Travel & Local Information
TRAVEL AND LOCAL INFORMATION
(Thanks to our Local Arrangements Committee: Jimmie Butts, Jamila Lares, Mark Longaker, and Michelle Zerba.)
Like the ISHR conferences in Chicago and London, the New Orleans conference will have no organized excursions for attendees, and for the same reason – there is simply so much choice in the city and the surrounding areas so that members will want to make their own choices. From swamp tours to jazz clubs to art museums to steamboat rides, there is an infinite variety of things to do and see, much within walking distance. The Creole (not Cajun; see below under Acadiana) cuisine is world-famous, and it’s difficult to make a bad choice of restaurants.
New Orleans International Airport is 20-30 minutes from downtown New Orleans and the Hotel Monteleone, depending on traffic. The airport now has direct flights from Frankfurt or London on Condor Airlines. It has the usual modes of travel to the hotel found in larger American cities: taxis, shared airport shuttles (usually the least expensive), Uber, limos, city buses, etc. The rather run-down current airport is supposed to be replaced before the conference by a new one, which is bring completed right behind it. Currently it is supposed to be open in May.
Weather. Hot and steamy, punctuated by brief but torrential rains. It’s the (semi-) tropics. New Orleans can be extremely uncomfortable this time of year, without question. Bring light clothes for touring or walking the streets, take water with you, and take a small umbrella. It’s best to do your walking in the mornings or evenings. Like many American hotels, the Monteleone will feel over-air conditioned to many international visitors, but you can adjust the temperatures in your sleeping rooms, although not the meeting rooms. The hotel has a very nice swimming pool.
Driving. If you want to travel outside of New Orleans, you will need a car unless you book a formal tour. However, if you are staying only in the city, having a car is a nuisance. Hotel parking is $45 a night, and driving in the French Quarter is life-threatening. New Orleans has very poor city streets full of pots-holes and many one-way and irrationally designed streets.
Drinking age. The legal drinking age in Louisiana is 21. Those under 21 can’t be served alcohol in the hotel, even at hotel receptions and banquets.
WHAT TO DO:
There’s a lot to do in the city, and just outside it. The hotel concierges and the New Orleans Convention Bureau will be available for specific information and reservations, but here are some good web sites for planning, covering everything from close-by attractions (the Aquarium, Preservation Hall, etc. to farther out, such as swamp tours, plantation tours. Reservations ahead of time are, however, a very good idea for nearly all these attractions. New Orleans is a major convention city, and it’s hard to predict how crowded it will be even in steamy July:
General New Orleans sites: https://www.neworleans.com/things-to-do/ ; https://www.timeout.com/new-orleans/things-to-do/best-things-to-do-in-new-orleans , https://www.tripadvisor.com/Attractions-g60864-Activities-New_Orleans_Louisiana.html; https://www.fodors.com/world/north-america/usa/louisiana/new-orleans/experiences/news/ultimate-things-to-do-in-new-orleans
The streetcars (and other public transportation): http://www.norta.com/Getting-Around/Our-Streetcars; https://www.neworleans.com/plan/transportation/streetcars/
Colleges and Universities: http://gnoinc.org/explore-the-region/quality-of-life/colleges-universities/ . Of these. Tulane University is likely the best bet for anyone strongly needing a good library, and it’s on a streetcar line in a beautiful section of town.
National World War II Museum. This museum is, I believe, unique, and is a serious, sobering experience. But it is vast, and takes much of a day for either of the two parts (Europe and the Pacific). From the American perspective, of course, but not chauvinistic. https://www.nationalww2museum.org/
Old Ursuline Convent Museum. Just down the street from the hotel. https://www.oldursulineconventmuseum.com/#museum
New Orleans for Children: https://nola.curbed.com/maps/things-to-do-new-orleans-kids . Close to our hotel is the Insectarium (https://audubonnatureinstitute.org/insectarium ), as much fun for adults as for children, and a slightly longer walk is the Children’s Museum (https://www.lcm.org/), both sure winners.
Safety: http://gnoinc.org/explore-the-region/quality-of-life/colleges-universities/ This is a little scary, but note that our area is one of the safer areas.
RESTAURANTS IN NEW ORLEANS
New Orleans is a city famous for its old-world Creole restaurants, but it has a lively new restaurant trade, and the palette has gotten considerably more refined in the past couple of years, with many fusion spots nudging their way into the market. The following list is organized by neighborhood, and a few tips are included about the menu and the ambience.
Almost everything in the French Quarter is easily walkable from the Monteleone Hotel. The French Market runs along the Mississippi River and has many open-air eating counters in a festive atmosphere. A little farther away are the Marigny, the Bywater, the Central Business District, and the Warehouse District, but they are close enough for a stroll, depending on the weather and how much of the city you’d like to take in by foot. The Uptown restaurants are accessible via the street car line and Uber or Lyft. Many places require reservations, sometimes a week or more in advance, especially the smaller venues. Almost all menus in the city have excellent options for vegetarians and vegans. Many restaurants serve hand-crafted cocktails and have a happy hour.
The most frequented Creole restaurants are Antoine’s, Galatoire’s, Arnaud’s, Brennan’s, and Mr. B’s Bistro. All are upscale and feature classic New Orleans cuisine in typically high-ceilinged and lively dining rooms, sometimes with courtyards attached. The newer and swanky R’Evolution has an impressive menu and a very large wine selection.
Among the smaller restaurants with nouvelle Creole cuisine, Café Amelie and Bayona have delicious menus created with care, as do the hip Cane and Table and Sobou. On Jackson Square, which is touristed but always colorful, Tableau serves up consistently good food and drinks, and it has a lovely balcony overlooking the square where the street musicians, tarot card readers, artists, and mimes perform. Coop’s Place offers what is advertised as one of the best fried-chicken places in the city.
Marigny and Bywater
If you walk a little further downtown and across Esplanade, you will find the Marigny, which is where Frenchmen is located, famous for its vibrant and gritty music clubs and into-the-wee-hours bars. Further along is the Bywater, which has become the hottest New Orleans neighborhood. In the Marigny, you have the choice of Italian fare at Adolfo’s, tapas at Mimi’s, and New American at Three Muses, all with music in the dining room or next door. Cake Café offers quick bites American-style. The recently opened Paladar 511 is worth a stop, especially for its vegetarian and vegan friendly dishes. And The Rubby Slipper serves famous southern breakfasts with several locations in the city.
Beyond the Marigny, is the new Bywater American Bistro with an eclectic, Caribbean inflected menu in an industrial-style space close to the Mississippi River. In the same neighborhood, you will find The Country Club, which is not at all elite, despite the name, a great place for drinks and brunch, as is Elizabeth’s. Bacchanal, a backyard restaurant, bar, and music club, has been discovered by the tourist industry, but it’s a well-known place with local jazz and a serve-yourself selection of wines, cheeses, and small plates—no reservations and always trafficked.
Central Business District and Warehouse District
If you decide to travel Uptown (walking distance), you will find the CBD close by, which is brimming with restaurants. You can try Lüke for a local style of French cuisine, the more sedate, white-table Herbsaint, or the elegant Creole and Caribbean fusion eatery, Compère Lapin. In the building that houses the Ace Hotel, you will find the lovely and upscale osteria, Josephine Estelle, which combines a New Orleans and Key Largo ambience. Among the newest additions to the market is Maypop, which serves delicious Southeast-Asian inspired food with a New Orleans flair. Seed is a vegetarian and vegan-style place that serves great brunches and lunches, and Carmo offers similar fare for lunch and dinner with a Caribbean twist.
(None of these are walking distance.) Perhaps the most famous New Orleans restaurant is Commander’s Palace in the Garden District, which is located across the street from the old Lafayette cemetery. But for a delightful restaurant in a neighborhood setting with refined old-world New Orleans cuisine, try Clancy’s. Magazine Street offers miles of eclectic shops and restaurants including the highly acclaimed Israeli restaurant Shaya, the newly opened Saffron with an Indian menu, the bistro-style Lilette, the famous taqueria The Rum House, and District Donuts, which has the most scrumptious donuts you’ll ever find and a range of sliders. The charming Café Degas is in mid-town and serves a delicious brunch before or after a visit to the New Orleans Museum of Art.
https://freetoursbyfoot.com/new-orleans-cocktail-tour/ ; http://elizabeth-pearce.com/cocktail-tour (run by an LSU graduate in English Literature). Others.
LOUISIANA THINGS TO DO OUTSIDE OF NEW ORLEANS
Hwy 329, Avery Island, LA
Guided factory tour price - $5.50 (free for children under 4)
Open every day from 9am-4pm
A few miles southwest of New Iberia is Avery Island, home of the McIlhenny Tabasco factory and a wildlife sanctuary. The island is actually an eight-mile deep salt dome. Visitors can drive and walk through 250 acres of subtropical jungle flora with an amazing array of wildlife, and tour the Tabasco factory.
21084 Hwy. 36, Covington, LA
Guided Tour Hours (Every Half Hour)
Self-guided tours are 10am-1pm Sun, 10am-4pm Mon & Tue, and 10am-1pm Wed & Thu and 10am-12pm Fri. Bus tours from New Orleans available Fri-Sun, see website.
The Abita Brewing Company is a brewery in Abita Springs, Louisiana, USA, 30 miles north of New Orleans. Tour one of America's leading craft breweries, the largest in the Southeast. Family-friendly, guided tours (under 21 admitted free) are $5 and include four 4-ounce tastings.
While you’re in the neighborhood, you might as well stop by the Abita Mystery House, which contains artist John Preble’s oddball collection of interesting artifacts: http://www.abitamysteryhouse.com/
5099 Highway 18, Wallace, LA
General admission - $23
9:30am to 4:30pm every day except Tuesday
Tours are given every hour between 10:00am and 3:00pm
The Whitney Plantation Historic District is a museum devoted to slavery in the Southern United States. Through museum exhibits, memorial artwork and restored buildings and hundreds of first-person slave narratives. Whitney is the only plantation museum in the United States which focuses on the lives of enslaved people. Much of the visit is outdoors, so morning are preferable.
Pearl River Eco-Tours (Swamp Tour)
55050 Hwy 90, Slidell, LA
See and learn more about the Louisiana wetlands and its wildlife. You may see alligators, deer, black bears, wild boar, and much more. This touring company is dedicated to preserving the Honey Island Swamp and the animals which inhabit this beautiful Pearl River eco system. The company offers transportation from the New Orleans area (see website for details).
5306 North Black Bayou Drive, Gibson, LA
30 acres of preserved swamp where you can walk around a nature trail on shady paths. Apart from the natural wildlife there are ostriches, bobcats, nutria and alligators on display in cages and paddocks and peacocks roam the grounds. Bed and breakfast accommodation is available in four small 'trapper's cabins', adjacent to a small swamp. Each has its own front porch overlooking the water and ideal for gator watching. Staying overnight is a unique experience that kids will love.
840 Lamarque St, Mandeville, LA
Just north of Lake Pontchartrain, a trip here will afford you NOLA-style brass and funk, as well as boogie and Cajun music born on the bayou. The place is a living history lesson, too: the 125-year-old building has served as a popular venue for African-American performers since the 1930s. A weekend evening there will be hot, both on the stage and off -- guaranteed.
Teddy’s Juke Joint
17001 Old Scenic Highway, Zachary, LA
Situated in the shotgun house where its owner, Teddy (Lloyd) Johnson, was born, this venerable venue was established in 1979. Whether you're a music lover or just like to meet interesting local legends, you'll enjoy a trip to Teddy's. You’ll find live music a few days a week, while other nights will have Teddy getting you on the dance floor with one of his “legendary record spins.”
Acadiana (Lafayette and surrounding areas)
New Orleans isn't a Cajun city. Cajun people, culture, and food are centered in Acadiana, a different part of Louisiana. Cajun food was almost totally unknown in New Orleans until about 1979, just slightly before it was discovered by the rest of the USA. While there are Cajun restaurants in New Orleans, we recommend heading west to Acadian cities like Lafayette or Breaux Bridge for a more authentic Cajun cultural experience.
Acadian Cultural Center, 501 Fisher Road, Lafayette, LA
You can spend an hour or so here learning about the history of the Acadian (Cajun) people. Entry is free, but donations are accepted.
Vermilionville 300 Fisher Road, Lafayette, LA
Tuesday-Sunday 10AM-4PM. $8 adults.
A heritage and folklife park depicting the way of life on the Bayou. The park has costumed interpretors and traditional craft demos.
1215 Grand Pointe Ave, Breaux Bridge, LA
Dancehalls are a big part of Cajun culture. La Poussiere Cajun Dancehall was established over fifty years ago and opens its doors on Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons to all. Hear live local musicians and learn to two-step on the dance floor.
THE GULF COAST (east of New Orleans).
The Gulf Coast is most famous for its beaches, which start in Mississippi (about 2 hours east of New Orleans) and end in north Florida (c. 5 hours), with the beaches getting better the farther east you go (https://www.flipkey.com/blog/2015/10/29/best-gulf-coast-beaches-to-visit/ ). If you want to stay near the beaches, book your hotel or condo as early as possible. There is much else to do on the Gulf Coast, but here are ten selections offering a cross-section of activities in the area, with distances from our hotel listed. If you are traveling with children, you might enjoy the Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children in Gulfport (133 km, 82 mi). Art (and architecture) enthusiasts might enjoy an excursion to the Ohr-O’Keefe Museum, which prominently features the ceramic art of George E. Ohr, the “mad potter of Biloxi” (145 km, 90 mi). The museum campus features five buildings designed by famed architect Frank Gehry. For history buffs there is the Beauvoir, the estate in Biloxi of Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederacy (137 km, 85 mi), as well as the Battleship U.S.S. Alabama in Mobile, AL (234 km, 145 mi), a museum of American warships and aircraft. For Gulf Coast museums, there is the Bay St. Louis Historic Train Depot in Bay St. Louis, MS (94 km, 59 mi), a small museum specializing in Mardi Gras. A museum that everyone in the family might enjoy is the Infinity Science Center in Pearlington, MS (70 km, 43.5. mi). For wildlife, try Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours in Slidell, (58 km, 36.2 mi, but the tour offers transportation from the hotel for an additional fee), and the Institute for Marine Mammal Studies in Gulfport (129 km, 80 mi). Or, for a one-of-a-kind adventure, take the “Secretly Awesome” tour, one of the Wild Native Tours in Mobile (313 km, 195 mi). Some of these venues sell out, so click on the links to be sure of availability. And, of course, it’s never night time in the Casinos, of which there are many (in addition to the Harrah’s in downtown New Orleans) along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
Ohr-O’Keefe Museum in Biloxi, MS. $10 per person for adults. Open Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (228) 374-5547. https://www.georgeohr.org/
Wild Native Tours in Mobile, AL. Tour the harbor, see warships and gators. Starts at $28.00 per person. Tours must be booked ahead. (888) 651-9785. https://wildnativetours.com
The Beauvoir - Jefferson Davis Home and Presidential Library. $12.50 per person for adults. Seeing the estate is included in general admission, but tours must be booked in advance. (228) 388-4400. http://www.visitbeauvoir.org/
The Institute for Marine Mammal Studies, Gulfport. Sea lion, dolphin, and other attractions. $15.00 for adults. They recommend you stay for 2.5 hours, open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Can't purchase admission after 2 p.m. (228) 896-9182. https://imms.org/
Lynn Meadows Discovery Center for Children, Gulfport. Interactive museum and lots of fun things for kids. Open 10:00a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Closed Monday. $10 per person, $3 after 3 p.m. on weekdays. (228) 897-6039. http://lmdc.org/
Dr. Wagner's Honey Island Swamp Tours, Slidell. See the bayous and swamps in Cajun country on this 2-hour boat tour. Book soon, tours sell out. $25 per person, or $49 per person including a ride from New Orleans. http://www.honeyislandswamp.com/
Battleship USS Alabama, Mobile, AL. An actual World War II battleship, now a naval museum. Also see the inside of a submarine and aircraft cockpits. $15 per person, $2 for parking. (251) 433-2703. https://www.ussalabama.com/
Infinity Science Center, Pearlington, MS. The center is the portion of the John C. Stennis Space Center that is open to the public. (228) 533-9025. Infinity Science Center. $18 per person. http://www.visitinfinity.com/
Bay St. Louis Historic Train Depot, Bay St. Louis, MS. (800) 466-9048. Mardi Gras Museum, restored historic buildings. http://www.baystlouisoldtown.com/bay-st-louis-historic-depot-visitor-center-museum--displays.html
For information on Casinos along the Mississippi Gulf Coast, please see https://www.gulfcoast.org/things-to-do/casinos/
HOUSTON (about 4-5 hours west of New Orleans)
Houston is a giant, pulsing, wealthy city, a real contrast to New Orleans. Houston’s famous museum district is home to 19 museums, including the Rothko Chapel and the Houston Museum of Fine Arts. Not far from Houston is Clear Lake, home to the Houston Space Center where visitors can board rockets and space shuttles, learn about extraplanetary exploration, and attend lectures by world-famous scientists and astronauts. Along the coast lies Galveston, once a thriving port before the 1900 Hurricane moved commerce inland to Houston. Galveston is home to the Silk Stocking District, a late nineteenth-century neighborhood featuring lavish Victorian homes built during the city’s heyday. Moody Mansion and Bishop’s Palace are both worth a visit. Moody Gardens and the beach, of course, offer relaxing, family-friendly fun.