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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
Live music and a Bloody Mary Bar are the highlights at this uptown favorite. Enjoy brunch Saturdays and Sundays.
A tradition in the French Quarter, Sunday only brunch offers Dixieland Jazz and a four-course prix-fixe menu.
Build your own mimosa and enjoy Sunday brunch with live music at this class restaurant in the French Quarter. Sundays only.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
- 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.
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.