Arrival in New Orleans

The primary airport that serves New Orleans is the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport, which is about 20 miles away from the hotel. To get to the Intercontinental, you can take the Airport Shuttle for $24 (one-way) or $44 (round-trip). Lyft and Uber typically charge around $35 for a ride from the airport to the hotel—although pricing can, of course, vary by time and demand.

Orienting Yourself in New Orleans

Most people associate New Orleans with the French Quarter, which is a lively area with bars, restaurants, and street musicians. Laws allow alcohol to be carried around the streets, making the Quarter an open-air party. Bourbon Street is the best-known part of the Quarter, but it’s consequently the loudest, messiest, and most commercialized. Nearby streets like Royal and Chartres have more charm and are a bit quieter.

Beyond the French Quarter is a rich variety of neighborhoods within walking or cab distance from the Intercontinental. The hotel is on the edge of the Warehouse district, which is known for galleries and trendy restaurants. The Marigny neighborhood (a manageable but somewhat long walk from the hotel on the other side of the Quarter) is highlighted by Frenchmen street, home to some of the city’s best music. Just northwest of the Quarter, the Treme is the city’s oldest African-American neighborhood.

To get oriented to the parts of the city, visit this great interactive city map, which lists highlights for each neighborhood.

Weather

New Orleans is tropical, so even in March the weather is very temperate. We will update with more precise weather as the conference approaches, but you can anticipate afternoon high temperatures in the upper 60s F (20-21 C) with overnight lows average in the low to mid-50s F (11-12 C). March does have an average of 5 inches of rainfall during the month, but is usually in the form of spotty showers. You’ll definitely want to pack a rain jacket or umbrella.

Practicalities around the Intercontinental

If you need a pharmacy, there is a Walgreens and CVS a couple of blocks away on the corner of Canal and either Baronne (Walgreens) or Carondelet (CVS). The nearest full grocery store is Rouses, about five blocks at Baronne and Girod. Since the Intercontinental is in the business district, banks and ATMs are common throughout the nearby streets—the closest is Iberiabank on the corner of Camp and Poydras, in the same block as the Intercontinental.

Eating and Drinking

More than most cities, New Orleans has a strong culinary identity in Creole cooking and you will find the same dishes (gumbo, jambalaya, red beans and rice, etoufee) on the menu of most restaurants. Although the city has many expensive restaurants, in general you will find it relatively easy to eat inexpensively in the city. More than most US cities, New Orleans has resisted the homogenization of chain restaurants—especially in the French Quarter.

The concierge can print a list of restaurants throughout the area with gluten-free options, or your can find a copy here.

Noteworthy New Orleans Restaurants

In the Quarter, Antoine’s and Tujaque’s are classic, upscale restaurants serving classic New Orleans food. K-Paul’s is another well-regarded New Orleans’s classic. The Cafe Du Monde is famous for serving donut-like beignets with chicory coffee. Although there is often a long line most of the day, tables turn over quite quickly. The Central Grocery is famous for inventing the muffuletta, which makes an inexpensive lunch. (The sandwich is enormous, so consider ordering just a half.) If you have the time, The Court of Two Sisters serves an expansive brunch, often with live music.

The Warehouse District offers a range of somewhat more trendy restaurants, often featuring a celebrity chef.

If you end up on Frenchmen Street, we strongly recommend a hotdog at Dat Dog.

Vegetarian and Vegan Eating

Many of these restaurants serve lunch only, so make sure to check the website for hours of operation.

  • 1000 Figs (Treme): Mediterranean (although it also serves kababs).

  • Bearcat Cafe (Mid-city): serves some meat dishes, but very vegan focused and has a kid’s menu.

  • 13 Monaghan Bar and Restaurant (Marigny): Pub food, but with many vegan and vegetarian choices.

  • Breads on Oak (Uptown): Mostly vegan bakery serving sandwiches.

  • Carmo (Warehouse District): Tropical dishes that are vegan and vegetarian, with meat dishes as well.

  • Cleo (Central Business District): Good selection of vegetarian dishes. Open 24 hours.

  • Good Karma Cafe (Mid-city): Vegan and vegetarian, with sandwiches, wraps, and rice bowls.

  • Max Well New Orleans (Uptown). Vegan dishes often in raw form.

  • Seed (Uptown): 100% vegan with Creole spices and concepts.

  • Sneaky Pickle (Bywater): Vegan sandwiches, salads, and rice bowls with one meat option per day.

  • Superfood Bar (Uptown): Vegan and gluten free, smoothies, raw foods, and wraps.

  • Tal’s Hummus (Uptown) Israeli fast food pita sandwiches, hummus, soups; mostly vegetarian.

  • The Daily Beet (Central Business District): Vegetarian and vegan toassts, bowls, and sandwiches.

  • Meals from the Heart (French Quarter): Variety of vegan, gluten-free, and raw options; some fish and chicken options.

Recommended Bars

It’s not hard to find a drink in New Orleans, so we’ll just identify a few noteworthy French Quarter bars. In a later section we list bars that are particularly good for music.

The Carousel Bar at the Hotel Monteleone is charming and worth a visit: the central bar (including the surrounded bar stools) slowly rotates. This is a common tourist stop, so getting a seat at the bar at peak times can be tricky—although seats tend to turn over fairly quickly.

A few blocks away, the Hermes Bar at Antoine’s Restaurant is a classic (and usually quiet) old New Orleans bar.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, Pat O’Brien’s is a lively tourist mecca famous for inventing the Hurricane.

In the French Quarter, and especially on Bourbon street, many bars have a to-go window where you can buy a beer or mixed drink for strolling around the city; often the prices at these windows are cheaper than inside the bar. To save money, you can also simply buy a drink at a grocery (such as Rouse’s on the corner of Royal and St. Peter).

Activities and Tourism

Museums

New Orleans Museum of Art is located within the picturesque City Park, and can be reached inexpensively by following the #48 Canal Street Streetcar ($1.25 each way). The New Orleans African American Museum is in the Treme, a quite long walk (or short ride) from the Intercontinental. Although not something that you would associate with New Orleans, the World War II Museum is well-regarded, and within walking distance from the Intercontinental.

Music

Street musicians are an institution in New Orleans, with the best and most-established having a particular location that they have claimed for their own. You an read about some of them here.

Preservation Hall will give you a good sense of the city’s musical heritage. Shows take place at at 5pm, 6pm, 8pm, 9pm, and 10pm, and feature an ensemble group established musicians playing jazz classics. For General Admission, stand in line in front of the Hall before the show you would like to attend at least 30 minutes before the show. General Admission is cash only, $20. There is also reserved seating for $35-50. You can get information on tickets here.

Most of the bars on Bourbon Street and around much of the Quarter will feature live music, and most will not charge a cover. You’ll find somewhat more ambitious music on Frenchman’s street, where you may need to pay a small cover charge (around $5) for entry. Particularly well known are the Blue Nile, the Three Muses, d.b.a., the Spotted Cat, and Snug Harbor. Of these, Snug Harbor is most likely to attract big-name acts (the Marsalis family plays here frequently) and so advanced tickets might be necessary.

Outside of the Quarter and its surrounding neighborhoods, Tipitina’s is a New Orleans institution that attracts a wide range of acts.

Tours and Walks

There are several walking tours worth considering if you have time in New Orleans. The Garden District tour explores the lovely old homes in this part of the city. The Cemetery Tour explores the unusual above-ground burial practices dating back to the 1700s. After dark, the Ghost Tour is popular, and explores the supposed hauntings throughout the French Quarter. It should be noted that all of these tours involve a significant amount of walking. Horse Drawn Carriage tours can be a fun way to see the Quarter, especially with kids; these normally depart from Jackson Square. River boat tours take about two hours and will provide a good orientation to New Orleans and its relationship with the Mississippi. Many different companies offer these tours, and you can start by checking out the official New Orleans list of tours. Another good option can be Free Tours By Foot, a pay-what-you-want tour service.

Bookstores

New Orleans has vibrant antiques marketplace, and this carries over to second-hand and antiquarian books. You can find a map and list of these book stores here, and pick up a copy of the map for yourself at any of the listed stores.

New Orleans with Kids

New Orleans has built its reputation around largely adult activities (eating, drinking, music) but does have of activities that are good for family. Beyond strolling through the Quarter and enjoying street performers, consider the Audubon Park, a sprawling landscape of lawns, trees, and water features; the park was designed by John Charles Olmsted, stepson of Frederick Law Olmsted, who created New York’s Central Park and Boston’s Emerald Necklace. The Park also houses the Institute’s zoo. Located at 6500 Magazine St. The park and zoo are not in walking distance, but can be reached via the St. Charles Streetcar, itself a fun activity for kids.

Within walking distance from the Intercontinental are the Audubon’s Aquarium of the Americas and Butterfly Garden and Insectarium.

Of course, many of the museums and tours listed above will be appealing to kids. This Boston Globe travel article does a nice job of discussing options.