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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!

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.

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!

Top 5 Myths about Staying at a Bed and Breakfast

new orleans bed and breakfast

Make a new travel resolution!

A bed and breakfast or a New Orleans hotel? That is the question. Is more travel on your New Year’s Resolution list?  This year, add trying a Bed and Breakfast to your travels!  You might have considered skipping the bed and breakfast experience because you think it’s not for you.  Check out these Top 5 Myths about Staying at a B&B to see if a New Orleans bed and breakfast might be in your future for 2014 or 2015.

1.   Too many lace doilies 

We’re not all antiques and patchwork quilts.  More inns these days have a clean, sophisticated decor with modern furnishings and amenities.  Victorian homes like ours often feature rooms that appeal to different tastes.  (Our Evergreen Room might be just right for you.)

2.   You have to share a bathroom with other guests.

The majority of inns offer private bathrooms.  (All rooms at our New Orleans B&B have their own bathroom with shower, hair dryer, special soaps and other amenities.)

new orleans bed and breakfast

Who could say no to fresh breakfast?

3.   You have to eat a specific breakfast with total strangers at a specific time.

Many inns offer guests a variety of choices of breakfast or brunch as well as meeting needs for special diets or food allergies.  (You can take advantage of our continental plus breakfast anytime between 8:30 and 10:30am, and we are glad to offer gluten-free, sugar-free or vegan items if you’ll let us know ahead of time!)

4.   You have to be home at a certain time.

Guests are almost always given keys to the main house and guest room doors, providing them with the flexibility to come and go as they please.  (All Grand Victorian room keys also open the front door to our New Orleans bed and breakfast.)

5.   B&Bs are only for couples and prohibit children and pets

Many inns offer family units with multiple bedrooms and bathrooms, and a number of inns offer pet friendly rooms as well.  (While the Grand Victorian is not the best option for the youngest family members; our New Orleans bed and breakfast easily accommodate older children with roll away cots, kid-friendly snack items all day, and free wireless internet.  We also have a new pet resort spa just down the street if you want to bring your furry family member along.)

We hope we have debunked some of the myths surrounding life at the bed and breakfast inn, and you come to the Grand Victorian for your inaugural visit.   Check out our rooms and specials pages for the one that is just right for you!

 

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.

Top 5 Places for Cocktails and Small Plates in New Orleans

We are getting ready for Tales of the Cocktail next month, the annual celebration of the birth of the cocktail right here in New Orleans. To help you get ready too, we have listed our Top 5 places to get a delicious cocktail and appetizer or small plate. All of these are in close proximity to our Garden District Bed and Breakfast.

 

Cure: Rated one of the Top 3 places to get a cocktail by Best of New Orleans.com, we love Cure for the scrumptious cocktails, small plates and great patio for whiling away the evening.

 

The Columns: A few streetcar stops down from our St. Charles stop (right at the front door of our Garden District Bed and Breakfast) is the best front porch to drift back in time, have a traditional New Orleans cocktail, and people watch. This is a great place to kick off your evening as it gets crowded later on.

 

Delachaise: Walk across the street from the Columns and have a really good light meal or cheese plate with great wine at this small place on the streetcar track.

 

Commander’s Palace: 25 cent martinis for lunch (and one and a half block walk from our Garden District bed and breakfast). Any questions?

 

Oak: A little further down the historic streetcar line and around the riverbend is a new bar and eatery that features small plates from the chef of Patois Restaurant. Live musicians every night make this a place to put on your must-visit list.

 

A little old fashioned for a hot summer's night.

A little old fashioned for those hot summer nights.

Finish your evening on the porte cochere balcony at our Garden District B&B. Check out our summer specials for an extra reason to check out the Tales of the Cocktail festival.

 

The Top 5 Seafood Restaurants in the New Orleans Area!

Last week, we penned a Love Note to Louisiana Seafood; now that we’ve extolled its virtues, here is our top 5 list of where to get it. The restaurants are recommended by staff (and guests) and in close proximity to our New Orleans bed and breakfast.

1. Jacques-Imo’s is best described by Bonnie Rabe’s favorite menu item, the Innkeeper of New Orleans Garden District bed and breakfast “Godzilla meets fried green tomatoes.” This Carrollton area restaurant is a perennial favorite because there are always different kinds of fish prepared in a variety ways. A perusal of their current menu lists over 20 seafood entrees from Fried Mirliton with Oysters to Amberjack Provencal. They only take reservations for large groups, so hit this popular eatery early.

 

Crawfish Macque choux

Crawfish Macque choux

2.  Mandina’s has been a mid-city institution since 1932, and the post-Katrina renovation is bigger and better. Check out the “House Specials” menu for our favorites including Trout Meuniere, Grilled Shrimp over Pasta Bordelaise and of course, their famous Turtle Soup.

3.  Superior Seafood is the new kid on the block that has an old New Orleans feel to it. It is located on the historic streetcar corner of St. Charles and Napoleon Avenue. It features an oyster bar including a sampler plate that serves two traditional New Orleans fare–Bienville and Rockefeller–plus something new called “Angels on Horseback.”

4.  Guy’s PoBoys – 5257 Magazine, New Orleans, LA, 504-891-5025. It is the proverbial hole-in-the-wall as Guy’s doesn’t even have a website and takes cash only. Sit down for a few minutes as all the po-boys are individually made by the owner. Hang out with the locals, have a Barq’s Rootbeer, and talk about the daily news as this is a nostalgic place of days-gone-by.

5.  La Thai may sound strange to some as we have a Thai restaurant on our list, but Chef Merlin’s Jumbo Lump Crab Cake is what keeps us coming back on a regular basis! Chef Merlin has won several seafood awards including 1st Runner Up as the King of Louisiana Seafood, 2010-2011.

 

Shrimp po boy - ask for it "dressed"

Shrimp po boy – ask for it “dressed”

 

This is by no means a comprehensive list of the best seafood restaurants in New Orleans, so you’ll have to make several trips to the Garden District bed and breakfast to experience them all.

 

Top Five Jazz Fest Foods 2012

 

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.   Innkeeper Bonnie’s favorite Combination Plate is a tie between two booths which she chooses depending on who has the shortest line:

  • 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.
  • 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. (The oyster I give to a friend!)

 

Crawfish Sack, Oyster Patty, Crawfish Beignets

2.    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!

3.   Creole Stuffed Bread from Creole’s Lunch House. Get the “original.” It is a thin bread covering filled with sauteed & seasoned ground meat & chunks of pork sausage. It comes wrapped in a small paper bag, which makes it an easy “take, store in your backpack, and eat later” treat. It’s good even at room temp! Bonnie says:

The same elderly Creole lady from Lafayette serves from her chair at the front of the booth every day of Jazz Fest. She is always cheerful and remembers me like an old friend, always asking about my New Orleans B&B. I always get two breads to go on the last day of Jazz Fest (1 for post Jazz Fest blues and one for my Mom). She always says “Another good one! See you next year!”

 

 

4.   Crawfish Strudel from Coffee Cottage. This is the first beeline stop every year for Rachel, as it used to be just inside the gates. Bonnie always calls it “breakfast strudel” because it goes really well with the first cold beer of the day! The year after Katrina, it moved locations and caused a mild panic attack until an emergency consultation with the information booth in Area 2. 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. (They also have the white chocolate bread pudding in a non-guilty bite size portion!)

 

Crawfish strudel plus essentials:  flip flops, wipes, sun glasses

and white chocolate bread pudding (in box)

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. They also used to make the softshell crawfish poboys, but haven’t been able to get those since the BP oil spill. (Sorry no photo, they had run out by the time we got there Sunday afternoon.)

There are a cornucopia of food options to try as you travel from stage to stage. Don’t be afraid, they are all good or they wouldn’t be at Jazz Fest. When you want to know what is great about NOLA, visit the Grand Victorian Bed & Breakfast in New Orleans and the local innkeeper will give you all the local scoop. See you at the fest!