New Orleans, LA - part three of the southern states tour
New Orleans, LA - part three of the southern states tour
August 29, 2009
NOTE: Please visit Examiner.com to read part one and two of this series.
This is the final part of our three-stop road trip. We had already been through Alabama with a stop in Montgomery, followed by a stop in Vicksburg, Mississippi. Our final stop, the city of New Orleans, was an unexpected detour which turned out to be a good thing, as we loved New Orleans! Read all about our trip in this three-part series.
Our last stop on the southern states road trip was the "Big Easy" -- New Orleans. When planning a trip, I usually spend hours researching the destination to make sure I am fully educated about where I'm going. This was not the case for New Orleans as we unexpectedly ended up there after our original plans of going up the Delta to Memphis were cancelled due to heavy rains and flooding. Armed with a Rough Guide USA that had a few pages about New Orleans, as well as a guide from the Louisiana visitor's center, we drove to New Orleans.
Based on our previous experiences with La Quinta Inn and Suites in Vicksburg and Montgomery, we decided to see if our GPS knew of any La Quinta's in New Orleans. It came back with a few options and we chose the downtown location. I called to make a reservation and the rate was unexpectedly low - $99/night - that I had some doubts about the area where we would be staying. However, our spontaneity turned out to be really positive. Not only is the hotel a few minutes walk from Bourbon Street, the Aquarium, Harrah's and the waterfront, but it was recently renovated so it seemed brand new! Our bad luck with the thunderstorms turned into good luck in New Orleans.
La Quinta, New Orleans
La Quinta Inn & Suites Downtown New Orleans
The La Quinta Inn and Suites in downtown New Orleans is located on Camp Street. The hotel, like all La Quinta's, offers free wireless internet and free breakfast. Pets are also free (but there may be size restrictions). We saw a few other small-to-medium-sized dogs staying at the La Quinta including a miniature Pinscher and a Schnauzer. Our King suite was on the 7th floor and had great views of the New Orleans skyline. The room featured a new bathroom, a kitchenette area with microwave and refrigerator, and a flat-screen tv. The staff were all friendly -- saying "hello" and "goodbye" every time we walked through the lobby. We couldn't ask for anything better for our accommodations. The streets of New Orleans don't have that many opportunities for dogs -- the streets are compact, there's lots of cars and trams, and there's not too much grass or trees for doggies to do their business. The hotel recommended a "park" area a few blocks from the hotel but it really was a few islands of plants down a pedestrian alley between the Intercontinental hotel and its parking garage. If we had more time in New Orleans (or if I were more prepared) I would have looked for other places to take him. But as it was hot and humid during our stay, he ended up staying mainly in the hotel room while we explored New Orleans. Not something I like to do but we did visit him often.
It was our first time in New Orleans so we did what tourists do -- we went to Harrah's casino (didn't win but only lost $10), the Aquarium, took the ferry to Algiers and of course, walked down Bourbon Street. The daquiris are always spinning on Bourbon Street, and the hustlers are always hustling. We were hassled within a few blocks on Bourbon Street more times than the four years we lived in Amsterdam! The hustlers seemed pretty harmless, for the most part, but it is still annoying. We did enjoy our Sour Apple and Banana daquiris though! My advice would be to walk along Bourbon Street for a bit to see what its like. And if it becomes too much, just head down one of the side streets. We did just that and found lots of small antique stores and a couple of good street musicians. Much nicer and relaxing than Bourbon Street -- but it depends what you are in the mood for!
Two of our relatives work at the Harrah's Casino in Cherokee, NC so we had to check out the Harrah's in New Orleans to see what it's like. It is the largest casino in Louisiana - and it is huge. It was like being in Vegas again! They have lots of slot machines and table games such as Blackjack, Poker, Roulette, Craps and more. The hotel also has many restaurants to choose from so it could be an all-day outing. Dogs aren't allowed, however -- no dogs playing poker here.
After cooling down in the air-conditioned casino, we walked a few blocks to the Aquarium. The Aquarium is a good size and has lots of exhibits. Our favorites were the sea turtles, the otters and the sharks. But they also had frogs, an albino alligator and an owl along with lots of marine animals. It's a great way to spend a few hours while in New Orleans. If we had more time, we would have also gone to the zoo which is also operated by Audubon Nature Institute. They also have a new Insectarium and an IMAX Theatre (which is at the Aquarium). Outside animals, such as dogs, are unfortunately not allowed. Too bad -- I think our dog would like to see some fish!
New Orleans Jazz Walk of Fame
Jazz Walk of Fame, Algiers, New Orleans
We also took the free ferry over to Algiers to see the Jazz Walk of Fame. The ferry departs departs from Riverfront Park, which is next to the Aquarium, every 30 minutes and the journey only takes 10 minutes. We didn't have our dog with us at the time (he was enjoying the a/c in our hotel room!) but I think he would have been allowed on the ferry (didn't see any "no dog" signs, at least). Once you get off the ferry in Algiers, just walk to the right. There is a huge statue of Louis Armstrong that marks the beginning of the Jazz Walk of Fame. The Walk of Fame is made up of lampposts that have the name of the musician on a sign. Some are interactive -- you call the phone number on the sign. You will then hear a bit of history about the musician and a sample of their music. We did this for a couple and it worked fine but it was too hot to do for each one (and not all of them have these features). I didn't know this until afterwards, but you can also download the tour to your mp3 player by visiting www.nps.gov/jazz or the mobile webpage www.myoncell.mobi/15046134062. The lampposts are located off of a pathway that runs along the Mississippi River. It also goes right past Mardi Gras World where they make costumes and the floats for the Mardi Gras parade (and visitors are welcome -- you even get to try on some of the costumes, and of course get some beads!). We did walk all the way to the last marker which was a fairly good walk. It would take about an hour if you were doing the audio tour. The area is dog-friendly as there is lots of grass for your dogs to romp around on -- unlike near our hotel in downtown New Orleans. Next time, we will be sure to take our dog with us!
Even though New Orleans isn't the most pet-friendly city (at least the areas we visited) you should still take your dog with you. I am sure there are pet-friendly shops and parks in the vicinity that we just didn't know about. I do know that dogs are allowed on the porch of Cafe Du Monde which is worth going to New Orleans for! New Orleans has something to offer everyone, and its a city that needs the support of tourism to get things back to normal as there are still a lot of damaged areas from Hurricane Katrina. I can't wait to go back - but will do more research next time!
This was the final part in the three-part road trip series. To read part one - Montgomery, Alabama - click here. To read part two - Vicksburg, Mississippi - click here.