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Top 5 Side trips from New Orleans

If you want the full Southern experience and have an extra day or two, here are a few side trips that you may want to include in your itinerary beyond the French Quarter, Garden District and New Orleans city sites.

1.  Plantations

There are 10 large historic homes west of New Orleans along the Mississippi River.  Each has something special to offer. You can take a leisurely drive and view all the lovely gardens, stopping to tour the ones that appeal to you.  You can also reserve a half day or whole day tour through one of the tour companies that will pick you up from our front door.

http://www.neworleansplantationcountry.com/

Plantation New Orleans

 

If you are really entranced by the plantations, add an extra day to your vacation and travel a few hours north of Baton Rouge to the town of St. Francisville, one-time home of John James Audubon.

 2.  Swamp

Southern Louisiana is swampland.  There are many places where you can touch a wild alligator and hear fantastic tales about life lived in the rugged swampland surrounding New Orleans.  There are several companies that will pick you up  and offer tours on covered pontoons or raucous air boats that skim the water.  If you have a car, you can drive yourself down to Jean Lafitte State Park (40 minutes) and walk the Bayou Coquille Trail into the watery wilderness.

http://www.louisianatravel.com/

 

Biloxi Lighthouse

Biloxi Lighthouse

3.  Mississippi Gulf Coast

Since all of Louisiana’s waterfront property is a swamp, if you need some beach, travel just two hours east of New Orleans and drop down to one of New Orleanian’s favorite spots for R&R – the Gulf Coast.  You’ll find miles of beautiful white beaches, casinos, great food, fishing, boating, history, art galleries, museums, shopping, and much more.

From the small artsy towns of Bay St. Louis and Ocean Springs to the larger destinations of Gulfport and Biloxi, you are sure to find wondrous views, and memories worth the trip.

 http://www.gulfcoast.org/

4.  The Northshore

Head across Lake Ponchartrain, north of New Orleans, for about 45 minutes, and you’ll find yourself in cooler country.  Rent bikes and travel on Louisiana’s only Rails to Trails conversion, the Tammany Trace. Visit the home of famous craft brewery, Abita Beer. Have some outdoor fun along the Tchefuncte River, go antiquing in  Ponchatoula or visit an alligator farm.  You can do all of this and still make it back in time for dinner at your favorite New Orleans restaurant.

http://www.louisiananorthshore.com/

5.  Cajun Country

New Orleans is not Cajun, despite what the rest of the world may think. You’ll need to tack on an extra day to see real Cajun food, music, dance, fun and hospitality a few hours west in the small towns around Lafayette.

Visit a live Cajun radio show at a roadside dancehall in Mamou on a Saturday morning. Take a pontoon boat ride into the Atchafalaya Basin to see nutria, egrets turtles, and alligator floating around the water hyacinths or basking under the cypress trees.  Follow the trail of the Acadians from Nova Scotia to St. Martinville.  Spice up your travels with a trip to Avery Island, the birthplace of Tabasco sauce.

Avery Island

Avery Island

Wherever your travels may take you in southern Louisiana, you’ll find a comfortable rest awaits you at the Grand Victorian B&B.  Schedule your stay with us today!

NBA All Star Game in New Orleans

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Are you looking for lodging near the 2014 NBA All-Star game? Don’t wait to find out who is on the team to get your reservations for the NBA All-Star Game events to be held in New Orleans, February 13-16.  Bring your sweetheart and celebrate Valentine’s Day weekend off the courts with us!

The fan voting results for the All-Star team are not official until January 20, but you can expect to see some of your favorite players and a few surprises taking part in this showcase of events, with top players competing from both the Eastern and Western Conferences.

The weekend activities also feature NBA and the Women’s NBA players and alumni competing in exhibition games including a shooting contest, obstacle course, 3 point competition, and the popular high-flying slam dunk contest.

Terrence Jones and Terrence Ross
(courtesy www.nba.com)

The All-Star Game is on Sunday night, and the halftime show features musical performances by popular artists such as Elton John, Beyoncé, and John Legend.

You can also get tickets to the world’s largest interactive basketball theme park (All Star Jam Session), held at the New Orleans Convention Center. Get your voluntourism experience with the NBA Cares events that give back to the Greater New Orleans community.

New Orleans knows how to do world class sporting events, and all of these experiences are just a streetcar ride away from the Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the historic Garden District.  Join in on the excitement for Valentine’s Day weekend!

Papa Noel Comes to New Orleans this Christmas!

Christmas in New Orleans features a wide array of events for travelers, couples and families alike. From Reveillon Dinners to Caroling in Jackson Square, there is something here for everyone.

Download the Christmas in New Orleans Guidebook to see the entire list of events and activities. We have highlighted a few of the events that we like to experience each year.

St. Louis Cathedral in Jackson Square has concerts almost every night of the week, and you can add your voice to the music with the annual Caroling in Jackson Square on December 16.

Cooking demonstrations, sponsored by our favorite in-room magazine, Louisiana Cookin, are held at the French Market featuring our great local chefs.

Love our architecture? The Preservation Resource Center hosts their annual home tours on December 8 and 9, right in our very own Garden District. This tour is usually a sell-out, so get your tickets and reservations early. French Quarter homes are on tour December 16.

Need some last minute gifts or just want to shop around in a fun relaxed setting? Merriment on Magazine, just a 6 block walk from the Grand Victorian, sponsors festive events on the street and in the shops every weekend in December.

Reveillon Dinners are a transformed “awakening” of the Creole tradition of dinner after Christmas Eve midnight mass. Many of the city’s finest restaurants offer a chance to get a four course meal at a reasonable price.

Don’t forget our Papa Noel rates starting at $165.00 per night plus taxes from December 10-26. We hope to see you under our tree this Christmas season!

TOP 5 FREE THINGS to do in NEW ORLEANS plus a Bonus FREEBIE!

Free events and free things are not only for incoming students, but for everyone. There are many fun and interesting ways to enjoy New Orleans that don’t cost a thing!BONUS FREEBIE:  We have a free Night’s Stay at the New Orleans’ Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast: BUY TWO NIGHTS & GET THE THIRD NIGHT FREE. Offer expires Sept. 27, 2012. Check our Online Reservations Book and select your dates now for one last summer vacation!
1. Historic Cemetary:  Lafayette Cemetary is the city’s first planned cemetary and has been in use since 1833. Two blocks from our New Orleans Bed and Breakfast, you can wander among the historic tombs and trees during the day for free.

2. Mississippi River:  Catch the Free Algiers Ferry at the end of Canal Street next to the Aquarium for your own “riverboat” ride across the mighty Mississippi to the colorful neighborhood of Algiers. One of the best views of the French Quarter awaits you from the opposite shore.

Downtown view from the Algiers Ferry

3. Sculpture Garden:  Accessible by streetcar and next to the New Orleans Museum of Art at City Park, is the Sidney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.  It features a serene walk amid the sculptures, you might even spy a yoga class.  On Wednesdays, entrance to the Museum is also free.

Reflection pool at the Sculpture Garden

4. Brewery Tour:  Every Friday afternoons, the local beer brewery, NOLA Brewing has free tours starting at 2pm. Great way to kick off the weekend.

5. Jazz, Brass and Funk:  Several hot spots in the French Quarter and the Faubourg Marigny offer free music that you can enjoy as you stroll the streets or stop in to have a good long listen.

Three June Festivals in One New Orleans Historic Weekend

Tomatoes, Seafood and Zydeco: this festival trio (June 9-12, 2012) celebrates the early summer harvest bounty of the New Orleans region. The festivals are held at the same time and in the same location, the French Market District, 8 blocks along the Mississippi River from Jackson Square to Esplanade Avenue, a quick ride from our Garden District B&B via the historic St. Charles Avenue streetcar.

Historic St. Charles Avenue Streetcar by Garden District B&B

 

The French Market’s Creole Tomato Festival heralds the arrival of New Orleans’ favorite summer vegetable. The New Orleans secret behind what makes a tomato a Creole is only realized through the local culture. And what makes this festival a local favorite are the life size tomatoes strolling the grounds handing out tomato shaped fans and the annual auction of the first tomatoes of the season to local chefs for charity!

 

Garden District B&B

The Louisiana Seafood Festival is held at the Old U.S. Mint (Esplanade Avenue) and features delicious dishes from local restaurants. It celebrates the family businesses that provides most of the shrimp, oysters, crab, crawfish and alligator to the rest of the U.S. (By the way, it’s the beginning of shrimp season too!)

 

Garden District bed and breakfast

 

The sixth annual Louisiana Cajun-Zydeco Festival has three stages (also at the Old U.S. Mint), cooking demonstrations, a large crafts fair with handmade jewelry and art, and some of the best Cajun and zydeco artists in the state.

Some of the artists this year include:

 C.J. Chenier & the Red Hot Louisiana Band

Geno Delafose & French Rockin’ Boogie

Rosie Ledet

Nathan and the Zydeco Cha Chas

The Lost Bayou Ramblers

Sunpie & the Louisiana Sunspots

Bruce Daigrepont

Dwayne Dopsie & the Zydeco Hellraisers

 

Come out and enjoy all three festivals for delicious Louisiana food, music and fun! Two-step your way down to our Garden District Bed and Breakfast to relax after feasting and frolicking along the old Mississippi River.

 

 

 

Fodor’s Choice 2011 – Grand Victorian

Fodor’s, the leading name in travel information, today announced that the Grand Victorian B&B has been recognized as a 2011 Fodor’s Choice selection. This distinction designates the Grand Victorian as a leader in its field for service, quality, and value in the 2011 year.

 

Fodor’s travel, founded in 1936 by Eugene Fodor, is currently celebrating it’s 75th anniversary. The editors and experts of Fodor’s have been selecting only the top fifteen percent of their listed properties and activities as Fodor’s Choice award recipients since 1988. Every year, Fodor’s writers experience, examine and evaluate thousands of hotels, restaurants and attractions in their travels across the globe. While every business included in a Fodor’s guide is deemed worth a traveler’s time, only those offering a truly remarkable experience are given the Fodor’s Choice designation.

 

For 75 years Fodor’s has presented travelers with the very top recommendations from hidden-away restaurants to can’t-miss museums, to make sure they’re making the most of their travels. The 2011 Fodor’s Choice recipients are the best of the best, providing a remarkable experience in their price range or category.

 

As a 2011 Fodor’s Choice property the Grand Victorian will receive special recognition in the next Fodor’s guidebook to the New Orleans area and on www.Fodors.com.

 

Lights! Camera! Action! Only in New Orleans!

New Orleans is both a premier destination for tourists and for the stars. There’s always a camera filming the action New Orleans has to offer. From HBO’s drama series Treme, which follows New Orleans after Katrina, to the story of Disney’s newest princess, Tiana, in Princess and the Frog, every type of story has been told with New Orleans’ rich culture.

 

Around the corner from the Grand Victorian is the famous house featured in The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. The inn offers the ideal package to allow you to relax and experience New Orleans at its finest. For three nights, pamper yourself dining at the famous Commander’s Palace, walk through the Garden District where you can witness the Benjamin Button mansion, and ride all day long on New Orleans streetcar. All this and memories that will last a lifetime can be yours when booking at the Grand Victorian.

 

The Big Easy always puts on a production for everyone who visits. Whether you want to live like the cast of the Real World: New Orleans who loved to hang out at the Boot or catch a glimpse of Jonah Hill and Channing Tatum as they film 21 Jump Street, star in your own film with the help of New Orleans.

The Circus Comes to New Orleans

It all began in 1884 when five brothers joined together to create what has become the greatest show on earth. The Ringling Brothers have been touring the country for over a century and exhibit the most exotic animals and performers.

 

New Orleans is lucky enough to feature this performance at the New Orleans Arena from Thursday, June 16 through Sunday, June 19 for seven exciting shows. Witness the excitement of the circus that has captured the hearts of Americans for the past century.

 

The Ringling Brothers Circus features Arabian horses, the big cats from the jungle, and the famous bulls, better known as elephants. Watch as performers fly across the arena, flip over elephants, and pile out of cars. After the show, become apart of New Orleans’ very own spectacle on Bourbon Street and the French Quarter.

Our Favorite King Cake Recipe

“If you’re stuck in an elevator [in New Orleans], you could make conversation with anyone about one of the three Fs: food, fishing and football.” Richard McCarthy, executive director that oversees local farmers markets, captures the essence of New Orleans. We may not be in football season or fishing season, but there’s always something cooking in the Big Easy. You can’t visit New Orleans without tasting the best of every cuisine. The city hosts over 1,500 restaurants that will please any palette.

As Fat Tuesday approaches, King Cakes have been flying off the shelves. The frosted purple, yellow, and green cake reminds everyone that the Mardi Gras festivities are approaching. Named after the biblical three kings, the cake hides a small trinket to symbolize baby Jesus. The person who receives the piece with the trinket inside is responsible for bringing the next King Cake. Bring a King Cake to your next meeting, class, or dinner party following our favorite recipe!

 

The Grand Victorian’s King Cake

Ingredients:

Dough

               1/4 cup butter

               1 (16 ounce) container sour cream

               1/3 cup sugar

               1 teaspoon salt

               2 (1/4 ounce) envelopes active dry yeast

               1 tablespoon white sugar

 

               1/2 cup warm water (100 to 110 degrees)

               2 eggs

               6 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

 

Cream Cheese Filling

               2 (8 ounce) packages cream cheese, softened (16 ounces total)

               1 egg

               3/4 cup sugar

               1/8 teaspoon salt

               2 teaspoons vanilla

 

Colored Frosting

               3 cups powdered sugar

               3 tablespoons butter, melted

               3 tablespoons milk

               1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

               2 drops green food coloring

               2 drops yellow food coloring

               2 drops blue food coloring

               2 drops red food coloring

 

Colored sugars

               1 1/2 cups white sugar

               2 drops green food coloring

               2 drops yellow food coloring

               2 drops red food coloring

               2 drops blue food coloring

 

Directions:

Prep Time: 1 3/4 hrs

Total Time: 2 hrs

1.             1 Cook first 4 ingredients in a saucepan over low heat, stirring often, until butter melts; Cool mixture to 100 degrees to 110 degrees.

2.             2 Dissolve yeast and 1 tablespoon sugar in 1/2 cup warm water in a large bowl; let stand 5 minutes; Add butter mixture, eggs, and 2 cups flour; beat at medium speed with an electric mixer 2 minutes or until smooth; Gradually stir in enough remaining flour to make a soft dough.

3.             3 Turn dough onto a lightly floured surface; knead until smooth and elastic, about 10 minutes; Place in a well-greased bowl, turning to grease top; Cover and let rise in a warm place (85 degrees), free from drafts, 1 hour or until doubled in bulk.

4.             4 Using an electric mixer, mix cream cheese until smooth; Add egg and blend well; Add sugar, salt and vanilla and mix until smooth and creamy; Set aside.

5.             5 Punch dough down; divide in half; Turn 1 portion out onto a lightly floured surface; roll to a 28- x 10-inch rectangle; Spread half each of cream cheese mixture on dough; Roll dough, jellyroll fashion, starting at long side; Place dough roll, seam side down, on a lightly greased baking sheet; Bring ends together to form an oval ring, moistening and punching edges together to seal; Repeat with remaining dough and cream cheese mixture.

6.             6 Cover and let rise in a warm place, free from drafts, 20 minutes or until doubled in bulk.

7.             7 Bake at 375 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden.

8.             8 Decorate with bands of Colored Frostings, and sprinkle with Colored Sugars.

9.             9 COLORED FROSTINGS: Stir together powdered sugar and melted butter; Add milk to reach desired consistency for drizzling; stir in vanilla; Divide frosting into 3 batches, tinting 1 green, 1 yellow, and combining red and blue food coloring for purple frosting.

10.          10 COLORED SUGARS: Place 1/2 cup sugar and drop of green food coloring in a zip-top plastic bag; seal; Shake and squeeze vigorously to evenly mix color with sugar; Repeat procedure with 1/2 cup sugar and yellow food coloring; For purple, combine 1 drop red and 1 drop blue food coloring before adding to remaining 1/2 cup sugar.