Note before finishing the guide: Aside from pointing to the aforementioned Allegro Bistro pre-game party, I'm not sure there is much tailgating info I have for you. There is a tailgating area adjacent to the Superdome that was constructed after the Saints won the Super Bowl and I know Tulane uses it, but I have no idea how well attended it is. New Orleans isn't Baton Rouge or Starkville, etc. where you will find enormous tailgating turnouts. My suggestion is make your own party with other Syracuse fans and then head to the Dome for game time.
We have arrived at the third and final chapter of my guide to New Orleans. For this last part I will go away from the neighborhood format and simply use categories. There is quite a bit to do in New Orleans besides eating and drinking (not that you could be blamed for doing nothing but eating and drinking), so should you feel the urge to take in some sights and sounds, here are great places for that.
This is a city known for its music and there are lots of places to hear some great live music. I’ll try to highlight a variety for you, but I won’t scratch the surface of the many spots for live music in the city.
Tipitina’s – This music club actually has two locations: Uptown and French Quarter. The original is Uptown. They are both smoke free now and always have great music. The original is a large venue and usually features rock, funk, blues, soul and sometimes hip-hop.
Frenchman Street – I’ve mentioned this for drinks already, but I feel the need to reiterate the area when talking about music. With clubs like d.b.a., Snug Harbor, Checkpoint Charlie, The Spotted Cat, Apple Barrel, Maison, Café Negril and Blue Nile you will find jazz, blues, reggae, rock, hip-hop or zydeco. (If you are a Treme fan you should know that a lot of the music clubs featured in the show are here.)
House of Blues - Maybe it’s an obvious choice to put here, but check out what House of Blues is offering up. It could be any number of musical styles and could be anything from a big-name national artist to a local up-and-coming act. It’s a great venue and being in the French Quarter doesn’t hurt.
Rock N Bowl – This bowling alley features live, local music. It’s a big space and the music is always lively to allow for plenty dancing to go along with the typical bowling atmosphere. If you actually want to bowl sign up well in advance as lanes fill up hours ahead sometimes.
Preservation Hall – Looking for New Orleans jazz? This is the place for you. There are usually nightly jazz performances here, so getting your jazz fix shouldn’t be a problem. Like Café Du Monde, this spot is recommended to all the tourists, yet is completely worth your time.
Maple Leaf Bar – This place is split straight down the middle. On one side is the bar and the other side is the stage and a bunch of empty space for watching that stage. Admittedly the bar isn’t great beyond bottles of beer, but it is a very solid and intimate music venue that hosts a lot of great bands. There is no specific genre featured here, but the Maple Leaf tends to host acts that really get the crowd going.
Howlin’ Wolf – This downton club is not unlike Tipitina’s in size and set up. While there isn’t one kind of music to be found here, more often than not Howlin Wolf features rock (and there are some good rock bands to be found in New Orleans).
Irvin Mayfield’s Jazz Playhouse – This is a very quiet and upscale jazz lounge located in the Royal Sonesta Hotel on Bourbon Street. This is not where you will find jazz to dance to but rather sip a drink to. I don’t believe it costs anything, but there may be a one or two drink minimum.
Maybe you didn’t come to New Orleans to go to museums, but there are some great ones here in case you are interested.
World War II Museum – There is no other museum like this in the country, believe it or not. This museum is an excellent and thorough look at WWII. Lots of artifacts, visuals, videos, letters, and more. The lobby is filled with WWII era military vehicles while a museum building next door houses a WWII PT-boat being reconstructed behind a large glass wall so that passers-by can look on. That building and boat hold a special place in my heart as my old architecture firm designed the building and I spent a lot of time personally working on reconstructing the boat itself (my uncle is one of the leads on that boat project). By the way, if you are wondering why this museum is here it is thanks to the local fishing industry. Sort of. When the war effort was gearing up and the military needed a prototype for a landing craft for use in amphibious invasions, a New Orleans man came forward. Andrew Higgins and his factory produced the classic landing craft that Eisenhower once said won us the war.
Ogden Museum of Southern Art – Here we have a museum full of Southern folk art. A gorgeous little museum right across the street from the WWII Museum, the Ogden has the kind of art you really won’t see where you Yankees come from.
New Orleans Museum of Art – There isn’t anything particularly "New Orleans" about this museum, but it is still a great art museum nonetheless. It’s located right in the middle of City Park, so if you were to take in some outdoors (the weather looks to be great this weekend), the museum could prove a great part of that.
Besthoff Sculpture Garden – This sculpture garden sits outside the New Orleans Museum of Art in a beautiful winding garden. It is free to everyone, which is always nice, and features work from artists all over the world. On a nice day it is a really great way to spend a couple hours.
The Cabildo (Lousiana State Museum) – There is a great deal of really interesting history to Louisiana and this museum is actually a great way to take a lot of it in. It sits right on Jackson Square so it is right in the heart of the French Quarter. The views out of the upstairs windows that overlook Jackson Square are pretty excellent as well.
October in New Orleans is a great time of year. It is still warm, but not hot, so doing things outdoors is highly recommended. I’ve already mentioned the Sculpture Garden, but here are some more sights to take in while outside in New Orleans.
Audubon Park – This Uptown park has a biking/walking/jogging trail that takes you through some beautiful greenery, by ponds with plenty wildlife (birds, turtles, etc), Tulane’s campus entrance and a golf course. There is also a lot of open space to use for picnics, pickup football or lying around.
City Park – Located in Mid-City this park is the big one in New Orleans. It features the NOMA, the Sculpture Garden, a golf course and a lot of open space. If you are bringing some Growing Oranges on the trip there is an amusement park and Storyland (a playground full of large story-book inspired equipment) for them.
Jackson Square/ Moon Walk – The square in front of St Louis Cathedral is a great place to stop and rest while taking a walk through the quarter on a nice day. It’s also full of characters, so there is great people-watching here too. The Moon Walk is named after a former Mayor of New Orleans and meanders along the levy above the French Quarter. Take a stroll and take in some of the boats going up and down the Mighty Mississippi.
French Market – All along the French Quarter, on the Riverside and upriver from Café Du Monde, are shops followed outdoor vendor stands. You can find some food, a lot of kitsch and some decent hand-made jewelry/artwork. It’s a good stroll, in shade, when the weather is nice and it’s probably the best spot to spend as little as possible on all those tacky New Orleans inspired gifts everyone back home expects you to bring them.
Audubon Zoo – If you have kids with you this could be a great side-venture. The Audubon Zoo is really a great time on a nice day. Tons of animals and fun things to do. The swamp area is very unique to Louisiana and the reptile house is great for scaring stereotypical wives and girlfriends.
Lower Ninth Ward – This is where the levy breached after Katrina and wiped out an entire neighborhood. Thanks to a lot of charity and volunteer work, not to mention the work of the families moving back into the neighborhood, the Lower Ninth is slowly rebuilding. There are a lot of interesting homes now built thanks to a design competition championed by Brad Pitt. It’s pretty interesting to walk/drive around and see what a neighborhood being rebuilt from the ground up looks like. If you go, keep in mind that the homes are actually private residences, so be respectful of the families living there.
Cemeteries – It might seem creepy, but the cemeteries in New Orleans can be a sight to behold. New Orleans being below sea-level means all the tombs in the city must be above ground to avoid water damage. That means cemeteries full of sculptures and marble and stone that tower over you. If you are a photography buff there are some really great shots to be had in the city’s cemeteries.
Walk Around – Seriously. Just walk around. New Orleans is very walkable and really quite beautiful in the right spots. Walk around the French Quarter (Royal St has lots of interesting antique stores and art galleries for example); walk around the Garden District; walk up and down Magazine Street.
Audubon Aquarium/Insectarium – Just as the zoo in New Orleans is great, so too is the aquarium. Housed in a fun building right next to the river it is chock full of fish and sharks and stuff. It is next to the French Quarter, so it is convenient, and should the weather not cooperate it is great way to escape the outdoors. The Insectarium gets rave reviews, but I actually have not been. I hear it is a great place for kids, so add that to the list if you are bringing young Oranges with you.
Prytania Theater – If you want to go see a movie for some reason while you are in New Orleans, check this theater out. It’s a small, one-screen venue that has one of the big new releases playing most of the time. At noon they show a classic movie and they usually have midnight off-beat movie rotation. With it being October the midnight movie is probably a horror movie of some sort.
Canal Place – This downtown shopping mall has plenty upscale stores if that is your thing. There is also a nice movie theater that serves food and alcohol, and typically has a couple of the hard to find artsy/indie/documentary movies currently showing in cities like New York and LA.
Ghost Tours – These may seem a little cheesy, but they can be pretty interesting actually. There is a lot of haunted history in New Orleans, so the French Quarter ghost tours cover a lot of ground. The tours usually make a bar stop or two, so you don’t even have to pause your weekend-long binge!
St. Louis Cathedral – Catholic? Plan on doing unspeakable things Saturday night after Syracuse wins (or loses, God forbid)? Why not absolve your sins with a Sunday morning mass at this beautiful French Quarter landmark?
Tulane – Why not spy on the enemy? Tulane has a nice campus and it’s right off the St. Charles streetcar line.
Superdome – I think we got this one taken care of.
And that's it folks! I hope this 3 -part guide was helpful to everyone making the trip. I tried to get as much variety in there as I could, but if I left anything out you want to hear about, make yourself known in the comments.
I cannot wait for this weekend. I haven't seen a live Syracuse game since I graduated over three years ago, so I'm pretty pumped. Good luck to everybody making the trip and remember to be respectful. Let's leave New Orleans with the impression that Orangemen and Orangewomen are good people. (And let's hope our football team leaves a good impression on some young Southeastern Louisiana football talent.)