Need stuff to do? We’ve got you covered.
Cafe du Monde (and Jackson Square): For beignets (you’re going to end up with powdered sugar on you) and cafe au lait, Cafe du Monde is the iconic destination (but you can get the fried doughnuts at Cafe Beignet as well if you want a less hectic place to get your fix). … And for street performers, tarot readings, paintings, fast artist-drawn caricatures of yourself. … St. Louis Cathedral dominates Jackson Square. It’s not just historic and beautiful, be aware it’s a real church, so be reverent. … Also here is the Cabildo, a stunning Spanish Colonial building where you can see one of four of Napoleon’s death masks and view a film that details the Battle of New Orleans.
Central Grocery: Made the muffaletta sandwich famous.
Street cars: Have exact change of $1.25 or get Jazzy Passes.
Rock N Bowl: A short cab ride to bowling and music and fun.
Places to go
The National World War II Museum: A sprawling complex that continues to grow and astound. … The project began as the D-Day Museum, inspired by the flat-bottom boats that were the primary landing craft in Normandy, with Andrew Higgins and his New Orleans company (which built flat-bottom boats for the swamps). Under the influence of author Stephen Ambrose and coinciding with the opening arriving at the time many of The Greatest Generation are dying, the museum has broadened its scope. Ambrose’s works concentrated on relaying the intimate stories of the participants in the war. The museum has tried to capture as many of those voices and tell those stories as possible and has actively sought out to record those stories as a core mission.
Want a real thrill? Volunteers painstakingly rebuilt a PT Boat. And you can schedule a ride on Lake Ponchartain. This is the only operational PT Boat in the world. (If you remember your history books, you may remember John Kennedy and PT-109.) Just the thought of it is so bad ass. http://pt305.org/
Aubodon Aquarium of the Americas is downtown and a short walk from the hotel. This celebrates the aquatic world of Louisiana, from the coast to bayous and the Mississippi River, and the greater ocean world (penguins, you might imagine, are not indigenous to Louisiana). … Also, there is a sweet parakeet addition. Make sure you don’t pocket one on the way out.
Children’s Museum in the Warehouse District. Medium walk/easy cab ride from the hotel.
Audubon Zoo in Uptown: Animals. And the Cool Zoo, a water park where the young folks can cool off.
Mardi Gras World: See floats, celebrate carnival year-round in the Warehouse District. Medium walk or easy cab ride from the hotel.
Chalmette Battlefield/Jean Lafitte National Historic Park and Preserve: The Battle of New Orleans was fought here in 1815, as the last significant action of the War of 1812. … This is out of the city. A car rental or a trip on the riverboat paddle wheeler Creole Queen is recommended.
Riverboat rides: Steamboat Natchez, Creole Queen. There are dining options and there are scenic options to historic areas. … You can walk down to the river and hop on.
Swamp tours: These can be arranged. Get on an airboat if you want. Or a canoe. Or a kayak.
Plantation tours: The River Road has plenty of historic houses, some can be on Riverboat rides, others are on bus trips. Or you can rent a car and go as you please.
Fishing trips: You can charter plenty of action: Gulf, lake or bayou.
Bike trips: There are plenty of bike rentals, and there’s even a culinary bike tour. Word of caution: The roads in a 300-year-old city have the occasional pothole, so be careful out there.
Go Karts: NOLA Motorsports Park (nolamotor.com) in Avondale has a fabulous track for Go Karts. If you want to crank up a Go Kart to 70 MPH, here is your place. … And should you have driven into NOLA and you want to see how fast you can get your family sedan to go, you can put it on the main track that once staged an IndyCar race. Yep, you can do that.
Bus tours of the city. A good way to see the spots.
OH, YEAH, CRUISES
New Orleans is a port city. You can get on one of those big boats and float away. Make sure your passport is in order.
If you didn’t know, well, now you know:
Snug Harbor, Preservation Hall, Spotted Cat, Three Muses, Davenport Lounge, Fritzel’s European Jazz Club, Irvin Mayfield’s, Julius Kimbrough’s, Little Gem, Palm Court
The PGA’s Zurich Classic is played at TPC Louisiana in Avondale.
City Park just opened Bayou Oaks Golf Course in mid-April. Yes, it’s that new.
English Turn is a Jack Nicklaus-designed course.
Harrah’s Casino: Place your bets.
Royal Street (in the French Quarter): Royal is one street below Bourbon Street, so to speak. Plenty of antique shops, artsy shops. This is also an easier walk down toward Jackson Square without being so bar-oriented as Bourbon.
Magazine Street goes through the Garden District and Uptown and hosts incredible shopping and restaurants. You’ll have to do your homework, especially if you want to chart a course that would be walkable, but the trip could be worthwhile.
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk opened in May 2014 (repurposing the Riverwalk that had been sputtering since its heyday in the 80s and 90s). Coach, Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom’s are among the headliners.
MINOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
The Baby Cakes, the Triple-A affiliate of the Miami Marlins, play at, ahem, the Shrine on Airline, not far from where many of you will land at the airport. … They are way out in Metairie, and calling the stadium a “Shrine” seems like a grandiose statement. … The Baby Cakes are home to play Colorado Springs from June 22-25, ending that home stand the day before the conference begins. If you’re here before the conference and baseball is your thing, this is an option for you.
WHAT ELSE IS GOING ON (BEFORE AND AFTER THE CONFERENCE)?
Essence Music Festival
This is June 30-July 3, following right on the heels of the APSE summer conference. Here are some of the headliners to the lineup: Diana Ross, John Legend, Mary J. Blige, Chance the Rapper, Jill Scott, Chaka Khan, India.Arie, Trombone Shorty, Mystikal and Doug E. Fresh. … Other than JazzFest, EssenceFest is one of the bigger music festivals that New Orleans hosts, with the Superdome as the main stage. … Also, the Convention Center in the Warehouse District hosts exhibitions.
June 24-25: Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival in Louis Armstrong Park. … Bring your washboards and get some of this action. Visit cajunzydecofest.com for more details. This is a must for you if you understand “les haricots son verts” and can play bourre.
Biloxi/Mississippi Gulf Coast
You can opt to visit the casinos/resort hotels of Biloxi (and Gulfport) in the days before or after the conference. It’s a quick, easy ride from New Orleans.
Casinos and golf
The Beau Rivage, Golden Nugget, Hard Rock and Harrah’s are some of the best casino resorts of the area. … And if you are a golfer, you’ll have your pick of courses.
Minor league baseball
The Biloxi Shuckers, the Double-A affiliate of the Milwaukee Brewers, plays in recently opened MGM Park, with the Beau Rivage as a backdrop. The Shuckers are home June 22-26.
A ferry ride to Ship Island, occupied by Fort Massachusetts, from Gulfport is a good day in the sun for those craving a beach day. … Unless you want to drive all the way to Alabama, this is the best stop. Louisiana has no beaches, just plenty of coastal erosion.
June 23: Paul Anka at the IP Casino
June 24: Vince Neil of Motley Crue at the Hard Rock
June 30: Bush at the IP Casino
June 30: Lynyrd Skynyrd at the Beau Rivage