The Sally List of things to do in New Orleans ... I hope you get inspired!


New for Hallowe'en! (also see "stroll" listings below as well as "Haunted" listings in EatDrink)

'The Krewe of Boo – The brand-new official Halloween parade of New Orleans – will go right in front of the ApacheCon hotel on 31 October!!' Created by Blaine Kern, the creative/float genius responsible for producing Mardi Gras for more than 60 years. Parade route starts on Elysian Fields and Decatur (Fauberg Marigny, just past the Mint in the French Quarter), moves down Decatur to South Peters, turning onto Canal Street and continuing to Bourbon Street. The parade will turn back down Canal Street to Tchoupitoulas, turning left on Julia then to the Convention Center and finishing at the former River City Casino for the a grand costume ball. Go and give back! Every dollar generated by the Krewe of Boo benefits New Orleans police, fire, and EMS personnel :-)

Carey Signature Livery – Private Towncars, Stretch Limos, Vans, Mini-buses, and custom transport solutions. Knowledgeable, professional, and courteous drivers, including my favorite, New Orleans old-timer Gerard Donovan, not only whisk you anywhere you need to go, but also offer suggestions and ideas on where to go, what to do, and whom to connect with to get the inside track. Special tours and arrangements happily accommodated with advanced notice. For bookings, ring Paul or John on 1-504-523-6511 or toll free on 1-800-495-0201.

Tours by Isabelle – Tours and Day Trips – Extensive City, Post-Katrina, Plantation, and Bayou Tours. Highly insightful, with great excursions of varying themes and duration. Very professional, polite, and respectful tours of the storm-ravaged areas; fun, open airboat swamp tours; in-depth city tours; and visits to historic plantations. Must-see plantations are the majestic Oak Alley (featured in the film of Anne Rice's “Interview with the Vampire” {starring Tom Cruise and Brad Pitt}, the thriller “Hush, Hush Sweet Charlotte” {starring Bette Davis}, and countless other films, as well as the Sci-Fi Channe's recently-aired Ghost Hunters – yes! paranormal activity has been spotted! Another must-see is Laura Plantation, the recently opened, 200 year-old women-owned, women-run sugar plantation. Ring Isabelle on 1-504-391-3544 or toll free on 1-877-665-8687.

See/Stroll: Prospect.1 New Orleans - Contemporary Art (City-wide) the largest biennial of international contemporary art ever organized in the United States opens on 1 November. To be held in museums, historic buildings, and found sites throughout New Orleans, Prospect.1 aims to reinvigorate the city following the devastation left by Hurricane Katrina.

Watch: The Prytania Theatre – Movies (Uptown) 90-year old cinema is Louisiana's sole single-screen movie theatre and New Orleans' oldest operating theatre. The Prytania is host to numerous events, including the Animation, New Orleans, and French Film festivals, as well as their very own Academy Awards party, where guests dress up, walk the red carpet, and watch the Oscars projected onto its new huge screen. Recently renovated, The Prytania's new seating and state-of-the-art sound and projection systems keep moviegoers happy. Skip the corporate multiplex at Canal Place across the street; there's no better way to watch whatever's playing (“Zack and Miri make a porno” is showing the week of the 'con) whilst supporting 88 year-old owner Rene Brunet's dream and heeding the call of the retro preview flick “Let’s All Go to the Lobby” for loopy snacks (such as pickles!) at the concession stand.

See: Anne Rice House (2523 Prytania Street, Garden District) separate from the rest of the "Haunted" tour subjects, this is the former home of New Orleans author and the source of madness for all-things-vampiric (inspired by her character, Lestat, in Interview with the Vampire). Up until her move to California a few years ago, Rice's home was a magnet for legions of die-hard fans, who would flock outside in hopes of a glimpse of the author, who would open her house for private tours on special occasions.

See: Brevard-Mahat-Rice House (1239 First Street, Garden District) 1857 Greek Revival town house has been “updated” with an Italianate bay; originally called Rosegate for the rosette pattern on the fence (considered the precursor to the chain-link fence.) The early home of novelist Anne Rice and setting for her Witching Hour novels.

See: Lafayette Cemetery No. 1 (Garden District – across the street from Commander's Palace) one of the city's oldest cemeteries – a.k.a. "cities of the dead" – was established as a city cemetery in 1833. Historical background: as the city is 9'+ below sea level, coffins traditionally buried underground would often surface by the water table or during heavy rains, which is why bodies were later buried in raised structures. Lafayette No. 1 also contains long wall vaults that resemble baker's brick ovens, created to accommodate multiple burials due to limited space (a rather macabre recycle-reuse method, taking place usually one year after burial). Popular with Anne Rice fans, and contains some sites from her books (Mayfair witches' family tomb, for example). NOTE: many cemetery gates post city police "patrolled" signs, however, that is rarely the case. As such, BE VERY CAREFUL when visiting cemeteries – never visit alone, as predatory crime is common. If in doubt, speak with Isabelle (see above) about booking a guided cemetery tour. Located on Washington between Prytania and Coliseum Streets. Closed Sundays.

See/Stroll: excellent tours of the French Quarter by rangers from the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park. Details available at

See/Stroll: (Sally's Self-Directed) French Quarter Architecture Tour (see “Haunted” notations, particularly if going out over Hallowe'en). Founded in 1718, La Nouvelle Orléans was originally reclaimed from a swamp around the Palace d' Armes (now Jackson Square) and named Vieux Carré (Old Square). Louisiana changed control from French to Spanish (1762 to 1800) and back to French control before being sold to the United States in 1803. This is one of the reasons signage in the French Quarter is in both French and Spanish. During the Spanish rule, the Quarter was nearly destroyed by fire, where over 1,050 structures were lost. Rebuilding was done in the Spanish style, which is reflected in those buildings with wrought iron balconies and central courtyards. Many of the French Quarter's buildings are private homes and other residences; some who live there are 5th generation members of historically-significant families. More than 35,000 buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are in the French Quarter. [EXTENSIVE BUILDING LIST FORTHCOMING ... here are some to start, specially for Hallowe'en]

See/Stroll -- Haunted: The LaLaurie Mansion (1140 Royal) one of New Orleans' most notorious scandals was that of socialite Madame Delphine, and her husband, Dr. Louis LaLaurie, who purchased their Creole mansion in 1832. As with most of high society in those days, the LaLauries lived in opulence, frequently throwing lavish parties, continually adding to their pampered excess and being attended to by dozens of slaves. Neighbors began to notice that some slaves seemed to disappear without a trace – Madame LaLaurie was at times seen mistreating her slaves, such as chaining her cook to the stove – one particular incident summoned the authorities, destroying her position in society. A neighbor saw a young slave girl leap to her death off the roof of the mansion from being chased with a whip by Madame LaLaurie. The Madame was arrested and the LaLaurie slaves were removed from the home, only to be bought back at auction by family members. A short while later a fire broke out in the kitchen (as with classic Creole architecture, the kitchen and outbuildings were separate from the main structure) – rumored to have been set by the cook who could no longer tolerate the brutal conditions. Attempting to put the fire out, firefighters and neighbors stumbled upon a horrifying and gruesome sight: in the attic was a macabre torture chamber, where dozens of nude slaves were discovered. Some were chained to the walls, others were strapped to makeshift operating tables, having undergone elaborate forms of torture and crude mutilation. Others were confined in cages made for animals. Most of them were dead. Word got out, the atrocities were published in the local newspaper, and an outraged mob drove LaLaurie and her family from the city. Numerous hauntings and paranormal activity have been reported since, with widely told visions of slaves roaming the property, bone-chilling screams heard from within the house, and even attacks by an angry slave in chains. The house had changed hands numerous times and its use had varied from a private home to a school, drinking saloon, and a musical conservatory. Each of the building's owners had soon experienced some form of misery or another associated with the house, and would sell the property. The building is now owned by actor Nicholas Cage, who recently purchased the mansion for $3.5M. **update as of 31 October 2008: Cage has just put the structure on the market for $3.7M. Apparently the curse continues.

See/Stroll – Haunted: Marie Laveau's home (1020 St. Ann) and the Marie Laveau House of Voodoo (739 Bourbon) the most powerful Voodoo Queen of New Orleans was born a free woman in 1794 to a white father and Creole woman of color. In 1819, she married Jacques Paris, a free man who was one-quarter black. One year later, Paris disappeared and died under unspecified circumstances; his birth certificate wasn't filed until 1826, the same year Marie took on a lover Louis Christophe Dumesnil de Glapion, with whom she lived in a common-law marriage. Marie became a hairdresser to wealthy white families and in 1827 she bore a daughter, also named Marie; she and Glapion lived together until his death in 1835, and Marie is claimed to have given birth to 15 children during that timeframe. Her clientele both seemed to revere and fear her; she seemed to be able to obtain insight on wealthy patrons by quietly listening to her hairdressing clients and instilling fear in their servants whom she "cured" of mysterious ailments with the forbidden practices of Voodoo, often taking place outside of the city in bayous. Later she stopped hairdressing and committed all her time to her practice. Her home on St. Ann Street is considered to be haunted; some claim to have seen an apparition of her there leading Voodoo ceremonies with her followers. After her death in 1881, her daughter, Marie Paris Glapion Laveau (a.k.a. Marie Laveau II) took over her mother's work, confusing some who didn't know that the former had died, and continuing the legacy of Voodoo in New Orleans – a practice that still thrives today. Marie II briefly lived at the home that is now houses Marie Laveau's House of Voodoo. Whilst touristy, the shop oozes a somewhat eerie/scary energy with its many occult potions, charms, and displays. Should you visit St. Louis Cemetery No. 1, keep an eye out Marie Laveau's tomb. Often heavily covered with flowers, Mardi Gras beads, rosaries, coins, candles, and other offerings, believers ask Marie for a favor by placing an offering on the tomb, rapping three times on the tomb, and marking three X's in chalk or brick, in hopes that their wish will be granted.

See/Stroll – Haunted: St. Louis Cathedral (Jackson Square) the oldest Catholic cathedral in continuous use in the United States, the Cathedral-Basilica of St. Louis King of France is haunted by Pere Dagobert, who arrived to pastor the church in 1745 and was widely beloved by the people. In 1764, New Orleans had been given in treaty to Spain, making the residents citizens of Spain. Terror erupted in the city; the French families petitioned the king of France not to cede New Orleans to Spain but had failed. The first Spanish governor, Don Antonio de Ulloa, arrived in New Orleans two years later and was instantly hated. Some of the wealthiest and most prominent men in the city – all friends of Pere Dagobert – hatched at plan to overthrow the Spanish. Whilst the successful rebellion led de Ulloa to flee for Havana, Spain sent a fleet of 24 ships to New Orleans under the command of Irish expat Don Alejandro O'Reilly who was fighting for Spain. The rebellion was crushed, its leaders were arrested and executed by firing squad. O'Reilly refused the men to be buried, leaving the corpses to rot in the rain and heat under the continual watch of the Spanish garrison as an “example” to the people. Instead, the people were shocked and appalled, not believing that a Catholic would allow these men to not be buried decently. Dagobert summoned the families of the slain men to the cathedral, where the bodies of the ringleaders had mysteriously appeared there. Dagobert held a funeral mass in the driving rain and the men were entombed at St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. On certain rainy nights, before dawn, the voice of Dagobert can be heard singing the "Kyrie" in the air between the St. Louis Cathedral and St. Louis Cemetery No. 1. The miracle of how Dagobert was able to steal the bodies away from the Spanish soldiers was never forgotten by the city's French and remains a mystery to this day.

Beauregard-Keyes House (1113 Chartres) built in 1826, this raised Greek-revival structure, with its slave quarters and rear courtyard, is uncommon for the French Quarter. A national landmark and the post-Civil War home of Confederate General Pierre G.T. Beauregard – the man who ordered the first shots of the Civil War – the house at night is reputed to be haunted with the sounds of gunshots, horses, screaming men, and roaring canonfire. The house had several owners and was even threatened with demolition, but was rescued in 1944 by author Frances Parkinson Keyes, who wrote several of fifty-one books there. House tours run every hour on the hour Monday – Saturday between 10AM-3PM.

O'Flaherty's Irish Channel Pub (508 Toulouse) this structure was a private residence in the early 1800's, where the ghosts of owner Joseph Wheaton and his mistress Angelique can be seen today, with lingering cold spots in the location of their deaths. After a terrible argument, Joseph pushed Angelique out the third floor window into the courtyard behind the house, killing her instantly. This crime was observed a young slave boy, and Joseph killed himself immediately afterwards by jumping to his death. They wander on the upper floor, and customers report paranormal sensations in the courtyard where they landed. The ghost of Wheaton's wife, Mary, is reported to be lingering in the building as well. Another possible ghost is that of a little boy who became separated from his mother and was taken in by one of the ghosts when he wandered into the building in search of her. Owned and operated by famed Irish singer/musician Danny O'Flaherty of the "Celtic Folk".

Got Kids? Check this out:

See: Aquarium of the Americas (Central Business District) check out the million+ gallons of exhibits, such as the world's largest collection of jellyfish, a rain forest, and special Mississippi River and Gulf of Mexico installations. Be sure to see the white alligator! Aquarium life was devastated by Hurricane Katrina, where most of the 10,000 fish were killed as a result of days'-long power outages. The Aquarium's ongoing Adopt-an-Animal program continues to solicit funds for rebuilding. Please contribute generously!

See/Float: Natchez Paddleboat (French Quarter) Embark on a historic sternwheel steamboat for a two-hour cruise up and down the Mississippi River. The Natchez is the only steamboat still operating from New Orleans. Board behind the Jackson Brewery to the tunes of traditional calliope music, and sit outside on one of the Natchez' many decks (I prefer the top!). Walk around, check out the engine room, paddle wheel, and grab a cocktail and enjoy the live jazz band; do skip the buffet. Lots of history about New Orleans, the Mississippi, the paddleboat. You'll get to see the river in action – cargo ships and barges – as well as some of the city's attractions – Jackson Square, the Riverwalk and Aquarium, St. Louis Cathedral, Chalmette Battle Field, and more – whilst learning the history of the Crescent City from a unique angle.


Checkpoint Charlie's – Blues/Rock (Fauberg Marigny) film location scouts' favorite, this dive-y 24-hour bar-cum-laundromat is filled with biker-rocker-eclectic-student-type patrons who listen to live music (usually rock, with occasional jazz/blues/R&B/acoustic performances, and Sundays open mic blues jam), eat, drink, shoot pool, read from their library and, naturally, launder. Casual, cheap, and kooky.

Mulate's – Cajun Music/Dancing/Restaurant (Warehouse District) the bayou comes alive at the city's most authentic Cajun experience. Live zydeco music, Cajun accents, and dancing nightly starting at 7PM in a casual, fun environment. Don't be shy: get up and join the fun – pick up an instrument or go for a whirl on the dance floor and dance the two-step. Performances during ApacheCon include Bayou Deville, Lee Benoit and the Bayou Stompers, and La Touché. Excellent, down-home spicy Cajun fare includes alligator, frog legs, boudin, catfish, crawfish etouffee, blackened oysters, plantation tea, and zydeco tornadoes. Super-friendly staff. No reservations.

Preservation Hall – Traditional Jazz (French Quarter) enthusiasts fill this tiny 260 year-old landmark to capacity 7 nights a week to watch spellbinding performances by budding musicians and veterans in their 70s and 80s. Environment is bare-bones, with no seats, no air-conditioning/ventilation system, no food, no drink, and no smoking. This snapshot of history is a must-see, even if merely strolling by on your way to Pat O'Brien's. Shows taking place during ApacheCon include performances by the Preservation Hall Band, Brass Band Thursdays, Carl LeBlanc & the Essential N.O. Jazz Band, and the Preservation Hall Jazz Masters.

Rock'N'Bowl-Mid City Lanes – Rock and Bowl(ing) (Mid-City) zany mix of live music, drinking, dancing, and bowling still going strong after 60 years. Loud, raucous and fun, featuring local performances from old-school swing to swamp rock to zydeco; both visitors and staff are known to kick it up in a Cajun two-step or hopping on the bar late into the night. Retro-crazy, cool digs.

Snug Harbor – Jazz (Fauberg Marigny) loyalists are fervent about this bar/club/restaurant whose performers include emerging local talent and international powerhouses such as Ellis Marsalis and Charmaine Neville. Live shows nightly (8PM and 10PM), with jazz trumpet Wednesdays, and occasional midnight jam sessions on Friday and Saturday. Seating is grouped into restaurant, bar, and show sections, so if you want to watch the performers, you'll need to purchase tickets specifically for that area – keep in mind, however, that the seating is first come-first served; arrive early to minimize disappointment. Owned by same folks who run Port of Call, the restaurant features many of the same menu items, with seriously strong Monsoons and Huma-Humas, what's considered to be the best burgers in town (hold the artificial bacon bits!) and huge, super-loaded baked potatoes. Service is notoriously slow, so sit back and relax.

Tipitina's – Jazz (Uptown – original; also a French Quarter outpost) one of New Orleans' most popular clubs supports all sorts of local musicians, primarily jazz, but also funk, rock, country, and hip-hop. Always packed, Tipitina's draws emerging and established artists, with performances by Dr. John, James Brown, Bonnie Raitt, the Neville Brothers, Lenny Kravitz, Nine Inch Nails, Better Than Ezra, Pearl Jam, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Tim McGraw, Goo Goo Dolls, Robert Cray and more. Through the Tipitina's Foundation, the club's owners have furthered their commitment to Louisiana's music legacy by donating over $2M in instruments to area school music programs, to helping revitalize Fats Domino's Lower 9th Ward neighborhood. In addition, the Foundation has been instrumental in making Fats the quintessential face of New Orleans’ rebirth. Charel and I attended the sold-out fundraiser for Fats Dominoes' birthday in February – catch the 5 November world premiere of the documentary “Fats Domino: Walkin' Back To New Orleans”. Playing in the French Quarter location during ApacheCon is brass/funk band Hill Country Review Featuring members of North Mississippi Allstars with Special Guests Rotary Downs.

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