Showing posts with label new orleans. Show all posts
Showing posts with label new orleans. Show all posts
Wednesday, November 6, 2013

What to Do in New Orleans This Weekend for the Cowboys Game

Jackson Square in New Orleans, New Orleans for Families
Jackson Square, March 2013
New Orleans is usually a good idea.

During the summer when it's 98 degrees with 100% humidity?  Not so much.

During football season?  Always.

Visiting New Orleans for a Saints game is a blast.  The city is always alive but the spirit is even livelier when the Saints are playing.  

When they play the Cowboys this weekend it will be electric.  Because of New Orleans' proximity to Dallas/Fort Worth, you will see Cowboys fans throughout the city.  

In fact, some Cowboys employees will fly commercially to New Orleans so the team charter can accommodate the sponsors who will be making the trip.

I will be there with my family and friends celebrating my husband's birthday.  A friend who works for the Cowboys asked me about taking my daughter, Jordan, to New Orleans.  He wondered how the city is for kids.

In a word: FABULOUS.

This will be Jordan's second trip to New Orleans.  We were there in March and had the best time.

Storyland New Orleans City Park
New Orleans for Families
What do you do with a kid in New Orleans?  The same things you do without a kid.  She didn't impact our trip one bit.  She enhanced it.  New Orleans is a great city for families.  Here are some ideas:
Granted, we're not out hanging from balconies in the French Quarter until 4am with a toddler.  We will still visit our favorite restaurants, watering holes and shops, though.  Here are suggestions I share with friends any time they visit the city. 

Hotels - if you don't have a room, you will find the availability sparse and the prices high this weekend:
  • Ritz Carlton Hotel - great location on the edge of the Quarter on Canal.  This is one of the most affordable in the Ritz chain.  My go-to.
  • Marriott on Canal - nice Marriott with a Starbucks in the lobby.  I stayed here during the NBA All-Star Game where I stalked Mark Cuban for an interview outside a men's restroom following the Jason Kidd trade. 
  • International House - great boutique hotel located in the Central Business District.  We stayed here during Mardi Gras.  Very chic.  
  • W Hotel - there is one in the Quarter & one near Harrah's Casino.  Both are "W-esque" but the Quarter location has more charm.  I have stayed at both but prefer the one in the Quarter. 
  • The Saint Hotel - a gorgeous, Marriott-owned boutique offering next to the Ritz.  
  • The Windsor Court - near the casino.  Many NBA teams stay here. 
Restaurants - if you have a bad meal in this city, it's your own fault:
  • Antoine's - claims to be the oldest restaurant in America.  Gorgeous building in the Quarter  that is full of history.  Go, if only to check out the building & see if you can get a tour of the wine cellar.
  • Pelican Club - serves delicious local cuisine, nestled in Exchange Place.
  • GW Fins - popular, local seafood spot in the Quarter which is consistently voted one of the best.
  • Bayona - a foodie fave that is worth the wait, price and more. Located in the Quarter.
  • Nola - in the Quarter near Jackson Square, one of Emeril's more casual spots.
  • Emeril's - popular but good.
  • Gautreau's - located in Uptown.  Great seafood.
  • Vizard's - in Uptown on Magazine, good local cuisine. 
  • Herbsaint - in the Central Business district, serves French-inspired cuisine.
  • Domenica - in the Roosevelt hotel, great pizza & roasted cauliflower.
A classic Pimm's Cup at the Napolean House/Courtesy
Watering Holes - I'm not a bar person anymore but I definitely have some NOLA faves:  
  • Napoleon House - for a Pimm's Cup or Dixie to go.  The bartender, Mario, is quite salty but nice once he knows you. 
  • Bombay Club  - a martini spot in the Quarter that is full of character.  It reminds me of a British smoking club. 
  • Pat O'Brien's - a legend with a legendary patio, piano bar and signature Hurricane cocktail.  Go. If anything just to say you went.  
  • Carousel Bar - in the hotel Monteleone.  The name speaks for itself.
  • Bulldog's - sports bar with an awesome, dog-friendly patio on Magazine.  Get a spicy bloody Mary to go and continue strolling the shops on Magazine. 
  • Lafitte's Blacksmith Shop - in the Quarter.  Is it haunted?  You tell me. 
  • Old Absinthe House - on Bourbon street, see if you can find my business card on the wall.
  • The Sazerac Bar - good cocktails in the Roosevelt Hotel.
  • Bar in the Ritz Carlton - more than anything it's a good scene. 
Pirate's Alley
Lagniappe - a little something extra: 
  • Shopping on Magazine - head Uptown and check out the fun shops along Magazine.  I like Hazelnut (great home stuff), Storyville (cute t-shirts),  Probst decorating (LOVE her fabrics) as well as the slew of antique shops.
  • Saturday Morning at the Frenchmen Art Market - just off the Quarter, fun Farmer's Market vibe. 
  • Antique shopping on Royal Street
  • Cemetery Tours or French Quarter Walking Tour- these are popular.  I have never done one. 
  • Pirate's Alley - the inspiration for 1,000's of street artists.  
These suggestions barely scratch the surface.  Writer Rudy Maxa created an enlightening New Orleans walking tour on iTunes.  It takes you past Jackson Square, Truman Capote's old home and more.  Definitely worth a download. 

If you will be there this weekend, get lost in the French Quarter, have fun, stay safe and don't drive! Taxis are your friend. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

A New Orleans Primer: Where to Stay, Eat & Drink if You're Visiting for Super Bowl XLVII or Anytime

"America has only three cities: New York, San Francisco, and New Orleans.  Everywhere else is Cleveland.”  --Tennessee Williams.

So true.  

Jackson Square, courtesy Nola CVB
If you're heading to New Orleans for Super Bowl XVLII, congratulations.  It is a magical place.  From the architecture, to the history, the food, the people and more there is something to love at every turn.  I adore the Crescent City for big events: Mardi Gras, All-Star Games, Final Fours, BCS Games, etc.  The city knows how to handle the masses, the police officers are experts at crowd control and the proximity of all the facilities that house the events makes it perfect to get around town, even in bad traffic.

New Orleans is one of my favorite weekend getaways.  We take that 10:30 flight on Southwest airlines from Dallas and are enjoying lunch by 12:30 or 1pm.  It's an easy place to visit from Texas, it's super affordable even if you stay at the city's most luxe hotels and is wonderfully walkable.

I visited about five months after Hurricane Katrina in 2006 and have been making at least three to four visits a year ever since.  Here are some suggestions if you're making first trip or your 50th.
Thursday, September 27, 2012

What Says 'Dallas' to You?

The New York Times recently published a great series offering "The History of New York in 50 Objects" inspired by the BBC's radio series "A History of the World in 100 Objects."  The idea was to feature tangible things that capture the essence and history of a city.  New York items such as the ubiquitous MetroCard, the AIDS button, the Greek coffee cup and a bagel all immediately come to mind.

New Orleans Water Meter
New Orleans has things like the fabulous water meter lids.  Las Vegas has casino tokens.  Chicago has pizza.  You get the idea.

What about Dallas?  What captures the essence of our town?

Reunion Tower

Reunion Tower?  That's a building.  Pegasus?  The new Margaret Hunt Hill Bridge?  Sure, they come to mind but they don't quite fit the bill.

A large can of hair spray?  A Neiman Marcus credit card?  Big diamonds?  A Mambo Taxi?  Lee Harvey Oswald's bullet?   

Those pop into my head immediately.  But I struggle to think of something so iconic that truly screams DALLAS.  Can you?

Is it because our city has a branding problem?  Does Dallas have an identity?  You can say it's one of commerce.   Dallas is a relatively friendly environment in which to do business.  I say this coming from a long line of self-made entrepreneurs.  My grandfather was an early real estate developer in  Oak Cliff.  My stepfather had a gallery in Caruth Plaza for years.  My mother still has her boutique residential real estate firm headquartered in Lakewood.  My biological father started and sold an oil and natural gas company in the 70's before the big 1980's Dallas payday that had everyone building ranches in downtown Dallas or buying diamonds by the ton.  You can make a lot of things happen in this town.

But can you name something, a simple tangible object that says "Dallas"?  If you could tell the story of this city through items that represent it, what would be on the list?  A State Fair of Texas food coupon?  A Tolltag?  Help me.
Tuesday, January 26, 2010

A Crescent City Getaway

New Orleans Spanish Street Sign
I love so many of the Spanish influences in New Orleans.

I recently made my 20th trek to New Orleans. Not my 20th overall, my 20th in the last 3 years. I didn't realize it until I started checking back through my Southwest airlines travel history. I've actually been back 27 times since Katrina ravaged the city in August of 2005. I'm officially giving myself expert status!

New Orleans, in my opinion, is the most unique and charismatic U.S. city. It's architecture, food, people, music, lifestyle, even the smells are as close to an old-world European city you will find in the states. It's such a great melting pot. I've run into former mayors, neighbors of mine from Dallas and New York City hedge fund guys who just needed to get away. People seem to let down their guards when they visit New Orleans. Certainly, a cocktail or two might help but when you're there, you almost get a feeling of belonging that is shared among anyone who visits the city.

Those who haven't traveled there since Katrina ask if "it's ok" or "if it's safe". They seem to think FEMA trailers still line Canal street and that looters are hanging outside Galatoire's waiting for diners to leave. In my opinion, it's safer and cleaner than it was pre-Katrina.

I first went back there about five months after Katrina. I stayed at the W Hotel in the Central Business District. THEN were FEMA trailers lining the city. You could still see signs of the flood all over the CBS and French Quarter. There was a distinct water line along the buildings on Canal street. The majority of businesses were still closed. The majority of just about everything from restaurants to hotels and gas stations had yet to reopen. The few places that were open were grateful for the business. At Emeril's eponymous restaurant, the sommelier told of me the wine from the cellar that was floating in ground-level restaurant in the days after the storm. Certainly not a tragedy but definitely a perspective gainer.

I could feel the city's will to rebound from the disaster. I could sense the focus and see determination in the eyes of the people that had come back. I heard stories of those were dead set on returning the city to the magical place it was.

At that point I fell in love. I didn't go back for another year but since then I've done just about everything you can without getting thrown in jail. I've caught beads at Mardi Gras, run a half-marathon, held a cocktail party at my hotel and ate my way through the city without gaining 50 pounds. It's such an easy trip from Dallas' Love Field. Typically, I can get to the airport 30 minutes before my flight and two hours later, I'm having champagne at my hotel.

So these are generally the follow-up questions I get when I tell people I go so frequently: what do you do? where do you stay? where do you EAT? Here you go:

Ritz-Carlton: Typically, I stay here. It's one of the most affordable Ritz-Carltons in the family. I've stayed there for as little as $129/night. It's right on the edge of the Quarter and just across Canal from the CBD. It's beautiful, gracious and smells AMAZINGLY (you'll know what I mean when you get there). Only downside is that there is no pool. The bar gets crowded every night. It's a hotspot. You can enjoy the more subdued Club Level which is offered by every Ritz-Carlton for an added fee. They do five food presentations every day and offer complimentary cocktails. I prefer that because it has more of home vs hotel feel. You can play backgammon in the library while having breakfast or simply read a book in the afternoon after a long day of exploring.

W Hotel, French Quarter: This is such a cute, boutique-like hotel. It's like walking into an actual Quarter residence with the beautiful courtyard. It's small and can get loud at night but a fun little spot. You'll feel like you're staying in someone's Quarter apartment.

W Hotel, CBD: this one is located near Harrah's casino. Looks like an old office-building converted to a hotel. Typical W - very cool. Fun pool

International House: I've stayed here a few times. This is a beautiful Beaux Arts-style boutique hotel in the CBD just a few minutes from the French Quarter. It has a very big-city feel that reminds me of the Dylan Hotel in midtown Manhattan.

The Roosevelt Hotel: This is perhaps the most famous/infamous of New Orleans hotels. The CBD spot reopened this summer after a multimillion dollar renovation. The lobby area is stunning: gilded ceilings, beautifully restored murals and rich hardwood floors. It's an historic preservation marvel. The Sazerac bar is a great scene. It serves period cocktails that are dangerously strong (hello, blackberry julip!). You get a real sense of being transported to a bygone era. It ends there. The room remodels were really disappointing. I stayed there in November, a little more than four months after it opened. The furnishings are cheap, the bathrooms are tiny and the overall feel is more Homestead Suites than Waldorf-Astoria collection Roosevelt. Still there are some good deals to be had at the hotel if you book at the right time. Definitely get a cocktail in the bar.

Some other hotels to consider: Marriott or Sheraton on Canal street, the Renaissance Pere Marquette downtown and the Windsor Court or Lowe's near the Casino.
AVOID: Doubletree near the Casino. I couldn't sleep and stayed up all night at that hotel because the Casino noise was so bad. Our company booked us there for the NBA All-Star game - NIGHTMARE. The walls were so thin, I could here EVERYTHING the person in the next room was doing (Janet had fun that night). I rolled by bag along Canal street at 6am and checked into the Marriott. That particular Doubletree is a rat-hole.