Don’t Forget Where You’re Going: NOLA Beyond the Convention Center Walls

07/06/2011 § 7 Comments

This post needs no introduction. Written by April Martin – you’ve also seen her here talking information literacy. Find her at ALA and get a high-five (tell her Heidi sent you!)

New Orleans - French Quarter: Exchange Place

Flickr User wallyg - Used under CC by-nc-nd license

So, you’re going to ALA in New Orleans.  Although I am sure that all of you will be very busy networking, attending meetings and seminars, and combing the exhibits for free and/or cheap advanced readers’ copies from your favorite authors and publishers, you may want to take a break from conferencing and experience one of the greatest cities you’ll ever be lucky enough to visit.  Ok, maybe I am a little biased; I did live in there for 12 years before moving to Seattle to pursue my MLIS and I do love, love, love New Orleans.

Of course I am aware that we lib-students (and n00brarians) are not necessarily a rich bunch but we are rich in luck because there are many, many inexpensive and great places to go and things to do in the Big Easy.  Of course, you probably don’t want to read for days so I will try to keep it brief.

A French Quarter adventure will definitely set the mood.  Founded by the French, built up by the Spanish, and loved by anyone who enters, New Orleans’ oldest and most famous neighborhood offers something for everyone.  St. Louis Cathedral for those who love the grandeur of Catholicism, Café du Monde for those who like to wait in line, Royal Street for those who like shiny things, Bourbon Street for those who like boobs and vomit, and the Mississippi River.  Take a ride on the Mighty Mississippi to Algiers (Westbank) and back for free!  On The Algiers Ferry, you’ll feel just like Mark Twain (well maybe you won’t feel at all like Mark Twain but the view of the French Quarter from the river is not to be missed). Stop in at Royal Blend Coffee & Tea House for a drink or a snack and experience one of the most picturesque public courtyards in the city or get to Acme Oyster House for classic New Orleans seafood.  And be sure to check out two of the Quarter’s true literary gems, Beckham’s Book Shop and Faulkner House Books.

Many visitors miss out on New Orleans beyond the French Quarter but through the following suggestions, I will try to ensure that you are not among them.

From the Convention Center, walk over to St. Charles Avenue where for only $1.25 each way, you can take one of the New Orleans Streetcars and experience the city in motion going past palatial antebellum houses, and centuries-old oak trees.  On the St. Charles Line, stop off at Audubon Park for a stroll or a picnic and return via Magazine Street (Audubon Park is situated b/t Magazine and St. Charles) for shopping, a drink at St. Joe’s, late lunch at Juan’s Flying Burrito, or coffee/wi-fi at Rue de la Course (tell them it’s on Jerry). Or if you’re really feeling adventurous, just off Magazine is Franky & Johnny’s where the gumbo is awesome and the table cloths are vinyl.  Best breakfast on Magazine is definitely found at Surrey’s Café & Juice Bar.

Ok, let’s talk nightlife.  New Orleans is known for bars that don’t close and bottomless drinks so my only piece of advice is this: plan your way back to the hotel before you set out for the night.  Even so, you may not make it back while it is still night. Hi Ho Lounge in the Marigny, Maple Leaf Bar on Oak Street, Molly’s on Decatur, The Saint and The Half Moon, both off Magazine have been a few of my favorites but you’ll find that in New Orleans, the good times go where you go so just get out there and have fun!

Ok, well I could go on and on and on and on but I’ll stop here and ask you all this question:  where are you planning to go?  There are many, many great neighborhoods and sites to see in New Orleans and those included here are included solely because they are near the Convention Center but if you get the opportunity to explore further, you definitely should. What are your big plans while you are ALAing in NOLA?  And most importantly, where will the HackLibberHeadquarters be?

I plan to revive my connection to the digital world and tweet my brains out throughout the weekend so follow me for updates, goings on, and general non sequiturs. Laissez les bon temps rouler!

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§ 7 Responses to Don’t Forget Where You’re Going: NOLA Beyond the Convention Center Walls

  • Walt Lessun says:

    I’m spending most of my time at The Bourbon House and Old New Orleans Rum. Thought about the Dixie Beer place ’til I found out they are now brewing it in Wisconsin…bummer.

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you, April, for your insights! I hope to make it to Thursday’s twilight concert at the botanical garden : http://neworleanscitypark.com/calendar.html

  • Caroline says:

    hahaha, tweet my brains out!

  • Question – is anyone using(or interested in) group messaging services like Convore or Beluga? I was thinking of starting a HackLibSchool group and perhaps we could use that to stay in touch and have April guide us around the city in our free time. Thoughts?

  • Excellent advice! My question: what are people reading on the plane to prep for NOLA? Any fiction recommendations?

  • Eira Tansey says:

    For those of you who want to try some local beers, the best beer place in the city is the Avenue pub, on St Charles. They usually have several NOLA beers on tap (NOLA in this case meaning New Orleans Lager and Ale). Dba on frenchmen also has Abita and NOLA on tap.

    • Eira – I think we’ve connected on Twitter. How about us co-planning a HackLibSchool Meetup at Avenue Pub during ALA 11? We’re aiming for Sunday night around 8 or 830pm. Get in touch and we’ll work out the details. Thanks!

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