Yesterday, I talked about New Orleans’ French Quarter — Today’s all about the Riverwalk, Central Business District, and Algiers Point. Ready?!
The Riverwalk in New Orleans is… well, exactly what it sounds like. A place to walk by the river. (So unexpected, I know.) However, what’s amazing about this particular riverwalk (a lot of cities have them) is that it is smack dab next to the Mississippi River… as in the Mighty Mississip’… Ol’ Man River… the playground of Tom Sawyer, Huck Finn, and Jim. Yeah, that river.
So aside from its obvious historical and cultural value, it’s also a great place for strolling, picnicking, and photo-opping. Then, after you’ve Instagrammed your face off, you can catch a ride on the Steamboat Natchez and enjoy an authentic New Orleans meal accompanied by live jazz music (check the website for schedules and pricing).
A little further down the Riverwalk (southwest), you’ll find the Riverwalk Marketplace, a shopping and dining destination, featuring everything from national retail chains to local NOLA shops, as well as over 15 restaurants. The Riverwalk Marketplace is also home to the Southern Food and Beverage Museum (somewhere that Josh and I have never visited, but how can it be bad?).
Pre-Katrina, the Riverwalk was a great place to shop, but the revival of this place has been a bit slow going since the storm. However, every time Josh and I visit, we see more and more quality stores open, and it’s getting closer to what I knew it to be visiting there as a child in the mid to late 90’s. (And the last time we visited was January 2011, so who knows what kind of improvements have been made since then?).
Like, the Riverwalk Marketplace, the Shops at Jax Brewery are another unique retail destination in NOLA. Housed in the old Jax Brewery, they no longer make beer (locals often agree it was the worst beer ever made), but they do have an array of local and national retail shops and two food courts.
Across the river you can see Algiers point, NOLA’s second oldest neighborhood, accessible by bridge or the Algiers Ferry (out of Canal Street in the Central Business District). Though Josh and I have never visited the Point on any of our trips, it’s definitely on our list for the next time we go. Aside from an incredible view of the French Quarter, Algiers Point is also home to a lot of original architecture, much of it dating back to the mid 1800’s.
From the same point where you take the Algiers Ferry at Canal Street, you’ll also find the Entergy Imax theatre and the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas, both great places for kids and adults alike. Exhibits change constantly (check their websites), but one of their main features is a large tank featuring marine life native to the Gulf of Mexico.
Near the Aquarium, you’ll also find another major tourist attraction: Harrah’s Casino. Josh and I are big fans because you can have a little fun, spend $10 at the slot machines, and have unlimited free drinks of any variety brought to you while you play. Of course, we rarely win and we put a $20 cap on the amount of money we’ll gamble — slot machines only, but it’s a good way to get free drinks and we probably would have spent more than $20 if we had gone to a bar and ordered even two martinis, so we think it’s a good value (it’s a Foster-Donahue Travel Secret… shhh…..).
Central Business District
Aside from being a business hub and home to the Superdome, the Central Business District isn’t exactly a top tourist destination, so I won’t spend an incredible amount of time discussing it. However, the CBD also holds two more of the aforementioned Foster-Donahue Travel secrets, so I had to devote a little blog space to it.
The average tourist vacationing to NOLA will probably seek a hotel or inn in the heart of the French Quarter, which makes perfect sense on paper. However, in my experiences growing up and visiting NOLA with Josh, we have found that while the French Quarter hotels are one-of-a-kind, beautiful, historical, all of those good things, they don’t tend to have the most comfortable beds and also tend to sit on busy (read: noisy) streets, so a good nights’ sleep is not usually in the cards.
Our choice of lodging is always the Drury Inn & Suites located on Poydras Street in — you guessed it — the Central Business District. Of course, there are a lot of other great hotels in this area, but my father racks up a lot of free stays with the traveling he does for work, so this is usually the most economic choice for us, too. (However, even if it wasn’t a free or discounted stay, I think we’d still go with them.)
The hotel is not in the French Quarter, where we spend most of our NOLA vacation time, but we’re youngins who don’t mind walking, so the quarter mile from the French Quarter is still totally worth it. Not to mention, we’re super close to our favorite NOLA restaurant (hunker down for F.D.T. Sectret #3), Mulate’s.
The drinks are great and the food is outta control (try the blackened alligator with remoulade sauce). And to further the charm that is Mulate’s, they have live Zydeco music and dancing nightly, usually starting around 7:00 p.m. And did I mention it’s our favorite New Orleans restaurant? It’s perfect. We set out to go at least once every trip and usually go twice.
That’s it for today! Of course, there’s more to these neighborhoods than I’ve mentioned — this is just the stuff we’re most familiar with. To learn more about NOLA’s Riverwalk and CBD, check out New Orleans Online (quite possibly one of the best tourism websites for any city that I’ve ever seen).
Tomorrow I’ll wrap up the Wedding series, but if brides, bouquets, and boutonnieres aren’t your thing, come back on Thursday where we’ll go “down in the Treme” (just me and my baby, we all goin’ crazy, just jammin’ and havin’ fun – woo!).
(Please tell me someone else watches the HBO series Treme? It’s sooo good, it hurts me.)