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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!

When is the Best Time to Visit New Orleans?

French Quarter

Spring in the New Orleans French Quarter

You are thinking about that long-awaited journey to New Orleans, but can’t decide on when to come.  Do you like crowds or quiet balconies? Parades or garden tours?  Festivals or concert halls?  Here are a few tips from the Grand Victorian staff to help you decide.

SUMMER for the amazing deals

Summer is hot and so are the special deals you can find to design that economical vacation or stay-cation to enjoy all that the city has to offer.  COOLinary menus allow you to try 2 and 3 course lunches and dinners for low prices.  The festivals continue with Creole Tomato, Cajun-Zydeco, Essence, Satchmo and weekly free summer music offerings in our incredible parks.  The Grand Victorian also offers great summer rates for a cool respite after your sizzling summer days.

MARDI GRAS for the bucket list

You have to experience it at least one time in your life, and we can help you make it the experience you will enjoy.  There are many ways to experience Mardi Gras – parades, costumes, family picnics and ribald entertainment from the masses.  We do Mardi Gras family style in the Garden District, where our home is right on the parade route for over 50 parades during the two-week season.  When you’re tired of the crowd, just jaunt over to the porch to enjoy the pageantry from afar.  It is usually during February or March, check the calendar as the date changes every year.

Mardi-Gras

SPRING for the music festivals

If you love the live local music like we do, then April is for you!  French Quarter Festival and Jazz Festival are the weekends we enjoy most in the city.  An abundance of musical talent on 10 or more stages plus an over-abundance of restaurant food tasting choices can tempt even the most solitary traveler.  Make the festival one of your own design by choosing which musical acts to enjoy or which food booth to park your chair near.  Great spring weather added onto these elements make spring the easy choice for your next New Orleans vacation.

 

The Grand Victorian tends to book early for Mardi Gras and the spring festivals, but we always have good deals in the summertime!  Make this historic New Orleans bed and breakfast your home away from home this year!

Celebrate the Cocktail with your favorite B&B in the Garden District

Bartenders and spirits professionals are celebrated in New Orleans this month as we proclaim,  “All Hail the Cocktail,”  the official theme of the 2014 Tales of the Cocktail®.   TOC-2014WEB-TicketsOnSale   The world’s premier cocktail festival happens right here in New Orleans July 16-20 and features a “spirited” array of activities for the professional mixologist as well as the enthusiastic imbiber. Most of the events take place in hotels in the French Quarter, a quick streetcar ride from our Garden District Bed and Breakfast. Some of the spectacular events include  “Spirited Lunches and Dinners” which pair cocktails with meal courses, A Royal High Tea – Prohibition Style, cocktail tours, a Texas Tiki Throwdown, aWorld Cup Cocktail event, a Taming the Hurricane competition and many many more.

The Sazerac started it all!

The Sazerac started it all!

Get your tickets to this intoxicating festival soon and while you’re at it make reservations to stay at our historic Garden District B&B.  We’ve got a great summer deal for weeknight rates; mention Tales of the Cocktail when you book four or more nights and we’ll extend it through the weekend!

Top 5 Jazz Brunches

When it comes to food and music, nobody does it like New Orleans. Put the two together on a mid-morning weekend and it’s the creation of perhaps your most memorable meal in our culinary utopia. Here are our Top 5 recommendations for Jazz Brunches.

jazz brunches

Commander’s Palace Garden Room
Photo Source: Wikicommons

Commander’s Palace

Walk two blocks to our number one recommendation.  Brunch here features a special menu and Live New Orleans Jazz by the Joe Simon’s Jazz Trio. Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Cafe Atachafalya

Live music and a Bloody Mary Bar are the highlights at this uptown favorite.  Enjoy brunch Saturdays and Sundays.

 

Arnaud’s

A tradition in the French Quarter, Sunday only brunch offers Dixieland Jazz and a four-course prix-fixe menu.

 

Palace Café

Build your own mimosa and enjoy Sunday brunch with live music at this class restaurant in the French Quarter.  Sundays only.

 

House of Blues

Wait a minute; that’s not Jazz!  Some of our guests like things a little different from everyone else.  If this is you, try a Gospel brunch and get some praise on for your Sunday exhilaration vacation.

 

 

It’s summertime; so don’t forget to check out our special rates for that last minute getaway or stay-cation at our historic Garden District Bed and Breakfast.

Answers to your burning questions about the Grand Victorian B&B

To save you  a little time, help you decide what to bring and how to spend your time in New Orleans, here is quick list of what our guests usually want to know about staying at the Grand Victorian B&B.

1.  Is there a shower in every room?  

YES.  All rooms have a bathtub with a shower head, except for Evergreen which has a shower only.  The suites have a jacuzzi tub with wall-mounted hand held attachments for the shower.

2.  How far from the French Quarter are you?  

27 blocks. It is 15 minutes by the convenient historic streetcar which will pick you up directly in front of our house for $1.25.  A taxi cab down to the quarter will take about 10 minutes and costs about $8-10.  You can often flag a cab down on the street or we can call one for you.

3.  How far from the airport are you?  

We are about 30 minutes drive by taxi.  The airport shuttle service does not usually come to smaller properties like B&Bs.  The city has a set fee of $33 for 2 people to and from the airport.  We have a taxi service that we recommend if you are interested.

Streetcar in New Orleans

Streetcar in front of Grand Victorian B&B

4.  Do I need to rent a car?

NO.  Most of your travel stops are accessible by streetcar or by taxi; tour companies can pick you up at our door for day trips.  The streetcar has posted stops about every 2-3 blocks; look for a yellow post.  They travel by every 10-20 minutes and once an hour after 10 pm.  The cost is $1.25 each time you get on and we sell day passes for $3.00.  You can use the passes on all public transportation options such as the Canal Street streetcar to City Park or the Magazine Street bus for shopping. The only time our guests use a car is when they are independently touring outside of the City or in the suburbs. Otherwise if they have/arrived in a car, they leave it parked for free on the street for the duration of their stay here.

5.  How close is Commander’s Palace?

The world famous restaurant is 1.5 blocks walking distance from the Grand Victorian.

6.  Where should we go eat?

There are so many great restaurants; it is difficult to choose just one place to go.  It will depend on what part of town you will be in for lunch, brunch or dinner. What southern specialties are you hoping to try:  po-boys, etouffee, beignets, gumbo, etc.   Our staff will happily make recommendations based on what your particular interests are.  You can also read up on New Orleans restaurants in a wide variety of online publications for something that might peak your interest.

7. Are all of the rooms upstairs?

NO. There are 2 rooms on the first floor: Rosedown and Oak Alley. The 2 suites and additional 4 rooms are on the second floor. (Also note that Oak Alley is ADA compliant.)

8. Do you serve a full Southern breakfast?

NO. Due to current laws in New Orleans connected to our license from the City, a B&B can only serve pre-prepared food made elsewhere. We set up an extensive continental breakfast daily over a 2 hour window so that our guests can come down whenever they would like to eat. There is always a hot item that is prepared upon request daily in addition to a varied selection of other things: fresh pastries,  hard boiled eggs, bread, fresh fruit cups du jour, and a variety of cheeses, yogurt and cereals of many sorts. Most guests compliment us on our wide selection of different items daily and always find just what they want to start their day and satisfy them until their lunch restaurant selection.

We hope you’re convinced that the Grand Victorian B&B is the right place for your next vacation.  Still have questions?  Check out the FAQ page on our website and then make your reservation today!

 

 

 

Top 5 Jazz Fest Foods 2014

 

Cochon de lait po boy

Cochon de lait po boy

There are over 65 food booths at the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival; it can make it hard to decide what to eat. As the staff of our New Orleans Bed and Breakfast attend and sample the food booths every year, we are sharing our Top 5 Jazz Fest Food selections with photos taken from last weekend’s feasting.

1.    Cochon de Lait Po-Boy from Love at First Bite Caterers. (See photo above) A must have item at least once per weekend!! While the main ingredient of this po-boy is the pork (cochon is roasted suckling pig), this Cajun treat’s highlight is its extras. It is dressed with cabbage and creamy Cajun sauce. The combo of tastes are wonderful. Make sure you pick up lots of napkins before you walk away with this one!

2.   Crawfish Strudel from Coffee Cottage.  There are many crawfish dishes on the grounds, but the the light and flaky pastry shell that makes this one my all time favorite crawfish dish in the world.  It’s savory, not sweet, but they also have the white chocolate bread pudding at this booth.

Crawfish streudel and white chocolate bread pudding

Crawfish streudel and white chocolate bread pudding

3.   Spinach Artichoke Casserole, Seafood Au Gratin, Sweet Potato Pone from Ten Talents Catering. This plate has veggies, a rarity in the Jazz Fest diet, plus a slightly sweet dessert. It also has the additional factor of being easy to eat while traveling between stages.

4.   Crawfish Sack, Oyster Patty, Crawfish Beignets from Patton’s Caterers. The sacks are thin crepes filled with a wonderful crawfish etouffee, tied at the top w/ a green onion & the entire thing gets quick fried until the outside is crispy. The crawfish beignets are a non-sweet adaptation for the traditional delicacy deep fried, bite-sized crawfish bread balls served with a tasty but light remoulade sauce; fabulous.

 

Crawfish Sack, Oyster Patty, Crawfish Beignets

5.   Guil’s Gators from Sharon and Guilherme Wegner. If you want to try an alligator dish, my friends Sharon and Guil don’t run a restaurant anymore, but every year they make these fried alligator bits with jalapenos and onions. They are great tasting and not too spicy or gamey. 

Don’t forget to get seek out the Rosemint herbal iced tea  or strawberry lemonade at Congo Square to wash it all down.

It’s not too late!  There is one more weekend of Jazz Fest, and we have a last minute availability for any 3 nights between April 30 and May 4.  Check our reservations page for your last minute getaway to the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival!

 

 

 

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!

Should I Stay in a B&B or a Hotel?

You’re traveling to New Orleans, and you have heard about all the incredible architecture and beautiful historic homes.  You’ve never stayed in a bed and breakfast before and are wondering … should I?

Here is a simple break down between hotels and bed and breakfast inns to help you decide.

Grand Victorian B&B

Average hotel room in U.S.

Hotels

  • Often located near a major airport or roadway for convenient commuting.
  • Usually associated with a corporation for a consistent look.
  • Designed for large groups that may not require personal touches.
  • Large scale staff and round the clock service.
  • Most charge for using many of the amenities, such as parking, buying snacks, bottled water, certain television channels, etc.
  • Appeals more to the cautious traveler looking for a convenient location and a high level of services available at all times.

 

Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast

Evergreen Room at the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast

Bed and Breakfast:

  • Often located near a natural landmark or tourist destination and in an historic residential neighborhood.
  • Often have fewer rooms in a converted historic property with furnishings suggesting to the era of the building.
  • Usually independently owned and operated; each inn and each room within each inn is different.
  • Offers a more personal  “home away from home” experience, with comfortable spaces for family and friend conversations.
  • Smaller group of staff members who are generally “locals” who offer insider tips for activities.  They leave the inn periodically for supplies and appointments, so may not offer a 24 hour front desk.
  • Most offer free amenities such as breakfast, internet access, snacks, water, television, parking.
  • Appeals more to the adventurous traveler wanting the locals experience away from the busy part of the city.

 

If you still have questions, we shatter the Top 5 myths about staying at a bed and breakfast here.  

Hope this helps you decide which lodging option is the best for your needs.  And if you decide on a B&B, we think you should choose the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast.  You won’t be disappointed.

 

How to choose a room at the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast

Once you’ve decided to forgo the sterile hotel for the interesting B&B, how do you choose among the variety of rooms to meet your special needs. The Innkeepers in New Orleans proclaim there are “Two Hundred Rooms; No Two Alike.”  We may be biased, but we believe the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast is the best place to stay in New Orleans. Our Garden District bed and breakfast offers eight unique rooms, all named after local plantation homes.  Here are some suggestions from the Grand Victorian staff on finding just the right room for you.

best place to stay in New Orleans

If you are planning a romantic getaway, then the Nottoway Suite is for you.  Separated from the rest of the house by an extra doorway and stairwell,  Nottoway is known as our honeymoon suite and is popular among our New Orleans elopement couples.   If you prefer one of our deluxe rooms, the deep hues and bay windows of the Shadows Room are also a favorite with couples.

For a quiet place to read and rest, the two rooms farthest from the street are Destrehan and Magnolia.  You can still hear some of the rattle of the streetcar, but these century-old thick walls drown out most everything else.

If you are traveling with a third person or would like to sleep separately (all rooms have only one bed), we have several rooms that are large enough for a rollaway cot:  Oak Alley, Greenwood, Magnolia, Evergreen and Nottoway. Please note that we go to great lengths and many layers to create a comfortable bed here. Our rollaway mattresses simply cannot compare, but are available as a convenience.

End your day with a long hot bath in one of our suites, Greenwood or Nottoway.  Each have large European style jacuzzi bathtubs good for a soak with wall-mounted handheld attachments for a shower.   All of our rooms have bathtubs with showers except for Evergreen which has a shower only. If you are a vintage buff,  try the old cast iron tubs in Rosedown,  Shadows, or Destrehan.

Don’t like stairs?  We have two rooms on the first floor:  Rosedown and Oak Alley, plus a ramp that leads to the front door.  Rosedown houses our “Princess and the Pea” bed because it is high and requires bed stairs to climb in. Oak Alley is ADA compliant with an accessible bathroom and low queen size bed. Also note that our Nottoway suite has an extra and private set of stairs that takes you down into the room. Because it was added onto the back of the original house in the 1940s, the ceiling height below is not the same 14′ ceilings as the rest of the house.

Are you a tall traveler (over 6 feet)?  Then choose one of these rooms without a high footboard on the antique beds:  Rosedown, Greenwood, Magnolia, Shadows, Destrehan or Nottoway.

New Orleans lodging

The Shadows Bed has plenty of leg room.

Girlfriends traveling together would appreciate the roomy bathroom of the Magnolia room or the expansive window bench in the Evergreen Room, good for sitting, reading, talking or spreading out your stuff. Both spots also comfortably fit a rollaway in case you don’t want to share a bed or you are a group of three.

For taking in the street scene, choose one of the suites with private balconies.  The Greenwood Suite overlooks the streetcars along St. Charles Avenue and is a great people-watching spot! Nottoway’s balcony is more private and has  a quiet view of the neighborhood.

New Orleans Garden District

Your private balcony in the Greenwood Suite

What is a “plantation sized bed you ask?  Because our furniture is all from the turn of two centuries ago, there were no “standard” bed sizes. These beds are all unique in length and width, each with a custom-made mattress.  They all fall between a full and a queen by modern standard definitions.  You can also customize your bed with a choice of feather or foam pillows and choose to sleep with or without the feather-top mattress.

If you are sensitive to light, choose the shaded rooms:  Rosedown, Magnolia, Destrehan or Nottoway.  If you need some sunshine to get going, try Oak Alley, Greenwood, Shadows, or Evergreen.

Lastly, if you are traveling with a group of friends or family members, we have three great hangout spots available.  You can talk and view the street scene in the parlor, have a glass of wine on the porte cochere balcony, or play cards in the dining room.

New Orelans vacation packages

Catch the street scene views from our front parlor.

You might just get inspired by your room or the carved painting of it’s namesake plantation home.  If so, several of the plantations are still open for tours:  Oak Alley, Evergreen, Destrehan and Nottoway.

Wherever you sleep in the Grand Victorian, you are sure to have a wonderful experience and great memories of the Garden District of New Orleans.  Call or email us today if you have any special needs and would like help choosing the perfect room for the perfect New Orleans vacation at the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast.