New Orleans on the fly {Have suitcase, will travel}

March 6, 2014

Hubs and I go to NOLA quite a bit. Sometimes we take the kids. It’s only two hours away, which makes it ideal for a night away or even a day trip. Most of our outings to New Orleans are impromptu, to say the least. We typically figure out that we are NOLA-bound at about 1:00 p.m. on Friday and are on the road by 3:00 or 4:00.

Having made this trip so many times over the past several years, I have become well-acquainted with the ins and outs of arranging such travel plans on short notice, so today, I thought I would share with you what I have learned.

Hotel

Obviously, if you’re staying overnight or for the weekend, the first thing you need to figure is where you will be staying. DO glance at the rates before you get in the car and get halfway there. Why? Because, unbeknownst to you, there may be something going on in New Orleans that weekend that you are unaware of that will cause the hotel room rates to be high. (We go so often, one or both of us has usually already looked at which weekends over the next few months are higher. FYI, I’ve checked out the next couple of months and the rates are fairly high until later in April.)

That said, our time frame (as I mentioned earlier) is usually such that I wait until we are settled in the car and on the way to actually book a room. By the time we reach Poplarville, I usually have it nailed down.

I have used a few different booking sites, and I still always compare a few, but these days, I almost exclusively end up booking on Priceline via their Express Deals. Some people like to stay right up in the heart of the French Quarter when visiting New Orleans. We’ve done that, and it’s fine if you’re in the right spot. However, our neighborhood of choice is the Downtown area, just across Canal Street from the French Quarter. The best hotels in New Orleans are in this area, and on many weekends (not a Saints home game, Jazzfest, etc.), you can get a great room at a great price.

A word of caution: I don’t care what the site says a 3 or 3.5-star hotel will be like, don’t even think about it (unless you just absolutely must because you need a room badly and it has to be that weekend). Always choose at least a 4-star in the Downtown Area, and you won’t be disappointed. We have stayed as cheaply as $65/night at the Intercontinental and $79/night at Pere Marquette.

If we are taking the children with us, though, we make an effort to try to stay at Le Pavillon.

Le Pavillon

It is one of the few 4.5-star hotels in the area, so it’s fairly easy to distinguish on a list, even if you can’t see names of hotels, but that’s not why we like to take the kids there. For such a classy, old world hotel, it is so family-friendly, it’s not even funny. First of all, every evening in the hotel lobby, the entire hotel is treated to Peanut Butter and Jelly Hour. Every kind of peanut butter, bread, jams, jellies, and the like that could imagine, served with your choice of hot cocoa (with or without real whipped cream and marshmallows) or cold milk (regular or chocolate).

But here’s another reason we like to give them our business when we are traveling with the kids:

BB riding luggage cart

Yes, you’re seeing that right. That bellman in this 100-plus year old hotel, invited my kids to hop on the swanky brass luggage cart for a ride. All the way from the room to the lobby. (Sissy opted not to ride through the lobby.) Also, one morning, we got up late and missed breakfast. We ate some fruit in the room, and were headed to an early lunch but BB (the 6 year old) was hungry and insisted that he couldn’t wait. A staff member downstairs overheard his predicament and went to the kitchen and came back with a biscuit. Seriously, they know how to handle kids and make them feel at home and just as special as any adult guest.

Roosevelt, Lights

My other favorite place to stay is The Roosevelt. There is so much history in that hotel. You really must go see it even if you stay elsewhere. (It is usually more expensive that the others, so we have only splurged and stayed there once. Hands down, most comfortable bed I have EVER slept on in a hotel.) In particular, if you are in New Orleans at Christmas time, stop by the Roosevelt to see the lobby all decked out in white lights. It’s breathtaking.

Food

There’s so much good food in New Orleans, that one could devote an entire blog to it. I’m sure someone has in fact. It would take years to cover it all.

I’m going to recommend our two standbys.

For dressy and expensive: Galatoire’s, 209 Bourbon Street

BB door 1

The turtle soup at Galatoire is BB’s favorite thing ever. He asks for it all the time. Sissy (age 10) likes the escargot. There isn’t anything on the menu that I don’t like. I tend to gravitate toward their fish and seafood dishes, but if they have a lamb special, I’ll choose that every time.

Yes, the food is great. (Mind you, it’s French creole, not cajun. There’s a difference.) But what really makes it for us is the atmosphere. Unlike most high-end restaurants, it’s not at all stuffy. It’s always festive, never more so than around the holidays, when someone is likely to break out in song every ten minutes or so.

For cheap and casual: The Grill, 540 Chartres Street

30 Camellia Grill Monica MC

We eat breakfast here a lot of times, but we’ve also ducked into the grill for a casual lunch or even supper. Doesn’t matter what time of day it is, this is always just good ole American diner food. At breakfast, I get eggs over easy with fries, then sop the fries in the egg yolk. It’s heaven. Good milkshakes, too.

So, in a nutshell, that’s how we do NOLA.

 

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Me and MC MSWBJenny Mac claims both Oxford, MS and Auburn, AL as hometowns, but for the past ten years has been enjoying the life she and her husband, Noel, have made for themselves in South Mississippi. She writes about family, life as a working mom, things she loves (like college football), things she doesn’t (like revolving doors), and the things she sees God doing in her life and the life of others. You can find Jenny Mac at Crumbs Under the Table.

Kayla White March 6, 2014 at 10:01 am

Can you believe I’ve NEVER been to NOLA?
It’s on my list!

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