We flew into about noon time on a Friday. Since the room wasn't ready for such an early arrival, we walked four blocks to the pier and decided to ride the paddle wheel boat "Natchez." It basically goes a mile up the Mississippi, then heads back. You'll see a lot of other international cargo ships, and the Domino's sugar refinery, and an oil refinery (flames shooting in the air). The boat dock (pier) area is safe and clean, and basically new-looking. That is the same area they call "River Walk." It leads to the Aquarium and Imax theaters and shops galore.
We stopped on Bourbon Street to eat some red beans and rice, and try a locally brewed beer. Bourbon Street is all I'd heard it would be. One place had naked dancers, the next place was a grocery market, the next place might be a nice eatery, the next place might be a dance club, etc., etc., but, interesting to say the least.
The next day we had a plantation home tour booked, with Grey Line Tours. It's about an hour and ten minute ride in a nice coach bus to the two homes we visited, Oak Alley and Nottaway plantations. The Oak Alley was my favorite with its rows of 200 year old oak trees in the back yard, plus it's where a lot of movies have been filmed, "Interview with the Vampire" and "Primary Colors," just to name a few. Nottaway was nice too, and is famous for the "white room" which has hosted over three thousand weddings.
When we returned to town that evening we decided to see an Imax movie, and afterwards walked through Harrah's casino, which has a real big oak tree in its lobby (pretty cool). Carla and I actually left the casino with a profit of about $12 from playing the 25 cent slot machines. We decided to eat at a local place called Mother's (really good sandwiches).
Darkness fell on us as we walked back toward the hotel, but there was a parade we had to pass around. It was several streets long and was an "American-Italian" parade. It was a miniature Mardi Gras with beads everywhere, beer, booze, crazy people hanging from the balconies. We were right in the middle of it. What a treat for us, because I thought Mardi Gras was the only annual parade they have. Joke's on me. The folks in live to have parades, so there are several every year. We made it back to the room and watched an in-room movie and went to sleep.
The last day there we decided to eat breakfast at the world famous "Brenans" which is the creator of the Bananas Foster. It is the best tasting dessert in the world. Watch out, though, those $15 omelet's will get ya! We decided to walk around Jackson Square to see the cathedral and the local artists. There are some excellent artists located here. This is a great place to get a horse and buggy tour around town. We walked on over to the Farmers Market which was really interesting with fruits and hot sauces, T-shirts, vegetables, etc., to buy.
We had a two hour walking tour booked for that afternoon in the "Garden District." These are some beautiful old homes about four miles from downtown. It's hard to believe the contrast from these homes to the French Quarter homes. We saw Anne Rice's and Archie Manning's houses, as well as some others, including the house the MTV Real World used last season. You'll get to see one of the famous cemeteries on this tour, too.
It was getting late when we returned to town but we had time to walk through the aquarium, (fish, frogs, birds, etc.). Afterward, we ate at a local steak house. We were on Bourbon Street as night fell and, boy, was that interesting to hear the music and drunkards crank up all around us. It was surreal to watch all this from a steak house window ... ha! We were tired afterwards and walked the two blocks back to the room and went to bed. Great two and a half days in New Orleans.
A lot of people stay at the Royal Sonesta. It is on Bourbon Street and looks really nice inside. I think they have better room rates than most places there. I suggest using placestostay.com. I have used them for a lot of hotel bookings lately as opposed to calling the hotel directly.