Hot Spots, Good Eats, and Getting Around New Orleans
Laissez les bon temps rouler! (“Let the good times roll!”)
Welcome to New Orleans and the 255th ACS National Meeting & Exposition. Also known as “The Big Easy,” New Orleans is a city that’s rich in history, culture, and fun.
Ancestral to the Natchez and Taensa peoples, ruled by the French and Spanish before the Louisiana Purchase in 1803, and populated by Africans in America’s slave history, this port city is a true melting pot with numerous influences from different cultures you will surely encounter during your visit.
This year marks the city’s Tricentennial. Many events, exhibits, and other activities are planned in celebration of its 300-year history.
Exploring the French Quarter
It is nearly impossible to find anything that resembles a hill in New Orleans, which makes it a great walking city. Although most people associate the French Quarter with the 24-hour party atmosphere of Bourbon Street, there is quite a lot more to see and do.
The Quarter is primarily a residential neighborhood. As you stroll through the streets, look for the Creole cottages, townhouses, and other architectural styles that define New Orleans. You will also find unique shopping opportunities in the Quarter, including Marie Laveau’s House of Voodoo, Fleurty Girl, and Forever New Orleans.
The ACS national meeting is located close to the French Quarter, making it an easy outing.
Here are some sights to consider visiting:
Royal Street: Parallel to Bourbon Street and one block away from the Mississippi River, Royal Street is packed with art shops, antique shops, and other interesting sights. On weekends, several blocks of the street are closed to vehicle traffic for street performers, musicians, and artists.
Jackson Square: Dominated by the majestic St. Louis Cathedral, Jackson Square is a must-see. Musicians, palm readers, artists, and other entertainers surround the park in the middle of the square, and there are plenty of restaurants and coffee shops (including the world-famous Café du Monde) in the immediate area.
French Market: At the far edge of the Quarter, down river from the Central Business District (CBD), you will find an open-air market that offers just about anything you might want to find in New Orleans. In addition to some permanent establishments offering a variety of food, drink, fashion, and jewelry, there is a flea market where you are sure to find the perfect New Orleans gem.
Decatur Street: Along the edge of the Quarter, Decatur Street has numerous t-shirt-shops, souvenir shops, and other businesses.
Tours: While mule-drawn carriages leaving from Jackson Square are a popular way to see the Quarter, a number of other walking tours are also available. Popular tours include vampire tours, haunted house and ghost tours, and cemetery tours. Information on these and other tours can be found at all hotels in the CBD and French Quarter, as well as online.
New Orleans Pharmacy Museum: A hidden gem at 514 Chartres Street, the museum tells the story of the history of medicine and pharmacy in Louisiana. Check out the exhibits of 19th century medical practices (you will be glad that you live in the 21st century!).
If you are looking to venture a bit farther from the French Quarter and CBD, consider riding the St. Charles Avenue streetcar to the Garden District. After exploring the history and architecture of the Garden District, you can go antiquing on Magazine Street.
Other Sights to See in the Big Easy
The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk: Located along the river between the Convention Center and the Hilton Riverside Hotel is the Riverwalk. You’ll find tons of upscale outlet shops here, as well as some great views of the mighty Mississippi River.
Audubon Aquarium and Insectarium: At the foot of Canal Street on the river is the Audubon Aquarium, an attraction that has made many Top 10 lists of aquariums in the United States. A few steps away at 423 Canal Street is the Insectarium where, among other exhibits and activities, you can sample some edible bugs from around the word.
Mardi Gras World: Located right next to the Ernest N. Morial Conventional Center, Mardi Gras World tells the story of the city’s most famous celebration. You will see how parade floats are made, learn about the history of Mardi Gras, and witness some of the magnificent costumes of Mardi Gras.
City Park and the New Orleans Museum of Art: Take the City Park streetcar route to the end of the line. It ends just a few steps from the New Orleans Museum of Art. In addition to the museum and adjacent sculpture garden, you will find tons of options for relaxing in City Park.
St. Charles Avenue: New Orleans is one of very few cities where riding public transportation is a tourist activity. Ride the Uptown streetcar on St. Charles Avenue, which passes through the Garden District lined with beautiful mansions.
Audubon Zoo and Audubon Park: Audubon Zoo is one of the top zoos in the nation. Hop off the St. Charles streetcar at Audubon Park (across from Tulane University), and take the free shuttle to the zoo. You can also stay in the park to enjoy the lagoon, or play a round of golf.
National World War II Museum: If you are interested in military history, this is the place to visit! With amazing exhibits and programs offered throughout the year, this is sure to be a memorable museum experience.
Getting around New Orleans
ACS Shuttles are free and will get you to the Convention Center and official ACS hotels.
Streetcar: The main streetcar lines are on St. Charles Avenue and Canal Street, with shorter lines along the Mississippi River, on Rampart St., and on Loyola Avenue.
City Buses: Bus routes are extensive and can get you to almost anywhere you might want to go in the city.
Ferry: If you are interested in exploring the West Bank of the Mississippi River, take the ferry from the foot of Canal Street to Algiers Point.
Streetcars, buses, and ferries are all operated by the Regional Transit Authority. For more information, visit the Regional Transit Authority’s website.
Taxis, Lyft, Uber: All of these options are also available, but keep in mind that most places in the CBD and French Quarter can be reached easily on foot.
Blue Bikes: Bike sharing hubs are available throughout the city.
New Orleans is truly the city for good eats. Your “to try” list must include po’boys, gumbo, a muffaletta, jambalaya, and, of course, crawfish (not crayfish). If you are not sure how to eat boiled crawfish without looking like a tourist, ask a local to help you. New Orleans is tourist-friendly, so there are many who would be more than willing to eat a few of your mudbugs just to make sure you do it properly.
Here are some places to try:
Café du Monde ($)
800 Decatur St., at Jackson Square
Coffee and Beignets, Open 24/7
Johnny’s Po’Boys ($)
511 St. Louis St. in the French Quarter
Features around 40 different po’boys
Acme Oyster House ($$)
724 Iberville St. in the French Quarter
Local seafood and po’boys
Daisy Dukes ($)
121 Chartres St. (French Quarter) and 123 Carondelet St.
Local fare and breakfast, Open 24/7
Deanie’s Seafood ($$)
841 Iberville St. in the French Quarter
Between the Bread ($)
625 St. Charles Ave. in the CBD
Deli Sandwiches and salads, lunch hours only
Felipe’s Mexican Taqueria ($)
301 N. Peters St
Mexican fare in the French Quarter, open late night on weekends
Cochon Butcher ($$)
930 Tchoupitoulas St. (entrance on Andrew Higgins Blvd.)
Sandwiches and sides from the folks at the award-winning Cochon restaurant next door
SPEAKING of New Orleans...
When you visit, you’ll want to make sure you understand the language of the city. You should probably practice your pronunciation of Burgundy (Bur-GUN-dee), Calliope (CAL-ee-ope), Tchoupitoulas (chop-ah-TOO-liss), beignet (ben-YAY), and muffaletta (MOOF-ah-LET-ah) before you arrive. And, for heaven’s sake, it’s “NEW OR-lins” or “NAW-lins”, not “NEW or-LEENS”!
A few other words and phrases you might hear:
Cajun: Someone who derived from French Acadians who settled in Louisiana after leaving Canada.
Coke: Soda or pop, regardless of the actual brand, as in “What flavor Coke you want?”
Creole: Creole refers to something or someone descended from a mixture of French, Spanish, African, and Indigenous Native heritages.
Lagniappe: A Spanish creole word that means a little something extra. If you go to a talk at the conference and at the end of the presentation the speaker says, “Let me tell you a little story,” you’re getting a lagniappe (‘lan-,yap).
Neutral ground: The grassy area between two sides of a large street. The rest of the world calls it a median.
Po’ boys: An overstuffed sandwich served on French bread so named because it was a lot of sandwich for a small price and thus favored by those with little cash.
Second line: An impromptu line of dancers who enjoy the parade so much that they just follow along behind, twirling umbrellas and waving handkerchiefs. The tradition has its roots in African dances brought to New Orleans by enslaved Africans and, later, performed in their funeral processions.
Snowball: Crushed ice and flavored syrup. Called “snow cone” in the rest of the country.
Streetcar: There is no special pronunciation, but do remember that trains that run on rails are called streetcars, not trolleys or trams.
Vieux Carré: French for “Old Square,” this an alternative name for the French Quarter (locals also say “The Quarter”).
“Where y’at?” A local greeting akin to “How’s it going?” If you’re not sure how to respond, just nod your head and smile. Actually, smile the whole time you are here.
“Who Dat!” as in “Who Dat! Who Dat! Who Dat say dey gonna beat dem Saints!” We love our New Orleans Saints, and you’ll hear folks saying “Who Dat” throughout the year. We even refer to fans as Who Dats. You may hear other sports teams use this phrase, but they copied it from us.
Whatever your interests, tastes, or dialect, New Orleans has something for you. We’ll see you there!