Many legal conferences take place in New Orleans. The city is a great place for work (or play). In fact, New Orleans is one of my favorite cities. You can only imagine how excited I was to learn that this year’s Clio Cloud Conference will reunite me with the vibrant sights and sounds of the Big Easy. After four years in Chicago, ClioCon is heading to New Orleans. This year’s conference will be held on September 25th and 26th at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. Check out some of my favorite things about the city and follow the hashtag #ClioCloud9 to keep up with this year’s conference.
Layout of the City
A very wide street, Canal, separates the French Quarter and the Central Business District. This is a landmark as you look for restaurants and hotels that are in one place versus the other. There are many tourist sites on Canal Street and lots of shopping, some of it upscale. The French Quarter is the oldest area of the city; you can visit the City and never leave the Quarter.
There are plenty of opportunities for seeing musicians and artists perform on the streets. You may want to keep some small bills in your pocket. If you see street art such as a magician or a live person dressed as a “statute”, you’ll need to offer a gratuity if you take a picture or enjoy the show. The New Orleans street artists are friendly, but they will typically let you know performances are not free.
The streetcar is a fantastic way to travel from the French Quarter through the Business District and over to the Garden District. The area is home to beautiful neighborhoods with antebellum homes, as well as the Loyola University and Tulane University campuses and the New Orleans Zoo.
New Orleans is a place where you cannot have a bad meal. You can spend $10 on the best rice and beans or $200 on a classic restaurant meal.
One of my favorite lunches is a muffuletta, a combination of cured meats, cheeses and the most important ingredient, olive salad. Muffulettas are famous in New Orleans and the Central Grocery & Deli located in the French Quarter is one of the most well-known places that serve them.
The iconic sandwich of New Orleans is the po-boy, usually fried seafood on a French bread baguette. I love them stuffed with shrimp, slaw, tomatoes, remoulade sauce and buttery bread.
Depending on when you travel, many restaurants offer a “prix fixe” menu, often during lunch. When I last traveled to New Orleans in March 2012, the fixed price was $20.12 for a 3-course meal with .25 cocktails.
Make sure to visit a candy store such as Aunt Sally’s or Leah’s that is making fresh pralines – a confection of sugar, pecans and butter. Nothing better!
The local bars are fun. Most are old and look a little rough but as long as you are in the tourist area of the Quarter, you should be fine. Of course, all the normal safety rules apply, be aware of your surroundings, don’t flash your money, and remember where your hotel is located and keep your bearings. Bourbon Street is bar central. The Old Absinthe House is famous (or infamous). You should check out the Carousel Bar located at the Hotel Monteleone – it looks like a park carousel. Pat O’Brien’s is legendary for inventing the Hurricane.
Here are a few of my favorite classic New Orleans restaurants:
- Antoine’s – the oldest family run restaurant in the U.S., established in 1840, creator of Oysters Rockefeller
- Arnaud’s – the largest restaurant in New Orleans with the largest restaurant kitchen in the city
- Brennan’s – famous for lavish breakfast dishes, as well as the creation of Bananas Foster
- Court of Two Sisters – located on Royal Street in a multi-room house with courtyard. The jazz brunch buffet fills multiple rooms in the house and serves delicious food in a beautiful setting with great music
- Commander’s Palace – located in the Garden District. Owned by matriarch Ella Brennan who lives next door. Emeril Lagasse and Paul Prudhomme are two of their award-winning alumni chefs
- Cocktails at the Hotel Monteleone – the bar is in the Carousel Room and beautiful to see
- Café du Monde – an open-air coffee shop located on Decatur Street. The café is open 24 hours a day, daily (except for Christmas Day). All you will find here are homemade donuts called beignets, along with chicory coffee, milk and juice. Beignets are served hot and coated in powdered sugar. I recommend daily visits
- Emeril Lagasse restaurants - Emeril’s New Orleans, Emeril’s Delmonico, Meril and NOLA.
- Galatoire’s – author Tennessee Williams was a regular and he gives a hat-tip to the restaurant in his play, A Streetcar Named Desire
Commander’s Palace was the site of a big birthday adventure during my 2012 trip. As we were walking to the restaurant, I fell down. Very spectacularly. I was walking, looking, talking, and then tripped on the bumpy cobblestones and fell face down. I was quite the spectacle as many tourists ran over to help. I skinned my hands and knees, just like a kid on a bicycle. To add insult to injury, when we got to the restaurant, my husband, Robby, had on shorts, not acceptable for the restaurant’s dress code. While our friends and I were seated, the maître d’ pointed Robby in the direction of a vintage clothing store two blocks away. He hustled over and came back dressed in crisp light blue seersucker pants. Now, if you know my germophobe husband, you can just imagine how he squirmed during lunch thinking about the previous owners of his new trousers. Luckily, the $20.12 meal (along with several .25 cocktails) helped him suffer through the occasion.
- St Charles Streetcar – this is a “must do”, board and enjoy the scenery as you travel to the Garden District
- Presbytere Museum – the Museum is located in the center of the Quarter in Jackson Square. Visit the Hurricane Katrina Exhibit to experience what the residents suffered through the storm and its aftermath
- Audubon Aquarium of the Americas and Imax Theater
- Preservation Hall – founded in 1961 to protect, preserve, and perpetuate traditional New Orleans jazz
- Bourbon Street – 13 blocks of bars and festivities
- New Orleans Zoo
- Cemetery tour – tours or ghost walks to experience the beauty of the above-ground cemeteries (because of the high water table)
- Natchez Riverboats – cruise down the mighty Mississippi
- Blaine Kern’s Mardi Gras World - watch the Mardi Gras float-building process, meet the artists behind the floats, try on Mardi Gras costumes, and enjoy King Cake
- Frenchman Street in the Faubourg Marigny district –well known for great live music
- The National World War II Museum affiliated with the Smithsonian Museum - consistently ranked as one of the top-rated attractions in New Orleans, one of the best military museums in the country
- Antique shopping on Royal Street
- Jackson Square
- St. Louis Cathedral
- The Cabildo
- The Presbytere
- Café du Monde
- Preservation Hall
- Royal Street
- Garden District
- Culinary Tour
- Pub Crawl
- Walking tour
- Cemetery tour
- Super Dome tour
- Plantation tour
- Katrina tour
- Swamp and Bayou tour
- Airboat Adventure tour
It would not be a post by me if I didn’t recommend a book to enhance your experience.
1 Dead in Attic is a collection of essays by the Times-Picayune columnist Chris Rose as he recounts life in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. The title comes from an epitaph spray-painted on a home while the floodwaters were still swallowing the city. Please read this excellent book regardless of whether you are traveling to NOLA.
The classic play by Tennessee Williams, A Streetcar Named Desire, will place you in the New Orleans of the 1940’s. Many of James Lee Burke’s novels are set in New Orleans and once you are there, you will recognize both his characters and his landmarks. Visit the website New Orleans in Fiction to see a list of books, movies and television set in the Crescent City.
If you have been, share your favorites with me. If you plan to visit, I cannot wait to hear about it upon your return.
Be sure to follow me on Twitter at @camillestell and follow Clio at @goclio!