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Grand Victorian Bed & BreakfastGrand Victorian Bed & Breakfast

New Orleans Food and Wine Experience

New Orleans Food and Wine Festival

Experience the New Orleans Food and Wine Experience May 20-23, 2015.  Now in it’s 23rd year, this nationally recognized festival boasts 52 wineries, 53 restaurants, 24 exhibitors, and 26 special guests – plus numerous special events and seminars spread out over 4 days.

Since its inception, this non-profit festival has raised over 1 million dollars for local non-profit organizations, such as food banks and culinary schools!

Royal Street Stroll - New Orleans

Most events are held in the French Quarter and Convention Center, a 10 minute historic streetcar ride from our New Orleans Garden District bed and breakfast. Except for the Vintner Dinners, which are hosted at restaurants around the city with wine pairings and reasonable price fixe menus. See if your favorite restaurant is on the list, or fall in love with a new restaurant.

New Orleans Festivals

Highlights from this year’s events include:

  • “Grand Tastings” at the Convention Center match New Orleans’ finest chefs with wines from around the world plus the crowning of the “King of Louisiana Seafood” on Saturday.
  • Stroll down Royal Street with the Krewe of Cork and take in the live music, wine offerings in the art galleries, and the beautiful French Quarter architecture.
  • The Big Pastry Competition with burlesque ballroom hosts features pastries paired with champagne and spirits.

So, “Come to Your Senses” and stay with a local who will help you get the most out of your days of eating and drinking good wine at our peaceful Garden District bed and breakfast.

Photo credits: Chris Granger

Girlfriend Getaway in New Orleans

mother daughter getaway New Orleans

Mothers Daughters Sisters and Aunts gather at the Grand Victorian for memorable fun!

Mother’s Day, FestiGals, spring break and college visits are all great reasons for a girls only getaway to New Orleans with great food, toe-tapping music, and a little bit of pampering.  The Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast has some suggestions for a memorable visit to the Garden District and the city that surrounds it.

Anytime of the year, take the streetcar to one of the country’s best zoos, Audubon Zoo.  There are many festivals throughout the year,  free with zoo admission.  Camp out under the Oak trees to enjoy the music or wander around to explore the Jaguar Jungle, the Louisiana Swamp or swim in the new lazy river!

Audobon Zoo

Mother’s Day Concert at Audubon Zoo (photo by nola.com)

Enjoy a delicious brunch before your zoo visit at one of these restaurants on the way to Audubon Park; reservations are recommended. (More brunch suggestions here.)

  • Apolline – an American Bistro amid the Magazine Street boutique shopping mecca
  • Atchafalaya – the make your own Bloody Mary bar is a favorite
  • Patois – you can walk to the zoo from this local hot spot (featured in the HBO series “Treme”)

For a quieter day, pack a picnic lunch and take it to City Park, one of the lushest and largest urban parks in the country.  Home to the New Orleans Museum of Art,  sculpture garden, botanical garden, a plethora of ducks, geese and swans,  and hundreds of live oak trees which make for a memorable afternoon.

You don’t have to walk far from the Grand Victorian to create wonderful new memories.  Take a walking tour of the Garden District’s many historical homes, gardens and cemetery. Afterwards, treat mom to a facial, a massage, or even a pedicure at one of New Orleans many relaxing spas.

Garden District New Orleans

Our Girlfriend Getaway package includes:

A 3-night stay in a deluxe guestroom with period decor

A Guided walking tour for two of the Garden District to include Lafayette Cemetery #1, spectacular architecture, celebrities’ homes, movie set locations, cultural insights and history preservation.

Two 3-day RTA passes for unlimited rides on public transportation (streetcars & buses) to the French Quarter and all other venues in New Orleans.

Two passes to the Audubon Zoo, accessible by streetcar

All enjoyed in luxurious Grand Victorian style with: private & modern bathroom, individual temperature control, cable TV, ceiling fan, robes & slippers to use, iron & ironing board, hair dryer, and modern room amenities. There is an extended continental breakfast served daily, which can also be enjoyed outside on the balcony. Free snacks and bottled water 24/7, parking, and Wi-Fi throughout the house.

The rate for the Girlfriend Getaway package is $800 + tax, based on double occupancy.

** Upgrade this package from a deluxe room to a suite for $975 per  tax, based on double occupancy.**

We would be glad to help you make your stay even more luxurious; ask about arranging a gift certificate to the local Belladonna Day Spa or a picnic basket for your day the park.  The Grand Victorian is your place to relax and make some memorable moments to last a lifetime.

New Orleans Side Trip :: Manchac Swamp

Your New Orleans stay can include so many different types of experiences; some of the best are off the beaten path.  For a good afternoon side trip that ends in a delicious meal; head 40 miles northwest of New Orleans to the historically rich strip of land between Lake Ponchartrain and Lake Maurepas.  Most locals refer to it as Manchac Swamp.

Lake Ponchartrain

Swamp Walk – photo by New Orleans Outdoor Companion

Home to several wildlife management areas, one features a little known boardwalk trail that takes you right out into the swamp where you might catch site of an alligator’s snout, a nutria’s orange choppers or other swamp inhabitants.  For more about what you might see or how to get there click here.

It’s a 5 minute drive from the boardwalk to Middendorf’s, the iconic seafood restaurant that’s been an institution in the local fishing community for over 75 years,   Located right on the water, you can eat on the deck or in one of the two buildings.  It is very family friendly, with a large sandy beach for the kids to play in while you watch the sun go down over the waterfront.

Middendorf's Deck

Middendorf’s Deck – photo by Times Picayune

It’s a nice ride back through the cypress trees and over the lakes to the comfort and ease of the Grand Victorian Bed and Breakfast in the Garden District of New Orleans.  Start planning your New Orleans adventure today!

New Orleans Day Trip – Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery

New Orleans Museum

Whitney Plantation Museum of Slavery

If historic plantation visits are on your New Orleans side trip agenda, there is something new and different for you to experience in plantation country.  Grand Victorian Innkeeper Bonnie Rabe recently toured the newly opened plantation home that is America’s first and only slavery museum.

 I am always interested when a new historic site gets restored and opens to the public. I had met the owner at a Louisiana tourism meeting  and I was especially interested in the focus of this one because it was more than just an historic house tour. To my knowledge, there has never been such a museum dedicated to slavery.

Whitney Plantation is located about 45 minutes west of New Orleans along the Mississippi River.  Originally built by German Ambroise Heidel, it produced indigo briefly, then primarily sugarcane.  Named for the  grandson of a later owner, the Whitney Plantation used over 100 slaves at any given time.

One of the finest lasting examples of Spanish Creole architecture, the plantation house was deemed one of the most important properties on the Mississippi River.  In 1999 the Cummings Family saved it from demolition by purchasing it from a nearby chemical company.

You can view the home and its very unique distinction of having original decorative wall paintings on both exterior and  interior walls.

Spanish Creole Architecture

Rare exterior painting

However, most of the tour is focused on bringing to life the experiences of the enslaved people of Louisiana through authentic oral histories of over 4,000 slaves taken in 1930s.

Antioch Church

Statues of enslaved children in the Antioch church

Exhibits and memorials about slavery were created with artists, scholars and researchers over the past 10+ years and include

  • A Wall of Honor inspired by the Vietnam Veterans memorial that lists thousands of slave names and quotes.
  • The Field of Angels is a quiet courtyard that lists the names of enslaved infants who died in St. John Parish, predominantly before the age of 3.
  • A small chapel and authentic slave cabins, including two original to the property can also give you a glimpse into the everyday lives of slaves.

The property itself was beautiful. But when I left the museum, I had a whole new perspective of this part of our nation’s history. We all learned about slavery, but I never had the opportunity to read actual quotes about their everyday life on an average plantation in the South. Nor had I any idea as to the scope of the numbers of people involved in one small area of Louisiana over those years. Everything here is very well documented and well done. A must-see attraction along the Louisiana River Road!

Tours are offered hourly from 10:00am to 3:00pm, daily except for Tuesdays.

Drive back along the winding Mississippi River and stay with us at the Grand Victorian.  You’ll enjoy the comfort of the modern conveniences after a day of drifting around the past.

 

Mardi Gras: A World Away

Mardi Gras season is here and the parades are about to roll!  If you didn’t make it this year,  put in on your calendar to reserve your spot early for the best show on earth.  We’ll be watching the parades from our doorstep and balcony at the Grand Victorian and some of the best sights are of the parade floats themselves.

Made locally here in New Orleans, you can take a behind the scenes tour at Mardi Gras World and view the artists at work making these beautiful floats year round.

Here are photos Innkeeper Bonnie Rabe took on a recent visit to Mardi Gras World for a first hand look at what you’ll find at one of our top recommended, unique and naturally New Orleans local tours.

Mardi Gras Floats

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Mardi Gras Parade

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mardi Gras Parade

 

Get your crocodile smile on at Mardi Gras World; we’ll be posting more from the floats along the route.  Look forward to seeing you here soon!

 

 

Bicentennial Battle of New Orleans in January

Bicentennial New Orleans Battle

At dawn on the morning of January 8, 1815, a diverse force of soldiers, sailors, and militia, including Indians and African Americans, defeated Britain’s finest white and black troops drawn from Europe and the West Indies in a battle that determined the course of Louisiana and American history.

For all the history buffs, you can experience this once in a lifetime series of living history events and relax at the Grand Victorian after your day of battles.

More than 1,000 re-enactors are expected to commemorate America’s victory over the British in this final major battle of the War of 1812. One of the most amazing things about the Battle of New Orleans is the amount of different people and military groups from different races, social classes, languages, and backgrounds who came together to protect their country and their way of life.

President Andrew JacksonSome of the events of the Bicentennial Battle of New Orleans include:

  • General Pakenham’s Final Supper at the Bourbon Orleans Hotel… ” run after the fashion of a British Mess with period entertainments. Join us in raising a glass to the King and St. George!”
  • Jordan Bankston Noble Memorial Service,  an African American enlisted soldier and drummer of the 7th US Infantry who stayed in New Orleans and is a legend in the Treme neighborhood in which he lived.
  • Re-enactment of the historic address by General Andrew Jackson’s aide-de-camp, Edward Livingston, to rally the troops in defense of New Orleans.” in Jackson Square
  • The Chalmette Living History Park (requires a paid ticket for non-costumed participants).  Activities include: workshop on apparel in New Orleans 1807-1820; historic dance demonstrations; crafts; games and cards at the American Camp and afternoon tea at the British Camp.

Join us in the our Garden District bed and breakfast, a short drive from the battles of 200 years ago.  Rooms are still available for your exciting, informative and completely unique stay in New Orleans.

Battle of 1812

Follow your joy to New Orleans this holiday season

Join us for Christmas New Orleans Style this December! We may not have snow but many things twinkle land delight in the Crescent City for the holidays, and special Papa Noel New Orleans rates at our Garden District bed and breakfast all month long!

New this year, LUNA Fête 2014 will feature the city’s architecture as the canvas for large-scale, awe-inspiring outdoor light installations across the city.  Starting November 30 downtown at the historic Greek Revival Gallier Hall.

Catch even more holiday lights at the Roosevelt Hotel on Canal Street, and our annual favorite: Celebration in the Oaks in City Park.  Traditionally opening the day after Thanksgiving, you’ll enjoy walking and driving through the light displays in the botanical gardens, the train garden as well as the musical events and entertainment for kids.

New Orleans Holiday activities

Cajun Night Before Christmas light display at City Park Celebration in the Oaks

After catching a free concert at St. Louis Cathedral, you may run into General Andrew Jackson, the Baroness Pontalba, Captain Jean Lafitte and other historical characters every weekend in December in the French Quarter.  Get your pipes in tune for Caroling in Jackson Square (songsheets and candles provided) on December 21.

christmas new orleans

Interact with people from New Orleans’ colorful history each weekend.

Reveillon Dinners are a Creole tradition from the 1800’s to “wake up” with a dinner following midnight mass.   Today’s Reveillon is served in restaurants featuring sumptuous holiday feasts at incredible rates.  Some of our neighborhood restaurants are offering 4 course meals at a deal include: Commander’s Palace, Upperline, Brigtsen’s and Martinque Bistro.

Christmas New Orleans Style can also help you find a restaurant open on Christmas and New Years.

Celebrate New Year’s Eve with a New Orleans twist: watch the Fleur de Lis drop in Jackson Square with your new legion of French Quarter friends. Then watch your favorite college football team in the Sugar Bowl on New Year’s Day.

New Orleans holiday dining

“Wake up” to a holiday feast at your favorite restaurant!

There are so many more events including holiday home tours, bonfires along the levee, chef demonstrations, and special Reveillon cocktail creations. Many of these are free to attend.  You can learn more about them here.

Make your Papa Noel New Orleans reservation at the Grand Victorian B&B today and relax under our 14 foot tree with nightly holiday treats and a mug of hot chocolate.  We’ll pop a Christmas New Orleans Style guide in the mail to help you design your perfect New Orleans holiday vacation with us.

 Book Now – Papa Noel Rates starting at $185 per night 

Spend All Hallow’s Eve in Historically Ghostly New Orleans!

Halloween is on a Friday night this year; that means all the ghouls and goblins and silly witches will be thronging the streets of New Orleans looking for a spooky home.  Stay in the historically ghostly Garden District this year; the Grand Victorian is the perfect place to rest after experiencing Halloween in New Orleans!

New Orleans Witches Ball masquerade

Witches Ball masquerade

Within walking distance of our Garden District bed and breakfast is the New Orleans Witches Ball presents La Grand Danse Macabre.  Put on your best witchy costume and spend the evening enjoying food, drink, music, contests and prizes, ritual, and revelry!

The Voodoo Music Experience in City Park is just a streetcar ride away and features headliners  Foo Fighters, Krillex, Ms. Lauryn Hill, Big Freedia, Rebirth Brass Band, Trombone Shorty, the Soul Rebels and more.

Take haunted tours of the French Quarter at night or a haunting and hilarious ghost tour by Friends of the Cabildo with ghost “sightings” in building and courtyards.  Or if that’s too scary,  daytime tours of one of the world-famous above ground cemeteries are a few blocks walk from the Grand Victorian.  There is also a tour geared to kids,  French Quartour Kids will explore why this All Hallow’s Eve became popular and how it has evolved over the years.

Also for young or young at heart, the annual Boo Carre Halloween & Harvest Festival on October 19 in the French Market District will include miniature golf, a photo booth, Halloween crafts, a costume contest, pumpkin painting and much more.

halloween in new orleans

St. Alphonsus Church hosts the Vampire Lestat Fan Club
photo by Enigma Arts

Anne Rice’s Vampire Lestat Fan Club holds its annual Undead Conference with four days of events including  Supernatural Author Panels, book signings, and The Lestat Ball.

Jazz in the Park concert series presents Rebirth Brass Band along with Kermit Ruffins to Armstrong Park. Along with providing great music, Jazz in the Park also features a second line parade, a kids play area and food and crafts from local vendors.

New Orleans Museum of Art will host an outdoor screening of Rosemary’s Baby on October 18 at 7 p.m. in NOMA’s Sydney & Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden.

There is something spooky for everyone.  Enjoy the feasts and the shows and then rest up with us for the next day’s activities.  Book now to reserve your spot in America’s best city for Halloween – New Orleans!

 

Top 5 Things To Do in the Garden District

Garden District

Grand Victorian looks extra grand at night

Tradition, opulence and beauty.  We have it all here in New Orleans’ historic Garden District.  The Grand Victorian sits among the best of 18th century mansions, delightful gardens and an abundance of old world charm in one of the country’s most lovely neighborhoods.

The Garden District was created after the Louisiana Purchase as a neighborhood for new American residents eager to display their wealth by building lavish homes on generous plots of land.  Get a peaceful break from the more touristy areas of New Orleans in this neighborhood that is in bloom 12 months a year.

From the staff at the Grand Victorian, here is our Top 5 list of things to do in the Garden District:

1.  Dine at Commander’s Palace

Always on our list and everyone else’s list is the classy upscale restaurant less than 2 blocks walk from the Grand Victorian.  The secret is to go for lunch and 25 cent martinis or Jazz brunch on the weekends.  Be sure to make your reservation early.

Lafayette Cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery

2.  Tour the Historic Cemetery

Lafayette Cemetery #1 is one of the most well kept of the cemeteries open for tours in the city.  It is across the street from Commander’s Palace.  You can walk around on your own or take one of the free or paid tours from the local certified tour guides.

3.  View the Neighborhood Architecture

Take a slow walking tour of the architecture and gardens of the beautiful and majestic homes.  You can pick up a tour without a reservation mid-morning or early afternoon at the Garden District Bookshop or ask our staff to print the self-guided tour for you to go at your own pace.

Magazine Street Shopping

Magazine Street Shopping

4.  Shop and Eat on Magazine Street

Featuring casual restaurants of every variety, antiques, dessert shops,  jewelry stores, funky gifts shops, and anything you might want, Magazine Street is a six block walk from the Grand Victorian.  This neighborhood shopping mecca runs for a few miles, so you may want to get a bus pass to hit everything on your list.

5.  Take an Anne Rice-inspired walk

If you’re a fan of our native Gothic fiction writer, many of the places that inspired Anne Rice like the Keyhole Door at 1239 First Street as well as some of her previous homes can be found in the Garden District.

 

Don’t forget to sleep in the Garden District with your favorite New Orleans B&B, the Grand Victorian.  A short streetcar ride away from the French Quarter, you’ll never want to stay anywhere else when you come to New Orleans.  Check out our end of summer special deals today!

Insider Tips for the First Time B&B Guest

Ezekial Sawin

You are thinking about trying a bed and breakfast (B&B) instead of a large hotel, but are not sure what is expected when you are a guest in someone’s personal home.  Here are some insider etiquette tips for making the most of your first B&B experience!

  • Most B&B’s have web sites that will tell you about how to make your reservation.   They will likely have items like irons and hair dryers, but check the website for an amenities list or FAQ page to be sure.
  • You can set your own arrival time at a bed and breakfast.  The B&B staff will ask you ahead of time when your plane gets in and wait for you to arrive.   If your flight is delayed, just give the Innkeeper a call, as you would a friend.
  • A B&B is an inn as well as a personal home; is it all right to invite friends over for drinks or breakfast?  Sure, it is usually not a problem, just let the Innkeeper know to plan ahead.

Lactose Free

  • Innkeepers want to provide just the right item for you!  If you are lactose-intolerant or eat gluten-free or sugar-free, be sure to let them know before you come.
  • No one knows the city you are visiting better than a member of the local tourism industry. The innkeeper will be happy to share his/her knowledge of local hot spots and will often send you to places “off the beaten path” that you might not have discovered on your own.
  • Have an afternoon or evening departure? No problem. You can store your luggage and enjoy your last day out if your departure is after the designated check out time.

Antique Furniture

  • Your B&B may be furnished with antiques related to the period of the home.  They help transport you to a bygone era and may require a gentle touch when in use.
  • If you had a great time at the B&B, let others know about it.  Reviews on internet sites are increasingly the best marketing available to small businesses to get the word out.

 

Try the Grand Victorian for your first B&B visit!  We’ll give you all the insider information for having a great time in our Garden District neighborhood, our city of New Orleans, and in our home!