A guest guide to staying at The Brakeman Hotel in the Tremé neighborhood of New Orleans.
New Orleans is a rainy city, and the skies can open up at any moment. Not to worry, there’s plenty to do in the air-conditioned indoors while you wait for the downpour to go away. Here are our top 10 suggestions for how you can stay dry and entertained.
Head to a Museum
The French Quarter boasts quite a few museums, with many focusing on the city’s past and the history of Louisiana. Some, like the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint, are free; others you can visit for a nominal fee. For example, the New Orleans Pharmacy Museum is a bargain at $5 and features a permanent collection of 19th-century surgical instruments, books and patent medicines.
Hermann-Grima House and Gallier House are two historic homes that are considered some of the most well-preserved historic structures in the French Quarter. You can tour both and learn about what life was like in New Orleans in the 19th century.
The Historic New Orleans Collection is spread over 10 historic buildings in the French Quarter. The Royal Street location (533 Royal St.) houses the main museum with a permanent exhibit on state history, plus rotating exhibits on history and art. Admission is free.
Consider heading to Jackson Square for two museums and a historic cathedral. Catch a mass or free concert (or just admire the interior during the quiet hours) at the St. Louis Cathedral. It’s flanked by the Cabildo and the Presbytère, which are run by the Louisiana State Museum and house several excellent exhibits, including one on the history of Mardi Gras at the Presbytère.
Ride the streetcar
You can catch the historic St. Charles Avenue line on Canal Street and head Uptown to take in the breathtaking views of the Garden District, or ride the Canal line to Mid-City and Bayou St. John, ending at the cemeteries or the City Park and the Art Museum. If you want to explore the Marigny and the Bywater, take the Rampart line; or stay close to the Quarter by exploring the edge of it, where it meets the CBD, by riding the Riverfront line. You’ll be passing Harrah’s Casino, Woldenberg Park, the Aquarium of the Americas, the Canal Place mall, and the Riverwalk Marketplace, ending up at the Convention Center. It only costs $1.25 one way, or you can get passes for a day or longer.
Hit the casino
Have some fun and maybe score some extra cash at the New Orleans Harrah’s Casino. It’s centrally located at the foot of the French Quarter on Canal Street, only a block away from the Mississippi River. It houses over 2,000 slot machines and nine delicious restaurants, including two steakhouses and the local casual fave, Acme Oyster House.
The whole stretch of the historic French Market is covered, from the flea market to the food vendor section, and it’s a treasure trove of souvenirs (edible and otherwise), crafts, and unique Louisiana finds. Nearby, the strips of shops called the Shops at the Colonnade, some with Decatur and some with N. Peters addresses, are also worth a visit if you’re shopping for unique gifts and local specialties like pralines.
Nearby, the recently revamped multi-story historic landmark Jax Brewery hosts retail stores, cafes, restaurants, and a small museum dedicated to the brewery. Another option is to head down Royal Street, which is lined with local boutiques and antique and vintage stores for every budget.
Heading out of the Quarter and into the CBD, Canal Place and The Outlet Collection at Riverwalk at are a short walk away from each other. Both are self-contained, multi-storied indoor malls that could keep you shopping and eating for hours. The Shops at Canal Place is home to Saks Fifth Avenue, Tiffany and Co., Anthropologie, and dozens of other upscale retailers, while The Riverwalk mall is an outlet with more than 75 retailers and restaurants, including Nordstrom Rack and Café du Monde.
See a movie
The state-of-the-art IMAX theater, located next to the Audubon Aquarium of the Americas at the Riverfront, usually has two or three nature-themed 3D films on rotation; tickets are included with the Aquarium admission. Or, support New Orleans’ independent theaters and head to the beautifully restored Broad Theater, a short ride away, or to the historic Prytania Theater Uptown. Both have bars!
Visit the Aquarium or the Insectarium
Speaking of the Aquarium, the sprawling compound on the riverfront will keep you and your family enthralled with its walk-through tunnel, otters, penguins, sea turtles, a stingray touch pool, and an expansive replica of an offshore oil rig submerged in 400,000 gallons of water.
On the other side of the French Quarter, the Audubon Butterfly Garden and Insectarium, located in the U.S. Custom House on Canal Street, is packed with bug-centric interactive exhibits. Sample a cricket chocolate chip cookie at the cafeteria, or let the butterflies land on your head in the spectacular butterfly garden.
Support an independent bookstore
New Orleans proudly boasts a number of impressively stocked independent bookstores, and some of the best ones are located in the Quarter. A former home of William Faulkner located in the historic and picturesque Pirate Alley, just off Jackson Square and behind the Cabildo, Faulkner House Books mostly offers local-interest books and the classics, including rare editions, and, of course, the works of William Faulkner.
The bi-level Beckham’s Bookshop specializes in used, antiquarian, and rare books, as well as CDs and vinyl. A gem of a place, Beckham’s has been around since 1979 at this location. It’s crammed floor to ceiling, and is beer- and dog-friendly. You’ll find it right across the street from the House of Blues. The charming Dauphine Street Books and Crescent City Books are both great spots if you want to browse an eclectic, well-curated selection of both new and used books, including maps and out-of-print editions.
Take in a show
The two of New Orleans’ historic performance venues, the beautifully renovated Saenger and Joy theaters, are both located on Canal Street and are jam-packed with featuring year-round performances. You can catch a Broadway musical, a comedy show, or a musical act at the Orpheum Theater or the Civic Theatre. Just off Jackson Square, Le Petit Theatre du Vieux Carré has called its St. Peter Street location home since 1922.
See some live music
Check out FrenchQuarter.com’s event listings to find out who is playing on any given day/night while you’re here. For more à la carte adventures, you can just head to Frenchmen Street, right across from the French Quarter in the Marigny, and wander from venue to venue. There’s a good deal of street music on several corners usually. The Bombay Club, Preservation Hall, and numerous bars, clubs and restaurants around the French Quarter are guaranteed to have some live music, even on weeknights.
Eat and drink, of course!
Some of the best restaurants in the country, if not the world, are located steps away from your hotel. So get out there and explore all the delicious possibilities, from the iconic Creole grand dames to the New Orleans staples on the budget. Also, all year round, the French Quarter offers incredible happy hour deals you won’t want to miss, including the hotel’s own, The Bombay Club. And what could be better than holing up with a drink and watching the rain?
Here are more of our quick guides to the French Quarter’s destinations and nightlife near the Prince Conti Hotel. Rain or shine, happy exploring!
Other Things to Do:
New Orleans is home to many delicious restaurants, famous landmarks, exciting festivals, rich history, and unique entertainment for all ages. It doesn’t come as a surprise that people travel from all over to New Orleans to experience its unique local flavor. Summer is a good time to visit despite the soaring temps, as the city’s party schedule is jam-packed with festivals and other events unique to New Orleans, and there are fewer crowds than, say, during Mardi Gras, Jazz Fest, or the cooler months in general.
Take Advantage of the Summer Deals
Plus, the city’s local restaurants and cultural destinations sweeten the deal by the citywide promotions like the Museum Month or COOLinary, both in August, when you can visit a number of local museums for the price of the annual membership for just one of them, or have a three-course dinner in a top restaurant for as little as $39. The one-time admission fee to some local museums can run over $20, so this is a great opportunity to explore on the budget. The fees for the smaller museums are probably the best deal, ranging from $30 to $35 annually. (You can buy a membership upon arrival.)
With COOLinary, there’s no better time to try out an award-winning restaurant during your visit, or revisit an old favorite. For the month of August, this dining program offers discounted dining deals at participating restaurants located all over the city. Over 100 of participating local restaurants run the gamut from the iconic to the smaller, more casual ones.
The extraordinary summer dining deals don’t end with COOLinary in August. Behold the Restaurant Week (September 9-15), with more and more restaurants participating every year. For one week in September, dozens of local restaurants will be dishing out prix fixe lunches, brunches and dinners — averaging at $20 for lunch and not exceeding $39 for brunch and dinner. Just like COOLinary, Restaurant Week is a citywide promotion designed to lure diners, both local and visiting, to increase patronage at restaurants across the city. Cross an iconic white-tablecloth establishment off your bucket list, or discover a new fave in the neighborhood!
Family-Friendly New Orleans
New Orleans is more than a romp on Bourbon Street (though we recommend that too). There is entertainment for people of all ages all year round, but, with fewer people out on the streets, you can really take the time to explore the city at your own pace in the summer. Bring your family to the Aquarium of the Americas, or the incredible World War II Museum. Grab a warm and fresh beignet at the famous Café Du Monde, or go shopping at the Riverwalk outlet mall or the French Market open-air mall, where you will find a flea market, local arts and crafts, and edible souvenirs like pralines and every kind of hot sauce under the sun. Want something special to bring home as a gift? Check out our top recommendations for the unique New Orleans gifts you can get near the Prince Conti Hotel.
Then, of course, there are the stunning St. Louis Cathedral and Jackson Square to explore, plus dozens of other important landmarks, all located within walking distance in the historic French Quarter. Both the Presbytère and the Cabildo that flank the cathedral have excellent museums worth exploring by the whole family.
A convenient way to check out countless New Orleans attractions is on the City Sightseeing double-decker tour bus. With a pickup location at Basin Street Station, close to the hotel, the City Sightseeing tour is very flexible and allows you to see many famous destinations in the city at your own pace by hopping on and hopping off the bus whenever you desire. This system allows you to stay as long as you would like at each destination, since a bus comes every 30 minutes and runs seven days a week for your convenience.
Another option is to take your family on a historic cruise to Chalmette battlefield, on the Creole Queen. This beautiful paddlewheeler also offers dinner jazz cruiser that will keep you cool and entertained.
So Many Festivals and Celebrations
This year’s Independence Day weekend is shaping up to be spectacular as usual, filled with special events, fireworks, and — this being New Orleans — great food and music. Kick off the festivities with Go 4th on the River celebration, a free Dueling Barges fireworks show over the Mississippi River at the Riverfront.
Gear up for the best in R&B, hip-hop, jazz, and blues with ESSENCE Festival (July 5-7), held at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the Convention Center. Beyond the concerts held each night of the fest at the Superdome, the free daytime activities at the Convention Center include motivational seminars, beauty and style presentations, celebrity interviews, cooking demonstrations with top chefs, and lots more. The always-impressive music lineup this year includes Brandy, Missy Elliott, Mary J. Blige, Nas, Pharrell Williams, Timbaland, and more. Former First Lady and best-selling author Michelle Obama will make an appearance too, her first at the fest, to discuss her recently published memoir.
Running of the Bulls brings Encierro to New Orleans on July 12-14, except the bulls are the Big Easy Rollergirls. San Fermin in Nueva Orleans pays annual homage to the world-famous Encierro of Pamplona, Spain, running through the CBD starting at the Sugar Mill.
Celebrate the French National Day in America’s most French city during the annual Bastille Day Fête at the New Orleans Museum of Art (June 12-14), and at the block party on Saturday, July 13 in the 3100 block of Ponce de Leon Street in the city’s historic Faubourg St. John neighborhood, adjacent to Esplanade Avenue. Live music and kid-friendly events abound, while dozens of local vendors present their food and drinks, many with a French flavor.
Some of the best restaurants and bars in town celebrate Tales of the Cocktail on July 16-21. Since 2002 the festival has grown from an annual walking tour of historic New Orleans cocktail bars into a series of dinners, tastings, seminars, and more. This year will be its 17th, with Royal Sonesta as the new hotel host and the Highball as the official festival drink. Expect over 300 events crammed into six days, including the always-popular “best of” Spirited Awards and many cocktail-themed parties.
Satchmo SummerFest (August 2-4), named so after one of Louis Armstrong’s nicknames, started as a tribute in 2001, on Armstrong’s 100th birthday. It has been traditionally held on the first week of August and marked by strong attendance. The three-day festival is held at the New Orleans Jazz Museum at the Old U.S. Mint at the foot of Esplanade Avenue., and will have music all weekend on its two outdoor, tented stages. Other events will include a Sunday morning Jazz Mass at the historic St. Augustine Church in Tremé, seminars and film screenings, kid’s activities, and a second-line parade.
Browse the galleries on the White Linen Night on Saturday, August 3 (or its cheeky cousin, the Dirty Linen Night). In its 25th year, White Linen Night is a block party and an open house for galleries on the 300-700 blocks of Julia Street in the Warehouse District, with three stages for live music and dozens of food and drink stands. About 20 galleries on and around Julia St. will be open to the public, with an after-party traditionally held at the Contemporary Arts Center.
The Dirty Linen Night (Saturday, August 10) usually follows the White Linen Night on the second Saturday in August. It’s similar in format, though looser in structure and spanning more territory. Although Dirty Linen Night does riff off White Linen Night, it wasn’t created to compete with the Warehouse District event but to promote the many galleries and shops of Royal Street. The multi-block party takes over the 200-1000 blocks of Royal Street and some cross streets and adjoining areas in the French Quarter, including Jackson Square and Dutch Alley. About 40 galleries are expected to participate again this year, plus a number of shops and restaurants.
The Red Dress Run (also on Saturday, August 10) isn’t exclusive to New Orleans, but the local participants take it up a notch by costuming on top of wearing their best and/or most outlandish red dress, regardless of gender. This is an annual fundraiser run for local charities organized by hashing groups (adults-only, non-competitive social running clubs) all over the world. They call themselves “drinking clubs with a running problem” and the local group is no exception. Any adult can participate with registration, and the run traditionally starts at Crescent Park, though the route will not be publicized until the day of the run.
The incomparable Southern Decadence festival (August 29 – September 2) is traditionally held on the Labor Day weekend. It started as a going-away party in the early 70s but now considered the fifth largest event in New Orleans. This massive four-day festival celebrates LGBT culture and attracts participants from all over the world. Just like every year, most activities will be centered in and around the French Quarter, with lots of block parties and dance parties at bars and clubs on Bourbon Street, plus two parades.
The Nightlife, Of Course
It is no secret that New Orleans is known for its nightlife scene, and the Prince Conti Hotel puts you right by many incredible New Orleans nightlife spots, such as the bustling Harrah’s, Pat O’Brien’s, House of Blues, the legendary music spots on Frenchmen Street in the Marigny, and many more. But, really, you don’t need us to tell you that whatever floats your boat, from the dives with local beer on tap to the chef-driven destinations with exquisitely crafted cocktails served alongside small plates, you’re bound to find it in the French Quarter and nearby. (But if you do want recommendations, here are some picks for the best bars, best live music clubs, and your best-bet late-night eats in the French Quarter.)
Cooling Off in the French Quarter
Then there are these chilled-out destinations offer a refreshing refuge from the summer heat along with a shot of New Orleans flavor. The first rule of dealing with NOLA heat: Never walk anywhere without a cool beverage in hand. So, how about a daiquiri? These frozen drinks are seriously the next best thing to a portable A.C. unit. Options run the gamut from classic (the piña colada-flavored daiquiri at Big Easy Daiquiris) to craft (Cane and Table’s inspired creations), but your best bet for the beat-the-heat drinks are St. Lawrence’s seasonal versions. Past offerings include Pimm’s Cup and Peach Bellini versions. Grab a daiq and be restored!
Take the edge off with a classic martini and cool, free live jazz at The Bombay Club
— there’s a different local act each night. Best of all, you don’t have to venture outside and brave the heat to experience The Bombay Club’s unique ambiance — it’s actually attached to the Prince Conti Hotel’s back carriageway.
The Country Club requires you to venture outside the French Quarter (it’s about two miles from the Prince Conti Hotel), but it’s well worth the effort. The Bywater neighborhood standby is located in a lushly landscaped Italianate raised center-hall cottage. Enter through the breezy, fern-hung front porch to find a dining area and granite-topped bar. Beyond that lies a saltwater pool, cabana bar, hot tub, sauna, and shower area accessible via a day pass, which ranges from $10 to $15. It’s the perfect place to spend a lazy afternoon. (P.S. If it’s raining, it’s happy hour at The Country Club.)
Staying at the Prince Conti Hotel This Summer
If you are planning a trip to New Orleans this summer, make sure you book your stay at a hotel with great summer rates and close to all of the action, the Prince Conti Hotel. The Prince Conti Hotel provides you with all of the luxurious and convenient amenities you want during your stay in New Orleans, and its prime location in the French Quarter simply cannot be beat. The Prince Conti Hotel is just minutes from many great local attractions and famous sights, such as Jackson Square, Bourbon Street, and more. See you this summer!
Steeped in history and blended with a rich and spicy mix of cultures, New Orleans is one of the most unique cities in the world. The best part? Visitors who immerse themselves in its magic don’t have to leave it all behind when they go home. Gifts and souvenirs as distinctive as New Orleans itself can be found in many local shops, and several of the best are in or near the Quarter, not far from the Prince Conti Hotel.
The Gift Shop at Basin St. Station (501 Basin St.)
There’s no better introduction to New Orleans than Basin St. Station. Once the hub of the city’s rail service, the historic building now serves as a welcome center and offers a wealth of information and exhibits, as well as the city’s most unique gift shop. This streetcar-shaped gift shop stocks a plethora of New Orleans-themed souvenirs, Mardi Gras masks and voodoo dolls, along with local art and a great selection of cookbooks and historical titles.
Forever New Orleans (308 Royal St.; 606 Royal St.; 700 Royal St.)
Whether you’re looking for only-in-New Orleans home decor, want to sport the city’s charms with stylish apparel, or pack its heady aromas in your suitcase, Forever New Orleans has you covered. Local artist Jax Frey’s colorful New Orleans-themed pillows are emblazoned with iconic images like the Desire streetcar, while the dreamy Greetings from New Orleans scarf makes an eye-catching fashion statement. Scent mavens can choose from a wide array of candles, and six distinctive home fragrance room sprays, including crème brûlée and magnolia.
Roux Royale (600 Royal St.)
Another one-stop shop for unique New Orleans gifts, Roux Royale is especially strong on the culinary arts, and offers a host of iconic edibles, along with a wealth of local cookbooks and New Orleans-themed kitchenware. Here you’ll find fleur de lis waffle-makers, alligator gumbo spoons with wide-open jaws, classic barware, and seasonal merch for Mardi Gras and the holidays.
Cafe du Monde: Grandad’s General Store (813 Decatur St.)
You’ll find Cafe du Monde’s classic Beignet & Coffee souvenir package in most tourist shops, but why not get it from the source? Stop by Cafe Du Monde for a final plate of sugar-dusted beignets, dipped in a cup of chicory-laced cafe au lait, and pick up a gift pack on your way out at Grandad’s General Store. You’ll also find plenty of Cafe du Monde-branded kitchenware, including mugs, potholders and the iconic green-and-white striped aprons all the servers wear.
Defend New Orleans Downtown (600 Carondelet St.)
Founded in the early 2000s, this young upstart business garnered national attention in the wake of Katrina, when its “Defend New Orleans” image of a skull with a spiky mohawk emblazoned with a fleur de lis became a symbol of the city’s resilience in the face of devastation. DNO now boasts an entire line of T-shirts in all kinds of cool designs made with sustainable materials. Committed to “engaging with and uplifting our communities,” DNO donates a portion of all its proceeds to support local cultural organizations, so you’re giving something back to New Orleans when you buy one of their products.
Want to dive into New Orleans’ storied nightlife? You’ve got a head start at the Prince Conti Hotel. The Bombay Club, the hotel’s swank in-house bar and restaurant, is just steps away from your room.
Start your evening at one of the club’s nightly music showcases, where you can sip a perfect martini from the largest martini selection in town while listening to the smooth jazz stylings of Banu Gibson or the lively Latin beats of Tres Amigos. The musical menu changes nightly, so the Bombay is always a good launching pad for hitting the streets at other legendary New Orleans venues.
Snug Harbor Jazz Bistro (626 Frenchmen St.)
Jazz mavens make a beeline for Snug, the city’s premier showcase for contemporary jazz. Nightly shows at 8 and 10 feature New Orleans icons like Ellis Marsalis, patriarch of the city’s first family of jazz, whose son Delfeayo also draws big crowds for his weekly Uptown Jazz Orchestra gig. Other regulars include master keyboardist David Torkanowsky and the always-inventive Astral Project, along with world-class visiting artists like the Mahmoud Chouki International String Trio.
Balcony Music Club (1331 Decatur)
You never know what kind of music you’ll find at BMC, as the locals call it, and that’s all part of the fun. Creole Funk, Legends Brass, and Dapper Dandies are among the dozens of bands featured nightly, when as many as five acts play. And since there’s never a cover, you can always dip in and dip out, after fortifying yourself with the daily drink and shot specials. Conveniently located on the Esplanade edge of the Quarter, it’s a good pit stop before or after hitting the lively Frenchmen St. scene.
Chris Owens Club & Balcony (500 Bourbon St.)
Bourbon St. isn’t all loud cover bands and lethal Hurricanes. The seemingly ageless Chris Owens, a French Quarter legend, is an only-in-New-Orleans phenom who truly must be seen to be believed. She’s a high voltage perpetual motion machine who belts out songs, dances like everyone’s watching and makes the audience part of her show. You might just find yourself sharing the spotlight with her onstage at one of her two weekly 9 p.m. shows, which happen most Friday and Saturday nights. Go for it!
Blue Nile (532 Frenchmen St.)
Hailed as the “premiere live music venue in the city” by Where Y’at magazine, the Blue Nile hosts a stellar roster of New Orleans artists every night on both the main stage and in the club’s upstairs Balcony Room, from Cyril Neville and Big Sam’s Funky Nation to Kermit Ruffins and the BBQ Swingers. It’s also a must-stop venue for national touring acts. Shows start early and go late, so it’s a great place to cap off the night in a high-energy environment where the collective force field can be contagious.
Lafitte’s Blacksmith Shop (941 Bourbon St.)
Ready to wind down but don’t want to go to bed? Lafitte’s is just what the doctor ordered. Founded in the early 18th century, and housed in a historic building reputed to have served as the New Orleans headquarters for the infamous pirate and smuggler Jean Lafitte, the candlelit bar exudes exactly the kind of spooky ambiance you’d expect to find in New Orleans. Piano man Dave Hood, the latest in a series of keyboard legends, plays classics like “Marie Laveau” deep into the wee hours at Lafitte’s, which serves a potent menu of nightcaps.