the notorious Lafayette Cemetery No. 1, with its above-ground tombs (closed to the public on Sundays).
  • Be sure to see the famous cast-iron cornstalk fence surrounding the former home of Col. Robert Henry Short. Legend has it Short erected the fence to soothe his wife, who was homesick for Kentucky.

Rollin’ Down the River

Geographically speaking, two of the most inspiring elements of the city include the majestic Mississippi River and Lake Pontchartrain. Enjoy strolling along the esplanade or, for a more on-deck experience, partake in one of several riverboat tours or cruises, many of which include food, drink and live music. A few suggestions: 

Things That Go Bump in the Night

Underneath its devil-may-care exterior, New Orleans is a spiritual city full of devout and sometimes superstitious folk. In a locale with such colorful and often traumatic history, ghost stories and legends abound. If the suspense of the supernatural excites you, you’ll find plenty to raise your hackles in this town. Enjoy one of many spine-chilling walking tours of the city including ghost tours, vampire tours, voodoo tours, cemetery tours and others.

Once you’re in New Orleans, you’ll find plenty of tour companies to accommodate you, and the concierge at the expo host hotel can also assist in a booking. If you want to plan in advance, here are a few companies to consider: 

They’re Playin’ My Tune

New Orleans is known as the birthplace of jazz, but the city reigns supreme in music of all types including blues, zydeco, R&B, bluegrass, hip hop, funk and heavy metal. Whatever your melodic fancy, you’ll find a seat with your name on it in one of the town’s hundreds of nightclubs. Following are a few suggestions to get you started. (Note: Snug Harbor not only offers acts like Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville, its restaurant serves what is quite possibly the best cheeseburger on the planet.) 

More Where That Came From

What you’ve read here is just a sampling of the wonderful things to see and do in New Orleans. A quick Google search will uncover other treasures such as the New Orleans City Park (including Carousel Gardens, the Botanical Garden and Storyland), Audubon Nature Institute (including a zoo, aquarium, IMAX theater and more), and the New Orleans Museum of Art. You can take one of many boat tours of the Honey Island Swamp, or visit local plantations such as Oak Alley, Nottoway and Beauregard House. You can gamble at Harrah’s or visit Mardi Gras World.

Whatever your fancy, the Crescent City has something for you. Join us at the ISS Expo to get your questions answered, learn solutions for your self-storage business challenges, and enjoy one of the nation’s most enthralling cities. For more information about the complete expo program, visit www.insideselfstorageworldexpo.com.

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Quick N’awlins Pronunciation Guide

If you’ve never been to the city, you’ll quickly discover the locals have their own way of speaking. Don’t be pegged as a tourist with linguistic faux pas. This quick guide to common words and locations will help you be less obvious.

  • Vieux Carre (The French Quarter) ― voo cah-RAY
  • Tchoupitoulis ― chop-ih-TOO-lus
  • Burgundy ― ber-GUN-dee (Not like the wine!)
  • Marigny ― MA-ruh-knee
  • Chartres ― CHAW-tuhs or CHAHR-ters
  • Dauphine ― daw-FEEN
  • Metairie ― MET-uh-ree
  • Carondelet ― cah-rahn-doh-LET
  • Toulouse ― TOO-loose
  • Tulane ― TOO-lane
  • Calliope ― CAL-ee-ope (Not like the instrument!)
  • Conti ― con-TYE
  • Iberville ― IH-ber-ville (Not "eye-ber-ville"!)
  • Pontchartrain ― PONCH-ah-train
  • Laissez les bon temps roullez! (Let the good times roll!) ― LAY-zay lay bawn tom roo-LAY)

Source: Virtualtourist.com

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About-Town Happenings While You're There

What: Thursdays at Twilight Garden Concert
When: Thursday, Sept. 30, 5-8 p.m.
Where: Pavilion of Two Sisters, City Park Botanical Garden

Stroll through the New Orleans Botanical Garden at twilight, settle in with a mint julep, and enjoy the finest musicians New Orleans has to offer. This popular music series offers jazz, classical, and Latin American music.

What: New Orleans Saints v. Carolina Panthers
When: Sunday, Oct. 3, Noon
Where: Louisiana Superdome

The New Orleans Saints football team kicks off against the Carolina Panthers. Go Saints!

What:Vieux Carré Matinées
When: Tuesday-Saturday, Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 11:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m.
Where: LePetit Theater, 616 St. Peter St.

The Historic New Orleans Collection and Le Petit Théâtre du Vieux Carré present Vieux Carré Matinées, a series of free films and tours celebrating Louisiana’s history and culture. The program opens with a brief tour of the nation’s oldest continuously operated little-community theatre. Afterward, participants can view one of 10 films, each addressing a different aspect of the region, including the Battle of New Orleans, Creole cooking and visual artists of the city. Free and open to the public.

What: Music Concert Garden Party
When: Wednesday, Sept. 29, 5-9 p.m.
Where:City Park Botanical Garden

Free and open to the public and sponsored by the Backbeat Foundation, this concert features Paul Sanchez and The Rolling Road Show as well as Seth Walker. A featured local chef or restaurant will serve up signature cuisine, and a full range of beverages will be available.

What: Art Exhibit, “Ancestors and Descendants: Ancient Southwestern America at the Dawn of the Twentieth Century”
When: July 24-Oct. 24
Where: New Orleans Museum of Art

The exhibition consists of 73 antique photographs of Native American subjects and 84 Native American artifacts, including Navaho and Pueblo textiles, pottery and jewelry. All materials were collected by George Hubbard Pepper, the first anthropologist/archeologist to excavate Pueblo Bonito in New Mexico, between 1895 and 1905.

What: Piano Lounge Night
When: Nightly
Where: Pat O’Brien’s, 718 St. Peter

Clap your hands and stomp your feet with Pat O's piano players! No cover. Be sure to try one of the bar’s world-famous hurricanes while you’re there.

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